As everyone knows, the moon is inhabited by happy rosy-cheeked blob-things called Maro, who love to play Forehead Catch and gorge themselves on snacks. But oh no! Here comes a barrage of heavy consumer goods from Earth, goods which are not edible and tend to flatten the poor Maro if they don't get out of the way, which they are not nearly smart enough to do. Enter you—in the role of a jet-pack-equipped robot shepherd with a crazed look in your eye and a big shovel in your twitchy metal fists. Your job is to batter to smithereens all the falling television sets, phonographs, and other blunt objects before they can crush the helpless moon blobs. Your secondary job is to allow foodstuffs to reach the hungry Maro, so that they can eat and grow. When they reach a certain size, a ramp will whisk them away and you move on to the next level of carnage. To recap—if it's not food, break it. If it is food, don't.
In Robomaro, (by Ninja Kiwi, makers of Bloons and Hotcorn) your robot moves along with the mouse pointer, while your Maro below do their slowly oozing best to follow. Click to swing your shovel, which destroys food and smaller items in one hit. Larger objects, like cars and pianos, may need two or three whacks before they fall apart. Every few levels, you'll encounter a bonus stage full of turbo-speed snacks, followed by a boss requiring absolutely zero strategy to defeat. The bosses resemble the classic Street Fighter II car-vandalism stage, which is no bad thing.
Grab the power-ups that float in from the right side of the screen by flying into them. Some of these can be quite entertaining. One gives Robo a spinning buzz-saw hand, while another transforms the cute little blobs into toothy green monstrosities, capable of devouring anything from flatware to SUVs.
The game ends when too many members of your flock of blobs gets squished. Good luck, and don't let the junk monster get you.
Analysis: Robomaro embraces a kind of functional surrealism that works really well in casual action games. What do pianos, chandeliers, and Rodin's The Thinker have in common? Well, they would all hurt if they fell on you. Why are there no falling safes or bowling balls? Because you couldn't break them with a shovel. Simple.
It reminds me of the Mario series, which has given us an iconic cast of nonsensical images that only exist because they filled their roles, once upon a time. Mario battles turtles because their shells can be used as weapons. He has a mustache because it visually separated his nose from his chin in the original Donkey Kong. He rides a dinosaur because that's what you would do if you were a video game character limited only by your creator's imagination. You would ride a dinosaur. And you would fly, which Mario also does. There's a major wish-fulfillment thing happening.
Why am I going on about Mario in a review for a simple flash game? Because like many of the pioneering game designers, Ninja Kiwi have a sense for a great concept, and the courage to follow through on their own silly impulses. "Monkey Pops Balloons with Darts" is a fantastic tag line, and so is "Robot Smashes Pianos with Shovel". While most game-makers bend over backwards to create a consistent, recognizable environment (even when that environment is completely abstract), it's refreshing to play a game fueled by pure whimsy.
Robomaro isn't the only game like this, of course. Newgrounds and Kongregate are packed full of creativity and random ideas, often at the expense of playability. But Ninja Kiwi have put in the extra effort. Robomaro's mechanics, visuals, and sound design are all strong enough that you can just relax and enjoy jet-packing around, madly swinging a shovel. The consumer goods shatter into their component parts convincingly with specific crunchy sound effects, which is important in a game about breaking stuff. All the game's characters seem to be really enjoying themselves, judging by Robo's maniacal violent glee and the Maro's delightful "Wheee!" at the end of each level. Robomaro is not the deepest game around, nor, I suspect, the one with the broadest appeal. It is, however, the awesomest flash game I've played this week.