Review: Robotron 2084 (Atari 7800)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we blast our way through one of the many ports of a classic action series, Robotron. Particularly, we are looking at Robotron 2084 for the Atari 7800. Is this game a worthy entry into the series? We find out.

Robotron 2084 for the Atari 7800 was released in 1986. While there are similarities between this game and Berzerk, the pure chaos found in Robotron games in general is substantially greater than what is found in Berzerk games.

The objective is simple – survive the hoards of robots and other monsters bent on killing you by destroying all the moving enemies that can be destroyed on screen. You can gain extra points by saving the humans that scatter the screen before they are killed off by the many enemies on screen.

There are many kinds of enemies to be found on screen. There are basic robots that simply slowly make their way towards you. Come into contact with them and you die. There are the larger bots that cannot be killed as well. They tend to wander more aimlessly around the screen. There are large brain monsters that shoot out missiles that follow you around (though the missiles can be destroyed, they are often hard to hit). There are weird circle things that float around to the corners. They tend to help spawn (as far as I could tell) other monsters. There are flying robots that move substantially faster. They spawn onto the screen after a while. They shoot flying, I guess, mines that also have a tendency to move into your general direction. There are also flying objects that tend to move in diagonal directions. They are also small and hard to hit. Added to this mess of enemies are tank-like robots that shoot larger bullets at you that can bounce around.

Thrown in the mix are the various mines that dot the arena. Then can be squares, triangles, or other shapes, but the things they have in common are the fact that they can destroy both you and enemies alike.

In addition, there are level warps that occasionally pop up. I couldn’t reach one in this game in time, but I’m pretty sure they have the same effect as other Robotron games in that they warp you ahead a few waves.

There are various collectable families that are worth a nice sizable amount of points when collected. There’s a mother, father, and a few other family members (hard to really notice what they are during gameplay when you are just trying to survive a level).

The general gameplay is basically you running around and shooting at everything. The game requires two controllers to play – one controller to move around the arena and one to shoot in different direction. If you only have one controller, then you can only shoot by moving in the direction that you want to move which severely limits your ability to survive.

This version has a variety of difficulties – Novice, Intermediate, Expert, and Challenge. I only had the guts to play up to Intermediate as this game is already difficult enough if your goal is to make it in a dozen or so waves. You have 5 free lives and more can be earned. Use up all of your lives and it’s game over.

Personally, I found this game difficult to play because you have to use two controllers. I could never really figure out the most comfortable configuration that makes this game particularly easy. Sometimes, I found myself simply running into an enemy or a mine or simply not being able to shoot one of the guided missiles that is headed right towards me in time. I didn’t think I made it very far in this one, though I didn’t spend too much time playing this one to build up the practice.

Graphically, this game was decent. You can clearly see what’s on the screen even if it’s for fleeting moments as you try and survive each level. The psychedelic feel of the graphics certainly gave this game a certain kind of charm.

There is no music, but the sounds portrayed in this game was nicely done.

Overall, if you like harder games that require fast reflexes with both hands, then this game is a good choice for you. There is a lightly addicting property to this game, though I felt that the firing rate was somewhat lacking. A passable game that could have been better on a different platform that better accommodates multi-directional firing.


Furthest point in game: Novice: Wave 14. Intermediate: Wave 8

General gameplay: 13/25
Replay value: 6/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 56%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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