Published on March 6th, 2018 | by Lee Davies
Review: Twin Robots: Ultimate Edition (Switch eShop)
Format reviewed: Switch eShop
Other formats available: Utimate Edition, exclusive
Developer: Thinice Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Website: Official Website
Watt and Volt are two twin robots, who have been forgotten by time and abandoned in an old robot factory. Marked as defective by mistake, if they wish to prove themselves as deserving a place in today’s world, they must pass a series of grueling tests.
Watt and Volt will have their work cut out for them, and only you can help them, the Twin Robots, pass their tests and escape the old factory in one piece!
Twin Robots: Ultimate Edition is a 2D puzzle platformer where the main hook is the ability to switch between both differently coloured protagonists to solve simple puzzles, compile the on screen collectibles, and make it safely through to the level’s end. Then repeat 45 times with an increasing difficulty and an equal increase in player frustration.
Totally remastered for the Switch with new 3D backgrounds, Twin Robots: Ultimate Edition, looks fantastic whilst in handheld mode, not so much when blown up on a large TV, it struggles to keep its crisp clean lines free of bland textures and monotony. Whatever style you do play in though you’ll be treated to an incredibly smooth experience with no hint of dropped frames, etc. Unfortunately, Twin Robots: Ultimate Edition does suffer from an ever so slight input lag, and some imprecise collision detection throughout the entire game. What looked to be a fun experience was quickly marred by pixel perfect jumps being unable to be controlled as well as the game required. The first evidence of the input lag reared its ugly head during the Main Menu. Pressing the D-Pad to select the next option does not instill the player with confidence, and neither does the complete lack of touchscreen input. The on-screen selection highlighter moves a clear 1/2 second after the actual button press. The in-game lag is not as ludicrous as seen in the Main Menu, but it’s all too evident and made worse by the overly large dead-zone used with the Analogue Stick. Pushing a quarter of the way to the left or right had no effect on the onscreen androids, a little more and they’re off. The D-Pad fares better, but there’s still a slight noticeable lag.
In single player mode, control of the 2 robots is an asynchronous affair. Pressing Y instantly switches between the twins. In 2-player mode the game splits the screen vertically for dual synchronicity. The start of each and every level sees one of the two heroes destined for crushing behind a sealed door. The player must quickly, within a minute, scour the level for a large red floor button to stop this process completing its game over sequence. This is done by moving left and right with your preferred input, jumping with A (no double jump, but a handy wall-jump is possible), and dragging boxes with B. Once successfully achieved the collectibles within that level are unlocked, and the player can now roam the level with both the robots, switching whenever needed, sharing battery energy, collecting, platforming and solving the game’s simple puzzles.
The main ‘puzzle’ that must be overcome within each level is the final door. The door is locked and only opened by relinquishing your robot’s battery energy, charging the lock sufficiently to allow egress. Your battery power is being constantly depleted by platforming obstacles, such as lasers, guillotines, but also by jumping. The handy blue floor tiles, that appear after freeing your twin, build up your battery meter, and if you ever feel the need to share energy between the 2 characters it’s just the press of an X button away. There’s a nice balance between collecting, platforming, taking damage and energy management that sets Twin Robots: Ultimate Edition apart from other games. Unfortunately, platforming is the standard fare of moving platforms, fans, collapsing walkways, spikes and traps with very little invention.
It’s not all rosy though due to the uncertainty of the collision detection and the reliance on floaty jumps with no time duration height based button pressing. A quick or longer press of the A button renders the exact same vertical animation on screen. Trying to time distance and height through a series of laser gates, while trying to collect all blue floor tiles becomes a far more daunting task than it should be, and normally ends in a slight depletion of your batteries. Not such a game breaking programming error, but worse things do appear in later levels. Little problems like ledge holding become a frustrating thing. Your robot can handily grab onto the ledge of a high platform, another jump, while holding on, sends your robot far too high and horizontally to be used with any accuracy. Plus the ledge holding has a few frames of animation before it sticks, pressing the jump button a fraction early will result in your charater performing a wall jump and moving off in the wrong direction, and normally death. Getting to know this game’s idiosyncratic nature is essential. More intolerable is the platforming layout. Scouring a level for all of its collectibles, a battery and the allocated amount of blue floor tiles, becomes a lesson is frustration management. Gaps to jump over, may be just that, or they may well be pathways to gaining the illusive 100%, there’s no way to tell without trying, and more often than not a fall will have an instant touch death located at the bottom. So, is this pit a spiked filled menace or the main thoroughfare for the level, who knows? When one robot perishes, so do your chance of completing the level, and a restart right from the very beginning of that level is invoked. Restarting is quick once the death animation has concluded, unfortunately that very same death animation hangs for far too long with a slight feeling of a game freeze.
There are no tutorials apart from the type of ingame self-learning of observation and experimentation. The concept of a wall-jump is tutorialised by placing a collectible battery near a wall out of reach of a normal jump. The same goes for all the other mechanics hidden throughout the game. Learn by doing. Unfortunately, there are things that Twin Robots: Ultimate Edition teaches you that you’d want to unlearn. Wall-clipping, bad pixel detection and collision, getting stuck on scenery and having to repeatedly jump to remove yourself, not to mention the liberal use of having only one possible jump to a platform to obtain the last few % of collectible items, only to miss it and have to do the whole level over again.
In-game music is great for the most part and sounds a little like the melodies from Bit Trip Runner 2. Sound Effects are very generic and the Menu music is a non-existent electrical humming noise playing upon the names of the robot protagonists, Watt and Volt.
One of the biggest bug bears about Twin Robots: Ultimate Edition is that all Menus within the game are extremely unintuitive to use. Try selecting a level to play and you’ll be wondering how to even move the highlighter in the direction you want, how to keep it there, and how to get it back to start a level. It’s a mess. The game shows you it’s ambition in the way it looks, but the little things are always a let down of monumental proportions.
Twin Robots: Ultimate Edition holds great promise that it fails to deliver. It promises an engaging puzzle platformer while utilising the switching mechanics of the 2 robots in the title, balancing damage, exploration and collection to progress further. However, the overly loose and glitchy feeling mechanics, embedded in a frustrating level layout design lets the whole package down significantly. There are far better games in the Switch’s fast growing collection of 2D puzzle platformers worth your time.
Twin Robots: Ultimate Edition (Switch eShop)
Summary: A frustrating game, that becomes more frustrating to the player when they understand that the potential of the balancing health and collection mechanic between two switchable robots is not realised, and furthermore completely botched with the execution of level design, character movement and glitches.