All good things come to an end — and sadly, the excellent Metroid Dread is no exception. But what if I told you there was a game with a peculiar name that offered potentially limitless Metroid-style action? A game called A Robot Named Fight?
If you’ve not come across this game before, you should give it a look. Because it’s an absolute love letter to Metroid — particularly Super Metroid on the Super NES — blended with the very best, most addictive mechanics and structural elements from the popular “roguelite” genre.
That is to say, A Robot Named Fight is essentially Super Metroid if Super Metroid featured randomly generated levels; a gradual process of unlocking items, enemies and areas that will show up in subsequent playthroughs; and an overall metagame that will keep you busy for a very long time indeed.
A Robot Named Fight was first released all the way back in 2017, but developer Morningstar Game Studio continued to work on it after its initial launch. Nearly four years later, the game features about double the amount of “stuff” that was in it originally — and perhaps more significantly, it has a physical release for Nintendo Switch thanks to up-and-coming boutique publisher Premium Edition Games. Sadly, said boxed release is out of stock at the time of writing — but you can register your interest if you’d like to be notified if and when it becomes available again.
In A Robot Named Fight, millennia of peace have passed since the mechanical gods ascended, leaving the robots to fend for themselves on the planet’s surface. All was well until the Megabeast came; now the world is infested with its meaty offspring, and the robotic race is at risk of extinction. Only one thing for it, then — send a lone robot into the fray to battle through the slippery, gooey Megabeast forces and put a stop to this fleshy horror once and for all. Or die trying.
A Robot Named Fight makes no attempt to hide its obvious inspirations, both in terms of its presentation and mechanics. The pixel-art visuals wouldn’t have looked out of place on the Super NES — they make use of a deliberately limited colour palette, albeit with more background detail than the SNES would have probably been able to handle — and the background music is strongly reminiscent of the atmospheric soundtrack to Samus’ third adventure.
Unsurprisingly, your robotic character controls very much like Samus in Super Metroid, right down to somersaulting in the air during high, long jumps. You can fire your weapon ahead of yourself with the press of a button, and by using the shoulder buttons or directional controls you can aim in different directions.
As you progress through the game world, you’ll acquire a variety of different collectible items. Some of these will simply increase your maximum health and energy; some will provide upgrades to your basic weapon; some will provide you with special abilities or movement skills. In keeping with the Super Metroid inspiration, various runs will see you acquiring the ability to slide into small gaps (a rough “morph ball” equivalent), dash at high speed, jump off walls and more; if you’re a veteran of the Nintendo classic, it will all feel very familiar.
One particularly interesting thing about A Robot Named Fight is how it takes Super Metroid’s core game design into account rather than simply slapping a Super Metroid skin atop a generic roguelite platformer. One of the key distinguishing features of the Metroid games is how you can often see certain areas or collectibles before you can get to them — and that you’re expected to head back to those places once you have a particular ability or item in hand. A Robot Named Fight takes this side of things into account when generating its game world — so you won’t find yourself running into “dead ends”.
For example, if the game knows that the Dash power-up is somewhere in the world, there will be areas where you’ll need to dash in order to break a wall or make it over a perilous platform. If the Slide power-up is somewhere near the start of the game, there’ll be plenty of low passageways to slide through. And if you’re lucky enough to acquire the Flamethrower weapon early on, you can bet there’ll be doors that need its fiery goodness to open, similar to how Metroid has its various types of “missile doors”.
This side of things really helps A Robot Named Fight stand out amid the many, many other roguelites out there, because not every item appears in every playthrough. This means that each run through the game will often feel quite different, because you’ll find yourself armed with a different selection of core abilities each time you play. It also presents you with interesting new challenges to overcome — a particular room might be easy enough to traverse with one particular ability in hand, but what if you don’t have that? What are your alternatives?
Best of all, though, is the fact that there’s a ton of unlockable items in A Robot Named Fight, most of which are tied to accomplishing various milestones. As a result, the more you play — and the more you improve at the game — the more varied and interesting it becomes. This isn’t a means of rewarding only the most skilled players and punishing those who are still learning, mind; there are plenty of items unlocked simply by destroying a particular number of enemies in total across all your runs, reaching new areas for the first time or even accidentally “sequence breaking” a particular run by entering an area before you’re “supposed” to!
In other words, while some might find it easy to be cynical about the game’s obvious and heavy use of the Nintendo classic as its material, at heart the game makes excellent use of that source material as a base for doing something quite different, rather than simply slavishly remaking that which has come before. While Super Metroid is mostly a “once and done” sort of experience — outside of going back for speedrunning or 100% item collection challenges, of course — A Robot Named Fight is designed to be replayed endlessly, and consequently its runs are quite a bit shorter than a single Super Metroid playthrough.
On top of that, there are numerous unlockable additional game modes to challenge yourself with once you’ve really got to grips with the main mission and achieved some milestones. The Boss Rush mode features a string of 14 bosses with a brand new final boss, for example, while Exterminator mode tasks you with clearing out each room of enemies before allowing you to proceed. And Mega Map provides an even more “Metroidy” experience by making a huge map out of all the possible environments in the game, scattering 11 traversal items throughout the world and tasking you to make sense of it all.
You can also play deathmatch or cooperative multiplayer with up to three friends; while these features doubtless won’t be how most people spend the majority of their time with the game, it’s nice to have the option — particularly as the cooperative mode in particular is eminently friendly to less experienced players. The “main” player controls the robot as normal, while the additional players take control of an orb that supports their exploration and combat abilities. Being a “helper” player doesn’t exclude you from peril, mind; all participating players share the same life pool, making for an enjoyable challenge!
So, then, if you’ve come to the end of Metroid Dread — which, judging by social media over the course of the last few days, a fair few of you have already — don’t despair; your sci-fi action-exploration adventures don’t have to be over just yet! In fact, they never have to end if you don’t want them to — A Robot Named Fight is just waiting to drag you into its meaty world and keep you there for a very long time indeed. I’m certainly in no hurry to escape from its clutches.
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