Retro Sci-Fi Games: Robotron: 2084

Posted by Guest Author on Mar 11, 2008 in Videogames |

Retro Sci-Fi Games: Robotron: 2084

It seems almost impossible to fall over in a game store without knocking over a few dozen sci-fi themed games, so we wanted to take a look at the ten best examples of the genre. Our twist? Retro! So here’s one glimpse of the future from the past:

Robotron: 2084

If there is one iron-clad sci-fi rule, it’s that robots will always turn on their makers. It’s “the fall” reduced to more mortal confines. If you build something in your image, it will eventually pitch a fit, take its ball and try and kill you with it.

In Robotron: 2084 (released in 1982), you are the last hope for human civilization. The title explains all you need to know about the setting; it’s the year 2084 and robots with some twisted AI have overrun the word and are now killing and mutating the few remaining humans. For rather vague reasons (something about being a mutant yourself) you are the only person with any sort of retaliatory firepower. As usual, the human “family” is totally useless in trying to save itself and walks around aimlessly while hordes of boxy ‘bots, flashing violent shades of oh-so-futuristic neon, seek them out. With the only motivation to save them being a few extra points, it may be tempting to just sit back and watch these idiots stagger to their doom, but then we wouldn’t have a game then would we?

The physical make-up of the game itself was rather unique at the time. Instead of the simple joystick and single fire button presentation, players took control with two joysticks, one for moving and the other for shooting. This made it possible to run away in one direction while blasting the mobs speeding toward you from the other. Much like Robotron built upon the pieces of games such as Robots and Berzerk that came before it, Robotron also paved the way for future meth-fueled shooters like Smash TV. Indeed, Robotron: 2084 is still considered to be a high-water mark in unrelentingly difficult shooters.

Zac Bentz is a regular contributor to the Japanese culture blog Japanator, runs his own Japanese music review blog ZB’s A-Z of J-Music and plays crazy electro-rock in The Surfactants. He lives in Duluth, MN with his wife, pets and a closet full of adventure.

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