Robots Hate Your Freedom

Very rarely can you gather the entire concept of a game just from the title alone. But publisher Ubisoft’s and developer Demiurge’s Shoot Many Robots does just that as the title simply says it all. You play as P. Walter Tugnut, a redneck who has been stockpiling weapons and beer for years in his RV just waiting for the robot apocalypse. And then one day it actually happens. After destroying his beloved pick-up truck, Tugnut knows his day has come to Shoot…Many…Robots.

As soon as I started playing the game, I felt like I had been transported back to a childhood arcade where I was still feeding quarters into Metal Slug as I was given this somewhat cartoony, but still modern enough looking hero, with a bevy of weapons and an even larger horde of enemies to take on in classic side-scrolling fashion. And when I say there is a large horde of enemies, I’m easily talking 20-30 robots on screen at once, and 200-300 robots per level. And I used everything from conventional weapons like assault rifles and bazookas to some more sci-fi inspired weaponry like freeze guns, to grind the gears of these gyro driven automatons into dust.

An interesting dynamic thrown into the entire game though is an RPG-like leveling up system where Tugnut could unlock new weaponry and armor that allowed him to slide, double jump farther, carry more health restoring beer, or, of course, do tons more damage. This reward system helped keep the game play satisfying as you mowed down the metal monstrosities.

Unfortunately, even with these unique features throw into the old-school side-scrolling dynamic that Shoot Many Robots gives us, it can get monotonous as you work through three or four stages per level and you just keep taking down the same robots over and over again for the most part. The look and sound of the game is rather dull and lacks the vibrancy you’d prefer in this kind of game to help keep your senses stimulated considering the monotonous game play. And with no real story to tie everything together, this is more a true arcade game in every sense, but this could turn off players who prefer a deeper experience.

There were also times where I wish I could upgrade the individual weapons with laser sights or other goodies as the aiming function was clumsy at best. More often than not I found myself trying to jump or slide into a better position, or use the bullet reflecting melee technique, rather than aiming as I couldn’t tell half the time where I was shooting.

There is also a steep difficulty curve with Shoot Many Robots as after the first couple of levels the robotic horde gets to the point where they can easily surround and start to engulf you. Mid-chapter checkpoints do help alleviate frustration in many instances, but it seems whenever a new foe or environmental hazard is introduced, you will likely meet your doom as you try to figure out what to do about them while still beating back the blade-wielding ankle biters that make up the majority of the robotic force as the game just keeps throwing more and more bad guys your way and barely gives you a chance to breath.

Aside from the mid-chapter checkpoints, the game does have another arcade staple fortunately that can assist you as well and that is 4-player co-op. Having three of your friends come on board so you can have a redneck death dealing parade and leave a swath of robot carcasses in your wake does help a lot and co-op like this always makes this style of game a better experience in the long run.

Still, I think that even with its strong positives and nostalgia inspiring experience that Shoot Many Robots is best served in short, but fun doses. This doesn’t seem like the kind of game you’ll sit down for three consecutive hours for. Instead, maybe just grabbing a friend for 30 minutes before tackling a more hardcore game seems to be the right speed for this title. But if old-school side-scrolling arcade shoot ‘em ups are your thing, Shoot Many Robots definitely hits all the right buttons considering it’s $10 (800 MSP) price tag.

SUMMARY: A frantic side-scrolling shooter reminiscent of classics like Metal Slug that may become tiresome in long intervals, but is more than enjoyable in short bursts.

  • THE GOOD: Fun, frantic action in an old-school arcade style
  • THE BAD: Even mindless mayhem can get tedious at some point
  • THE UGLY: Rednecks with guns are always a scary proposition

SCORE: 8.0

Shoot Many Robots is available on Xbox 360 (XBLA), PS3 (PSN), and PC. Primary version reviewed was on Xbox 360.