The Game: Four robotic tanks search methodically through a maze, trying to hunt you down. If you wind up in a straight line across or above/below the robot tanks, they will fire, even if a maze wall is in the way. Your job is to evade their fire, use the robots’ logic against them (i.e. try to get one tank to shoot another just because you’re in a straight line with them), or sneak up from behind and destroy them. Destroyed tanks leave a radioactive crater that you must avoid for the rest of that round; you advance to the next round by eliminating all of the tanks without being shot yourself. (Philips, 1983 – unreleased prototype)
Memories: This is one of those Odyssey2 games that was prepared for release only in the foreign market, but could’ve been one of the machine’s signature games in North America. It may be as simple as a game can get, but Robot City is a load of fun. (Come to think of it, I can’t imagine why it was left at the prototype altar elsewhere, either.)
An addictively simple game with a difference, Robot City would’ve stood alongside the best of the “Challenger Series” games if released on this continent. I have to give major kudos to any game that encourages outwitting an adversary instead of simply blowing him away; Robot City is a game where you can use an enemy’s attack instincts to thin out the ranks of your pursuers. That’s almost martial-arts-style thinking there, and there are woefully few games out there, then or now, featuring such an element.
Robot City‘s good qualities haven’t gone completely unnoticed. Not only is a release finally in the works for Odyssey2 and Videopac collectors, but a version of Robot City was even ported to the Atari 2600. After all these years, the City has finally gotten its due – it’s a great place to play, but I wouldn’t want to live there. At least not with all those robot tanks…