With the downloadable arcade shooter making a comeback across XBLA, PSN and Steam (the latter, to a degree) this latest offering, Shoot Many Robots, comes from an unexpected source. Demiurge Studios, better known for its first-person shooter multiplayer development and most notably porting the original Mass Effect to PC, tackles the robot-aclypse with a smile on its dial and its tongue firmly planted in its cheek.
In Shoot Many Robots you’ll play P. Walter Lugnut a redneck backwater kind of fellow who really, really, really hates all manner of circuitry. He’d totally like to grind their gears into dust and armed with an ever-expanding arsenal of weaponry and gadgetry he stands alone against mechanical hordes. Well, in single-player at least.
Combat is of the classic 2D side-scrolling variety with slightly cel-shaded graphics and a foot-tapping Southern twanging soundtrack backing it up. As you massacre thousand upon thousand of these metal monstrosities their shells erupt spraying nuts everywhere (phrasing), which you collect as in-game currency. Take these bad boys down in quick succession and you’ll be rewarded with multipliers to exponentially increase your bounty. At the close of each level you’ll regroup back at your charming RV to buy new gear before getting back into the fight. Cut, lather, rinse, repeat.
There is a certain amount of repetition in both shooting and the maps you’ll work your way through, though in a nice change of pace each change in difficulty offers new maps in different arenas to tackle. Lone wolf warriors will find themselves tested in the last third of the “normal” campaign and it is definitely best tackled with a few partners, particularly if you intend on mastering the higher difficulty levels. This allows you to revive each other, mix up your play styles with a deadly combination of long and short-range gunners as well as aerial assaults.
The potentially mundane and mind-numbing gameplay, which many reviewers have written Shoot Many Robots off as, is offset with a crazy assortment of weapons, power-ups and gadgets that wildly alter your play-style with Borderlands-styled descriptions that will force more than a few involuntary giggles.
You can don the Edward 40-hat, a double beer dispenser (beer = health) that gives you a massive health boost and nearly three times the damage modifier, toss on a pair of fairy wings to swoop about the battlefield or some kick-arse undies that lower your modesty rating but increase your slide. The depth is surprising and often you’ll find yourself stuck on a particular level when the right piece of kit can make all the difference.
Case in point? After using the shotgun for nearly half of the single-player campaign as I blasted and punched my way to glory (yep, you can melee with your fists and even punch back bullets!) I reached an end-level Hindenburg-styled boss that fired wave after wave of homing missiles as little chainsaw wielding minions attacked me on the ground. On their own I wouldn’t break a sweat, but together they were more than a match and I was unable to quell the mechanical tide rolling in.
After a quick regroup at the RV I picked up a jetpack and astronaut helmet affording me the opportunity to not only glide and avoid those pesky ground types but my regular jump had added hang-time and I could slam into the little buggers from my lofty new position. I ditched the up close and personal shotty for a longer-range rifle and before I could shout “suck these P Walter Lugnuts!” bada-bing, bada-bam, bada-boom, no more Hindenburg. It was just that simple.
It’s easy for many to dismiss Shoot Many Robots due to its repetitive nature, but seriously, what modern day shooter isn’t repetitive? Those that stick with it and delve a little deeper will find a diamond in the rough offering hours upon hours of shootery fun. With a couple of likeminded buddies you’ll be able to quell this robot revolution, save Sarah Connor from Skynet, have no fate but what you make and laugh your balls off while you’re doing it. Shoot Many Robots is big, loud, dumb fun and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s time to nut up or shut up.