Yorbie likes it rough. Or so he’ll repeatedly tell you in this cute shooter. He’s a saucy little robot making light of a dreadful situation. Dr Zox has disabled and banished the entire Yorbie collective and enslaved the population. Your Yorbie is the last active Yorbie left in the whole wide world and so it’s down to him and you to stop the rascally Dr Zox and save all your buddies. Sounds simple and, actually, it really is.
If you’re a big fan of shooters, if you’re looking for a hardcore shooter, if you’re looking for a shooter that will challenge your reflexes or intellect … look elsewhere. Yorbie is all about cheerful fun. You have unlimited lives, death has no consequence other than to set you back half a screen (or sometimes forwards half a screen) and all your enemies are reasonably underpowered. Even the potential challenge of being swarmed by Dr Zox’s minions is somewhat dulled by your inability to die. Enemies you kill, however, stay dead even after you’re resurrected. Consequently, you can power your way through and easily slaughter anything that moves. The whole episode can be completed in just a few hours. Go straight into Insane Mode if you want a little more bite.
Wow, I just said a lot of negative things there, but actually I’m a glass half full type of girl. No, you’re not getting the challenge of a life-time, but you are getting a fun Sunday afternoon and if you have some friends or family lurking nearby, the co-op option is of far greater appeal.
Graphically, Yorbie is lovely. It’s bright and colourful with a smooth framerate and attractive environments. The camera feels a little odd at first, but you’ll soon get used to the way the environment twist as you lead Yorbie into new sections. Really, there’s nothing much to complain about. It’s a pretty disco for the eyes. I will complain, however, about the not-so-charming chatter emitted by Yorbie himself at annoyingly regular intervals. ‘I like it rough’ and ‘Look at the circuits on that’ are just a couple of his idiotic, stereotypical macho bullshit lines. I appreciate he’s a rogue and a scamp but he sounds like something out of a cheesy eighties action film. Also, with the game’s incredibly easy difficulty level, the piggish remarks only serve to alienate a younger and otherwise more suitable market. And as a woman, I want to kick him right in his heatsink.
Yobie has a selection of weapons he can unlock and then construct from various vending machines throughout the game. The plasma ball, pipe bombs, EMP blaster and the shotgun are just a few and all of them can be upgraded with more damage, more ammo and a faster rate of fire. Of course you’ll need to find supplies to build all this deadly finery. Smash small crates to get basic machine parts and snag slighter rarer parts and ammo as you go. Little boxes of health can also be picked up on your robotic travels – not that you really need them when death is only your enemy’s problem. Fight your way through each level to meet each objective, all of which will be very similar. There’s nothing complicated going on here. This is a cute game where you will shoot stuff, die, shoot more stuff, flick switches and shoot even more stuff. It’s simplistic and easy peasy. Easy peasy except for the jumping mechanic which isn’t entirely all there. Luckily there’s not much jumping going on and thank R2D2 for that. Stick to the shooting, Yorbie; you’re much better at it!
Forget the boss fights. They’re merely short annoyances that break your otherwise steady pace. There’s a lot more fun to be had with co-op play in the main levels. I say co-op but I really mean going up against each other to steal machine parts and gain the most kills and least deaths. Those end-of-level stats are suddenly much more interesting.
My biggest complaint is that this game is too short and, yes, I’m cringing as I say that because I’m a great believer in awesome short games. I appreciate that Yorbie is episodic, but I was so disappointed when it all suddenly ended. An episodic format is unusual for a shooter and I’m not completely convinced it works. Perhaps with a stronger plot, greater depth and a more charismatic main character, the sudden ending wouldn’t have felt quite so anti-climactic. Because there’s no progressing plot or toughening conflict, there’s no cliffhanger and therefore no reason to stop. Perhaps I’m thinking too much like a writer, but anyone who has ever read a trilogy of books or watched a series of television programmes will know, you need a reason to continue, and that reason is always in the form of a question: what will happen next? You need to get my attention and shove that question mark right up my left nostril. Unfortunately in this case the question mark was missing, my nostril stayed disappointingly clear and I was left feeling bereft when the gameplay had just got genuinely interesting.
Yorbie is a cute and simple little shooter that is more suited to those who prefer an easy ride or have just experienced a horrific and bloody ride and need a comforting lollypop to suck on. Really nice graphics, a mostly good shooting mechanic and a robot who needs a good clip round his steel-plated ears, Yorbie: Episode 1 is a flawed but weirdly charming game.
S J Hollis Rating 6/10