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Give Up, Robot

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Rating: 4.5/5 (180 votes)
Comments (42) | Views (11,650)

Mikemike-giveuprobot-screen1.pngGive Up, Robot, a twitchy, insane, G-rated retro platformer designed by Matt Thorson and hosted by Adult Swim's house of PG-13 online mayhem, is designed to punish you in as many different ways as possible. And that is what makes it great.

Players control a unicycling, pixelated robot with a grappling hook and a stoic tenacity, who must traverse elaborate gauntlets at the behest of a fractured, highly vocal, passive-aggressive computer overseer. Move and jump with the [arrow] keys, and deploy your grappling hook by pressing and holding [A] or [Z]. Releasing [A] or [Z] will release the hook, and you can rock back and forth by moving left and right, or tighten or loosen the slack of your grappling line by moving up or down. You can grip safely on to any surface, but while the glowy, disco-colored blocks are safe to touch directly, the equally glowy, fire-colored blocks and the spinny, bladey gizmos are harmful to Robot. Pilot Robot from one side of the screen to the other to go to the next level, and try to resist the Computer's childish taunts.

mike-giveuprobot-screen2.pngAnalysis: I say that Give Up, Robot will punish you in as many ways as possible, which is different from saying it punishes you as much as possible. Having rocks thrown at you by a Gorn could be very punishing, but it is also pretty boring. But let us count the myriad punishments Give Up, Robot inflicts.

Let's start with the eye-peeling visuals. I'm pretty sure those prone to epilepsy should avoid even thinking too hard about this game. The levels are painted in a constant swirl of alternating, psychedelic colors, and even those with the steeliest corneas may find they tire from playing too much by sheer ocular attrition. But that mind-bending palette is part of the point of the game, as you'll see.

Let us continue to sound. The background music is a serviceable but unremarkable chiptune which is but a canvass for the Computer to do its thing. When you complete a level, it chides you. "Give up, Robot," it might say. "We are no longer friends," it frequently sulks. When you die, which will happen frequently in later levels, it... I'm not sure what it's doing. It could be taunting you, or possibly trying to encourage you, but it doesn't seem to have a good fix on what either of those things are. I can accept "Good job, Robot" as sarcasm, but "I love you Robot" is twisted, strange, and hardly germane. The Computer's bizarre utterances are performed by an erratic vocorder that's as oddly musical as it is weird. Failure is worth it just to hear what the Computer says next.

Speaking of failure, let us talk lastly of the platforming, and how bad you will be at it. Sure, the first ten levels or so might be perfectly survivable. You may feel cocksure, confident, and dismissive of the Computer's efforts to vex you. Then come the falling platforms, the leap-of-faith chasms, the exit points surrounded by dangerous flame, the essential platforms reachable only by grappling onto rapidly spinning blades, which are themselves only reachable by other rapidly spinning blades. Yes, you will fail. Be grateful for Robot's infinite lives, for you will fail frequently. I failed frequently, but oddly, I was never frustrated, and never felt the need to ragequit (though I did have to abandon Level 50 to give my eyes and psyche a break). There are just so many unique ways to fail that the variety is perversely delightful.

I think that's the genius of Give Up, Robot. The psyche-melting visuals, the Computer's confused goading, and the warped panoply of possible catastrophes to suffer: All this puts you in a place where failure is almost as fun as winning. It's a hard platformer that's uncommonly fun to play, because it rewards you, in its twisted way, even when you mess up, but is still largely rewarding when you are victorious.

The game would be even more fun if the controls were a bit tighter. I also wish there were more control of the grappling hook, which deploys at 45 degrees no matter what, which is very frustrating when you are Tarzan-swinging from platform to precarious platform. But I think we should appreciate Give Up, Robot for what it is. A game where winning is great, but where losing is a blast.

Play Give Up Robot


fuzzyface May 11, 2010 12:50 PM

What a wonderful, colorful, sunny, cheerful, jolly, merry, mirthful, bright, funny, merry, joyous and queer game.


Welcome back, fuzzyface. Good to 'see' you again. :)

Kegan04 May 11, 2010 1:42 PM

Awesome game! :D

The platform challenges do get rather ridiculous though.

I just want to add, if anyone likes this game, you should check out An Untitled Story, which was also made by Matt Thorson.


It's time to DANCE!!@#$@#%$#@$DFGWRW1324531!!!


I quite liked the game. It was quirky, with enough 8-bit music and sounds to bring me back to an earlier time, and I like the crack-intro style graphics.

Game was challenging but never got me to want to throw my computer against the wall... except that that last level was a little rough.

StephenM3 May 11, 2010 2:49 PM

Love the physics of this one. It's jerky and erratic, but in a way that is wholly predictable and controllable. While most other platformers are striving for a smooth, flowy float through the air, this feels just silly enough to be unique and fun, but not so arbitrary as to be frustrating.

Another good take on the 'malevolent AI guide' trope, as well.

I'm stuck on level 36, unfortunately. The first level that scrolls to the side, with the giant falling block above you. Does anybody have any tips?

fuzzyface May 11, 2010 4:49 PM

Ohh personally welcomed Jay! *smile* Time does its wonders, you'll notice I'll be far less "crummy" than I've been, I promise! Personalities develop (at least I hope so)



Jump down, immediately jump high but not far to the right and tag the ceiling (which will fall) with your grapple. As soon as the grapple hits, let go and immediately grapple the 1-block thin wall on your left and swing left. If you do it fast enough you'll be out the "door" before the ceiling falls and you can swing back in and run across.


Level 42 has made my robot give up… at least for now.


Man this was fun. I didn't have any serious trouble until the last 10 levels or so but they were killer!


Just kidding. Power of the post let me beat it next try.


Oh, wow. I also quit exactly on level 50 xD.

julio1234 May 11, 2010 5:55 PM

This game reminds me moneyseize

fattywads May 11, 2010 7:24 PM

Awesome game. I think the controls would actually be harder if ou could aim the hook, especially in the later levels. I'm still working on level 50, but I'mm get in eventually. This game reminds me of N in a way, because its so easy to laugh at your mistakes.


Whew, that was pretty rough. Finished normal mode and was like, "My, that was hard!" Then, I remembered that there was still hard mode to do! And it starts out at the difficulty that normal mode ends in! Finished all 11 levels though, and the last one looked awfully familiar... :-D

V2Blast May 12, 2010 1:44 AM

My robot decided to give up on level 48. Right now, I stand at 367 deaths and a time of 40:29.08 ... Perhaps I shall return later.

Username May 12, 2010 5:21 PM

I think 46 is pure evil, but I know that by posting this I will now pass the level.

Username May 12, 2010 5:58 PM

Okay, I was right, I posted and then finished 46 after a couple more tries.

But then came 48....funk that.

JNinjaz May 12, 2010 7:20 PM

The regular levels are hard... but the hard levels deserve to be in a list of the top 10 hardest platformers of all time.

The thing that struck my mind on the 30th or so try of level hard 3 was "hmmm... the voice sounds like GLaDOS.... was this Aperture Science back in the 70s?" lol

JNinjaz May 12, 2010 7:28 PM

Oh, and now that I read the posts and see there are only 11 hard levels, I'm encouraged to finish. If there were 50, and I'm only on five, it would take me DAYS to finish. :P


A lot of fun, but the lack of any real ending was disappointing. They could have at least had the cpu congratulate you in some way!

Also, the later levels got very frustrating, and the computer didn't stop the frustration for me, that's for sure. :P

Farrone May 12, 2010 8:01 PM

This sounds familiar... all we need is a fake promise of cake.

BuenoCabra May 13, 2010 12:29 AM

I think my favorite thing about this game is that it doesn't assume I'm a moron or six years old. Games like this have a habit of taking 10 levels to introduce every possible scenario one piece at a time, then just spitting them out in different permutations for the rest of the game. This one lets you get the hang (HA!) of the controls, then just goes at it. Some levels are crazy hard, some are way easy, but they're all fun (even if you want to choke a CPU). There often is no one gimmick on a level, but a combination of tricks you must master to win (and I do mean master).

brandon May 13, 2010 1:16 AM

finished lvl 50 with 330 deaths @45min. (thank god)pretty much quit on lvl 1 HARD MODE when i realized the game was taking over me.

Late Escape May 13, 2010 3:15 AM

I play a lot of games here, but I only sign in and comment on the exceptional ones. So here I am.

This game is DIABOLICAL! During the last 3 levels it made me want to crush my computer and use its components for dental hygiene. I love a challenge, but I don't have forever. My robot gave up on level 50. So close, so far.

As for the computer, I don't think it's being passive aggressive, or sarcastic, or anything like that. I think its just nuts and it honestly believes the robot is supposed to lose. And with the dancing, who can contest my theory?

Even the "glitches" (when you get caught behind a block and get slingshoted, or something like that) are reliable, and therefore become an enjoyable part of your repertoire of tricks.

Papachabre May 13, 2010 7:19 AM

I thought level 50 was pretty hard - It took me about a half hour to beat it. But then I tried Hard Mode... god help us all.

I'm glad that there is a blindingly difficult game out there that is actually good enough to play. This game gets five mushrooms from me.


I only got one disco ball. Shame. I ended up dying a lot on the last few levels.

Username May 13, 2010 2:22 PM

Still on level 50 here, I walked away from it yesterday and am gonna think about doing it again today....I sure do wish there was a checkpoint!

powerflower May 14, 2010 9:17 AM

Aaargh, I dont wanna quit on lvl 50 but I have to study! Damn you, robot! ;)

V2Blast May 14, 2010 11:24 PM

Only one disco ball in the end... 610 deaths, time of 78:20.68, giving me a score of 17,179,590. Level 50 took me several tries, but I beat it.

...And Hard mode is impossible.

Overall, super-fun game, though extremely trippy and relatively hard to beat. I enjoyed it. Stopped on level 48 or so first time around, then continued and beat the last 3 levels today.


I hate, uh I mean love this game.

That's the kind of complex emotion this wells me up with.
Also 44 is making me cry.

Bluebottle May 16, 2010 12:03 AM

I had a second pass at this game today. Did all 50 levels in under 15 minutes and under 100 deaths. For this I earned 3 disco balls out of six.

And the hard mode is still impossible. Stuck on the second level.


Can anyone tell me how to beat level 7 on the hard levels... I am stuck and can't quite figure it out.

DoctuhD May 16, 2010 11:10 PM

Great review. Great game. Had a blast the whole way.


On HARD lv2. Already die hundred times in hard mode. Guys, beat lv50 and enjoy more!

Frustrated May 20, 2010 12:04 PM

I love this game!

But I hate the first level on hardmode!
I've died over 20 times on the finish line, my robot doesn't seem to be able to actually jump that far.

Anonymous May 26, 2010 10:34 AM

come on guys lvl 50 took me 19 mins lol.. u guys should play lvl 7 hard mode, way too hard.


got stuck on level 17

Confusion August 24, 2010 1:48 AM

Never, EVER give anything like level 50 again lol.
Took me 25 minutes.

And now onto HARD MODE!!!!!


anonymous August 26, 2010 4:00 AM

Stuck on level 42

11 YEAR OLD September 30, 2010 7:02 PM

i beat the all levels including hard in 30 min
no one said i could and so i bet i won 20 bucks

Svarta Svansen February 5, 2011 5:46 PM

Okay... I have never been so determined to be taunted by a computer over and over and over again. 666 times in fact- Oh dang...

I was really stupid with level 50 there...

I was grappling onto the columns and swinging through them. I jumped onto that little square then swung through the five columns, trying to grab onto the block after the fifth one. Then when I sat back after the three hundredth kill or so, I suddenly saw the easy way and I was like, "...You gotta be kidding me!"

Shannon June 7, 2011 3:07 AM

Im stuck on level 42 and i get to the last corner and die....any help?


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