Are you a speed runner at heart? Does the thought of a flawless, untouched dash through an enemy ridden stage get your blood pumping? Do you miss the NES version of Ryu Hayabusa? If so, I might have the game for you!
My strength comes from training, not from some curse in my blood
The object of the game is to select a stage, represented by a particular boss, and to speed run through the stage as quickly as possible. As you move through each stage, you pick up symbols that add to your repertoire. Furthermore, if you get hit, you lose a skill. The idea is to speed through the stage to get to the boss so that you will be at the highest level of power by the time you reach the end of the stage. Meaning that you will be more powerful, and the boss will be less powerful.
There are multiple abilities that you acquire including: ninja jets, a giant throwing star, a blade dash, and hyper speed. Once you have stacked them all up, you are a rampaging death machine, capable of making quick work of almost anything.
Saturday morning cartoon come to life
The art style has a kinetic, sketchy style that looks super cool. The animation does come off a little like a flash based game. I wish everything was a little more animated. The character design is Mega Man’s Zero, Ryu Hayabusa, and Optimus Prime all in a blender, which is a great combo. Also, there is some nice Ninja Gaiden style cut scenes that appear before you try to tackle the stage and boss.
Controls are tight and up to the task at hand. Rarely in a platform game do I use the analog stick, but here it seemed to feel better in the flow of the game. You’ll need a clean run to reach the boss at full power and the controls won’t be your excuse if you fail.
Also in true Mega Man fashion, each boss supplies you with certain skills, and tackling them in a specific order is key to success. Instead of acquiring that bosses’ specific skills though, you acquire an upgrade to your bot, depending on the speed in which you clear the level. Bot Gaiden is all about speed.
Death comes for us all, for you, it will be without honor
Unfortunately, this is where Bot Gaiden’s main issue rears its ugly head. The collision detection is spotty to put it nicely. You will take a good number of hits that you will feel you should not have taken. I feel that while the boxy robot is nice looking, it makes for a large hit detection box. Additionally, the frantic nature of the game makes taking hits seem inevitable.
Also, taking on bosses while not fully powered in next to impossible. With all of the stuff flying around and the spotty hit detection, death will come for you quickly. Ideally, you want to approach the boss fully powered with a decent health bar. If you do die fighting the boss, you might as well restart the stage. This is kind of in line with the 8-bit nature I think the developers are going for.
The ultimate mastery comes not from the body, but from the mind
In closing, I had a lot of frustrated fun with this game. It looks great and flying through the level untouched on a perfect run gave a great sense of accomplishment. On the flip side, making it to the end of the stage and dying fighting the boss almost certainly means restarting. I wish the hit detection was better and some of the enemies will be the bane of your existence with their cheap hits. Regardless, you’ll have fun with Bot Gaiden, just plan to temper it with some frustration.
Bot Gaiden is available on PS 4/5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S.
Review code provided by EastasiaSoft.