Just looking at the name, you might be a bit wary of trying out Gato Roboto. I was when I was first approached about the review, however, after looking into the game, and realizing what it’s all about, I was quick to jump on board. After all, I grew up playing Metroid games on my Game Boy Advance, so any excuse to explore games in that same vein is always welcome. What I found in Gato Roboto was a short-lived, but fantastic little tale. While the game isn’t perfect by any means, it does a great job of making the Metroid formula feel fresh, while also providing the classic challenges that one would expect from that era of gaming.
Suit up, kitty cat
Gato Roboto starts off like any typical sci-fi themed platformer might. Kiki’s owner has been sent to investigate an issue on a planet. Unfortunately, while landing, Kiki presses a button and the ship malfunctions and crashes onto the planet, locking the pilot in his seat. He sends Kiki out in his place, with the promise that he’ll talk her through everything.
It’s definitely a different premise, but it’s one that pays off by offering an exceptionally unique metroidvania experience that still sticks to the basic formula. Throughout the game Kiki will work within both a mech suit and a submarine, both mysteriously designed just for her. Each suit comes with its own pros. The main mech suit can be upgraded with gear like rockets, as well as a spin jump that works as a double jump and an additional attack type. On the other hand, the submarine allows Kiki to explore underwater, taking out enemies along the way.
The game doesn’t stop there, though. Instead, Gato Roboto also allows the player to disembark from the safety of the mechs on hand and explore tight-knit quarters. This can be a challenge sometimes, though, as Kiki is a bit of a fragile beast, and taking any hits from enemies will leave you starting over from the last checkpoint you passed. It works well, though, seamlessly blending the exploration and mech gameplay together to create something that feels like it hasn’t really been done before. Where Metroid gave you the Morph Ball, Gato Roboto gives you a small kitten capable of slipping into hard-to-reach places. It’s a very nice transition
The purrfect blend of challenge and reward
Like any metroidvania, Gato Roboto would not be complete without at least a few intense boss battles. There are plenty on hand here, and this is where you’ll find the most challenge in the game, as some of the bosses require you to really pick up on their patterns and follow them to take them down more easily. For the most part I didn’t have much trouble with the bosses in Gato Roboto. Their patterns or weaknesses are usually pretty easy to pick up on, but one of the fights in particular gave me a bit of trouble. I won’t spoil it for anybody planning to play through the game, but let’s just say it had me almost ready to throw my Switch across the room when I was trying to beat it.
Each battle feels like a win when you do pull it off, though, and Gato Roboto does a really great job of rewarding players for their trouble. Each of the various rewards you unlock are enticing and well-placed throughout the game. They’re also evenly paced through the story, which means you never have to spend much time banging your head against the wall trying to figure out where to go from there. One small thing that I really liked about Gato Roboto, personally, were these collectible items called “Cartridges”. When collected, the Cartridges unlock new color palettes (in case the black and white isn’t your style). There are a couple of really good ones, but overall, I spent most of my time playing in the default black and white, because it just fits the world so well.
The controls are also very tight and feel really good as you move through the various areas in the Nexus (the main area that you explore in Gato Roboto). I played through the entire game on the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode, and I never experienced any kind of issues with the controls or performance. I also started up a second game while playing in docked mode, and the game ran smoothly on the TV as well.
Domo arigato, Gato Roboto
There’s really not much else to say about Gato Roboto. While the way that it handles a few things is definitely unique, it’s the basic Metroid formula at its core, and it never really deviates from that. The biggest difference is that you play as a cat, instead of a highly trained soldier. Honestly, the game’s short playtime is probably my biggest gripe with it (though the length is more than adequate for the $7.99 price tag). Everything else about the title is fantastic, doing a great job of bringing the Metroid-styled world to life. Graphics are smooth and retro, the sound design is phenomenal, and it all just blends together well for a great experience.
Overall, Gato Roboto is one of my favorite indie games I’ve had a chance to play this year. The only downside is that the short playtime of only four-five hours (it took me five and a half because of some issues with one of the bosses), means the game never really feels like it finds its own identity. If you can look past this, though, you’ll find a fantastically crafted platformer that mimics the Metroid days of old. It’s the perfect trip for those looking for a one-way ticket down the rabbit hole of nostalgia, and I’m already frantically looking for any of my old Metroid games to help me continue the high.
A copy of Gato Roboto for Nintendo Switch was provided by Devolver Digital. Gato Roboto is available on Nintendo Switch and PC right now for $7.99.
- Great retro-themed visuals
- Stellar sound design
- Smooth, tight controls that mimic those of the original Metroid series
- Captures the basic Metroid formula very well
- Easy to play through in one sitting and get the full experience without sinking hours into it
- Great blend of challenge and reward
- The shorter play time means the game never really finds its own identity
- Never differentiates itself from the basic Metroid formula