Gato Roboto Is a Flawed, but Fun, Feline Flight

Gato Roboto is a challenging Metroid-style 2D action adventure platformer developed by doinksoft and published by Devolver Digital. It tells the silly story of a cat who pilots a mech suit while exploring a dangerous planet. After the astronaut assigned to the mission is hurt when his spacecraft crash-lands on the planet, his affable cat Kiki must use his mech suit to brave the planet’s depths in his stead, and discover what has happened to the people who lived there.

While Gato Roboto is more bite-sized than many modern Metroid-style games, clocking in at around 4 hours (for $8), players will spend their time in much the same way as in other genre mainstays. Players will explore various ecosystems, defeat bosses, and track down upgrades and items which will increase their offensive capabilities and open up new paths for exploration.

Kiki’s mech will grow from a fragile walking shield to a lightning-fast death machine over the course of Gato Roboto.

What makes Gato Roboto unique, however, is switching between controlling a relatively slow-moving Kiki in the mech suit and the agile (and fragile) kitten outside of the mech. Unfortunately, while the idea of flipping between a fast-moving cat and a powerful mech sounds great on paper, conceptually dissonant controls, as well as environment and enemy design, can lead to frustration.

In the early game, it can be difficult to survive the bullet-hell boss encounters located at the end of each area, even in the mech suit, because you can only take a handful of hits before death. Outside of the suit, however, things get much dicier. Once she exits the mech, Kiki has only 1 hit point, so if she comes in contact with any hostile element whatsoever, it’s back to the nearest save point.

While the out-of-mech sections can sometimes feel like herding cats, Kiki’s underwater sections are a joy.

In a game where there was plenty of space to move, avatar and enemy movement was more predictable during these sections, or the player simply restarted the screen upon death, this might not even register as a problem.

The unusual speed and agility of Kiki, however, takes some time to get used to, and feeling slightly “out of control” with a fast-moving character can cause issues in certain Kiki-centric sections, and can even extend to mech sections (and some boss fights) in the late-game, once several movement-enhancing items have been obtained.

Explore every corner of the planet to find new weapons, upgrades, and movement-enhancing equipment.

While major area bosses do, thematically, play on the “silly” core of Gato Roboto, they are also intense affairs from a gameplay perspective, and players will need to memorize attack patterns and develop very specific methods for countering them. While these bosses can feel tedious at times (and there are no Mega Man-style weapon weaknesses to exploit to make things easier) finding a working strategy feels satisfying, even if these bullet-hell encounters feel less “I beat the boss” and more “I survived long enough to win.”

Unfortunately, like platforming in Gato Roboto, there is a small fly in the Boss Fight ointment; no matter how many times you have died to the boss, you will need to click through every line of dialogue before the fight begins.

Learning patterns and dodging projectiles is key to each boss fight in Gato Roboto.

CONCLUSION: 

Gato Roboto is a visually and thematically charming throwback which can range from easy-peasy to tough-as-nails, due to a mixture of old school difficulty, bullet-hell bosses, and extended sections of instant-death platforming with a fast-moving avatar.

Despite uneven difficulty and a few questionable design decisions, I enjoyed Gato Roboto’s quirky world, the silly fun of the premise, and the satisfaction of hard-won victory pulled me through some of the game’s more hair-pulling moments. It’s not the best Metroid-style game on Switch (that honor goes to Hollow Knight), but if you are hungry for a challenging action platformer, and can look past some of its rough edges, there is a heart of gold in Gato Roboto.

Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Devolver Digital
Developers – doinksoft
Release Date – May 30, 2019
Price – $8.00
Genre – Action, Adventure, Arcade, Platformer
Players – 1
Size –  891 MB

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