December 5th, 2012 | By Alex Wilkinson
At first look Jottobots is a sickly colourful platformer in the – now commonly dubbed – metroidvania style. Although I do like the overall aesthetic style, largely because it reminds me a lot of the classic Zool series from the Amiga days I can however understand it being quite overbearing. And may be too much for some people.
Created by Kyle Pulver, Jette Seibold and Josh Whelchel they combine their gaming tri- force to bring this quirky little title to the PC. Kyle Pulver is better known for his work on Snapshot and Offspring Fling! of course, both of which are highly innovative and fun titles with some great twists to the gameplay.
Jottobots really is a game that does not try to pull any punches as you start the game with no real introduction and absolutely no story, you are tasked to just beat the game – the readme sets a back story to the game but it’s really not important. I find this lack of story totally acceptable and find that playing as this cat creature with a gun and a cape to be nothing out of the ordinary – the cat thing is a Jottobot, the last of them apparently but that is the majority of the story.
In Jottobots you are always working against the clock. You begin with only 5 minutes to beat this crazy maze and although deaths carries little penalty the time is very strict with extra time power ups being few and far between. This does create a great arcade time attack feel to Jottobots and one I do greatly enjoy, even if I am really bad at this because I am maybe a tad, only a tad scrupulous in games. Especially on hearing Jottobots has a ton of secrets, which essentially was me done for as I just had to find them all. Screw the time attack element I have treasure to hunt for.
The gameplay is smooth and fluid in the way it progresses through the game and it even has controller support which I find great. As this type of game really lends itself to that control method. Although the control layout is a bit counter-intuitive at times with my biggest complaint being the map is only accessed by pressing up? So you jump about and – this may only be me – press up a lot doing this because it totally give you extra lift – nope – like in every platformer – and nope – and boom a map randomly pops up.
I found this happening a lot when I got the jet pack also, as I kept pressing up in the hopes I would move in that direction – just a little extra boost to that platform… After a few confusing and frustrating occurrences where the map dwarfed my Jottobot I managed to learn to not press up, and all my woes were solved.
The game overall plays very well and has a nice system that seems to work very well. Jottobots has a good habit of check pointing frequently, albeit a bit random at times. The power ups are great and gradually allow you to unlock later parts of the level i.e. as with the jet pack where you backtrack and just go a route now accessible by the added manoeuvrability granted. There is however only two power ups; the jetpack and the heavy blaster that both fit into the game perfectly and are integral to your progression but limit the scope of the gameplay.
The enemies in the game are very in keeping with the aesthetic and are equally as off the wall as everything else. They add great variety, annoyance, and really should not be underestimated. Even the seemingly innocuous mushrooms can blast you back and push you into a spiky death trap which of course you will never recover from.
The bosses are indeed equally as bizarre taking the form of skeletons playing trumpets… I have no idea where these ideas even come from but I think it’s safe to say JottoBots does indeed feel like a rather intense acid trip in places. And the boss battles are representative of just one of these moment, repeated several times over the course of the game.
Due to the game focusing so strongly around the timer and its countdown giving you a sustained sense of urgency the game itself is rather short. It’s only one level but don’t expect to complete it on your first run through. Although it is entirely plausible to complete it from your first run, it is just not likely as there is a fair amount to learn about the game first.
Jottobots is a fantastically created metroidvania game that combines various elements together and pulls them off admirably. This creates a fantastically looking and ultra stylised game that remind me of the 90s in every way. Jottobots is a short game but for only $1 it is well worth the small fee and for the fun you get with it, it’s actually quite a bargain.
If you like what you see and love these metroidvania platformers than Jottobots really is a steal for the price. Be sure to pick it up here and if you would like to follow Kyle and keep up to date with his future projects check out his website here.