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Monday, 17 January 2011

Advent Calendar - December 20th.

Robotron 2084 (arcade/MAME/everything)

It was really hard coming up with games for these later numbers. I had to get creative in a few cases, bending the rules and possibly even flat-out cheating. Hey, needs must. It didn't help, then, that the person I bought my "20" game from on eBay accidentally posted it to the wrong person. I had my money refunded, but it basically left me up shit creek for the blog.

Still, not to worry. I've said I didn't want to use years wherever possible... but in those cases, I meant the back ends of the years, with games like Tiger Woods 10 or FIFA 11. However, when it comes to futuristic games... I'm going to allow them. And so my fallback for today is the awesome arcade shooter, Robotron 2084.

Things are pretty easy at this point. Don't get used to that.

These days, Robotron 2084 is regarded as a classic. And rightly so - it's not just a brilliant game in its own right, it's also been (and continues to be) the inspiration for any number of modern games, Geometry Wars possibly being the most famous of them. However, I have to say I didn't so much as see one machine back in the arcade heyday, and so I never got to play it in its proper form. I've only ever played it through emulation, which is great, but this is one game that emulation has apparently never got quite right. Maybe one day...

What made Robotron 2084 such a revolution was its twin-stick controls; one stick to move your character, and one to fire in any of eight directions. It's not just clever, it's absolutely essential for this game to work properly. It simply wouldn't be the same if you had to shoot in the direction you're moving... not only that, it would be insanely difficult.

Now that's more like it. Watch where you're walking!

It's hard enough as it is. Right from the off you're overwhelmed by sheer numbers. You do get a bit of a chance to play yourself in... to begin with, you only have slow-moving grunt robots to contend with. Now is the time to get used to the controls in readiness for the imminent assault. And then, there's The Last Human Family to rescue...

Yes, the only silly sods left alive have to go putting themselves in harm's way on every level. Luckily, there are no consequences to their getting wiped out... but saving them gets you valuable bonus points, which all go towards the collection of precious extra lives...

The Brain Wave. Do this right and you can really rack up the points.

And you do need those lives. It's not that difficult a game up to around wave six or seven... but once the tanks are introduced you're in real trouble, and if you get past them then sheer numbers are likely to overwhelm you and bring about your downfall. The number of grunts homing in on you is frightening at times, but the sheer exhiliration you feel when you manage to fight your way through them and come out the other side is something that few other games can match.

When it comes to "zone" games, there aren't many better than Robotron 2084. I never got to play it when it first came out, but I've probably made up for that over the last decade. I've never been very good at it... I know people that can score over a million whereas I'd be happy with 200,000. I've never reached that yet... but I was over the moon to finally reach Wave 10 recently. That might not sound all that great, but you just give it a try and see...


  1. Robotron on mames great but you need a joypad with two knobs to play it properyly.

  2. Nice choice but what was game 20 supposed to be?

  3. It was a sneaky bend of the rules... Guilty Gear XX Reload. See what I did (or would have done) there?

  4. I have to say you certainly put some thought into this!