Bad Bots is a retro-styled side-scroller with a “Contra”-esque shoot-em-up appeal. It is a fast-paced blast-fest through 170 rooms of killer robots and 7 bosses. You play as lone-survivor, Sam McRae, as you venture through this deadly spaceship while trying to understand what exactly you just survived. The game has game-controller support and an interesting comic-book art story-telling style. Bad Bots hits the Steam Store today for both PC and Mac. Let’s dive into this game and find out if its bang is worth its buck.
Right off the bat, I’m torn by the game’s presentation. Growing up in the 80’s put retro-gaming artwork and music right into my wheel-house. I adored the comic book tear-offs for the plot showcases of the game. The story, however basic, itself was presented well and thoroughly-enough given the length of the game’s main campaign mode. Story interruptions came only at the “oh snap” moments and were evenly dispersed throughout the game. The display of the game-play itself is close-to-home with the pix-elated look of this long-lived genre. It’s an artistic approach where “high definition” doesn’t apply.
Where I’m torn is surprisingly enough in the sound department. Throughout 85% of the campaign, you are playing with no background music whatsoever. This game gets repetitive, which is to be expected with this genre. You don’t buy a Dynasty Warriors game (after already playing one) and complain about slashing multiple copies of the same enemy over and over again, do you? You WOULD however get some audio to help ease you through the non-stop pressing. As I played through Bad Bots, I couldn’t help but feel like something important was missed, even if music did play for the bosses.
The native controls of WASD for movement and a mouse for aiming and shooting was a bit of a hit-or-miss for me. While I applaud how the mouse was used for shooting in a 2D side-scroller, pressing W for jumping just was not comfortable at all. Spacebar is used for weapon-swapping, something I found myself doing a lot of as I approached treacherous gaps and ditches. (A pit of spikes, you say? Switch to pistol!) And unless you had a controller handy, it was take it or leave it with this button configuration since there was no controls configuration menu available.
Mechanics aside, the game-play itself takes some time before it picks up and becomes enjoyable. And once it does, the energy of the game-play is constant. The different weapons that you get throughout the game are fun to use. They add to the fun factor especially in the mid to later part of the game where robot waves are nothing less than overwhelming. Do you use a cannon to melt through this crowd or should you save it for the bosses?
And don’t let my Dynasty Warrior reference persuade you to think that you will shoot the same robot over any over again. There are 7 or 8 different robot variants (not including the 7 bosses) thrown at you at a fast pace. This game is not for the lazy as a simple jump mistake will get you stabbed to death in seconds. The boss robots each get their own comic book snippet intros and music to accompany them. (Hurray, music!) Understanding their movement patterns will allow for more success than just throwing the kitchen sink at them.
That said, the campaign feels short once you power through it, and you start to miss it once you get used to that faster pace of game-play. Sure, game-play as fast as is being described takes some easing into. But once it does, that standard should be just a little more present. The “Challenge” mode did not add much more to this $10 package for me. It is one minute of that same faster-paced game-play that you experienced through the campaign with difficulty being the only variable.
Bad Bots is available now in the Steam Store for $9.99. If you are interested, then you should act fast since there is a 25% off promotion until May 24. Fans of arcade style side-scrollers will probably eat this up (and fast given the length of the campaign). And most likely a contra fanatic will find replay value here. But if you’re just passing by and getting a little curious, strike while the iron costs $7.49. (I’m fairly certain that is how the saying goes…)
† Game-Review copy, screenshots, and trailer provided by Digital Tribe Games