"Borderlands in 2D"
Shoot Many Robots is the first original project from developer Demiurge Studios, a studio that is mostly known for porting Mass Effect to PC back in 2008. The developer's history is apparent here, because the game feels like a 2D replica of 2009's Borderlands, taking the dozens of weapons and items and scaling things down into a bit sized downloadable title.
The story of Shoot Many Robots is basically told when reading the title; in a barren world the player must "shoot many robots". Levels occur in places such as dilapidated factories and farms, but much of the game's charm comes through when reading the menus. Many of the item descriptions reference pop culture in some interesting ways, such as a weapon being described with a line from a Rihanna song. SMR is rated M, and the rating seems to come from the many crude references to the money in the game, entitled "nuts".
Shoot Many Robots is a score-based side-scroller, with the primary objective being to kill as many things as possible while getting from point A to B. To unlock sections of a map, players must reach score goals to earn up to 5 stars for a level. Being a score-focused side-scroller; much of the gameplay is based around racking up combos and keeping a multiplier alive throughout the level. How players will do this depends mostly on the weapons and items equipped. Players are able to equip two weapons, a primary that has infinite ammo and a secondary that must be replenished with a power-up in addition to a helmet, armor, and pants. Throughout levels, players must collect coupons that allow them the ability to purchase the more powerful weapons. As players complete levels, they begin to level-up, which increases the amount of damage they can take before dying, base damage to all weapons, and an alternate way to earn weapons in the shop menu through microtransactions. Regardless of items equipped, players can deflect certain enemy missile by swatting them away, which later on in the game becomes pretty important.
While the gameplay sounds simple and nothing too new, the hook of Shoot Many Robots is the pseudo RPG nature of the game. Getting through the game can be done in one of two ways: utilizing all of the character abilities available and being skilled enough to deal with the enemies, or simply having the right items equipped on your character. Initially, all of the weapons seemed the exact same, and there wasn't any apparent advantage to buying a weapon, but once I actually purchased something and used it in a level, I saw that there was an advantage to using each weapon depending on how I wanted to play. Shotguns seemed like the way to go until I saw how short the range of one was, which upon finding out, I switched to a machine gun and haven't looked back. The same goes for equipment, with certain items granting the player new abilities, but having faults in other areas such as defense.
Visually, Shoot Many Robots looks pretty similar to Borderlands' cel-shaded style. All the enemies are simplistic-looking robots with chainsaws for melee and guns to shoot. One type even looks pretty similar to clap trap in Borderlands. There is, however, a strange blurriness that makes the game look like something on a powerful Nintendo 64. Luckily, it's nothing too noticeable until exiting the game and playing something else.
Shoot Many Robots is a solid game that sticks out amongst the many side-scrollers on downloadable services today. Offering a side-scrolling shooter that adapts to many player styles through its item system, it is the perfect title to play while waiting for Borderland's upcoming sequel.
GameDynamo's Score for Shoot Many Robots (PS3)
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