If you were a robot – bear with us on this one – and you could turn into any animal form you wanted, what would you choose?
Tiger, perhaps, or a Great White Shark? Maybe a gorilla or an eagle? Whatever your answer might be, we're pretty sure that spider, cat and tortoise wouldn't be at the top of our personal preferences.
But it takes a village, as they say, and the little cybernetic character that stars in Mekamorf seems happy enough with its arachnid, feline and reptilian forms. We just can't help wondering whether the game would be better if he'd been a little more ambitious.
Mekamorf starts out promisingly enough: you play as that little robotic hero, who is being guided on a mission to defend his home against an evil invasion. Despatched from a ship orbiting the planet, you plummet to Earth in a lushly drawn sequence that's reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoon shows. You're then given your tasks by two human guides, who are in contact with you via radio.
After landing you soon discover that, in your spider-like form, you can walk up and down walls, even crawl along the underside of platforms. There are very few places you cannot go. As the first level proceeds you learn about your abilities and how to best use them to avoid the guards as you infiltrate the enemy lines.
Part way through this first level you're given the ability to transform into a cat, which also brings with it its own unique capabilities. Instead of being able to walk on ceilings and up sheer walls, you can run, leap and generally be more agile.
Switching between the two forms, you must make your way through the sideways-scrolling level without getting shot, using the particular advantages of each form to help. It initially seems like a great idea to get more out of what's otherwise a relatively generic platform game. But as you advance through the subsequent levels, it all becomes a bit of a chore.
This is less because of the restricted gameplay – walk left or right, jump occasionally and fire – more because the levels are designed in such a way that they turn Mekamorf into a chore to play.
When you've unlocked the third form that you can change into, a tortoise with a honking great gun on its back, the joy you feel at being able to vaporise any enemies in your way soon turns to despair when you realise that you've got to change into one of the other forms every ten seconds or so to clear an obstacle in your way. Tedium sets in.
Because each of the three forms is so specialised in regard to what it can do, you end up having to switch between them too frequently, and this interrupts the flow of the game. You never end up feeling as though you're getting into a groove within a level, and it's this fragmented gameplay that ends up spoiling the fun that Mekamorf potentially could have offered.
The more cynical among you may see this as the reason why, from the start menu, you have open access to the game's five levels. It's certainly tempting to quit mid-level, when it all becomes too tedious, to go and try the next one along in the hope it'll be more free-flowing.
Put such ponderances aside for the moment, and it becomes apparent within 20 minutes' play that Mekamorf is an opportunity wasted. It's not a game that's been skimped on – the wonderful visuals attest to some T.L.C. being lavished on it – but it could definitely have benefited from more thought at the design stage.