Game Review: Robonauts (Switch)

The Nintendo Switch has been taking the world by storm, making even Sony reconsider going back to handhelds! Well, that’s not actually true, but the Switch is causing a lot of stir. And one reason behind the buzz is the great third-party support it’s getting, specially from indies. Nintendo seems to be relaxing its policies a bit, too, making it easier for smaller devs to get on the console. This does mean, though, that the quality of the games published can get a bit spottier than usual for the big N. Is Robonauts such a game, or does it live up to the great Nindie standard banner? Let’s find out!

You play as an robot astronaut (in case you didn’t look at the name) and you must destroy enemies on planet systems using a variety of weapons. You move from Little Prince-sized planet to Little Prince-sized planet by jumping at points where the distance between them is shortest. You use main and secondary weapons that get upgraded with items (usually dropped by defeated enemies) to kill all the baddies and reclaim the system.

Simple mechanics belie a rather complex and well executed array of level design and fine-tuned difficulty.

It’s not groundbreaking by any means, but it is extremely well executed. I think I’m in the minority when it comes to gaming press, but I don’t need every game to be the equivalent of Citizen Kane. I’m just as happy with a huge dose of Die Hard, and that’s what Robonauts is: it’s not Journey, it’s not Witness, it’s not A Dragon Named Cancer. It’s Robonauts: a quirky platformer where you kill a lot of enemies and you get killed by the enemies a lot. And that’s fine.

It’s actually more than fine: aside from super-tight controls and clever level design, the game sports gorgeous, colorful graphics that are a nice break from the mostly-bleak counterparts found on other current-gen consoles. If it looks good though, let me tell you, it sounds even better. The music, composed by Simon Viklund, is awesome. Chiptune-inspired glory comes naturally to the Swedish gun-for-hire musician who’s worked with the Who’s Who of the video game industry, composing for the Ghost Recon series, Payday and Brothers.

The game looks great and sounds even better. Eye candy rarely feels this good to play, though!

The coop is much better executed than other efforts on the console, feeling natural thanks to how simple the game is to control, allowing for easy access even for non-gamers. Non-gamers, though, might feel a bit intimidated by the difficulty, which even in “Casual” will get you killed a lot. The more the merrier, though, so much like games such as Borderlands 2 and Freedom Wars, Robonauts might be better (or at least easier) with a friend.

Overall, I had a great, jolly old time with the game. My fiancee, who usually plays and reviews stuff with me, found the change in perspective when moving from planet to planet disconcerting, but we must remember: this is a woman who spends much of her time playing Tetris. She’s just wired that way, bless her.

If you’re on the fence about getting Robonauts, I say: jump the darn fence. It’s competitively priced, and a hell of a lot better executed than most of its competition. If you’re in the hunt for a fun, bite-sized single player and couch-coop experience, look no further than this shiny, fantastic-sounding release from Qubic Games.

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