Gato Roboto (2019)
Metroid was never really appealing to me, I tried to get into the series so many times, and I usually give up an hour or two in. One of the reasons is because of the backtracking, and also the unenjoyable atmosphere of it. So when I loaded up Gato Roboto and realized it was a metroid style game, I wasn’t thrilled, but as I kept playing I discovered that I did enjoy the platforming and navigation of the abandoned base.
Gato Roboto takes place on a research base on a foreign planet. The intrepid captain was on a call with his commander, and a cat accidentally stepped on the control panel, accidentally crashing the ship on an unknown planet. The captain is trapped under rubble, so the cat, who’s name is Kiki, has to go and help the captain. Luckily the base that the ship has landed into, has a mech suit that the cat can pilot which will allow Kiki to navigate through the different areas of the base.
The basic Metroid formula is here, a scrolling area that is split up into sectors on a grid based map. Each part of the map that is explored gets filled in, and any uncovered spots are left blank or outlined showing you if you might have missed an area. Parts to new areas are covered with blast doors that will require you to shoot them with the mech to open. Smaller vent areas are not accessible by the Mech, so Kiki has to jump out and navigate the space alone without the protection of the Mech, which goes into more of a platform puzzle usually. In this section, Kiki cannot be hit, so taking time to plan out jumps and enemy locations is critical. In flooded parts of the base, there will be an underwater submarine that Kiki can jump into and take control of. This adds a bit of needed variation to navigation.
Each section of the game has a boss or two associated with it, and this is where the game’s difficulty curve can ramp up a bit. The first boss seemed overly difficult for a beginning boss, and requires memorizing patterns, that in and of itself isn’t that bad, but when you respawn and have to jump through the dialog and cutscene of the boss everytime without being able to skip it, it can be a bit frustrating. The bosses seem almost masochistic in the beginning of the game, but sticking with the game and spending a life or two just trying to understand the pattern of the bosses will get you through it without too much trouble.
The game takes roughly about 2 and a half hours to complete, and can be finished in a single sitting. It’s small enough to give a sense of completion without being overly long or complicated. Just like other games like Minecraft Dungeons, or The Stick of Truth, this is a great introduction game for the genre. Metroid games can become incredibly overwhelming very easily, and it’s what has put me off of the genre. I don’t want to have to draw out a map on a physical piece of paper, I don’t want to have to memorize areas on where to go or backtrack over and over again. Gato Roboto, simplifies a lot of those processes, by simply taking most of that stuff out. Again, it’s why it's such a short game, but exploring a bit and really spending a little bit of time to find hidden areas is very satisfying, and has prepared me for tackling a bit more complicated game in the type of genre. Even if the game has a more atmospheric soundtrack and less actual music, it’s definitely worth completing, to get you prepared for a more difficult type of metroid-esque game.