Noitu Love 2 Devolution review

A robot is a robot, no matter how you dress him. The Mega Man games circumvented this rule by giving its metal cast different quirks — an affinity for scissors or rocks, ice or electricity. Noitu Love 2 Devolution (by Joakim Sandberg), which borrows the futuristic themes of Capcom’s series and gives them a good shake, flips through time and locales like a television remote gone haywire, pitting players against a less gimmicky but nonetheless tongue-in-cheek army of robot foes. The “Darns,” as they’re called, assume the form of pesky preachers, fish, samurai, cowboys and Indians, gangsters, and more.

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The creative energy rubs off as much less serious and boyishly tough. These robots don’t wear scowls plastered to their titanium faces. They come in all shapes and sizes, from the music-loving 02-Joy to a crazed sea captain named Mordecai Fluke. It helps to play as an energetic girl hero named Xoda Rap as you watch the brightly colored sprites turn from a Victorian era theme to feudal Japan to a windy snow world. Noitu Love 2 is charming and lighthearted, replete with robots you’ll bash around like they’re made of stuff no harder than stuffed animals, and certainly easier to pick up and play than most Mega Man games, but it’s still punishing in its own right — mostly due to the scoring system.

Gameplay, which consists of a constant barrage of enemies on screen, feels relentlessly chaotic, but not in a bad way. The game isn’t too strict about how you unleash your combos as long as you keep them coming and move forward. Sometimes you’ll have to employ a different tactic, including one you might not regularly use, to advance, but the move set is manageable enough that you shouldn’t experience much trouble.

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The bosses — sometimes two to three per level, with seven levels in all — are a welcome break from the steady onslaught and present one of the many highlights of the game. For as short as it is, Noitu Love 2 keeps the action packed and the environments and enemies varied, even if most of them are darned Darns in different costumes and models. In between, you’ll run from upward-shooting stalks of bamboo, avoid electric jellyfish while underwater, and even take to the air in a brief scrolling shooter segment.

Noitu Love 2 Devolution is a fun play on a familiar game, but it’s unique enough that it feels separate and distinct. It’s easy to learn and harder to master, and after you beat the three-tier final boss — granted your game doesn’t freeze like mine did — you’ll unlock a few extras to keep you coming back for more robot mayhem.

Follow @wita on Twitter for tales of superheroes, plumbers in overalls, and literary adventures.

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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