Thursday, July 05, 2007

Videogame Classics - Mr. Robot and His Robot Factory (Atari 800)

Mr. Robot and His Robot Factory
Datamost for Atari 800

Wow, how did I forget about this one? Now here is a real classic, one of my favorite games for a very long time. It's a Datamost game for Atari 800 called Mr. Robot and His Robot Factory. Yes, I know, game titles were pretty lame back then. Always something with the word, "space," "robot," or "attack." What was the deal with that, anyway? You know what's a good title? "Blonde on Blonde." "Exile on Main St."

Anyway, Mr. Robot was one of the endless ripoff games that appeared in the early '80s. It's basically a Donkey Kong platformer, but with Pac-Man dots scattered throughout the stages. Okay, it's a shameless ripoff of Miner 2049'er, which was an enormous hit. Don't know why I forgot about that.

Whatever. Forget all that. Mr. Robot was way cooler than Bounty Bob. Who wants to be a grizzly old prospector instead of a robot? Seriously. The old man can't even handle his liquor - one touch of the martini kills him. Thanks for the preachy moral lesson, daddy. I'm going to the bar to drink it off.

Mr. Robot appealed to me for two main reasons. Okay, one. The vibrant and colorful graphics were always a real draw, but they were just the setup, the icing on the cake. No, the real hook for this game was the edit mode, where you could create your own game boards, 26 in all.

Imagine being a kid in the early '80s, and you suddenly find a computer game that lets you build your own Donkey Kong boards. How cool is that? Only the coolest thing ever, that's what. The game offers a solid variety of environments and gadgets, from ladders and slides to trampolines and conveyor belts. Firery enemies always got in the way, which is why you had to be wise with those power pellets lying about.

For those wanting their arcade fix, Mr. Robot was where it was at. This was one of those games you pulled out to wow those who were finally getting burned out on Atari and Intellivision, and maybe even that one lucky kid whose parents bought him a Colecovision. Lucky kid. Never got to show him this game, but no doubt he'd have been royally impressed.

And have I mentioned the level designer? How cool is that? There seemed to be a whole mountain of computer games that let you create. What ever happened to those? It was never a fixture on the cartridge consoles, for obvious reasons. The idea of designing your own videogame boards seems unthinkable today. Something very special about computer games has been lost in the intervening years.

Just try and tell me that this game wouldn't be awesome on Nintendo DS. Update the graphics, but keep that crazy color scheme, and let everyone save and upload their own boards. There really needs to be more user-generated content in games, even if only limited to the long forgotten classics. A great game is a great game. And anyone can cook!

Sorry, couldn't resist. It's a great movie, who can blame me?

PS - Can you believe it? There's a gameplay video on YouTube! What a world.

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