Robotron:2084

Robotron_2084

Eugene Jarvis sure knows how to design intense and playable games. From his plethora of awesome creations, Robotron:2084 (or simply, Robotron) stands out for its sheer mayhem. Yes, I am aware that Mr Larry DeMar was also part of the design duo that brought us this fab game.

I first laid eyes on the Robotron arcade machine in the mid 80′s at the arcade parlor near my school. To say I was mesmerized would be a great understatement. I intently watched others play the game so that I could learn from their mistakes and get more playtime out of my 40 cents. Once I grabbed the two control sticks (no fire buttons here matey!) it was a massive adrenaline rush of evading, attacking and rescuing.

Robotron_2084

There is a plot to all of this mayhem. As I do not want to bore you with detail, here is the short version: Robots (Grunts, Tanks, Spheroids/Enforcers, Brains, & Hulk) have revolted against the human race (Terminator anyone?) and it is the protagonists job to rescue the last remaining human family before the robots annihilate everyone and take over.

Robotron_2084

With the plot set, the next thing to get your head around playing this game is the dual-joystick control system. The left-hand joystick provides maneuverability (usual eight directions) to evade the robots and also rescue the humans. The right-hand joystick is used to fire the laser gun (also in eight directions) to disintegrate the robots in each wave (level). Once you get the hang of the control system, you will be blasting Grunts, Tanks, Brains and rescuing the hapless humans in no time.

The play area is set on one screen – there is no scrolling. Each wave contains a number of different robots and humans to rescue. This game is relentless, there is no time to wipe your brow and high five your mates while playing. Once you meet the ‘Hulk’ robot, things get interesting – he (I assume it’s male) is the one robot that can not be killed. Your laser gun can slow him down, but the basic premise is, evade him and get going on rescuing those humans.

I guess I can rave on about this game till the cows come home, but I will leave you with this – if you want intense gaming, then look no further, Robotron:2084 will provide it in truckloads !

GraphicsSimple sprites to depict the robots, obstructions and humans. The screen can get busy, but this makes your heart palpitate (in a good way)

77%

SoundVery meaty sound effects. Your laser gun sounds like it can penetrate anything

81%

PlayabilityThe dual-joystick control system will take some time getting used to, but persist with it – you will be rewarded

90%

LastabilityThe legacy of the mayhem that is Robotron:2084, has survived for 3 decades. I am sure it will last for more

93%

OverallEvade, Shoot, Rescue = perfect ingredients for the ultimate old school arcade shooter

92%

robotron_arcade-cabinet

Manufacturer: Williams Electronics. Inc.
Year: 1982
Genre: Shooter
Number of Simultaneous Players: 1
Maximum number of Players: 2 (alternating)
Control Panel Layout: Single Player
Controls:
– Left Joystick: 8-way [Move];
– Right Joystick  8-way [Fire]
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

 

 

Joust turns 30

Joust

Joust turns 30

The early 1980s marked a huge boom period for the video game industry. As a result, many of the iconic classics of that time seem to be reaching major anniversaries in rapid-fire succession.

The latest to reach the 30 year milestone is Joust, the unique 1982 title from former arcade powerhouse Williams Electronics. According to government trademark records the first appearance of the title was on July 16, 1982.

Created by John Newcomer, the game of Joust put the player in control of an ostrich-riding knight. The object of the game was the turn away the challenges of numerous enemy knights, also riding the odd birds through levels with several platforms. From time to time an almost unbeatable pterodactyl would join into the frantic pace of the game.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkxY9_dZFI8[/youtube]

The two-player feature helped Joust make an impact in the coin box at arcades across the country. While the ability for numerous players to play together has been a common feature in arcades for some time, in 1982 it was quite the novelty for two players to be able to play at the same time. Adding to the feature were offers of bonus points on certain levels, some of which encouraged teamwork and others that encouraged direct competition.

While the classic has been long removed from most surviving arcade locations today, Kansas City gamer Lonnie McDonald has been bouncing across the country for the past year in an effort to post a high score of 9,999,999 points on every surviving Joust machine he can find. So far on his tour he has hit over 60 different Joustmachines, including one in placed in the former location of a historic arcade just days before the 30th birthday date.

“I have met some cool folks along the way,” he said in a previous interview. “Played with current world champs; seen Joust machines in homes, bars, arcades and museums. I’m not as fast or as handsome or thin, but I am wiser and more strategic. On the other hand when you win 500 free guys you can play silly if you want to.”

Sinistar

sinistar

Sinistar

Why oh why did you suggest this game, I woke up so happy considering it was a Monday and then I thought to myself, “Self, you need to get some gameplay footage of, Sinistar.” Now, my day is ruined and I know nightmares will visit me tonight.

Fine, this Sinistar is an evil arcade game released by Williams Electronics in 1982. The overall theme is you are a lone space pilot fighting waves of enemies while trying to mine planetoids for Sinisite Crystals, which you need to make Sinibombs to destroy the Sinistar. Does all this remind you of the 60’s Batman, with the Bat Shark Spray and such?

Sinitroll

So, when you mine these crystals other fighters try to take you out while workers also try to mine the crystals to build the Sinistar. Once the Sinistar is built, it trolls you by calling you a coward and telling you to run. How am I the coward if he can one-shot me, but it takes 13 Cinnabon’s, er, I mean Sinibombs to kill him?

Now in the above video you see me running around like a chicken with its head cut off not properly mining the crystals and then promptly being owned by that dammed Sinistar. Now check out a better player who runs circles around him.

Enough of this game and damn you Travis Mikalson from our Facebook Fan page for suggesting this.

Still Providing Raw Thrills: Eugene Jarvis has impacted over 30 years of gaming

Eugene Jarvis

Odds are high that any person who has put a coin into anything in an arcade over the past three decades has played something attached to the name Eugene Jarvis.

Whether someone is a classic gamer still hooked on Defender or Robotron: 2084, a more modern arcade patron who enjoys Big Buck Safari or Cruis’n World or even a pinball wizard who grew up on Firepower and Space Shuttle, the impact of the Raw Thrills founder and former Williams Electronics employee has been felt.

The arcade success story began with Jarvis’ very first attempt at a video game with 1980’s Defender, a game not well received by trade show critics nor the creator himself.  Despite the low expectations, Defender became one of the biggest hits in arcade history.

“I was shocked as anyone,” Jarvis said.  “It was the first video by me and the first real video by Williams.  We were completely new to the field and just tried to make it the best I could.”

robotron

Before launching, Defender was tested in the famed Mother’s Pinball in Mount Prospect, IL.  According to Jarvis, he tried to avoid this first night until learning of large crowds that stuffed the coin box and even placed couches around the machine.  The success of Defender lead to a Jarvis and his team continuing to develop games for Williams Electronics, including 1982s Robotron: 2084, a title that continues to have a strong cult folowing today.

Robotron seems to be the most popular now,” Jarvis said.  “The cool thing about Robotron was how we implemented the concept in three days.  Then it became ‘Let’s fight ten robots… That’s great!’  It then became ‘Let’s fight 20!  Even better!  Let’s fight 90!  Awesome!  This is intense!'”

While noted for their roles in gaming history, Defender andRobotron are considered by gaming experts and historians as some of the most challenging games in history.  According to Jarvis, this challenge was a part of their charm.

crusin world

“In that era there was this sort of macho hardcore thing,” he said.  “You were almost daring the player to beat you.  The average play time during Defender‘s test run was 33 seconds, yet players kept putting another quarter into the machine to try again.  Maybe it’s time for another game like that.”

While the video game industry has undergone several changes since Defender and Robotron ruled the arcade, Jarvis states that creating a compelling new video game today is not much different than it was 30 years ago.

“The basic challenge is always there,” he said.  “In video you are starting with nothing but a black screen.  There’s no game there.  With pinball you at least start with that basic concept, but not with video.  The challenge of going from no game to something today is only different because you have to create something so damn fun people will pay $1.00 every two minutes to play it.”

In an industry that grosses billions of dollars a year today, more opportunities exist in the industry now than ever before, according to Jarvis.

“It’s probably the best time in history to get into the industry,” he stated.  “There are so many more opportunities today as opposed to in the past.  Video games are ubiquitous now.  From arcade to console to PC to smartphones to Facebook… they are just everywhere.  You got all these shareware and iPhone games, and now anyone can make their own damn game and put it out there.  It’s a massive avalanche of opportunities.  Wide open.”

defender

With the development of the extra layers and platforms for video gaming entertainment, Eugene says the problem has shifted to the same problems that face small-budget films versus major studio movies.

“The problem changed with the industry,” he explained. “Now anyone can put out whatever but so can a million other people.  How do you get noticed?”

Jarvis stated that indie game developers face many of the same challenges that he’s faced in game design throughout the past three decades.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lr363UM9D60[/youtube]

“You start out with all these dreams and hopes,” he said.  “Then reality sets in.  You can’t do this because the technology isn’t there or you can’t do that because the budget or time isn’t there.  Then something doesn’t work how you wanted it to.  It feels like being on one of those old wagon trains going across the desert and one of your horses dies.  Then you sometimes have your best moments, too, when you stumble across something cool and unexpected to add to the game.”

As Jarvis’ Raw Thrills continues as one of the strongest American coin-op arcade companies of the modern day, he says his favorite moments have always been the same they have always been.

“The great times are when you put a game on location and see others play it for the first time,” he said.  “After all, we are really kind of an entertainer.  You perform for the joy of the audience.”