When it comes to Mega Man clones, I have a bit of an addiction. Whenever I see anything that even vaguely resembles the series, I jump at the opportunity to pick it up and see how it fares. Bot Gaiden is the latest one, and it’s clear from the offset that the creators are big fans of the franchise too.

Rather than being modelled after the classic mainline titles, however, this game is more reminiscent of the Mega Man X series – specifically the ones where you can play as the luxuriously haired Zero. Much like Zero, the protagonist in Bot Gaiden is a robot with a sword who runs and slashes his way through anything that gets in his way. Your goal is to obtain the power skulls from the six hench-bots before eventually confronting the big bad himself. It’s hardly innovative as it’s almost exactly the same as the standard plot in a Mega Man game, but it’s presented really well and also throws in its own unique surprises too.


The power skulls, as the name suggests, are able to grant tremendous power to its user. How that plays out in-game is that the hench-bots will get stronger based on how long it takes for you to get to them. Get there fast enough, and you can probably take then down in a measly couple of hits – but take longer and they’ll be at full strength and require way more effort to take care of. On the flip side, the less power the hench-bot drains from the skull will also benefit you by granting you additional abilities that help make things easier. Merely collecting the skull will just give you an extra life to use when playing the stage, but clearly the stage at speed will give you extra benefits. It’s a unique system that encourages replayability and speedrunning by making the game easier as a result.

That’s not to say the game is easy though, as it certainly is not. Whilst the game does offer you an assortment of collectible power-ups throughout each stage that grant you a wide range of OP abilities, getting hit on the normal difficulty or above will result in you losing at least one of them. Die (even on easy), and you will lose them all. Your base power is still strong enough to deal with most enemies, but when compared with your fully upgraded Ninja there’s a noticeable difference.


What really makes the game enjoyable though, aside from the gorgeous environments and enemy designs, is how the game controls. Your Ninja Robot moves super fast and, when combined with the upgrades, is able to plough through the opposition with such badassery that doing well feels extremely rewarding. It’s not all perfect, as the wall clinging ability is a little bit too sticky, and the dodge manoeuvre results in you self-destructing if used for too long, but on the whole it feels really good to play.

The high level of difficulty may not be for everyone, as the game is quite punishing even when played on the easiest setting, but any fan of the Mega Man X franchise should have a blast with the game. It feels so smooth and is quite clearly a labour of love from the small development team that crafted it.