A clone of Bubble Bobble, Robbotto is a simple arcade game that is easy to pick-up-and-play and built around getting a high score while playing through 100 single screened stages. Instead of spitting bubbles and trapping enemies like Bub and Bob, the player controls a robot in which enemies must be shot with a blast of electricity then doused with water. The lower quality and basic presentation even looks like a smaller retro platformer of the past. Also, you don’t actually “kill” or “defeat” enemies, you just incapacitate them making this a more child friendly experience. The player can even fall off the bottom of the screen and reappear at the top just like Bubble Bobble.
Bubble Bobble can be considered a puzzle platformer as the bubble mechanic required players to bounce on burped bubbles to reach higher ground and trap difficult to reach enemies. Here in Robbotto, the robot is limited to platform jumps so it is nowhere near as complicated as Taito’s classic. Instead, each stage is specifically hand crafted to offer a unique challenge. There are over a dozen different types of enemies but some are tedious, like the enemies that always run away on sight or the robots that revive falling brethren. Every tenth stage is a boss battle that acts as a nice change of pace though.
Depending on the selected difficulty, players can restart at the same level when encountered with game over making it a casual and more leisure experience. The only downside is that score will reset but the Leaderboard option is restricted to local scores anyway. Even though this game keeps track of score, the scoring system is also a little strange. When all the enemies are defeated, they magically turn into gems and increase score when collected. However, the player is also rewarded for clearing a stage in a set amount of time but back tracking to collect fallen gems is tedious and go against the time bonus; the warp exit also often appears right on top on collectable gems too. The only benefit of achieving a higher score is to reward the player with an eventual extra life. But since lives are infinite and leaderboards are local, score keeping is almost a moot point. The biggest kick is playing through all 100 stages with the goal of simply reaching the end. Luckily, there is the option to play co-op with split Joy Con support. Negatively, there is only one save file so players will need to do a full reset if wanting to start over again and actually encountered a bug where I got trapped in the environment forcing a full reset.
Robbotto is sort of like eating a plain cake right out of a sheet pan. It still has a slightly sweet taste but there is no frosting, no sprinkles, no filling, and no tempting presentation. The lack of options, variety, and even gameplay elements like power-ups or RPG leveling up abilities, Robbotto is a one trick pony that can still provide some semi-sweet entertainment for a couple hours.
Not As Good As: any Bubble Bobble game
Don’t Forget About: Snow Bros. (NES)
Also Try: any Bust-A-Move title