An over-the-top ridiculous action game, Bot Gaiden mixes the run-and-gun action of Contra, the robot theme and boss battles of Mega Man X, with the speed and slashing of Strider. Then, toss in the lose-the-power-up-when-you-take-damage mechanic of Blaster Master and you’ll have an idea of Bot Gaiden.
Even though gameplay mixes elements from the games mentioned above, this $15 action title published by EastAsiaSoft is all about speed. Like Mega Man, before you can face the boss, you must get through the stage. As soon as the stage starts, you can see the boss’ energy meter start to increase. Meaning, the faster you clear the level, the less health the boss will have, putting the fight in your favor. At the same time, going faster results in a higher chance of taking damage or landing in an insta-kill pit so there is plenty of risk/reward. The clock keeps ticking if you die too.
The action is non-stop and relentless. When in motion, there can be dozens of bad guys or projectiles on screen at any given time. Luckily, the player can the ability to deal with all the incoming drama thanks to the power-up system. Scattered throughout each stage are yellow icons. Grabbing these will temporarily buff the player with super speed or increase attack power, for example. Skilled players can keep the momentum going and collect multiple buffs at once which makes you feel like an unstoppable powerhouse… until it doesn’t. Taking damage causes the player to not only take damage, but recent power-ups are then removed. However, one of those yellow icons is usually never far away so the game encourages you to play with speed at almost every turn. It does suck if you die during a boss battle because then you’ll restart at the beginning of the fight very under powered.
In addition to fighting the boss with less HP, there are more benefits to finishing the fight quickly. The player is rewarded with bonuses and unlockables if each stage is cleared within the gold, silver, and bronze times. Earning the gold just makes you start the next stage with more power, making the player feel more like a badass. The game encourages co-op too. Even if one player is a pro and the other is a newb, the lagging player warps to the player in the lead, again keeping speed at the forefront. Unfortunately, boss fights can be acts of attrition and there are a few that rely more on cheesy tactics than skill (the final boss in particular is especially cheap and frustrating), but the multiple difficulties are there for struggling players. As a point of reference, I had some difficulty even playing on the easiest setting so players beware.
Visually, the game looks like a comic book in motion with brightly colors sprites and outlined characters. For the most part, it is a decent looking game but there are plenty of times when the foreground looks like part of the background and vice versa. This, combined with the fast paced of play, can be misleading. The soundtrack, however, is composed of hard, electric guitars and it never stops. The ridiculous gameplay is matched perfectly with the ridiculous soundtrack.
Bot Gaiden isn’t a perfect action platformer but it is a damn good one. The fast pace of play merged with the humorously serious plot (the Guns’n Roses references are pretty awesome) results in an action game that you didn’t know that you wanted. Like many other EastAsiaSoft titles, most Achievements are easy to get and worth large Gamerscore too. Don’t let this fly under the radar.
Not To Be Confused With: MouseBot
More Fun and Action Packed Than: Gigapocalypse
Much Better Than: Arsonist Heaven
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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