Demiurge Studios, the development team behind titles such as Borderlands, Mass Effect, and Brothers in Arms, decided to throw their name into the arcade market with an inventive take on the side-scrolling shooter. From the onset of this game it is clear that Demiurge understands game-creation. Shoot Many Robots takes all of the positive elements that make gamers love the genre, adds 2.5D graphics, and manages to make the game feel refreshing through slight modern upgrades.
Playing as P. Walter Tugnut, a macho “hillbilly” type protagonist, the objective is clear: stock pile guns, drive around in your RV clearing humanity of the oncoming hordes of the robot apocalypse, and drink superfluous amounts of beer. However, the game does not give a lot of back-story into the present situation. There really isn’t any set-up as to why these many, many robots are here, there are no nostalgic glances into the protagonist’s life, and no explanation as to why it is up to him to annihilate this robotic armageddon. This title does not set up the story line as we have come to expect games to do; but, quite frankly, it does a great job in living up to its cleverly simplistic title: you are there to shoot many robots.
As to be expected, completing your quest requires guns. In order to get guns, you need money. However, normal currency is no longer applicable. Instead you collect “nuts” from your fallen enemies and exchange them for guns, various forms of clothing, and gear. Multiple kills are rewarded with a higher rating, and every so often levels with randomly provide players with a “nut sack,” (a sack of nuts… money). Yep, you read that right. Now I won’t go as far as comparing this to Duke Nukem, but you should know that even though this is a side-scroller game it is definitely not a game for children as there are constant adult innuendos within the gameplay.
What wasn’t expected however, and incredibly interesting to boot, is the game’s leveling system feature. As you play through the game, you level up in a very RPG esque fashion- with higher level ranks come higher caliber gun unlocks; but with higher caliber guns also comes a higher cost. With guns ranging from pistols to flame-throwers or freeze-rays to Gnome-Launchers (yep, Gnome Launchers) You’ll most definitely find yourself having difficulty deciding what you want to equip. Weapon slots are available to equip two separate guns, one “Normal” gun with unlimited ammo, and one “Big” gun that has a limited amount of shells.
However, for those who enjoy an RPG feel to their side-scrolling game, you will rejoice in the fact that the guns aren’t the only customizable feature. Pants, helmets, even backpacks come with an assortment of options. Want to run around with an astronaut’s helmet and jetpack? This game can do just that. Once you equip your items, they become your loadout until you clear the level, at which point you’re taken back to the RV to stock up and customize your character for the next level once again. Due to the comedic nature of this game, I would sincerely recommend taking some time to unlock and equip new features, as some may leave you laughing long after you’ve turned your console off.
In terms of mechanics, the game’s controls do take a bit of getting used to at first as avoiding the many robots while trying to simultaneously aim, shoot and run is a lot to wrap your head around. However, these do become more “natural” as you play. One control feature I particularly enjoyed about SMR was the ability to heal in the midst of the action. In a fast paced game like this, it is paramount to have a heal button mapped to the controller so that the gameplay continuously flows. Thankfully, the developers did just that- allowing you to heal up in the middle of running, jumping, gliding, and shooting quite a few robots- all while never skipping a beat within the game play experience.
One minor criticism that I had with the game is its level-to-level consistency of difficulty. During my time with the game, I noticed a considerable jump in the difficulty in the space of just one level. By no means was this a huge hindrance for the in-game experience, but it did catch me off guard considering that we tend to expect games to become increasingly difficult as the levels get higher- not vary in difficulty throughout the game.
As par for many of the games in today’s market Shoot Many Robots was fun to play on my own, but became a great deal better in the company of friends. In fact, once you play the multiplayer version of the game, it feels as if SMR may have been tailored for multiplayer gaming as it contains aspects with the MP that help gameplay tremendously. One such element is that the game drops different crates containing power ups, ammo, health, etc. for each player so that no one player can run around stealing everything.
If you’re looking for a 2.5D side scrolling shooter that feels like a typical over-the-top Michael Bay movie mixed with some adult humor, this game might just be for you. However, if you’re searching for something complex, serious, and with a sense of realism- keep looking.
Final Score: 3/5