So you think you can play Robotron?
Man, that's a TV show I would pay good money to see.
I recently discovered the excellent Atari ST emulator frontend GamebaseST, and I've been enjoying a little nostalgic revisiting of my main gaming platform of the 16-bit era. (Before it became my job, that is.)
However, browsing through its impressively extensive library (over 3000 games), I was surprised not to see the name of Robotron.
I was sure I remembered having an official ST version of Robotron, but it didn't appear on the list of ST games that came with the old ST emu PacifiST either, so I started hunting through my own old ST compilation disks, and sure enough there it was.
(I wondered if maybe it had never been officially released, as was the sad fate of several Atarisoft games of the time, but there's certainly box artwork, pictured below, which would suggest that it was.)
Anyway, I fired up Steem and had a play, and wow it's hard. It's not an especially accomplished piece of emulation – it's sluggish, with chunky graphics, and despite drastically reducing the number of onscreen sprites it struggles even more when things are busy. But what it lacks in quality, it certainly makes up for in sheer brutality.
The collision detection is, let's say, uncompromising, and coupled with a dismal rate of fire (the saviour of humanity appears on this occasion to be armed with an antique Civil War revolver) and GRUNTs who can outpace you within eight or nine seconds of the start, you'll almost certainly find yourself losing lives on the opening two waves with dismaying frequency.
It took me a good 20 tries just to reach the first Brain wave – good luck picking up any 5000-point humanoids on that one, by the way – and it needed half-a-dozen attempts at that, from about another 30 games in total, before I made Wave 6. (Which is pictured above at its very beginning, by way of illustration of just how much the enemy numbers have been slashed.)
Strangely it seems to ease off a little for the next couple of waves, so here's your WoSblog Challenge for the weekend: the WoSblog Challenge Points will go to the first person to provide screenshot proof of reaching Wave 10. If nobody manages it, highest score by Sunday midnight wins.
Remember, there's an EXCITING PRIZE! for the person with the most WoSblog Challenge Points at the end of the year, so don't delay. But beware – if you're a Robotron hero with a million points on the coin-op, take your ego out before you start and store it safely in a well-padded box in a dark cupboard. It might get hurt.