If a 2D platformer is going to stand out from the crowd on Steam, it has to have some sort of interesting hook. We’ve had games with shifting gravity, games that swap jumping for pinball mechanics and even platformers that hide secrets behind QR codes. Bots Are Stupid has a hook too, and it’s that you can’t directly control your robot character at all.
You’ll need to get to the goal of each level somehow though, so I hope you like typing. To move your bot around you’ll need to write a list of commands for it to follow, and with a bit of trial and error you’ll hopefully be able to get it to follow a safe path through each single screen stage.
There’s a whole host of basic commands you can type. Move right or left will (as you might expect) move your little metal buddy in that direction, and jump handily launches you over obstacles. To use these abilities at the right time you’ll need to use wait commands so the timing lines up with the level. You can type wait and any number to delay your next move by that many seconds, or you can use the until command to delay until the next time you hit the ground or collect an orb. Using the basic coding to solve platforming puzzles is a ton of fun, as well as being mildly educational.
You also have one more command that’s a little more complex to use correctly. By typing hook and a direction you’ll fire out a rope that clings to surfaces, sort of like the classic Ninja Rope from Worms. Figuring out when’s best to connect to a surface and when’s to disconnect off safely is really tricky, but when you finally find the sweet spot and make your way to the goal by soaring through the air it’s incredibly satisfying.
Making your way to the goal isn’t always enough though, you also need to gather all the orbs on the way to activate it. Even on a single screen you’ll need a whole lot of lines of commands to make it through every simple looking stage, with plenty of do-overs to get all of the delicate timings right.
You’ll have to deal with a variety of deadly hazards in each stage too. Spikes and poison will end a bot’s life in a flash, but there are also trampolines, conveyor belts and portals for you to take advantage of on your coding adventure. The most exciting of these platforming elements are the zip lines, which you can connect your rope to whizz around a level at top speed and detach at your leisure.
There are four different worlds in Bots are Stupid (including the tutorial stages) which are over pretty quickly once you get the hang of the coding. Don’t worry about a lack of content though, because there’s plenty of score chasing to be done. Each level has times and an average number of lines of code to try and beat, so if you want to prove you’re the cleverest bot master you’ll be busy for hours.
The fun doesn’t stop there either, because thanks to a custom level creator you can make as many bot obstacle courses as you want. It’s really easy to make a level by clicking and dragging objects where you want them to go. If you’d rather just play you can download everyone else’s levels for potentially unlimited bot fun.
The only issue I really had with Bots are Stupid is how much it feels like you need to play each stage over and over again to get timings right. It’s not particularly fun to change how long you’re waiting before a jump from 1.2 seconds to 1.3 seconds, especially when the end result is that you still need to wait longer.
Bots are Stupid is an interesting twist on the traditional 2D platforming experience, and if you don’t mind some typing and trial and error is also a satisfying one. If you’ve always thought Mario involved too much jumping, then maybe the shakeup Bots are Stupid provides is just what you need.