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|Rating:||4 out of 5|
I've loved Robotron: 2084 for as long as I can remember, however I know this is a game I never played in the arcades of it's time. With it's unique dual-joystick control and lack of buttons I'm certain I'd remember playing it in one of the many arcades I frequented with friends.
Released in early 1982, it showed up on the scene when I was an arcade fanatic. I've never seen one in the wild since. I've played it on several platforms, but always loved the Atari 7800 release most. I have it on a cartridge for my Atari 800, but the graphics are just not as good - which is unusual. More often than not, I prefer games on the Atari 800 computer.
Hailing from the era in which video games were sold with manuals that also included the game's backstory, you'd think Robotron: 2084 was cloned from The Terminator. However, our invasive time traveller didn't hit movie screens until 1984. Similar to the awareness issue at Cyberdyne Systems, humans created Robotrons, advanced robots independent of human interaction.
As fate would have it, the Robotrons have taken over and are reprogramming human survivors to become destructive mutants. Your job is to find these survivors and save humanity.
The unique control layout of the arcade controles was brought to the Atari 7800 in two ways. You can play the game with a single controller using the joystick to move and to choose the direction of firing. Either fire button can be used to shoot. You can also play with both controllers plugged in to further simulate the original game with the left joystick controlling movement and the right one for directional firing.
I own this game as a loose cart, so I can't speak to how they expected dual-controller game play to realistically work. The Atari 5200 version came with a conjoiner that let you snap 2 controllers together side by side for easier game play. As far as I know the 7800 did not use this approach. But it is cool that the controls allow for either style. This works out well for my homebrew joystick.
You begin with five lives and gain an additional life every 25,000 points. At the start of each wave you appear in the center of the screen surrounded by a variety of Robotrons. Blast them all to clear the wave and advance to the next level. Keep in mind that the more humans you save, the more points you score. If you leave a few grunts, it's easier to then rescue the remaining humans.
Each human you save increases the point value for each rescue. The first garners you 1,000 points and works up to 5,000 points for the 5th human and all rescues beyond that.
Robotron is a true classic from Eugene Jarvis and was released to many platforms current with it's release. It has also travelled forward in time on a few compilation game discs. I have a copy of Midway Arcade Origins for the PS3. I thought the dual analog sticks would facilitate great game play, but I found it difficult to become accustomed to using both sticks simultaneously on such a small controller.
Robotron was an amazing arcade game and playing it on home consoles reminds me of the savage difficulty of such games from that era. Today, difficulty seems to be more constant across today's video games. But when each cabinet was trying to maximize it's token/quarter intake, savage difficulty kept play times short and repeat plays going strong!
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