If the name Bad Bots reminds of something you might’ve played at Aladdin’s Castle at the local mall, that’s kind of the point. It has that look, it has that feel, and it has that kind of gameplay which meant one quarter wouldn’t have been enough; you needed to stack a few on the cabinet. Of course, there’s no need to stack quarters on your Mac; just give Steam $10.00 and have at it.
The story of why the bots went bad is revealed throughout the game in comic book style visuals.
I’ll sum up the intro. You’re Sam McRae. You wake up from cryostasis to find your shipmates have all met bloody deaths. The robots have gone bad and killed the humans? Why? That’s what you and the one remaining faithful robot need to figure out, and you have to explore the ship to do so. Why not just escape? Because the robots have programmed the ship to crash into the Earth, creating a “planet destroying catastrophe.” So, you need to find out what happened, prevent something else from happening, and…oh yeah, figure out what’s up with that ghostly woman who apparently is the ship’s artificial intelligence or something.
If this sounds like the plot of a bad late-night movie, then good, because it’s that kind of fun. The visuals are a nice throwback to the action platformers of yesteryear—clunky, but lively.
The various levels do pretty much look the same throughout, but why wouldn’t they? You’re in a cargo spacecraft. Thankfully, it’s not hard to keep your bearings despite the sameness of the rooms and corridors.
The real beauty of the game, anyway, is in the simplicity of the controls. You move Sam with the WASD keys, and point the direction you want to fire with the mouse. Very simple, very precise. Although it’s possible to lose your firing position in the more intense battles, it was also quite easy to sneak up on some robots and eliminate them with pinpoint accuracy.
Speaking of the robots, there’s an impressive variety to fight (and number to kill). Some patrol in set patterns. Some charge straight for you. All are fairly deadly if you can’t find a place to avoid their shots or eliminate them quickly. To make matters worse, there are actual boss robots along the way. Thankfully, you’ve got eight weapons at your disposal, although you can only carry two at a time. Which you go with will depend upon your personal style and, more importantly, the types of ammo refills you find lying about.
Bad Bots is chock full of secrets, too. There are plenty of ventilation ducts to explore, for example, that will often take you to secret rooms with health kits and ammo refills. If you’re looking for much beyond that, though, don’t. The beauty of this game is in the simplicity of the action. It’s a throwback in gameplay and story telling, meaning both are shallow, but quick and intense. Bad Bots is a good way to kill half an hour before bedtime or classes. Much more than that, and you’ll likely grow tired of it.
Again, though, that’s part of what makes Bad Bots work. You couldn’t play those old arcade games for hours on end, either; just long enough for mom to finish her shopping or for you to burn through your allowance, whichever came first. Same here. Play the game, have some fun, grab a Hot Sam, then pick it up again tomorrow.
I must say I’m thankful, too, that developer Point 5 Projects chose to go PC/Mac with this instead of iOS/Android. Although the graphics are suited for tablets, the control system needs the feedback of the mouse and keyboard.
The question, though, is whether PC gamers are really seeking out games like Bad Bots. I’m not sure they are. If you’re in that group, try the demo; it’ll tell you pretty much everything you need to know. If you’d rather take my word for it, Bad Bots is worth the $10.00. It won’t become a priority for you, but you’ll have fun up through the end.
Buy Bad Bots
Category: Action platformer
Developer: Point 5 Projects
Mac Publisher: Digital Tribe
Minimum System Requirements: OS X 10.6.X, 1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1GB RAM, 50MB disk space, 256MB graphics card
Review Computer: 3.2GHz Intel Core i3 iMac, 4GB RAM, 512MB ATI Radeon HD 5670
Network Feature: No
Availability: Out now