I was gonna play this one three months ago, but it wouldn’t work. Turns out, you have to start the game with the controller disconnected, even though that’s the opposite of what all other games require.

  • Crashbots

    6 hours playtime

    achievements are broken

This is a runner: forward speed is fixed, so you can only move left/right. You can also shoot by holding RB. Moving forward drains your health, and since you can’t stop on your own, your health drains constantly each level. You can hover or slide to get around certain hazards, but doing so also costs health, even though that’s often the only way you can progress.

The game’s biggest problem is that it thinks its a SHMUP, so the hazards won’t be synced to your movement speed. There will be coins or other items in rows, but it isn’t uncommon for the hazards to overlap the items when you reach them. The only control you have over your forward movement is a burst of speed (but it has a 10 second cooldown) and the aforementioned sliding, which also gives you a small speed boost (but not only does it cost health as mentioned previously, it also prevents you from jumping or shooting during the animation). There’s no way to slow down or stop on your own, so if your current speed has you on a collision course with a fully-closed laser gate, you’re as good as dead. There are occasionally pause tiles that’ll let you stand still when you touch them so you can actually time your movement with what’s ahead, but even if you time it correctly past the first couple obstacles, you can still get screwed over by a later obstacle that ended up moving in a way where you can’t dodge it (worse when it’s an instant-kill hazard, like boulders or cars). The game wants to have precision obstacles, but that only works if the player has precision control, which is absolutely not the case for this game.

Despite being deceptively cheap with how its mechanics work in relation to its hazards, the game also manages to have standard unfair design as well. There are boxes you can shoot a few times to destroy, but they spawn smoke when destroyed, so you won’t be able to see if there’s an item or hazard there at first, often before you collide with it and take damage since you can’t stop moving forward. Sometimes there will be tiny skull icons that spawn with the smoke when it’s a hazard, but I swear that doesn’t always happen (and even if it does, they’re not very noticeable). Also, normally, shooting enemies will be on the ground so you can see them coming (or even shoot back), but the semifinal world hides them in other obstacles and the last world has spaceships fly in from above to shoot at you before flying up and away, giving you little time to react (assuming you can get out of the way in the first place and there aren’t other hazards beside you).

Oh, and it’s also possible to upgrade the stats of your character (less energy consumption, more defense, etc.) but I swear, most levels were designed around having higher stats, meaning they’re impossible if you haven’t bought enough upgrades (and even if you did, you still have to deal with all the unfairness mentioned before). This means you can avoid every hazard and collect every health pickup, yet still die before reaching the end of the level. Luckily, you unlock the next world before you finish the previous one, and the difficulty goes down somewhat for the first three worlds, so you won’t be completely stuck.

There’s also the bosses. The third boss was the first one I came across due to the aforementioned “some levels require higher stats” element, but when I switched to the new robot I unlocked, some of its attacks lost collision. The first boss was the second I reached, and either it’s woefully unbalanced compared to its preceding levels or I encountered a bug because I killed it very quickly (<10 seconds). Then I reached the second boss, and this is where I noticed that the game tried to have a more reasonable difficulty curve: the first three bosses are similar, but the second adds some attacks and the third adds a shield that’ll reflect your bullets back at you. Thing is, the bosses will also spawn boxes that contain energy so you can regain health since your health constantly drains, but with the second boss, it’s random whether it’ll be energy or a coin, meaning you can lose because of bad luck. The second and third boss also have attacks that are only indicated by a small yellow exclamation point triangle that you’ll probably not see even though you have to be looking at the boss to see where its weak spot appears. Ironically, this means the last two bosses are easier: the fourth has its weak spot spawn at the same place (the boss itself moves left/right instead) and its projectiles are slow enough you can see them coming, while the last boss drops energy each time you hit its weak point and is more content spawning various stage hazards on the path.

Not recommended. It’s a SHMUP without freedom of movement; it’s a runner without synced hazards; it’s a platformer where jumping hurts you; everything good it does is ruined by something else it does.