For those unfamiliar with the premise of Robotron 2084 - the object is simple: shoot everything and rescue the humans! According to the storyline, Robotrons are a breed of robot so advanced that they do not need humans to function. Unfortunately, these Robotrons have concluded that humans are inefficient and must be destroyed! YIKES! It's now up to you to destroy the Robotrons, rescue the humans, and save mankind. Williams attempted to market this arcade classic as the follow-up to Defender - but there seems to be little connection.
There are seven different types of Robotrons which you must battle. They range from the mindless Grunt robots whose sole mission is to kill you to the Giant Brainbots which shoot cruise missiles and reprogram humans into enemy Progs.
Similar to Berzerk, touching any of the Robotrons is fatal. All Robotrons can be destroyed by your laser except the indestructible Hulkbots which chase and kill humans. Each wave seems to have a theme - with most rounds featuring attacks by Grunts, Spheroids (which spawn Enforcer robots), and Hulks. However, every fifth round has an attack of Brainbots, and every seventh round has an attack of "Cubic Quarks" which spawn "Torturing Tanks". Your strategy in each round is to save the last surviving family of" Mommy, Daddy, and Mikey" by touching them and shoot the Robotrons in the process. Scoring is identical to the arcade game.
As in the arcade game, control is ambidextrous. Your player control is done with one joystick, while the direction of your shots is controlled with the other. However, to accommodate those who can't hold two joysticks at once (and who can?), you can press the fire button and whatever direction you travel will be the direction of your shots. When originally announced in 1984, Robotron was to include a joystick holder so you could control both sticks at once. As with most extra goodies for the 7800, this controller holder was canned when the 7800 was finally released in 1986.
The smooth and quick animation of Robotron 2084 shows off just how many sprites the 7800 can painlessly toss around. However, the characters seem to lack the colorful detail of the arcade version giving the game an overall dry look. When compared with similar 7800 titles such as Food Fight, Robotron just doesn't hold it's own graphic-wise. On the plus side, however, there seems to be less slow-down in Robotron than in Food Fight when the amount of moving objects gets to be astronomical. Most surprisingly, however, is how, animation-wise, the 7800 version stacks up against the Lynx version of Robotron. In the 7800 version, the Grunt robots move very smoothly, whereas the Lynx port seems to have the Hulkbots moving in course clumps. In summation, the 7800 version is great animation-wise but dry graphic-wise.
Sound is close to the arcade version but there is only so much that can be done with the 2600 sound chip. Interestingly, a few of the sounds seem to be borrowed directly from the 7800 Joust, another Williams arcade port. The screams of the humans as they get attacked by Hulkbots and the zapping sound as the Brainbots form are all okay, but just seem dry. There is too much action going on at once in this game for the limited sound capability of the 7800 - Robotron 2084 is another title which would have greatly benefited from an on-board POKEY chip.
As with all the original ten arcade ports for the 7800, Robotron comes very close to the
original. However, when put side-by-side to the arcade version, this game looks generic. It
just seems to be lacking the full color and sound of the arcade version. It does, however, keep gameplay accurate to the
arcade. Of the "original
ten," Robotron 2084 is probably close to the bottom. Despite the excellent animation, the graphics are just too much like a 2600
game. However, once you get involved in the quick-paced gameplay, this is quickly forgotten and saving humanity is your number one priority!