Wednesday 31 May 2017

Mr. Robot and His Robot Factory (Atari 8-bit review)

Developer: Ron Rosen, Gary Gilbertson
Publisher: Datamost
Released: 1983 

Mr. Robot and His Robot Factory is a puzzle-platformer that was later ported to the Apple II and Commodore 64.

It consists of 22 stages and the objective in each is to collect all the power pills. Mr. Robot can only fall a short distance, so careful platforming is required to avoid losing one of your five lives. Aliens attempt to block your path, but energisers can be collected that form a temporary shield around Mr. Robot that allows him to kill enemies by touching them. Clearly, the developers were inspired by Pac-Man (1980, Arcades), but there's a ton of new features here to help distance the game from clone territory; for starters, there's the side-on view, but you'll also need to walk over bombs to open up pathways, bounce on trampolines to reach higher platforms, and use transporters to advance to otherwise inaccessible areas. The level design is incredibly clever and each stage is almost like a mini puzzle. Some stages can seem impossible to start with (and there's certainly a lot of trial-and-error involved in progressing), but you always feel like it's your fault; this encourages you to keep trying and when you do finally figure out the solution there's many "aha" moments! Everything about the game is playful and I love the levels which require you to leap from the top of the screen, bounce off a trampoline at the bottom and then land safely on a platform! Other highlights include a stage that's entirely constructed of bomb platforms, and another that tasks you with using magnets to safely cross large gaps. No two stages are alike, and it's a credit to the developers that they constantly threw in new ideas to keep things fresh. What propels this game into superstardom is the awesome level editor where you can save up to 26 stages! It's hours of fun and the intuitive interface makes it a pleasure to use.
Mr. Robot and His Robot Factory hooks you in with its superb controls, stage design and game mechanics, and then throws in an extensive level editor to boot. The main challenge can initially seem a bit extreme which might put off impatient gamers, but those that stick with it will experience a wonderfully crafted puzzle-platformer.
Random trivia: The game was republished in 1986 by Databyte.

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