When I was tasked with reviewing Bad Bots I was looking forward to playing a retro style side-scrolling shooter. It’s not every day you see a cocktail of these genres mixed together among the Call of Duties and Halos of the world. Now I know why.

The story starts aboard the Titan Hauler space cargo ship, once the prize war vessel of the space navy. While en-route back to Earth, the ship is overrun by re-programmed maintenance droids that, needless to say, have homicidal tendencies. This is when grease mechanic Sam McRae awakes from cryogenic hypersleep to find the ship in chaos. It’s up to McRae to retake the ship, and kill every robot in his path. While it won’t win accommodations, the story is compelling and relatable. Everyone loves when an average Joe can overcome great odds and go onto victory. It’s not different here. Sam McRae carries a very Ash Williams demeanor and I love it.
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The Titan Hauler itself is rather fun to explore and provides a fair share of dangers for McRae to conquer. Sinister traps like spinning blades and garbage crushers require some thought to out maneuver. These hazards help shake things up and add an interesting depth to combat when taking on the robot horde.

Next only to Nazis and zombies, robots are one of mans greatest foes in gaming… hell even in reality. The T-100, HAL, IG-88 and let’s not forget the sexy, but deadly Fembot have all taken a run at humanity. It’s a timeless tale, man versus machine, as the creators of these beings we hold a certain level of resentment when they ultimately betray us. Developer Point 5 Projects nails this feeling on the head, as you hack n’ slash your way through, what seems like an endless supply of bad bots.

The hacking and slashing of those questionably motivated robots is the bread and butter of this game, and unfortunately it’s plagued by poor controls. Players have the option of using either an Xbox 360 controller or more conventionally a mouse and keyboard. After trying both, the latter is your best option. As a console gamer through and through, I had high hopes for the 360 controller, but alas they were for nothing. This is largely due to the lack of controller customization. Aiming with a joystick can work when a player can adjust the movement speed, but when fast is your only option it feels uncomfortable.

As any veteran PC gamer will tell you the mouse is the way to go when optimizing accuracy. That is definitely the case in Bad Bots. While the controls are a little more fluid with the keyboard and mouse, it just can’t make up for the lack of key binding. There’s just something off-putting about jumping with the up key… something I ultimately couldn’t get over.
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For the most part the 2D side scrolling of yesteryear works, but instead of Point 5 Projects delivering retro mechanics at its best, we get game designing that should have stayed in the past. Most stringent of all was the screen transitions. It took me at least ten minutes to figure out where to go when I first booted up the game. It became even more frustrating when getting shot by enemy robots placed off screen. Their damn technologically superior bionic eyes can see right through those slow transitions. Too bad it’s not vice versa. While you eventually learn to manage with the ever slow screen transitions, you’re left with an awful taste of expired gameplay.

Point 5 Projects does give Bad Bots a little more depth with its challenge mode. Players are given 60 seconds to cause as much mayhem as possible and survive the mechanical hordes. It’s a fun time killer, but its longevity is brought down by its lack of variety.

Wrap Up

Ultimately Bad Bots was a solid attempt at reviving a genre that is rarely seen. The story is one any sci-fi fan can relate too, providing a likable hero and an enemy you just love to kill. The lack of controller customization however really weighs down what could have been an otherwise solid throwback. With at times spotty side-scrolling, this may be one title to pass on.
5

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About The Author

Editor

Adam has been in the journalism business for over five years. When he isn’t gracing Canada with his face on television as a reporter, he’s writing about one of his passions for Indie Haven. His love of video games stems back to Adam’s childhood, where he beat Super Mario World at the age of 5. #ProGamer. You can follow his Canadian exploits on Twitter @ehis4adam

  • RavenValor95

    This game really is kind of “eh”
    I would’ve loved for them to have supported SteamWorks and had online leaderboards or something similar for challenge rooms, because as of right now it’s only local which for me destroys any real strive to get better since I’m not competing against anyone(just myself)

    This game seems to hold on to traditions of games from yesteryear not because they are good, but because they are old.

    It’s too afraid to do anything radically different so while the experience it gives you is not a bad one, it is also a very, very, forgettable one.