Bot Gaiden – Nintendo Switch Review

Overview – developed by SwordSwipe studios and published by Eastasiasoft, Bot Gaiden is an action platformer with an emphasis on speed and time. As two robot ninja, the player must take down the minions of the mysterious Giorqio, battling wave after wave of enemies and large scale bosses. This title is available on all major platforms, with a link to each version of the game at the bottom of this review.

Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank Eastasiasoft for providing the copy of Bot Gaiden that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.

Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting with the story of Bot Gaiden.

Story – the mysterious Giorqio and his band of hench-bots have acquired the golden skulls. These are relics that have immeasurable power and the potential to rule the world. Now the ninjabots Robyu and Bytron has been sent on a mission to recover the skulls, taking down the minions of Giorqio and recovering them to stop his plans. However, time is not on the ninjabots side and they must make haste to complete their objective.

Gameplay – Bot Gaiden is a throwback action platformer, inspired by the classics of the genre which include Mega Man and Ninja Gaiden. The core objective is to clear each of the different stages and defeat the end boss of each stage as quickly as possible. The stages can be tackled in any order, with players picking and choosing the approach that they want to take to the action. But keep in mind, time is an important aspect when it comes to this release.

The stages themselves have three time sensitive targets, with rewards that are provided depending on the completion time at the end. The rewards that are provided are split into three tiers with Gold, Silver and Bronze. These rewards are permanent player upgrades increase in power with each tier, with Gold/Silver being ability upgrades and Bronze being extra Lives.

On the subject of abilities, during the stages special gears will appear on screen for players to collect. These gears will provide different abilities depending on which ones have been collected. The abilities that players can obtain include Jump Jet (double jump) and Sling Star (a projectile), which can make combat a little easier for players. As they augment the core move set of the Ninjabots.

Both of the playable bots have the same toolkits, consisting of a jump/wall jump, basic slash attack, a crouch attack that extends the players reach and two evasive maneuvers. The movement skills are a glider that lets the player cross wide gaps and a dodge that can be used for a limited amount of time. If the dodge is held for too long, the player will self-destruct and kill them immediately.

The glider and dodge are most useful as recovery skills, as they can cancel out knockback when taking damage. This is due to the risk of falling off screen into death pits when taking damage. When damage is taken or the player is defeated, they can lose the gears that they had built up (this varies depending on difficulty). But the loss of ability gears isn’t a major issue as they are scattered throughout the stages.

The vast majority of enemies can be defeated with a single strike, with others requiring a couple of hits to be defeated. The bosses on the other hand are an entirely different thing. Depending on the time that is taken to reach the boss, their strength will be lower the faster that the player reaches them, making for an easier battle. If the player takes too long, bosses will be at full power making them more challenging.

When a stage is cleared, they can be replayed to improve the rating or just to set a personal best time. Once all main stages have been cleared, the final boss stage will be unlocked, offering very special rewards for beating this final boss stage. These special rewards add even more replay value to the player, offering new ways to play, approach the game and set new personal best times.

There is also a co-op mode in Bot Gaiden, letting two players take on the challenges together. In the multiplayer mode, the gameplay is changed very slightly to make it more exciting for two players. The changes include a teleport system to help players that lag behind, shared power-ups and special team attacks to take down enemies in style. The co-op mode can also help those who struggle with action games.

Now with the gameplay covered, it is time to cover the other aspects of this release, starting with the controls.

Controls – the controls for this release are laid out in a way that mirrors that of its inspirations, with movement on the left side of the controller and actions on the face buttons/shoulders. There are some flaws with the way that the game handles, with no diagonal movement and occasional failed inputs during play. However, the game is comfortable for the most part with any controller in both docked and handheld play.

Difficulty – this is a very challenging game, with a lot of beginners traps, unfair enemy placement and instant death pits. This can be off-putting to most players, as the challenges may require practice and persistence to overcome. However, there are 4 different difficulty settings that alter the way the game plays out. These range from casual to ludicrous, with the lowest difficulty reducing damage/ability loss and the highest having instant death upon taking damage.

Presentation – visually this is a stunning looking game, with an artstyle that mixes the design of its inspirations and slick digital sprite work. The animations are mostly fluid with the occasional hiccup, but the game runs very smoothly on Nintendo Switch. The sound for this game has a very 90s rock feel t it with heavy use of guitar solos and pounding drums, with all of the music fitting the stages and cutscenes during play. There is no voice acting for this release.

Final Thoughts – from the outset, this looks like a simple clone of the games that inspired it. However, there is so much more to this release, with the focus on speed and timer that is tied to the rewards for clearing stages. The challenge is punishing, especially for those who aren’t the best at action platform games which will make getting the gold rewards difficult. This is something that may dissuade players from picking this up.

The overall title is solid, but does have some flaws to it. During the game, inputs can be missed, some mechanics aren’t explained properly and some boss weak points are obscured making it tough to beat them. But there are some things that salvage the true potential that is here. The multiple difficulty options can make some of the challenge easier to get through, as well as the co-op and unlockable bonuses that expand the experience.

In the end I give Bot Gaiden a final score of 3.5/5. This is a solid but frustrating action platformer, with some flaws to it but the potential for have a lot of fun and replay value, especially with the timer as it promotes players to learn how to speed run the game. If you want to check this title out for yourself, a link to each version of the game will be below.

Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)

Link to PlayStation version (HERE)

Link to Xbox version (HERE)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: