Every time I boot up a new Metroidvania, I wonder just how each intricately designed segment will work, how items will help me navigate each and every zone. There’s also that dread of backtracking to be had too, but with the best of the bunch this is usually not a big issue. Despite having a really stupid name, A Robot Named Fight! attempts to create that experience of a new Metroid game with each run in its Rogue-Lite genre, and while it does initially get there, the similarities show after lots of runs.
It’s also worth noting that A Robot Named Fight!’s story is basically about robots trying to kill flesh monsters. There’s an underlying plot shown after completing runs, taking around four or five completed runs to see everything, but there’s not a great deal to see beyond that. It never quite gets the atmosphere of the game it’s most trying to mimic and that shows in its ultimately bland presentation. I realise this is the work of mostly one person, but it just didn’t click at all for me.
As you probably know if you read my work, Super Metroid is my favourite game of all time. It got the balance between world building and atmosphere down to a tee. There are almost certainly times where this game makes its inspiration clear, while somehow not having as vivid a presence or the same level of detail in its art and sound, and the fanfare for picking up items for the first time goes on for way too long.
A Robot Named Fight! even has much of the same physics in its controls as Super Metroid, for better or worse, making it feel familiar. Improvements were made with horizontal jumps and the gadgets you get do allow for decent mobility later on. Still, it was nostalgic enough for me to almost think I was playing Super Metroid, so it does what it set out to do, even if at times the platforming is a tad imprecise for the gaps you’re expected to clear.
Other than this, think of A Robot Named Fight! as “Metroid lite”. Each seed is a microcosm of the huge, expansive planets, usually culminating in a final fight in little over an hour. There’s plenty of side paths, filled with upgrades, one-use respawn points that are few and far between, and robots/robot gods to trade resources with. There’s no shortage of things to discover, a little backtracking, and all the other Metroidvania trimmings.
Where things fall somewhat flat is in the Rogue-Lite department. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of that genre, but at times I felt this was way too forgiving. Defeating the game on my fourth run with relative ease and seeing the final ending within the first ten was satisfying for me, but I can relate if fans of the genre may find the gear a bit too powerful.
However, what it did excel in was introducing variety. While some power-ups are mandatory for each run, some weapon-based ones have variety in properties that are spawned into the world every time. Sometimes you’ll get a flamethrower, while others your main shot will have fire elemental properties. Occasionally you won’t get the shot that phases through walls, because another ability takes that role instead. It’s a clever idea and perhaps the game’s best trick.
Despite its ridiculous name, A Robot Named Fight! could be a sleeper hit. It made a bad first impression for me, but over time it grew on me with the things it did ever so right. It even blends two genres that theoretically shouldn’t fit together, yet somehow in this context and with the clever implementation of its gadgets, a far more enjoyable experience. It’s by no means perfect, but with great ideas it deserves at least a look for yourself.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch – Also available on PC, Mac, Linux