The T-800 in Terminator 2, Optimus Prime, Andrew from Bicentennial Man, the Iron Giant, Lal, the robots from Silent Running, Roy Batty. Even Wall-E, albeit temporarily. All artificial beings that died, and for whom we’re not ashamed to say we shed a tear. But playing Don’t Die, Mr. Robot! DX caused us to toughen our stance on robot deaths very quickly, because if there’s anything in this life as certain as death and taxes, it’s that Mr Robot is going to die. A lot.
And it’s our fault. It’s always our fault.
Don’t Die, Mr. Robot! DX is a remixed version of a classic arcade bullet-hell avoid ‘em up, completely remastered and rejuvenated for Nintendo Switch by developer Infinite State Games, and published by Digerati. The titular Mr. Robot is in your care, and whether he lives or dies is determined only by your skill at guiding him around the electro-abyss and avoiding all manner of beasties trying to kill him.
You’ll quickly leave aside any philosophical debate on whether robots are alive in the first place (so can they really die?) and simply immerse yourself in the challenge in front of you. Want to platinum all 50 levels of the base game, triggering immense chains of exploding fruit? Yeah, good luck with that.
You won’t be lacking for things to do even if you master all 50 levels of the Remix mode, though. Don’t Die, Mr. Robot! DX offers a never-ending option in the form of Arcade mode, and a race against the clock in Time Attack. If it’s all getting too much for you, Chill Out mode slows everything down for a more relaxed – though still challenging, option. All modes are available from the start – no tedious busy-work required to unlock them.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]”What could have felt like a dreary trudge becomes something joyous, something far greater than the sum of its fruity parts.”[/mks_pullquote]The objective is simple. Survive waves of increasingly aggressive enemies until the level ends. Generally, the longer you last, the greater the reward – ranging from bronze, through silver and gold, to platinum. Levels are different, though – some are all about dodging, where others see you grabbing pieces of fruit, each one creating a small explosion capable of destroying nearby baddies. Other levels will see your movement restricted to a specific area, into which enemies will inexorably advance, and death-dealing lasers which temporarily cut Mr. Robot off even further. These flavours are varied enough and cleverly sprinkled throughout the 50 levels that this simple premise never feels repetitive.
There’s not a lot of extra fluff for you to worry about, either. Destroyed enemies drop coins for you to collect, which can be spent in the game’s shop to vary Mr. Robot’s look, or unlock different characters.
Control is refreshingly simple, too. Movement is on the left stick. Or the right stick, whichever you prefer. Holding down either ZR or ZL slows Mr. Robot’s movement a little, helping you make pixel-perfect placement decisions.
There’s plenty for you to do, then, but will you have fun doing it? Absolutely. Don’t Die, Mr. Robot! DX offers the kind of deaths that cause you to exclaim out loud from sheer surprise, then immediately laugh. As plentiful as those deaths are, they never feel unfair. You’re never tricked or trapped into an impossible situation – there’s no Kobayashi Maru. If you die – when you die – it’s always clearly your fault. You made the wrong turn, made too close a call, made an overly-ambitious dive for that piece of fruit. And it’s bye-bye, Mr. Robot.
Every death will prompt that ‘just one more go’ feeling. And you’ll be one more going for hours and hours if you’re not careful, because a game so simple just shouldn’t be this tough, right? Eventually, you’ll start to obsess, unable to understand how the game keeps defeating you. You’ll sneak downstairs at 3.00 am just to try again, the hours piling up as night turns to day. Your relationships will suffer, you’ll no longer be able to hold down a steady job and you’ll spend the rest of your life shambling around the town centre in a grubby raincoat, mumbling something about exploding strawberries.
Or maybe that’s just us.
There are prettier games on the Switch, but Don’t Die, Mr. Robot! DX’s visuals are more than good enough and packed with bucket loads of quirky charm. The fantastic acid-themed soundtrack is blippy, squelchy, and cheerful, and never grates. Which is just as well, because it could take you years to nail a perfect platinum on every level. The challenge quickly ramps up from, “This is nice” to “Oh no, there are BILLIONS of them!”
Infinite State Games has built a great deal of content around a simple premise, and delivered a game that grabs you and doesn’t let go. Don’t Die, Mr. Robot! DX is packed full of death and fun – a gloriously entertaining game that should be in every Switch owner’s library.
Don’t Die, Mr. Robot! DX is available from the eShop for £7.19 / $8.99 USD / €7.99.
Release Date: 3 May 2018 on Nintendo Switch
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An arcade experience that could ruin your life. Worth it.
- Overall - 9.0/109/10
It’s rare that a game surprises us as much as Don’t Die, Mr. Robot! DX. Maybe we need to shake off the jaded cynicism beloved of games journos everywhere, and embrace the joy of the insanely difficult, the relentlessly cheerful, and the charmingly quirky.
Don’t Die, Mr Robot! DX takes an incredibly simple premise and packages it up in so many different ways that what could have felt like a dreary trudge becomes something joyous, something far greater than the sum of its fruity parts.
Buy it. Play it. Don’t let it ruin your life.
Amazingly, prone to intermittent fits of unexplained optimism. Lived alone and liked it so much he bought the company. Wouldn’t mind being a little less clever and a little more handsome. Arranges words into painstakingly grammatically correct order for a living.Likes: Sunshine, TV, couch, cats.Dislikes: Rain, people, arranging words into painstakingly grammatically correct order. Wonders why he even bothers. Sometimes thinks about why he is the way he is; doesn’t come up with any answers.