Shoot Many Robots: Fun or Fizzle?


Platform: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Developer: Demiurge Studios
Genre: Shooter, Side-Scrolling Action

👍 Pros: Cel-shaded art style; crude humor; multiplayer is wonderfully implemented; Low price

👎 Cons: Loot system sucks; no, really, the loot system sucks

Bottom Line:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

How many of you have ever played Metal Slug or Gunstar Heroes? How many of you thought as you were playing that the games could use more of everything? More enemies, more guns, more humor, more beer, and more of everything that is awesome. “But wait!” you are probably saying to yourself, “there were plenty of things about the run-and-gun genre that I hated.” And to that I can happily reply that those things are gone. 1-hit kills? Gone. Screen full of bullets and enemies that no human could ever dodge? Gone (okay, mostly gone). Lack of online multiplayer? Gone.

Shoot Many Robots (henceforth known as SMR) is the newest game from Demiurge, a bunch of guys that have mostly done PC conversions and add-ons before now. I had the good fortune to meet and speak with a few of them at last year’s New York Comic Con, and it became obvious at that time that this was a game being built by gamers. They told me that they wanted to get rid of all of the worst parts of a sidescroller while adding in some of the things that they (and by they I mean we) always wanted. Enough of me talking about how cool it is. Let’s get into the real meat and potatoes of the review.


The story doesn’t exist. Well it does, but only enough to give you a reason to shoot the shit out of some insolent can openers. You play as P. Walter Tugnut (the P stands for Pickles, but only an idiot would call a man with that many guns “Pickles”), a crazy redneck that has been spending the last few years preparing for the inevitable robot apocalypse. When the robots rise up and start to take over, Walter is ready to wreck house while the rest of humanity gets steamrolled. That’s pretty much it. Robots bad, Walter good, bullets awesome. Now go shoot some stuff.


Initially, the gameplay for SMR is pretty standard for a sidescrolling shooter. Run to the right, shoot whatever gets in your way, collect rewards. But as you run through and tear through all the little tin cans in your way, things start to get a little more complex. Killing robots grants experience points which will increase your level giving you more health and access to more powerful weapons. Killing robots in rapid succession will increase your multiplier (up to a maximum of 5x) which will increase the amount of Nuts you get from each kill. This is important because Nuts are the currency that you use to purchase the weapons. Faster killing results in greater rewards and faster power ups.

Luckily your guns aren’t your only defense. You have your trusty fists to deflect certain projectiles back at your assailants. You’ll need to time it correctly, or you’ll just end up eating the bullet yourself. The reward for your perfect timing is usually a fat stack of damage on the baddie that sent the bullet your way.

You’ll also be happening across some power-up drops to help you along. One makes you deal nothing but critical hits for a short time, one will heal you (BEER!), one will give you a speed boost, and the last one will refill your secondary ammo. There’s a 5th kind of drop that everyone’s going to love, and that’s the gear. Delicious, stat-boosting gear! Sometimes in the hectic onslaught of walking chainsaws, heat-seeking gnomes, explosions, and general insanity, you can miss some of the power-ups. Demiurge made sure that you’re not going to miss a gear drop. They’re huge crates with lime-green labels. Stevie Wonder couldn’t pass up a loot crate.

That’s the good thing about the loot; when it drops, you’ll definitely remember to snag it. The bad thing about the loot is my one real gripe with the whole game. The loot system overall is just… odd. First you have to reach the proper level for a weapon/item before you can use it. Pretty standard, so that’s not a complaint. Then once you reach the correct level, you have to have the weapon/item drop in the game. Strange, but still understandable since you can’t use a weapon that you’ve never seen. I can dig it. Then, even after reaching the level required for your item and having it drop, you have to buy it using your Nuts.

I can almost understand what they were going for here. Everyone likes loot. People like that feeling of making their character more powerful and maybe even going back to go full-speed through a level and mow everything down once you’re insanely over-equipped. Picking up new loot just feels good. Why then do we have to pay for the loot once we’ve gotten it to drop? Give me a minute to talk about some other points, and then we’ll come back to this.

The loot in SMR is completely random in the worst possible way. For those of you that have played Borderlands (and I hope that’s all of you because Borderlands is amazing) you’ll know that the game randomizes everything about the weapons you get except for one thing – the required level. You’ll never get a weapon that you can’t use in Borderlands. In SMR, it’s not uncommon to get weapons that you won’t even be able to use for 5-10 levels. Another mildly frustrating and not at all uncommon occurrence is going for many levels without an upgrade because all of your weapon drops are either far out of reach, or woefully underpowered because the weapons you never saw at level 8 finally decided to drop at level 20.

The last tidbit to mention is the “Snatch Loot” option. This doesn’t exist for most of the weapons. There are only a select few that you can “Snatch”. This means that once you’ve reached the requisite level for the item, you’ll have the option to buy it. Not for Nuts, but for real money (or MS points). I’m not against this system at all. Micro-payments are fine as long as they don’t unfairly skew the game. By that I mean making insanely strong weapons that can only be accessed via real-money-purchase. With SMR, you just skip over the drop/buy aspect. I used the snatch system once (for science!) and it completely bypasses the loot system. It unlocks the weapon and places it into your equipment slot. Also in the micro-payment system is the Nut Sack, which will grant you in-game currency for real-world currency. And this, ladies and gents, is where I jump back a few paragraphs.

If you’re going to put a system in place that will allow your players to bypass your annoying and kind of broken drop system, why would you not allow them to bypass the system with the currency that you stuck into the game? Make it some ridiculous amount of Nuts, like 5x what you charge to use them once they’ve finally gotten a drop that they can use. Reduce the item drop rate a bit, increase the number of kills needed for a combo multiplier, and make it so that a dropped weapon is an inventory item, usable from the moment you finish the level in which it dropped. If you’re unlucky enough to get a drop, well then it’s time to spend some of those Nuts and buy a weapon.

I’ve never made a game. I’ve never had to answer to the whims of some money-hungry dude in a suit tell me what kind of crazy shit I had to put into a game to monetize it. I understand that when you make a game as good as SMR and only charge $10 for it, you need to recoup costs. I get it. What I don’t get is why it couldn’t be done strictly through purchasing Nuts. You obviously have the tech to make it work. Make the “Snatch” option available at all times, but for Nuts. Hell, you could even jack up the prices on the items and people would still be okay with it, because then they would feel like they were working toward something instead of just slogging through levels over and over again in the hopes that that damn gun would finally drop so that they can buy it and kill something bigger.

The game’s saving grace is that slogging through those levels over and over is still a whole lot of fun.


It’s a cel-shaded 2.5D game, so you’re probably not expecting much on this front. Well screw you for being such a pessimist. For what you’re paying ($10? That’s it?) you’re getting a really good-looking game. The cartoony graphics are the perfect way to put absurd items in the game like tutus, fairy wings, and heat-seeking gnomes. Curious about that last one? Yeah, it’s a gun that fires garden gnomes. The gnomes will fly through the air, doing loops and shit, with their arms waving while they chatter away in their little gnome voices. Eventually they hit something and explode, and the first few times it happens you’re probably going to take some damage from laughing so much.

The backgrounds are just active enough to stand out without being distracting. Sometimes you’ll even get to see the boss that you’re working toward moving around in the distance as you make scraps out of his minions.

 Final Thoughts

Even though I spent almost 800 words bitching about the loot system, it is in no way a deal breaker. This game is still loads of fun, and it multiplies when you’re playing with friends. Yes, the crazy loot system can be frustrating. But you’re going to be having so much fun ripping through enemies faster and faster (gotta get that 5th star!) that you’re probably not even going to notice until you stop playing. The best way to fix that? Start playing again.

Shoot Many Robots is available on Steam, Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network.

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