Rage. Swear inducing, controller biting, rage. In Mekabolt, the latest offering from Ratalaika Games and Somepx, you’ll be doing lots of it.
In this 8-bit side-scroller, players take on the role of a technician who needs to collect batteries to repair the robots in an amusement park – technically the batteries are for your Mekabolt tool but let’s not get bogged down in semantics. With your Mekabolt tool, you’ll use the out-of-control robots to overcome challenges and obtain the batteries across platforming puzzles that will leave you, at times, gibbering like a loon due to having missed the last jump or having mistimed some running through one of the many traps that stand between you and success.
The Mekabolt tool of the title is used to disable electronic devices, either permanently or until you choose to reactivate them yourself. So you can, for example, deactivate a ground based bot and push it to where it is required, allowing you to jump up onto its head and then on to a previously unreachable platform. Or you can use the tool to rotate a fixed position turret, using it to destroy walls, allowing you to move through the level to your goal. There are also blocks that are movable using the tool, with these adding to the puzzles found within.
Now the rage of which I speak of isn’t down to how hard progression through Mekabolt is – and to be honest it’s fairly forgiving and this reviewer cleared the main bulk of the levels in a few hours. Instead this rage is down to skittish controls that lead to the aforementioned missing of the last jump, or running head-long into a trap or lively robot. The control scheme in Mekabolt is not particularly deep or demanding, but one wrong flick of the wrist is sure to send you screeching to your doom; normally with the cry “but I made that jump” never far from your lips.
Mekabolt has some really ace ideas puzzle wise though, and after a bit of study most of the levels are easily doable. But dammit those wobbly controls make everything harder. Whether this is intentional, relying heavily on twitch reflex is unknown; I mean Mekabolt isn’t Super Meat Boy or Ori and The Blind Forest difficult, but it is not helped by the difficult controls. Even the thought of some of the obstacles bring me out in a cold sweat in fact, and one such puzzle can literally only be solved by dying, taking note of the positions of the rocks that have dropped from the ceiling, and working out when you need to jump up and activate one of the fixed turrets.
The thing is though, even with the rage thoughts at the back of my mind, I have found myself going back for more, which given the type of game, and how repetitive the content is, makes for high praise indeed. I’ve found myself unable to put Mekabolt down, mainly due to its simplistic approach to the genre, the old school 8-bit visuals and soundtrack that has taken me joyfully back to the days of playing Mario when I should have been studying for exams
The achievements on offer are easy to beat too, generally linked to the number of batteries gained, new types of robot that you’ve met along the way and opening up a new zone. If you’re only after a new Gamerscore giver, Mekabolt more than suffices.
Whilst nothing in Mekabolt on Xbox One is found to be reinventing the wheel, what is on offer is a couple of hours of old school fun and games in a beautifully realised 8-bit setting, much like another Ratalaika release, Gravity Duck. As mentioned earlier, there’s not a lot to dislike apart from that control sensitivity, as it’s literally the only thing I can find to moan about. But, boy, what a moan!!! The number of times I have failed due to this one thing is unreal, and even though a few times I can honestly say “Well that’s a sign I need to get good” Mekabolt literally plays on death after death due to twitching into something spiky that you’ll have jumped hundreds of times before. Even so that won’t discourage me from going back to Mekabolt and shouldn’t discourage you either.