Protodroid Delta Review – A New Super Fighting Robot
Title: Protodroid Delta
Developer: Adam Kareem
Release Date: May 25, 2022
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Humble Games
Mega Man always had a simple formula: get to the end of the level and defeat the Robot Master waiting there for you with your two main abilities, jumping and shooting. Despite the simplicity of the formula, most spiritual successors fail to live up to the high expectations of the multitude of fans of the Blue Bomber. Even new Mega Man titles can’t recreate the success that previous titles have enjoyed. So, does Protodroid Delta manage to capture that magic?
Well, the story begins with Dr. Shelton and playable hero Delta (stylized as DeLTA) running basic tests on her combat abilities, when suddenly they are attacked by a mysterious force. Delta manages to fend them off, but it isn’t long before she is overwhelmed and needs to be saved by Ann Marie Dorado, another protodroid developed by another inventor named Ana Dorado. She quickly introduces herself as AnnDroid to differentiate herself from her creator, whom she sees as her mother.
It isn’t long before Delta looks into the mysterious Anndroid’s past and discovers that she is known as La Cazadora Dorado, or the Golden Huntress – a being that seems to have mysteriously appeared one day to defeat a Vyper Master before disappearing. Inspired by her heroism, Delta decides to take on the rest of the Vyper Masters to free the rest of Radia.
Now if it seems like during that quick synopsis of the story that there were a bit too many words that feel like they need some explaining, that’s how it felt initially going through the story, because so many terms are thrown at the player. While some are fairly easy to understand from context, like protodroid, others are unclear when they are first introduced. Vyper Master is obviously a nod to the antagonists of Mega Man, although players who have never played a Mega Man title before may not understand what they are until further explained.
Explanations of each term do eventually come around, but the sheer number of terms that are thrown at players in the beginning of the title could have been lessened and brought up in the frequent calls that happen during each stage. These calls usually focus on that particular Vyper Master that rules the city or district they are in charge of, revealing their motivations as Delta attempts to change their ways.
Despite taking this time to try and develop the masters, none of them feel fully fleshed out. Instead, they change from an evil one-dimensional character to a less evil, or in one case, a more evil one-dimensional character. These sections of Delta appealing to the masters could have been used to flesh out either Delta or the world. Instead, players will get insight into characters that they may not even remember once they finish the game.
Despite these slightly wasted efforts, Protodroid Delta does deliver on some good character moments. For example, early on Dr. Shelton gives Delta a power-up before joking that she originally intended to hide the power-up somewhere around Radia. Thankfully, she quickly dismisses the idea with a laugh saying that it wouldn’t be very wise to hide anything important inside a volcano.
This elicited a good chuckle out of me and stands out in the adventure even despite the fact that further upgrades are indeed hidden around the environments because video games need collectibles. Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between, especially when the story begins in earnest. I am very sad that the story is easily the weakest aspect of Protodroid Delta, interrupting the gameplay for a conversation most players won’t care about.
This problem reaches its climax when, near the end of the story, a conversation interrupts a boss in the middle of one of his patterns. This is deadly, as the fight requires players to pay attention to the boss and their tells to dodge and land a few swipes. So, when Delta drops like a log into an attack for a cutscene that lasts for over a minute, all momentum of the fight is just killed.
This is the only instance of a call interrupting the boss, but it is the worst time to do it, especially for a moment that is more confusing than anything else. Especially when the gameplay is as addictively simple as any classic platformer. Delta can jump, shoot, and slice through enemies, and all upgrades are simple double-jumps and dashes. Enabling players to traverse levels quickly, making retreads of past levels engaging as these new abilities change the interactions of each stage.
These stages are broken up into five separate parts, separating bosses into their own parts away from the rest of the level. Keeping these segmented allows players to jump into a level from any part allowing people to fight their favorite boss or only redo a specific section to search for upgrades. This would be an excellent feature if bosses were more interesting to fight than having a few explosions and dodging some blocks.
Each Boss feels like a slight variation of the last without having any sort of gimmick that would help differentiate. For example, I was able to beat each boss without changing my base blaster, and when I did, there were no apparent weaknesses that gave me the advantage. Instead, I would jump and shoot, mixing it up with a few slashes as I whittled the boss’ hp down.
These repetitive boss fights are a blemish on a game that is otherwise finely tuned for platforming. While I did need to adjust to the slight floatiness of Delta’s jump, they were always consistent, and it wasn’t long before I was speeding along, passing by enemies I deemed not worth my time. Zipping around until I was nothing but a purple blur, invalidating any and all obstacles that happened to be in my way.
These moments were what I found to be the most enjoyable part of Protodroid Delta, seeing how far each jump could take me to shave off a few seconds of clear time. Even the times when I accidentally found a branching path were exhilarating and had me craving a game about exploration rather than a traditional platformer.
If you’re wondering if Protodroid Delta lives up to the games that it draws clear inspiration from. Truthfully, it does in many ways, not only in concept but in the execution of the core mechanics that truly defined those games. However, in the same breath, it doesn’t really make its own mark on the genre. Instead, we get a few unforgettable characters and a handful of bosses that beg for unique attack patterns and weaknesses to make them more interesting. Unfortunately, Delta stands in the shadows of her predecessors, whom she can’t dash away from.
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