Machinal Instinct (download from the App Store and Google Play Store) is a mixture of excellent ideas packed into a series of fast-paced arcade scraps. You’re fighting against other players, smashing their robots to bits with punches, throws and rockets. And it’s an awful lot of fun.
The fights take place in a 3D arena. You move your finger on the screen to stomp around and swipe to dash and dodge. Tapping at the bottom of the screen unleashes light attacks – tap higher up and you’ll perform stronger attacks. Push a finger down on the screen and you’ll block.
You can upgrade various parts of your fighting machine. You do that by collecting cards in the cases you get for winning fights. Collect enough cards and you can spend some cash to make your bot even stronger. There are different weapons to collect too, and various chunks of armor that let you customize your creation.
It’s the fighting that’s the real gem here though. The scraps are fast and furious, and the controls are tight enough that things never feel floaty. Blows are crunching and landing a combo is almost unbelievably satisfying.
The game looks gorgeous too, all chunky cartoon characters and fluid motion. It’s hard not to play with a smile on your face, and the battles are quick enough that you’ll fit a handful into a short play-session.
The ideas that Machinal Instinct squishes together don’t always land, and some might find that it lacks the depth they look for in a fighting game. If you accept the midcore nature of the experience, you’re going to find yourself having a lot of fun.