Solbot Energy Rush is a new mobile release from Freakout Games. It’s a charmingly simple game that promotes the use of sustainable energy. You are Solbot, hurtling through space and collecting energy resources and avoiding getting blown up. A series of facts on how to conserve energy and resources are integrated into the menu. It’s a game with a message, but it is also a nice time-killer for commuting or waiting for your perpetually late pal to show up to the pub.
I enjoyed the retro feel of this game. Your space hero, Solbot, careens upwards and you guide him in catching orbs with a golden halo, avoiding the normal orbs which will explode if he hits them. It was reminiscent of the boss stage for Dribble & Spitz’s minigames in the Game Boy Advance game, WarioWare Inc (watch from 4:00 for that specific minigame). Do let me know if that game was also referencing something else because WarioWare is full of those revivals of old gaming concepts. Solbot Energy Rush has that charming, hypnotic element to it, which is exactly what you want from a fun, simple mobile game.
Eco Space Warrior
Between levels, sometimes, there are communications between Solbot and his commander. It is entirely unpretentious, just wholesome, cheerful encouragement: “Hey, Commander! Mission completed!” “You did better than me when I was at your range!” ” Using the environment responsibly sure feels good!”. The game never really strays far from its own mission – to get its players thinking about how they can be more energy efficient citizens of Earth. This sincerity is what is really sweet about Solbot Energy Rush. It never hides its clear aim, but, like Saturday morning cartoons that most of its players will have grown up on, it feels innocent and uplifting. It is also refreshing to consume media which puts out an ethical message without any subterfuge when we are daily inundated with product placement. Eco encouragement beats shameless capitalism any day of the week in my book.
The Exploding Orb in the Ointment
Unfortunately, there are aspects to Solbot Energy Rush that could definitely be improved. The tap system which controls where Solbot moves to onscreen is very sensitive, and sometimes inconsistent. What will move Solbot slightly one second doesn’t budge him the next, or it swings him to the other side of the screen. This means that in a game which is all about steering your character towards goals while dodging others, you often lack any control whatsoever. This doesn’t cripple the game from any enjoyment, but it can inspire a fair bit of rage-quitting.
Another problem is that the mobile ads block aspects of the menu. Listen – we don’t begrudge ads in a free game. Anyone who does is being entitled. But in Solbot Energy Rush, it is often at the expense of the game’s usability. This makes the ads all the more intrusive and makes the menu more difficult to use.
Overall, Solbot Energy Rush has the potential to be really fun as well as informative. I love the idea, I love the aesthetic, I love the good message. A classic and simple game is a really wonderful and inventive template for incorporating a social message, and that is truly admirable. However, the tapping issue does impact the enjoyability of this otherwise delightful game. If some of these mechanical issues can be fine-tuned, it’d be my go-to accompaniment to a podcast on my long Luas ride to work.
Solbot Energy Rush is available on Android and iOS. Follow the game on Twitter for some more amazing facts at@SolbotEnergyRsh.