Robotron: 2084 (often simply called "Robotron") is an arcade game created in 1982 by the company Vid Kidz (Eugene Jarvis and Larry Demar) for Williams Electronics. It was unique at the time in that the controls were two 8-way joysticks (one for running, one for shooting) rather than the more typical single joystick and fire button.
Williams released Smash TV in 1990 with similar gameplay and two joysticks in the same way as in Robotron.
Each level, or “wave” of Robotron consists of a small person, representing the player, in the center of a swarm of enemy robots. The player uses the two joysticks to simultaneously move away from the enemies and dodge their shots, which firing back at them. This requires a good degree of hand-eye coordination, but once the player is used to it the game flows remarkably well. Once all the destructible enemies are destroyed, the player then progresses to the next wave.
Scattered around the playfield are slow-moving “humanoids” to rescue, clones of the last human family consisting of Mommy, Daddy and Mikey. Touching these clones before they are killed by Hulks or Brains earns the player a good number of points. Since Robotron is a game in which death, in the long run, is practically certain, and the player earns extra lives by scoring points, rescuing humanoids is extremely important tactic for having a long game.
The enemies the player must face throughout the game are:
- Grunts. These simple-minded foes simply move towards the player. They do not shoot, but tend to appear in large numbers. Wave 9 and every ten waves after have huge numbers of Grunts.
- Hulks. Boxy green robots that move randomly around the screen. They cannot be destroyed by any means, but do not intentionally chase the player either, and they can be pushed around slightly by firing at them. They do not need to be shot to complete a wave. Hulks kill any humanoids they make contact with.
- Spheroids. These round, red objects move quickly and produce Enforcers, yellow robots that shoot rapid, homing shots at the player. If shot early Spheroids are almost harmless, but the longer they survive the more Enforcers they produce. Eventually Spheroids disappear on their own, after creating several Enforcers.
- Brains. These slow, blue enemies infest every fifth wave, which also contain large numbers of humanoids. Brains are almost harmless in themselves, but they turn humanoids into Progs, fast-moving agents of destruction that mercilessly home in on the player, and also fire large numbers of “cruise missiles,” which are difficult to escape.
- Quarks are weird, boxy, pulsing objects that produce Tanks in large numbers. Tanks fire quick, bouncing shots at the player that are very hard to avoid.
Robotron: 2084 is generally recognized as one of the games from the classic era that holds up the best today. It ranks up with Tempest in its mixture of brutal, high-speed gameplay and psychedelic graphics. While several ports were produced, including a version for the Nintendo 64, the original arcade game is considered by many to be the best version. A direct port of the game was included in Midway Arcade Treasures; a compilation of arcade games for the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles, released in 2003.
History and Trivia
- The original name for the game was "2084 - Robotron", but the name Robotron was more commonly used by virtually everyone involved, and the game was renamed shortly before production. This is why the cabinet side artwork simply has the number 2084 vertically.
- One of the game adjustments a game operator can make is "Fancy Attract Mode On/Off". This removed the rotating marquee from the attract mode title page. The adjustment was included in case the DMA hardware overheated and crashed the game during the attract mode. It fortunately turned out to be unnecessary, and was rarely if ever set.