Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Robotron X", 1996.

If You Lose, They Die!
We have discussed the pitfalls of not including any screenshots in your game, but this illustrates the dangers of realistically depicting the game. I'm all for an affected retro aesthetic, but this lays it on a bit thick; the Matrix-y vector grid and that 1968 OCR font we only ever see on the bottoms of cheques anymore is just the prelude to perhaps the lowest-poly, least-detailed misshapen 3D characters ever to be used in a misguided attempt to sell a video game. Maybe the ad was the result of a bet as to whether the graphics designer could make a full-page full-colour comic book ad that would fit on a single floppy diskette (my copy of the file weighs in at 424K), but regardless of its inception and my own retro tendencies, nothing about this game piques my curiosity in the slightest. I see the vaunted "Robotron" brand and my only thought is "Ah yes, the first twin-stick shooter -- now that was a great game... I should go try and find it, as it'll assuredly be more fun than this."(Failing which, Jeff Minter's freeware Llamatron 2112 would most likely satisfy.)
As if to draw attention to and mock the allegedly human family in need of saving, the protagonist is the most super-deformed of them all; with saviors like these, who needs enemies? In nine out of ten games, wearing a sprite like that would put you on the receiving end of the player's blaster. The only thing denoting "sympathetic character" is a minute smile (the only mouth apparent between the five human(oid)s depicted.) Does he (it?) carry a firearm or is the blast emanating from its hand directly? How are the goggles held on? The little information we have (and face it, the blurb doesn't give us much to work with) just leads us to more questions.