While there’s certainly an abundance of Metroidvania titles on the Switch, to date Nintendo’s premiere ass-kicking heroine Samus Aran has yet to appear on the system. Of course, this opens the door to indies with some ambition and daring to try to fill the gap, though then understanding they’ll likely be measured against Samus and company, which is likely a bit intimidating. Of course, one way to aim for that experience while sidestepping some of the expectations is to pay homage to the Metroid series, but do just enough differently that you’re able to avoid some comparisons. With its distinctive color-constrained hand-drawn art style and somewhat silly premise (you’ll control Kiki the kitty, making use of robot suits and other craft along your journey), Gato Roboto does just that and Metroid fans will undoubtedly want to give it a look. Having crashed on an alien planet, and with your master unfortunately stuck, you’ll need to control Kiki and work to save the day. Thankfully it doesn’t take long before you’ve found a powered suit you’re able to control that will allow you to get things done… pretty adorably. The suit isn’t all you’ll be able to take control of, which was a nice surprise, but probably the trickiest thing about the game is that at times you’ll see passageways where you’ll need to squeeze through with nothing but your agility and skill to save you. When you’re out of the suit you won’t be able to attack and are vulnerable to one-hit kills, but you are at least able to scale walls. These segments do a great job of changing up the gameplay, and can present a challenge in some cases, so they’re among my favorite in the game. Consistent with the Metroid series you’ll be able to find additional health, missiles, and some other familiar skills as you progress. There are a few spots along the way to explore to get some added help if you keep an eye out for them, and some extra health is always welcome when up against some of the game’s boss fights which may take a few attempts to get through. Some hidden areas will instead hold cartridges that will allow you to alter the game’s color scheme, some of which even have added nostalgic value so they’re worth seeking out. In general the degree of challenge in the game feels just about right, pushing you to be smart and develop some skills with your abilities but generally keeping save points close enough together to prevent the penalty for failure too high. Probably the game’s biggest flaw is just that it’s over in roughly a handful of hours, though its budget-friendly price is very appropriate for the quality and duration of the experience. Even if you’re not pulled in by the cute premise, there’s no question this is a title that is laser-focused on packing your time with the game with variety, some challenge, and fun. Its limited runtime makes it tough to say whether it really approaches the quality of Nintendo’s own franchise, but it is by no means in its shadow, just bear in mind it borrows very liberally from the series and aside from the art style and silliness of its main character it does little to change the formula. But if you’ve been waiting to enjoy the adventures of Samus on the Switch this may be the closest you’ll get to that feeling on the console and it’s a lot of fun while it lasts.
Justin Nation, Score:
Nindie Choice! [8.0]