The Nintendo Switch is quickly becoming THE place to find hit indie games. Part of the system’s appeal is that every console comes packed with two Joy-Con controllers that can be shared with a friend for instant multiplayer action. Given that many smaller games don’t require state of the art cutting edge 4K graphics power makes the Switch a perfect place to foster these fun couch co-op/competitive titles. Robonauts is just the latest small project from an indie developer to grace the system, but does it score a direct hit or does it miss its mark?
I like myself a fun shoot’em up experience. Ever since I was a kid playing round after round of Defender, I found myself gravitating toward these types of games. Robonauts sort of snuck up on me as it wasn’t really featured in any Nintendo marketing and the when the game launched I was surprised to find out that it looked to be a game that should have been on my radar. Upon booting the game up there’s a nice cinema scene that sets up the action, but with a game like this it’s best to just cut to the chase and get to the action.
The first thing that popped into my mind as I began playing was a complete surprise: Super Mario Galaxy. At its core, Robonauts is a side scrolling space shooter, but your little robot can run and jump around these small round planetoids, much like the aforementioned Nintendo classic. In fact, as ROBO navigates the surface and gets close to another planetoid, he can leap from one gravity field to the next and sort of hopscotch his way across the galaxy. This gameplay mechanic is unique for a shooting game, and is really fun to bounce from one planet to the next with no effort whatsoever.
Of course, this being a classic arcade shooter, there’s little emphasis on exploration and more on destroying everything in your path. As you blow up the enemy monsters they’ll drop power-ups that can increase your firepower. Your trusty robot has both a primary and secondary weapon to lay waste to the creatures, which can include the likes of crabs and wasps. The extra firepower comes in the form of different weapons, like landmines, missiles, automatic fire, and even rockets. There’s no need to take time to aim at the enemies, as Robo will lock on to the nearest ones and lay waste to them. As you progress into later levels your ability to jump up and around the hordes will become necessary as you won’t be able to blast them fast enough to survive otherwise.
As I mentioned earlier, many games on the Switch feature multiplayer and here you can choose from two player co-op or competitive. I played both and while competitive may have its place among some gamers, I found it to be too shallow to really capture my attention. The co-op is solid though, with both players trying to destroy the waves of enemies. If one of the players dies, the other will have a short time to get to him and revive. If the time runs out the game will end, so both need to help each other stay alive or risk a Game Over screen. Because of the size of the levels, the screen does split vertically to allow each player to tackle different areas simultaneously. This can be a bit dizzying at first, since both players will be bouncing from one planet to the next, with the screens rotating all over the place, but it only distracted for a few moments.
Speaking of graphics, the game is rather simple. It’s not ugly or anything, but the visuals are also nothing to really brag about either. They take on a cartoony aspect, which is appropriate, but there really aren’t many details or special effects thrown in to really elevate it to something special.
However, where the game may lack in the visual department, it more than makes up for it in the sound department. This game has an amazing soundtrack, one that really pumps you up for more action. The beats are crazy good and really add to the overall experience. You know a game has good music when every single person who plays mentions how great it is. Although the music is completely different, I feel I had the same feeling with Tempest 2000 on the Atari Jaguar – where the visuals weren’t the greatest, but the soundtrack was stellar.
Robonauts is a fun game that many Switch owners will enjoy. It’s not for everyone, and in fact it’s probably not the best score-based shooter out there (Graceful Explosion Machine is better in that regard). However, it is a blast to play with a friend and the action is fast and intense. It won’t win any technical achievements, but if you’re looking for a solid fun action game to play in small bursts, this is a great choice.
- Graphics - 6/106/10
- Sound - 9/109/10
- Gameplay - 7/107/10
- Lasting Appeal - 6.5/106.5/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Robonauts is a fun space shoot’em up that takes the planetoid idea from Super Mario Galaxy and merges it with a pure action experience. Throw in two-player co-op and you have a solid game that can be enjoyed in small bursts.
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He’s currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.