For as prolific as the series has been, Nintendo’s Metroid franchise only actually has four unique 2D games to it’s name (there are also 2 remakes of these four games, so 6 if you want to get technical). The newest game of those, Metroid Fusion on the Game Boy Advance, released nearly 20 years ago. While we’ve seen some remakes and plenty of 3D games since then, we actually haven’t seen a new game in the 2D series since then.
Fortunately though, we’ve been blessed with many of Metroid-esque games to fill in the gaps. The entire Castlevania series comes to mind (obviously). We’ve also got games like the excellent Shadow Complex and Steam World Dig series. I haven’t played yet, but I’ve heard Axiom Verge and the Ori series are great too. While these games are all definitely like Metroid, they each did their own thing to kind of make them not really exactly the same thing.
Patrick over at RPGaymer recommended this tiny game called Gato Roboto. It was a Switch game that released back in 2019. He sold the game to me by saying it was “Just like Metroid, but you play as a cat.” I don’t think I really needed any more convincing, but the game ended up being half off on the eShop so I decided it was time to try it out. And that was a good decision.
Gato Roboto really is just like a Metroid game. You start out crashing your ship on an unknown planet, you explore below the planet’s surface, you unlock upgrades for your power suit, you battle bosses and unlock new abilities, you’ll transition between zones via long elevators, the list goes on. Hell, the very beginning of the game is identical to the first Metroid on NES: You drop out of your ship, which is looking straight at the player in the center of the screen, and the planet’s surface is weird and alien. If you’ve played the original games in the series you’ll feel right at home here.
I really enjoyed jumping around, blasting enemies, and exploring this game world. I’m sure that stems from my enjoyment of the inspiration for this title. Still though, the gameplay is solid. Controls are tight, which is definitely a good thing. There’s some trick platforming sections that you’ll appreciate having the responsive controls. Visually the game is pixilated like you’d expect a game of the era to be. But instead of a full NES-inspired color pallet you have a solid black & white visual style. You can find and unlock additional visual color schemes, like original Game Boy green, Blue and black, and so on. They’re nice touches, but not too Earth shattering.
Though fun, Gato Roboto can be frustrating at moments. I wouldn’t call the game challenging, but there are some moments the game can be more difficult than it should be. In particular there is one specific boss battle I somewhat struggled with, and those sections where you only have one hit to make it are really tough. You can complete the game in less than 3 hours, but in true Metroid fashion, you are incentivizied to go back and 100% the game by collecting all the items and exploring the entire map. Replay value here will be directly tied to your enjoyment of speedrunning and 100% completing a game.
I want to play more games like Gato Robot. Or more games like Steam World Dig. Really, I just want another 2D Metroid game. It just seems like a smart move: These indie games are doing Metroid better than Nintendo, and I know there is more fun to be had. I don’t really care if it’s set in the galaxy of Samus or in a separate world entirely, I just want more fun video games to play and enjoy!
What are some other Metroid-inspired games you have enjoyed? With Gato Roboto being over I’m left really wanting more run and jump action. Let me know what your favorites are!