Metroidvanias are one of my favorite things to ever happen in gaming. Beautiful worlds filled with challenges and areas that you can’t reach yet. The beauty comes with every new upgrade that potentially opens up entire segments of the world. Whether it is a big upgrade or a near meaningless one, they all serve as milestones in a huge adventure. I have personally been playing Super Metroid for a long time now, and I don’t see myself getting bored of it ever. Unfortunately, the feeling of discovery is long gone, with me knowing where every single item upgrade is located. There is a part of me that wishes to still be surprised with every new play through, and this is exactly what A Robot Named Fight accomplishes best.
Developer: Matt Bitner Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release date: April 26th, 2018
A Robot Named Fight is a 2D action, roguelite platformer. The best way I can put it is as a Super Metroid inspired randomizer game. You play as Fight, or rather one of the many robots that don the name Fight. Your mission is to save your world from the invasion of the Megabeast. As you explore the depths of the earth, you will find different power-ups that will allow you to go deeper into the world. Finding these ancient relics is of utmost importance, as they will allow you to go against the Megabeast.
As with any true roguelite game, every run you play will be different. While going through the different zones, you will encounter power-ups hidden in every corner or the world. These power-ups can enhance your abilities like giving you higher jumps or a speed boost. They can also take the form of fire power boosts like improving your damage, your rate of fire, or even gaining new weapons like a flamethrower or a missile launcher. Unless it is a numbers upgrade, most power-ups will allow you to explore new areas.
A randomized metroidvania
If this sounds a lot like Super Metroid, it is because this REALLY is a tribute to Super Metroid. From the progression, to most of the power-ups, they all feel really similar which makes it easier to discern which upgrade will be needed to access a blocked zone. Even Fight himself looks a lot like classic Samus donning her Varia Suit, round shoulder pads and everything. Oddly enough, even the animations are very clearly designed to resemble Samus’ own animations.
The power-ups too are part of a familiar territory. While you explore the world, you will find old buddies like the speed booster, high jump boots, missiles, wave beam, and even the space jump.
Even several bosses and weapons are fun nods to other games. There is an item called the Celestial Aura which is a power start from Super Mario. You can get the good ol’ metal blade which is as OP as it was in Mega Man 2. Even a boss, the mole shaman, fights like Wood Man! I don’t think I’ve seen every easter egg, but finding one always brings a smile to my face.
A huge part of the appeal of the game is how closely it resembles a randomizer experience. If you are unfamiliar with what a randomizer is, just think of playing the same game you’ve always played like Zelda, except that the first temple doesn’t give you the item you were expecting and instead you get a random one. The beauty of it is that you can have a game that you already know and love, but the random aspect keeps you on your toes exploring a world as if it was your first time there. There are literally more than 4 billion unique runs (according to the developer), so you will definitely get your money’s worth before running out of unique runs.
For minutes or for hours
As you progress through the game, you will unlock achievements and upgrades. That is to say, you won’t have access to every possible weapon or upgrade from the get go. New items are unlocked as you accomplish certain milestones or achievements during the game. Uncovering a new area will unlock a new weapon for future runs, beating a new boss will unlock a new upgrade, even killing a certain number of enemies will unlock something new. Having upgrades linked with achievements is a nice reward for those runs in which you powered through and beat your previous best run.
Full runs typically clock in about an hour of play-time. While not being in the typical range of metroidvanias, it definitely feels appropriate here. 1 hour is quite enough time to explore a world and do your metroidvania things like backtracking, sweeping the area for power-ups, fights, etc. The game also offers a “Save and quit” option, which allows you to suspend your current run in case you have something else to do and want to continue later. One of my most requested games growing up was a portable Super Metroid, I finally feel like I got it in A Robot Named Fight.
A really nice touch is that it tracks the % of collection of your current run. For those who like to go for full completion, you can opt to 100% explore every new run. You could also go for low % clears, the game even rewards that! These details really show the level of respect the developer had to the source material. In a world of speedruns, categories offer enough variance to make it feel like completely different games, so in a way we get multiple experiences in a single package.
Each run is split across different areas. Think of the areas which are present in full featured metroidvanias, except in here those have a bite-sized scale. In a way, having smaller world gives you more frequent rushes by completely changing the landscape after a couple of minutes. The end of an area is typically signaled by a huge boss fight, rewarded by a new upgrade that helps you progress deeper into the world. As with items, bosses are randomized, so you never know what is on the other side of the bloody door!
In regards to bosses and the megabeast itself, I love the ominous corridors that lead to these fights. The music is muted and all you hear are ambient sounds, perfect for the terrifying experience that is about to occur.
Speaking of ambient sounds, the games music is for the most part far from being an atmospheric experience. Unlike its big brother Metroid, the caves and corridors have music that is more akin to action games rather than atmospheric exploration. I personally prefer the tense beats of cavern exploration, but the music is quite fitting for the pace at which the action occurs. The main theme is also all sorts of amazing, which makes the backtracking to the Megabeast a blast.
Fight the megabeast
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the game is that you literally know from the beginning that the end boss will be the Megabeast. You do not know anything else though. For me, knowing the final boss made me extremely excited and more than willing to backtrack to be as strong as possible for the final showdown. The stakes are pretty high too, as death is actually death, unlike any other game where you can attempt a final boss as many times as possible.
Of course, even if you fall in battle against the Megabeast, you will most likely have accomplished several milestones on the way, so your next run might give you much better upgrades to play with. The game also offers a couple “Save rooms” which are one time only respawn points. The most I’ve found is 2 in a single run, still, having 2 extra lives on a run is definitely priceless.
As you explore the world, you will collect scraps from fallen enemies and find ancient relics hidden in every corner. These scraps and relics serve as the currency of the game, and can be used to purchase upgrade from robot allies or offered to the gods as tributes in several shrines scattered across the world. I haven’t been able to figure out how the tributes work yet, but there probably is a wiki somewhere that will make me feel less bad about offering all of my stuff without getting anything in return.
Tailor made for the speedrun community
While not being new by any means, A Robot Named Fight gives you the code of the seed you are currently playing on. Many roguelite games employ this, and I’m really glad A Robot Names Fight does too as well. When I think about it, the first thing that comes to my mind is the possibility of doing community speedrun races playing against the same seed, or heck, even being featured in a bigger event like SGDQ.
When I first saw the gameplay trailer, it raised up my expectations by a lot. So far, A Robot Named Fight has managed to meet this expectations and even succeed at several points. This is what I imagine a randomizer game would be, and I honestly can’t wait till I finish writing this so that I can go back to playing and facing the Megabeast once more. I do, however, do not recommend to attempt a full run while on the toilet (for health reasons).