I think we’ve adequately covered the gamut of gaming tropes. I feel like gamers can all consider themselves Subject Matter Experts on zombies, pirates, ninjas, and robots. These themes have been run hard and fast, yet developers keep turning to them, hoping to strike a chord with us. Demiurge Studios opted to go with killer robots mixed with some tongue-in-cheek redneck humour, and served up a bite-sized gaming package to be enjoyed with friends. Shoot Many Robots certainly does what it says on the tin, but some may find there’s not enough substance to give the game mileage.
This side-scrolling shooter is elementary: shoot robots, collect nuts from kills, maintain kill rate to increase nut multiplier, use nuts to purchase better gear, and repeat. Weapons are unlocked by collecting crates. Base versions of weapons are soon overshadowed by higher grade versions that have better stats such as increased crit percentages and movement buffs. Clothing items provide additional bonuses such as increased damage, faster health regeneration, or additional movement options.
The game is not left wanting for inventory. However, the lack of a sell option means that instead of sacrificing unneeded gear for a shiny new loadout, you grind through levels so you can accumulate enough nuts to purchase the tools you actually want to use. This becomes painfully obvious in the endgame levels where weapon costs become exorbitant.
The game’s single player mode is a distraction in a game built for co-op. It pales in comparison to the bullet-hell frenzy of Metal Slug – it becomes a case of whether or not you can weather the hordes of robots with your gear of choice. Level design consists of either survival arenas or a level with branching paths. Co-op allows up to three other players to join in, and it’s definitely the preferable option: mindlessly laying waste to swarms of robots is more fun with good company, even if the action doesn’t require teamwork. Enemies don’t pose enough of a threat to warrant a coordinated effort, so co-op sessions degrade into score-attack races to earn more nuts and to buy shinier gear. If Shoot Many Robots had better enemy variety that necessitated communication and teamwork (see: Left 4 Dead) then maybe the game would’ve had some lasting appeal. Alas, it’s not the case.
Granted, this is priced as a casual arcade title and what’s on offer is competent enough for a brief spell of time. It has character and charm, especially after a few beers. However, there’s a reason why I’ve only got a few hours worth of play time logged for this game, and it’s not because I happen to enjoy shooting zombies more than robots.