The Game: Robots, commanded by the CPU which is in turn commanded by you, take up positions on a battlefield grid. The two opposing armies converge, and if two robots lae square, the action zooms in on that portion of the battlefield so the two can fight it out. When one robot’s energy is exhausted by the other’s attacks or by coming into contact with energy pulses bouncing around the arena, that robot is forfeited and the action returns to the grid. The CPUs can transmit viruses to any enemy robot on the grid, stealing half of that robot’s speed or hit points, or halting it altogether. Robots can attack the enemy CPU, but the CPU has a more robust defensive mechanism at its disposal than the average robot… (Ted Sczcypiorski [published by Packrat Video Games], 2006)
Memories: Yet another Odyssey2 homebrew is charting impressive new territory for a classic console that many consider to be underpowered. And yet, what we have here in Mr. Roboto! is essentially Archon – a classic computer game that didn’t appear on a console until the NES. And yet here it is running on one of the 8-bit era’s underdogs, and running quite nicely, thank you very much.
Mr. Roboto! shares the same advantage that quite a few other Odyssey2 greats have: by not reinventing the audiovisual wheel, it’s fast-moving, challenging and fun. (That said, Mr. Roboto! does have at least one exceedingly cool custom graphic, the CPU character that almost reminds me of an Ultima IV moongate). It’s also easy to figure out how to play (my first exposure was at a live demo at Classic Gaming Expo 2005). Not that this doesn’t mean you should skip the manual, though – it’s a beautiful throwback to classic Odyssey games where the manual’s “screen shots” were rendered with an impossibly slick font that the machine itself couldn’t even hope to reproduce. And don’t miss the joke about the game taking place in the year 8048 (the Odyssey2 uses an Intel 8048 processor).
If I have only one complaint, it’s this: while the battle mode is very similar to Tron Deadly Discs, you can’t “recall” your projectile as you can in that game – you have to go pick it up. Now, from a game design standpoint, I can see where this adds extra challenge in forcing players to avoid the roving bursts of energy, but from a player’s standpoint, it’s maddening and slows the game down. (Actually, on second thought, the slowdown is an illusion if your adversary can hang on to his ammo – it means they finish you off a lot faster.) But, as I said, that’s my only real complaint – and it’s not enough of one to stop me from playing. Mr. Roboto! rocks, and proves that the Odyssey2 was always up to the challenge of competing with its peers. After all, I don’t see any Archon play-alikes on the 2600.