The people at Demiurge Studios, itching to make a game of their own after years of making video games for other companies, have decided to make an homage to the old gun-crazy side-scroller Metal Slug.
They wanted to make it more analog, let you shoot everywhere. And they want you to run and jump and shoot through more robots, with cooler guns and more ridiculous outfits than ever before.
The game stars P. Walter Tugnut, a man who lives in a trailer outside of a nuclear disaster area. Tugnut lives to shoot robots, which he can do through the kind of running and gunning that looks like Metal Slug though handles a little more like recent Xbox Live Arcade hit Shadow Complex, with support for aiming shotguns, machine guns and other guns in any direction that you can point an Xbox thumbstick at. (You can also punch bullets back at the enemies that fire them at you. That's an essential survival skill.)
Shoot Many Robots supports 2-4 players for online co-op and has an extensive leveling up system tied to Tugnut's various collectible gear. You can give this guy leather pants, so he can slide around the level better. You can give him a tutu, part of a ballerina set that makes him more agile. The kilt, leaving Tugnut less encumbered, allows him to run faster. As you shoot many robots in rapid succession, a score multiplier increases and progress is made, letting you level up your items. The loot and leveling gives Demiurge license to tell people that this game isn't just a Metal Slug homage; it's Metal Slug meets Borderlands.
Tugnut's health fuel is beer. Since he can wear different hats, he can wear a beer helmet, a hat flanked by two extra beer cans that grant him that much more health.
I played Shoot Many Robots briefly last week and had a good time with it. It's straightforward and seems well-made, mainly risking simply getting lost in the increasingly dense crowd of action side-scrollers popping up for download on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. For all the games Shoot Many Robots can be compared to, the one Demiurge would probably most like to stand beside is Castle Crashers. That co-op action game is huge hit on XBLA. Was it the game's look? It's design? Whatever it is, that's the magic Demiurge wants.
The public can begin seeing if Shoot Many Robots can compare — to Castle Crashers, to Borderlands, to Metal Slug or to whatever else — this weekend in Boston at PAX East, where the game will be playable.
I tried the game on the Xbox 360 last week, but Demiurge has not said what the final platforms will be. They say the game will be out this year, downloadable somewhere onto something.