Gato Roboto casts you into the role of humble space kitty, Kiki. Together with her hulking giant mech, you’ll embark on an adventure together to save your human, Gary.
This charming premise makes for a fun little Metroidvania (or rather, Meowtroidvania) which perfectly suits the Nintendo Switch platform (on which I reviewed the game on).
Fans of Metroid will enjoy Gato Roboto‘s similar claustrophobic atmosphere and its eerie soundtrack. However, hardcore fans will lament its largely linear design structure.
Gato Roboto Review
Despite its relative simplicity, I found Gato Roboto to be endearing and bursting with charm. The relationship between Kiki and her human master Gary is both touching and relatable.
The conversations between Kiki and Gary play out one-sided, though with him talking to Kiki as if she was a normal person. As a cat owner myself, I found this writing to ring true with how I relate to my own cat.
There’s also a wonderful moment when Gary suddenly exclaims, “why am I talking to a cat!?”; something which every cat owner has said at least once or twice.
Gato Roboto‘s writing is actually pretty strong all the way through, culminating in a delightful (yet slightly foreseeable) twist. While I won’t spoil the details of the plot, the overall narrative involves a squeaking mouse, a mad scientist, and a dog called Barkley (get it?!).
Haven’t I seen you before?
8-bit and retro-inspired graphics continues to be in vogue in 2019; Gato Roboto holds this trend up, offering blocky visuals reminiscent of an NES game, only with more vivid detail and animation.
Kiki bobs along with a joyful bounce as she blasts, jumps and dashes her way through the infested space facility. Likewise, her foes move about the screen with a similar
The game’s retro visuals invite even stronger comparisons to its obvious inspiration; Metroid. This also includes Gato Roboto‘s overall aesthetic, which invokes feelings of being on Zebes.
While Metroid‘s game world was
It’s an interesting design choice that further cements the game’s inescapable charm. However, if you grow tired of all the black and white, you can instead opt for the game’s many palette variations.
You’ll find cassette-like cartridges scattered throughout Gato Roboto; once found, they alter the game’s colour scheme. Each one features a delightful name, including ‘Coffee Stain’, ‘Port’, ‘Chewed Gum’ and even ‘Urine’.
Each cartridge changes either game’s colouring or hue, giving Gato Roboto a new distinct look. My favourite is ‘Virtual Cat’ which replaces all the white with Virtual Boy-like red to make Gato Roboto look like a Virtual Boy game; Nintendo’s ill-fated VR handheld from the 1990s.
Cartridges also serve another purpose. Collect enough and you’ll be awarded new power-ups. Kiki begins her adventure with nothing more than a humble arm-buster; with limited range and firing rate, it’s a fairly modest weapon.
However, after collecting 14 cartridges, you can power-up the arm-buster to allow for continuous shooting, and so on.
One of the defining features of any good Metroidvania is the genre-staple of gating off progression/new areas behind new abilities. In Gato Roboto you’ll find a number of abilities needed to advance forward; a spin jump; rockets; and a dash skill that lets you pass through enemies and certain hazards.
Finding these abilities isn’t terribly hard, given Gato Roboto‘s relatively small and compact game world. Moreover, the game’s critical path is linear and leaves little room for exploration outside of the handful of ‘secret’ rooms scattered about.
This means you’ll likely stumble across abilities even before you realise you need them; except of course the rockets, which Gato Roboto gently nudges you towards in the game’s opening area.
Because of this, you’ll rarely need to, if ever, backtrack through earlier parts of the world to hunt down missed secrets; everything you need in your immediate area is available to you right there. This makes Gato Roboto less Metroidvania, and more Metroidvania-lite; the spirit of exploration and finding your way forward is dumbed down to make for a more accessible experience.
While genre diehards may be quick to lament Gato Roboto for this, I see instead see this as an upside. Exploration and backtracking is certainly a staple of the genre, but it can oftentimes be laborious and tedious. By cutting back on this particular element, Gato Roboto is simple, yes, but every bit as fun and enjoyable.
It’s a cat’s world
The game world itself is broken up into a couple of distinct areas. There’s the opening area (which heavily invokes Zebes); Nexus, a type of gateway area; the aqueduct; the furnance; and finally, the ventilation systems.
It’s Kiki’s job to move through the aqueduct, furnace and ventilation system to deactivate their specific systems to open the way into the laboratory. Doing so will require you face down various minibosses, including, though not limited to, hulking furnaces with moustaches.
You’ll also come across myriad enemy types, some specific to each area. While they don’t overly pose much of a threat, the boss fights can be quite tricky.
Throughout her adventure, Kiki is constantly harassed by an antagonistic mouse. This cheeky critter will pop up and challenge you to a particularly difficult fight. It’s this mouse who acts as the main antagonist for the game, and the subject of the final plot twist.
Gato Roboto isn’t a very long; I managed to clear my first playthrough just north of 3 hours with amount 81% of everything unlocked (cartridges, power-ups, rooms explored etc.).
Despite its relatively short legs, Gato Roboto is still a heck of a lot of fun because as soon as I was finished I was keen to start again; not just because I had to review the game, either.
There’s also a gameplay timer on the bottom centre of the screen whenever Kiki’s inside the mech; no doubt an inclusion intended to encourage speedrunners. I suspect this to be the case, especially given that the timer doesn’t stop when you die and your previous save is loaded; an extra incentive not to perish.
Avoiding death can be tricky, however, whenever Kiki slips out of the mech. Despite the old adage that cats have nine lives, it only takes one-hit for Kiki to bite the dust.
Jumping in and out of the mech is encouraged through the level design, with small narrow pathways requiring Kiki’s feline form. Late-game areas turn Kiki-only sequences into stealth-like endeavours, which can be particularly difficult given her natural agilty.
Outside of the mech, Kiki can jump higher, scale walls, and even pilot a submarine; this gives Kiki an edge over water-based enemies keen to gobble her up in a slight twist of fate.
Despite its relatively easy gameplay (save for the bosses) and short running time, Gato Roboto is still an absolute blast to play.
The novel idea of a cat piloting a giant robot mech is the hook that baits you, but its fluid gameplay, mixed with its pick-up-and-play accessibility will see you playing again and again. In my books, Gato Roboto is a worthy addition to any Switch owner’s library.
While genre diehards may lament Gato Roboto for being too easy, those looking for something more lighthearted may want to consider this charming little Meowtroidvania adventure.
Gato Roboto was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a digital code provided by Devolver Digital.
Game Title: Gato Roboto
Game Description: Pounce inside of your cozy armouredmech and set off on a dangerous trek through an alien underworld full of irritable creatures and treacherousobstaclesin a valiant effortto save your stranded captain and his crashed spaceship. Tiptoe outside the friendly confines of your technological marvel and follow your feline instincts through tight tunnels and mysterious waterways to scavenge for new weapons and gear. Adventure awaits the most curious of cats in Gato Roboto!