Friday, June 14, 2019

Gato Roboto (2019, Switch) - A Marvelous Monochrome Meowtroid

Doinksoft's Gato Roboto tells the story of a doomed mission to an unknown planet filled with hostile lifeforms and deadly traps. A pilot clings to life after his ship crashes down and there's only one hope left: His adorable cat.

Cute, stylish, and challenging but never unfair, Gato Roboto is a short but sweet action-adventure game in the old-school Metroid vein; players learn new abilities and find health and weapon boosts, but there are no stats or RPG elements to worry about. This game distills the Metroid experience into a compact, friendly format that I had a great time playing.

Maps are fairly small and the entire game only lasts a couple of hours, with an on-screen timer compelling players to try again and again to beat their best times, but I never felt like it was incomplete. There are plenty of secrets to find, areas feel very distinct, and the boss fights are excellent.

Similar to the Blaster Master games, players can explore both in their powerful, mechanical contraption or on foot. Unlike Blaster Master, your cat is defenseless outside of his robotic suit, so those segments focus more on careful platforming and avoiding enemies. This is part of the key to why this game works so well; it features exquisite pacing, driven by the amount of variety players encounter both on-foot and in their robo suit. There's no time for the game to get repetitive or wear out its welcome, no grinding and only minor setbacks for dying. It's a short game, but it fully respects the player's time and that's become more and more valuable to me.

While they're very different games, Gato Roboto does remind me of 2018's phenomenal Minit, and not just because of the monochrome 2D visuals. Both games focus on taking their respective inspirations (Metroid here, Zelda in Minit's case) and stripping them down to the basics for an extremely streamlined experience. While other games continue to grow more and more complex, we need titles like this to remind us of how important a solid foundation is.

Gato Roboto has a low price tag, plays well on the Switch, and is just an overall great time. If you're into speedrunning games, there's a lot to love here!

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