One of the most exciting things that I'm seeing happen on Nintendo Switch is the huge influx of independent games that you can find. A Robot Named Fight is one such indie game and it takes you on a not-so-pleasant trip through a squishy dungeon filled with fleshy monsters. You, as a robot (named Fight), must destroy all monsters before they get you first.
A story without a story
You play as Fight, a robot whose mission it is to destroy all the meatbags ruining your otherwise mechanical planet. These fleshy creatures remind me of the Guardian from Big Trouble in Little China. It's like someone came up with an entire world's worth of monsters where this squishy thing came from.
You're equipped with one gun, a limited power supply, and sometimes low on energy. The first thing you should do when you start a new run is to talk to the dying robot nearby. He'll transfer his energy to you if you're low.
Then, you're off to kill all the things. You'll run through a variety of procedurally generated rooms, looking for hidden weapons, upgrades, and scraps, which can be exchanged for upgrades if you ever find the in-game seller.
As you clear rooms, you'll find different items, which will either be personal items like upgrades, health/energy increases, and armor alterations, or artifacts that you can give to the mechanical gods in tribute.
The point of the game is to get to the end and kill the Megabeast Core, thus saving the robotic world.
There isn't much to the storyline except at the beginning when you learn that the mechanical gods left the lower robots to cultivate the world and then the Megabeast (a pulsating moon-sized orb of flesh, eyes, mouths, and reproductive organs) attacks.
It's not really about the story here. It's about exploring the world.
It's all about the exploration
While I was confused about my job in this game at first, I quickly learned that this game is all about clearing room after room, looking for hidden items, and exploring the entire map. It's a very traditional dungeon crawl in that regard, except you're not underground fighting dragons, you're in an industrial wasteland fighting meatbags.
As Fight, you'll shoot your way past dozens of Megabeast spawns, looking for anything that can help you. Do yourself a favor and shoot at pretty much everything; floors, walls, ceilings. There may be something hidden behind a blasted barrier.
Each time you play, there are a number of constants that you can expect, even though each time you play the rooms are set up different.
For example, if there is something you can't get to, like a portal that is blocked by some kind of impenetrable blob or a small throughway that you just can't fit through, there is probably a weapon or personal upgrade in another nearby room that you can use to help you, like a flamethrower or an upgrade that turns you into a mechanical spider.
Once you get a weapon or personal upgrade, go back through those rooms you've already been in to see if there is something you've missed that you can now get to.
There are a number of different items that will help you throughout your exploration. Some of them can double your abilities. For example, you can hold both the double jump and the "Arachnomorph" items to allow you to jump higher and switch into a spider.
The thing to remember, though, is that this game utilizes the permadeath mechanism. That means, once you die, you lose everything; all of your weapons and personal upgrades, all of your scraps and artifacts, and all of the progress you made on the map. So don't get too attached to anything you pick up because you're probably going to lose it quite a few times.
I haven't gotten all that far in A Robot Named Fight (I get my butt handed to me quite often), but I'm having a blast exploring the map, looking for items, and seeing how far I can get through before I die.
ABXY... what now?
As far as the control mapping is concerned, I was completely dumbfounded. The default controls have the B button for jump, the Y button for shooting, and the trigger buttons to angle up or down. It didn't make any sense to me.
You can remap the controls, but it's a process that involves removing and replacing button designations. Luckily, once you remap the controls, your saved game will always use that custom button set up.
No matter which button scheme you use, you'll have to prepare to use a number of different ones. There's a button to angle the weapon up or down (for shooting floors and ceilings), a button for crouching, buttons for switching weapons, using special weapons, and all the rest of the standard ones.
The weapon angle always gets me, even after I remapped the controls to something that suited me better. I'd have much rather just been able to keep the weapon angled up or down when I angled my joystick. That's just how I play, though. I'm sure there are better (much better) players out there that would cringe at the thought of not having a separate button to angle your weapon up or down.
Is it a winner or not?
I can honestly say that A Robot Named Fight surprised me. I went into it thinking I knew what to expect. I had ideas about how the game worked. Turns out, not only was it a much different type of game than screenshots might suggest, but it was also much more fun than I thought I'd have.
It's got a bit of fast-paced action but is designed for exploration, so you can kill all the baddies and then take your time searching all of the nooks and crannies of a room.
If you're a fan of the Metroidvania genre, this game will be right up your alley. If you've never heard the term before, but know what a Roguelike game is, you'll know that dying means you lose everything and knowing that won't make you want to throw your Switch across the room. You'll have a blast too.
If you don't know anything about Castlevania and Metroid mashups (Metroidvania), and you've never played a game with permadeath, well, you're in for a rude awakening my friend.
I really enjoyed playing A Robot Named Fight, even though I don't typically go for dungeon crawls like these. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, though. It has that anxiety-inducing vibe that can sometimes make gaming stressful instead of fun. If, however, you like a challenge, get a kick out of early 1990s 2D side-scrolling gaming and don't balk at the idea of losing all of your loot when you die, please give A Robot Named Fight a try. It might surprise you like it did me.
Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books. If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).