Fun Freebies: Give Up, Robot and Give Up Robot 2

Give up Robot twoIt's never been tougher to pin down just how much a game is worth. Vanquish will last you all of five hours for its $60 entry fee, but is it so much fun that you'll want to play it again and again? Conversely, Fallout New Vegas offers days' worth of content to explore, but is a buggy expansion pack really worth sixty Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers? And why shell out full price for this year's sports title when last year's model is nearly identical and can be bought for a song?

Thankfully, the whole discussion goes out the window when you can play the game for free. There are all kinds of browser games, smartphone apps, and free-to-play platforms out there that offer gaming goodness in exchange for nothing at all. There was a time when free Flash games were horrid experiences, not even worthy of killing time at work. But in the era of aggregate sites, app stores and user ratings, the fun freebies tend to rise to the top of the pile, where cubicle drones between TPS reports are more likely to find them.

I recently played through a few excellent little flash games at Adult Swim's games portal. Give Up, Robot and Give Up, Robot 2 gave me a few hours of die-and-retry platforming fun, and took nothing in return.

Give Up, Robot and its sequel are most easily compared to Bionic Commando. The playable character, Robot, has a grappling hook that shoots outward and upward from its body in addition to a standard jump and walking controls. The player can also adjust the length of the grapple line and affect momentum while airborne, a standard practice in platformers. Most of the challenges in the Give Up, Robot games involve swinging from precariously-placed ceilings and objects from the left side of the screen to the exit on the right.
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It wouldn't be very interesting if there weren't any hazards and obstacles along the way. Many walls, ceilings, and floors are electrified, and will destroy Robot when touched. Some platforms will drop or raise when Robot lands on them or grapples onto them. Spinning grapple points will swing Robot around in a circle until it lets go and flings away. The second game adds coins to bolster your high score as well as a few very basic "enemy" types, including missiles that can be grappled onto and dragged by Robot's weight.

Though the elements are rather simple, Give Up Robot perfectly walks the line between fun and frustration to keep the player engaged but not enraged. Each game features over 50 stages, many of which can be finished in under ten seconds...but many of them will keep even platforming veterans busy for at least a few minutes. By the end of each game, you could be spending over ten minutes on one stage, trying to make the perfect fifteen-second run. Both games also feature a short Hard mode, with a batch of absolutely devilish new stages for those seeking a true pixel perfection challenge. The Hard mode alone in Give Up Robot 2 took me over an hour to get through, and I had to connect my Wii remote to my computer via bluetooth in order to handle the precision required.

This old-school difficulty is reflected with a visual style reminiscent of the unassuming but downright frustrating arcade-style games of the '80s. The original looks similar to late Atari-era games with plenty of bright colors against a black background, while the sequel mimics kid-focused NES era games that were cute and colorful but downright sinister behind all the smiles. A catchy 8-bit soundtrack accompanies each, and a distorted, electronic voice delivers approval upon every death ("Let's be friends, Robot!") and scolds your rare success ("Stop trying, Robot!"). Slick presentation goes far in staving off the urge to give up in a die-and-retry, and Give Up, Robot successfully turns joyless frustration into irresistable masochism in this way.
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Even a sliver of enjoyment can make the difference between a cheap waste of time and a fun freebie, but the Give Up, Robot titles go above and beyond what I expected from a free browser game. These two addictive swing-and-jumps had me entertained from start to finish. They're a perfect snack to save you from game-starvation while at work, in class, or wherever you probably should be doing something productive instead.

Click here to play Give Up, Robot at

Then try the sequel, also at

Up for more free fun? Check out other games from the Give Up Robot creator at Matt Makes Games.
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