Android Hunter A Review: ‘Tis Bot A Scratch

Android Hunter A started as a love letter to Capcom's beloved Mega Man franchise and grew to become more ambitious than developer DigiPlox imagined. Does it meet the expectations it set out for itself? Will it be entertaining to fans of the Blue Bomber?

Android Hunter A Review: 'Tis Bot A Scratch (PC)

DigiPlox has been developing Android Hunter A for a few years now, and it’s finally out after being greenlit on Steam back in 2016. If you’re a fan of the Mega Man series and are tired of replaying games that were released years ago, it might be for you. 

This is the first game from indie developer DigiPlox and is available exclusively on Steam for your regional pricing.

Android Hunter A Launch Trailer

Story – It’s In There, Somewhere

You take on the role of A, the titular Android Hunter, as he takes on an army of robots. Honestly, the story is kind of bare-bones and is mostly relegated to the background. From what I could gather, there is a robot uprising bent on destroying humanity, and there are at least two factions fighting against them.

To be honest, the story didn’t seem all that important, and the delivery was vague and confusing to the point that I can’t say that much about it. I had no idea who some of the characters were until I did some research, and because of this, it was hard to get invested in what was going on.

I don't know who you are, I don't know why you are here, all I know is that I'm gonna beat you up

I don’t know who you are, I don’t know why you are here, all I know is that I’m gonna beat you up

Gameplay – Highs And Lows

If it wasn’t obvious already, Android Hunter A is basically a Mega Man analogue. This means that the gameplay is very similar – what we have here is a side-scrolling platformer that looks, feels and plays like a Mega Man game. There are some caveats, which I will explain as I dig a bit deeper.

Generally, I think the game holds up pretty well in the gameplay department, although I have to say that I did encounter several bugs in my time with it. It is a little rough around the edges, but DigiPlox has been good about trying to address these problems and responding to feedback from players. For instance, the camera has been moved back due to complaints about the limited field of view. 

The bugs I encountered were not really game-breaking, mostly some odd crashes when loading up and some visual issues when navigating the menu. One of the sub-bosses also clipped through the environment and got stuck. It’s going to be hard for me to recommend Android Hunter A because of this, and that’s disappointing because it is otherwise enjoyable. DigiPlox is, as I have said, actively working to improve the game. It’s not unplayable, but it does err on the side of feeling incomplete.

This sub-boss was fun, but anticlimactic when he got stuck in the roof or floor

This sub-boss was fun, but anticlimactic when he got stuck in the roof or floor

Controls

Mechanically, the controls are fairly solid. No major frills, making this game an easy one to pick up and play. In terms of platforming, running and jumping feel tight and accurate for the most part. I do feel that A’s buster should feel a bit meatier, but it isn’t bad as it mows through enemies as well as one could hope. If you’ve ever played Mega Man or Mighty No. 9, you will feel right at home.

A automatically hangs off ledges and walls, allowing him to scale large obstacles and occasionally save himself from pitfalls. Most of the levels require extensive use of this ability, and it works but can be awkward at times. A also has a dash ability that allows him to clear some bigger pitfalls, and this is often used in conjunction with wall jumps.

Once your Rage bar is filled, you can unleash a powerful Rage Blast or enter an empowered mode that enhances A’s speed and firepower for a time. I found the latter to be more useful, where the Rage Blast is only really good for taking a chunk of health out of a boss as for the duration of the blast, A cannot move. Fortunately, for this time, he is also invulnerable.

Another thing I need to point out, if it wasn’t obvious from the style of the game, Android Hunter A is best enjoyed with a controller.

Again? I was nearly at the next checkpoint!

Again? I was nearly at the next checkpoint!

Level Design

Overall, the levels are decent and are pretty fun to blast through. There are eight core levels that you can tackle in any order you like, not unlike your average Mega Man game. 

The levels do occasionally feel a little flat, and the only part that really frustrated me was a few of the traps and obstacles that instantly kill our cybernetic hero. These traps present an unforgiving element in the levels that weren’t super challenging otherwise.

Enemies pepper the levels, as well. Few of them presented a major challenge, and you can simply run past (or through) a vast majority of them with little to no resistance. Not that it’s difficult to take them down, it just isn’t super rewarding to do so unless you really need a couple of extra lives to take on the boss or to refill a bit of your health gauge.

Boss Fights

Blaze Tompkin talks a lot of trash for someone who's about to take a trip to the scrap pile

Blaze Tompkin talks a lot of trash for someone who’s about to take a trip to the scrap pile

Where Android Hunter A shines is in the climactic battles at the end of each level. Some of them were easy to cheese, but they all felt unique and challenging in their own way.

When engaging a boss, they deliver a couple of one-liners that cannot be skipped no matter how many times you mash your buttons. This takes maybe a few seconds and is, in the grander scheme of things, a minor nitpick, but when you want to get back to the action, every second counts. I had fun with these boss fights; most of them were decent skill checks that had me on my toes.

It's a boss battle AND a dance party

It’s a boss battle AND a dance party

Weapons

This might come as a shock, but the similarities to Mega Man don’t end with the level design. Each boss you defeat bestows a new weapon upon A, which can be cycled through by using RB and LB if you’re using a controller. These weapons are quite powerful, but sadly they seem to get used up pretty quickly and cannot be recharged when you’re in a boss fight. 

In terms of variety, there are, of course, as many weapons as there are bosses, each with varying usefulness. I ended up hardly using them, relying mostly on A’s vanilla buster to mow through the enemies.

The default buster will get you through most of the game

The default buster will get you through most of the game

Graphics – Good Enough

It’s obvious that Digiplox put a lot of effort into the visuals. While it doesn’t have the polish of a AAA title, there is a lot to like here, starting off with an action-packed opening sequence that mixes 3D art with cel-shaded animations.

Character Design

There is a pleasing variety of enemy designs. While there are common enemies that you will find throughout all the levels, there are level unique enemies that keep things interesting. 

Like the bosses, the level-specific enemies are designed around the level’s theme and generally fit pretty well. That said, I found some of them a little awkward. At the risk of sounding like a bit of a prude, I have to say that scantily clad, blue-skinned android ladies in one of the levels flew a bit deep in the uncanny valley. This aside, I am pleased with the overall level of creativity.

Do the robot!

Do the robot!

Once again, Android Hunter A does not make any attempts to hide the fact that it is a meticulous exercise in recreating the Mega Man magic, and this shows in the character design as well. This isn’t a bad thing since this is exceedingly obvious from the outset. 

Environment

As I have said before, each level is themed along with the boss who rules each one. Probably, the themes aren’t that surprising – there is a jungle, desert and volcano level, along with others. The way these environments are handled mixes things up quite nicely but does feel a little cliché. I suppose one could argue that this comes with the territory, but still. 

I wonder how many desert temple levels I've played in my life

I wonder how many desert temple levels I’ve played in my life

Audio – It Rocks, Man!

One of the highlights of the game has to be its soundtrack. the 80’s-inspired rock goes with this style of game like peanut butter and jelly and is very well composed.

I’ve played much more ambitious titles with soundtracks that pale in comparison. The lively, upbeat sound palette of guitar riffs mixed with a bit of electronica is both appropriate and pleasing to the ear. Have a listen for yourself.

Android Hunter A Main Theme

I reviewed Android Hunter A on PC; the game key was provided by Game If You Are.

Summary
Android Hunter A has a lot going for it - great music, timeless gameplay, and tight controls, but it lacks originality. If it weren't for the bugs I encountered, I would feel much safer recommending this game, even though I have faith that DigiPlox is working hard to fix 'er up. I want to revisit the game once they have had time to iron out some of the creases, but for now, Android Hunter A falls short of its true potential and lofty ambitions.
Good
  • Scratches that Mega Man itch
  • Great soundtrack
  • Easy to pick up and play
Bad
  • Vague story
  • Somewhat buggy
  • Instakill obstacles feel unbalanced
5
Average

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