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Marsh Davies

Jun 06, 2012

Shoot Many Robots

As you'd guess from the name, this sidescrolling platformshooter has few pretensions. It's a game about filling the screen with mechanical nasties and unleashing you upon them – body slamming, punching, shooting and detonating anything you encounter.

It pitches itself as dumb fun, a message underscored by the chaos of four-player co-op, a huge number of daft unlockable items and the sort of brainless ribaldry that revels in burping, boozing and firing missiles shaped like garden gnomes. This deluge of silliness campaigns against sour-faced criticism: hey man, it says, you can't stay angry at someone wearing a Viking hat and golfing trousers. Gizza hug, grumpy bear.

Shoot Many Robots review
Keeping track of your character can be hard.

Well, as it happens, I'm pretty good at staying angry at things, particularly things which try to make me sign up for a Facebook plugin when they launch, unless disabled in the settings menu. And while we're talking about usability, why do you have to drop back to the main menu to invite people into your game? And you'd think they might have fitted in gamepad support somewhere, too.

Luckily for my weathered stressball, the game underneath mostly delivers on its promise of cathartic, frivolous carnage, with no small thanks due to the art and its weighty, goonish sense of caricature. On the battlefield, frantic gunfire rattles through wave upon wave of adorable chainsaw-wielding robo-spiders, turning their heaving numbers into a tinny percussion set.

Your character is nimble, when the nigglesome level geometry permits, double-jumping over charging foes, pummelling their vulnerable backs with bullets. Other enemies fire rockets that must be punched back the way they came. Dealing with such tricky customers while keeping the waves of chainsaws at bay is a pleasantly fraught challenge, enhanced by flying menaces, homing missiles and grenades.

Shoot Many Robots review
Smaller flying enemies hide behind HUD elements – annoying.

Your armoury isn't too shabby either: the main impetus of the game is to scoop up the shattered components of fallen enemies and trade them in for better weapons, backpacks and amusing hats. The buffs behind each have been cleverly considered, and their irreverent, often nonsensical descriptions are a pretty witty send-up of the traditional stat screen.

This consumer-collector impulse is necessary, however, given the lacklustre progress of the levels. There aren't quite enough interesting enemy types, or tactics to defeat them, and the set-pieces – boss battles and survival levels – are tortuous and lacking in ingenuity. The otherwise punchy action is also slightly sullied by minor collision issues, which get worse with online lag, and the occasional foibles of the camera as it struggles to keep players on screen. Shoot Many Robots sets its sights on knockabout fun, and achieves it, but not without shaking a few bolts loose in the process.

Shoot Many Robots

A game offering joyously vapid four-player carnage and some smart unlocks, but lacking substance.

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