Robotron 2084

October 5, 2006

Xbox Live Arcade is a gold mine for classic arcade games straight out of the 1980s. Unfortunately, not every game that was a hit back in the 80s may translate as that big of a hit in today’s video game community, and [i]Robotron 2084[/i] fits that bill. Sure, the game is probably one of the most faithful ports of a classic arcade game to hit XBLA, and it doesn’t exactly put a big hole in your credit card at 400 points either. However, with [i]Smash TV[/i] out on the Marketplace and the difficulty of the game itself, [i]Robotron 2084[/i] doesn’t seem to be a very worthy investment.

The premise of the game is that you control the last hope of mankind, progressing through waves of robotic enemies. In the old heyday of the arcade, Robotron was well known for its usage of two joysticks with one moving the character and the other shooting, something that’s been translated into the XBLA version. If you’ve played [i]Smash TV[/i], then the game play is remarkably similar, most likely because the game took a page from Robotron’s control scheme. Progressing to the next wave requires you to kill every robot (at least the ones that can be killed) on screen, and new enemies will be introduced as you go along. Of course, the best way to get a scoreboard-worthy high score is to save the humans scattered throughout the waves, who also happen to be susceptible to a robot-induced death.

Probably the thing that hurts Robotron the most is the sheer difficulty of the game play. Death is a constant theme when playing the game, and it’s almost impossible not to be overwhelmed by the large number of robots on screen, let alone dodge all the projectiles and save the humans all at once. Luckily, the game rewards you with extra lives at almost every chance it can get, but even with a large number of extra lives, it’s still very difficult to last into very many waves. Now, rating a game so low based on the difficulty may not seem fair, but I enjoyed Geometry Wars with its high difficulty level. In the end, the constant death and fast-pace of Robotron had me re-starting almost too quickly to really enjoy much of what the game had to offer. Then there are the Xbox Live achievements, one of which includes getting to wave 100. I’ve seen only two people who have actually done this by the way.

Visually, Robotron looks pretty decent. As with most classic titles in the Arcade, the game has received a makeover, although it doesn’t seem to be a whole lot better than the original graphical layout, which you can also switch to by the way. Multiplayer is present in the game, although it seems very half-baked. One player will control the movements of the hero while the other player fires at robots. Given the fact that it’s already hard enough getting through the game on your own, putting two people in charge of different functions without much coordination seems like a disaster waiting to happen. There is versus mode, though, which pits two players against each other and killing robots until the other one dies, which seems much better than the cooperative mode.

[i]Robotron 2084[/i] is a serviceable recreation of the classic arcade title, but its difficulty will definitely turn off some people. Fans of the original will surely find a faithful dose of nostalgia, and in that respect, the game is top-notch. However, I can’t imagine the game finding a very big fan base with the masses on Xbox Live Arcade, especially with [i]Smash TV[/i] available. Again, the game is only 400 points and isn’t terribly expensive, but that was also 400 points I could have spent on a game that had more lasting appeal. At least the game doesn’t take quarters anymore because boy would you need them.

Score: 1/5

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