Robot Unicorn Attack

This Flash game available at the Adult Swim website, the Apple store, and a variety of other places manages to surpass SkiFree as the best representation of Existentialism I’ve experienced to date. To start, the premise reveals a variety of levels. You are a robotic unicorn in a dreamworld. Can robotic unicorns dream? The shout-out to PK Dick is a nice touch, but expanding upon that can a construct alien to the simulation it is engaged in actually be successful? The Baudrillardian implications are already heavy before any objective is even established. And what is the objective? Whatever it is, you have three “wishes” to complete it and your failure to fulfill that objective results in the severed head of the robotic unicorn crying. Yet, at the same time, the end score is a cumulative effort of these three failures. And failures they will be, as death is inevitable in this game. Is that the point? The cumulative score? Shattering stars, which are deadly but which offer a great deal of points would be the most effective means of raising a score as quickly as possible. That and longevity, but the creep of time leads to a world of ever-increasing speed that inexorably leads to your demise, so longevity alone is insufficient for a true “high score”. But that ignores that fairies, which represent the very dreams you are chasing, ostensibly the true motivation of the robotic unicorn. While the valuable stars are crudely shattered, capturing the ephemeral fairies requires a substantially greater amount of effort and the reward as measured by score is an order of magnitude less than that offered by stars. From a score-based perspective it is therefore illogical to go after the fairies when one ought focus on smashing the stars and preserving their longevity. At the same time, there is a proper joy at engaging the fairies suggesting that, perhaps, they are the true point of the game irrespective of score or accolades to share on peer-to-peer networks.

All of this occurs within a randomly generated world. What you initially encounter may be easy and resource rich, difficult and research poor, or any combination thereof. While initially this world appears something which can be rationally navigated despite its random nature, as the creep leaves its mark this is revealed to be a fantasy and leaps of faith become not merely occasionally required but absolutely demanded. Sometimes they yield great dividends, other times they crash you into a wall. While some control is possible, once skill passes a certain threshold one’s ultimate score is ultimately dictated by fate. The symbol of the ouroboros is clear here, as you both begin and end the game as a pawn of fate with only the briefest moment in which the exercise of your skill truly matters.

Speaking of controls, they are present but very limited within the game. “z” jumps, and within given intervals, double jumps are possible while “x” allows for a dash forward. Jumping is obvious, as it is used to avoid death. Dashing is slightly more complex, as it can be used to smash through obstacles, overcome long jumps which would otherwise be impossible, and when used in combination with the double jump, to avoid the rationally navigated scenery in its entirety and instead flying through space blindly until some unforeseeable object ends your journey. This seemingly limited freedom allows for a great many options as all strategies have their uses at different times within the gameplay.

All this with some really so-bad-it-is-good music rocking. What isn’t to like?

Oh, and robotic dolphins. Can’t forget those!