Posted 2 years ago By - Marko Djordjevic
The twin-stick shooter genre is perfectly suited for the downloadable market since the style tends to be easy to pick up and usually offers plenty of value. With so many good titles to choose from, developers need to offer something unique in order to stand out. That is what the studio Naked Sky were hoping to achieve with their latest entry in the genre: MicroBot. While it definitely has an interesting style to it, too many pacing problems, floaty controls and other issues prevent it from being anything more than a middle of the road adventure.
MicroBot puts you in control of a microscopic robot that is inserted into an organism with the intent of destroying the viruses and infections that are slowly taking over. Its a fairly simple concept that hasn’t really been explored very much (the NES classic Life Force springs to mind) and may usher in memories of the classic film Fantastic Voyage.
You take control of your MicroBot with the left analog stick and all combat is done using the right stick. Surprisingly, your unit can be fully customized thanks to the various weapons that can be researched. Weapons, Propulsion and even Auxiliary add-ons can be fitted according to your own preference. Your MicroBot can be artillery-heavy, light and nimble or a combination thereof. It’s totally up to you.
While the idea of being able to customize your ship with so many different weapons and items is cool, there is no definitive way of approaching your opposition. While one weapon might be good against a specific type of foe, it is absolutely useless against another. The idea of changing weapons wouldn’t be a problem, but because there will be times when so many different enemies types are on the screen, you can’t really pick and choose. Because there is a limited number of places where you can modify your MicroBot in each level, you might be stuck with a particular layout and will have to rely on other tactics to progress.
Another problem lies in the fact that the levels are paced quite poorly. The layouts are meant to replicate our internal system but there are too many areas where you’re not doing anything other than moving around. This is even more evident as there are no real clear objectives outside of travelling from Point A to Point B and reaching the exit. Only the last way-point of each Sector actually has you facing off against a difficult boss character; all other levels may only have one or two sections that deviate from the norm, such as clearing an area with viruses or flipping some switches to proceed further.
As you are travelling through a plasma-like substance, the controls can sometimes cause headaches. Because of the environments, your unit will float at a steady pace. However, if you’re not paying attention, there are sections where sudden bursts of plasma will push you forward. If this happens while surrounded by a massive onslaught of enemies, you could find yourself battling both the environment and your foes for survival. Later levels will also have environments that can cause damage. This added factor of dealing with the controls, avoiding damage from enemies and trying to prevent your Bot from touching dangerous areas within the landscape might be too much for some players.
A saving grace to MicroBot’s gameplay is the ability for local drop-in/drop-out co-op, which significantly alleviates issues surrounding the combat and difficulty. It is unfortunate that there is no online option but if you can find someone to play along, it does make the game significantly easier.
MicroBot’s design choice is unique in its approach, but repetition quickly takes over. The idea of using the inner-workings of a human body is a smart choice, levels suffer from too much similarity. Because each of the games five Sectors has four way-points, you will see a lot of the same stuff over and over again before reaching new scenery. There is some effort put into offering different enemy types but when you combine repetitive environments with poor level pacing, the appeal quickly runs its course. Surprisingly, the musical score really stands out and is ultimately the best part of the game. While the sound effects are pretty standard and suit the action on the screen, the near-haunting score adds plenty of atmosphere to each part of the game. There is very little repetition and the cues work well, especially during boss battles by adding the necessary tension to difficult situations.
If you can play with a friend and/or look past a lot of the issues, MicroBot might be worth a try. For everyone else, there are far too many problems that hamper the experience and prevent it from being the game the developers were hoping to achieve.
+ Lots of customization
+ Fantastic score
- Far too linear; no real objectives outside of a few sections and boss-battles
- Questionable level-designs
- Repetitive environments
- Your MicroBot’s layout can cause control problems
- No online co-op
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Release Date : 2010/12/29
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Electronic Arts
Developer : Naked Sky Entertainment
Category : Shoot’Em’Up
ESRB : E
7.0 / 10
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