At first glance you would be forgiven for thinking Twin Robots was a copycat of Nintendo's very own Chibi-Robo!: Zip-Lash on the 3DS. This is not the case. Originally developed and released by Thinice for the Ouya game system in 2013 and later made available on multiple other digital platforms including Android and Steam, Twin Robots has now been ported across to the Wii U eShop by Ratalaika Games.
Much like last year's Chibi-Robo!: Zip-Lash, Twin Robots is a 2.5D platform game featuring elements of strategy and puzzle solving. The defining aspect of the title is the management of two robots rather than one. The task for one or two players is to help this pair of imprisoned robots reach the end of each level.
This is by no means an effortless feat, with each robot powered by a battery pack; every action consumes energy. Be it running, jumping, hanging onto a ledge, or charging the exit door; the player is required to micro-manage each robot's energy consumption which is represented by two separate meters. Fortunately, there are neon tiles on the floors of each level that both robots can run across to recharge their meters, and there are also batteries power-ups located around each level to collect. This is not to forget the ability to share battery power between the two robots - which becomes an essential action in later levels.
This core idea is supported by strong platforming mechanics as well as many strategy and puzzle elements. The immediate concern upon entering a level is to release the robot that is locked up at the start point by locating a giant red button with the other robot; failure to do so will result in one of the little machines being turned into scrap metal. Once this minor inconvenience has been solved, the two robots must travel to the end of the level and charge up the exit door with their own batteries to open it.
Across 28 levels the robot duo will encounter various hazards such as spike pits, moving platforms, laser fields and pillars ready to crush metal. There are also objects including movable cubes, sometimes enabling the player to access certain areas or navigate a zone in a safer manner. Although these are very standard side-scrolling challenges, the management of each robot and battery meter adds an extra layer of strategy that would not be experienced in the average platform title. However, the challenge is somewhat lessened with the ability to complete stages with just one robot from time to time.
The level of precision in terms of character movement is a pleasant surprise. Despite being a fundamental aspect of platform games, not every title nails it - Twin Robots is thankfully finely tuned in this department. The controls are not only easy to grasp, but also highly responsive during the most pressure intensive moments. It also makes seemingly more challenging tasks such as wall jumps and ledge grabs a joy to execute. Disappointingly, the Pro Controller is not supported in this game, with the only remaining options being the Wii U GamePad and Wii Remote.
The craftsmanship of each level in Twin Robots is not entirely consistent. While the early stages are somewhat basic and easy to navigate, the overall difficulty and size of each level is raised halfway through; with battery life of each robot becoming a serious concern if puzzles aren't solved in the intended way - or one of the robots goes off course.
Admittedly, there is a lot of trial and error with a number of these levels, which can result in poor decision making. It's not always fun, either, having to navigate the robots one at a time through each level, but thankfully the instantaneous swap between the two with a single button press makes it a lot more bearable. Having a friend to play alongside is also an easy solution to this minor annoyance. The only notable technical issue in terms of level design is how the robots occasionally clip on ramps and important objects such as cubes get stuck in certain locations. This sometimes requires a level restart.
Visually, Twin Robots has a generic but fittingly futuristic feel to it. The backdrop is appropriately cold, and the robots and dangers within each level are as mechanical as you would hope for. What was out of place were the red and bloody spike pits; it raises questions about the pair of imprisoned robots and their current whereabouts. The music has a steady tempo to edge the player on and the sound is timed well with the on-screen movement and actions, although a little too soft at times. The only downside is the fact there is no music or sound available in the Off-TV GamePad function.
Twin Robots provides an enjoyable experience primarily because of responsive controls and precise character movement. Despite the steady increase in difficulty and cruel design of certain levels, it's still a fun challenge. Battery management of each robot adds to this and in many ways elevates it above the average platform game, providing an extra layer of complexity. Having to save one of the robots at the start of each level also adds a unique sense of pressure few other titles within this genre would normally offer. While Twin Robots is far from being the greatest platform game on the Wii U eShop, it's definitely a concise single and co-op budget download that is worth checking out if you happen to be a fan of the genre.