Atari Lynx Review: Robotron: 2084 on Lynx Lounge
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By Brian Thomas Barnhart |
Hey what’s up everybody, welcome back to the Lynx Lounge! I’m your host BTB, welcome welcome! Over my shoulder I’ve got a little game playing on the Atari 7800, perhaps you’ve heard of it. Robotron: 2084. Anybody? Anybody?
Robotron: 2084 for the Atari Lynx is what we’re actually looking at today on the Lynx Lounge. That’s right, we are knee-deep in our arcade block, those are all of the arcade games that were ported over to the Lynx. And today we are checking out a classic reflex twitch shooter, Robotron: 2084.
“YOUR MISSION: To stop the Robotrons and save the last of the Human race. You are the only hope for mankind.”
– Atari Lynx Robotron Manual
I don’t know about you, but I am certainly up for that challenge. So you know what? Let’s get it on!
Alright, Robotron is a 1982 classic! I believe that it was a popular hit because of the way it controlled. It was very similar in aspects to Berzerk, but it controlled much better. This is a twin-stick shooter, which means your left hand is controlling where your guy is going, and your right hand is controlling where your guy is shooting, which means you don’t have to be going in one direction to shoot.
See, in Berzerk you have to be pointing in the direction where you want to shoot. Well in Robotron: 2084 you can be running backwards and firing off a hailstorm of bullets, blowing up these robots!
You kinda have to turn off your brain off, and just get in that zone where you can run and shoot in two different directions. But once you start getting into it, man.. it’s really addicting.
You know I’m not sure if I’m gonna state this like every single episode, but I think it’s pretty apparent. Can we just like, you know, talk about the sound on the Atari Lynx? I mean, dude, really? This is Robotron! And then that bass just kinda slides right in there and then it’s like “What the? What the what what!”
So here’s where the Atari Lynx version of Robotron: 2084 gets a little muddy. You have one controller, and three different control schemes. You’ve got your Up, Down, Left, and Right, obviously that’s your cross pad. Then you have your Fire Buttons. But depending on what setup you have, is how your character shoots.
For example: Control A, B, and C. Now if you press A on Control A, you have to move your character in the direction of where you want it to shoot. So that means sometimes you have to run into adversaries in order to get your laser to line up where you want it to shoot. I don’t like that.
Control B is: you’re holding it down and the controller is moving in an arc, either left-to-right, or all the way around in a circle, 360°.
Now, Control C is you’re just firing automatically. Pressing Option 1 will toggle firing on and off, and then pressing the A button will rotate the firing direction, again clockwise or counter clockwise depending on which way you press A or B.
The music’s good. The sound is good. The controls are iffy.
Now obviously, yes, you are going to figure out how to best play this game when you have it. I mean there’s just no way about it. You’re not gonna complain and be like “Oh, I’ve got Robotron, and you know, the controls, I gotta figure out..” No you just did that, you just figured it out and you made it work. However, it is not the same as using those two sticks.
This game is all about points. “Who has the high score?” And this is how a lot of these old arcade games were. I mean it was basically just, you were playing for points, you wanted to get your name up there, put your name in the high scores, somebody would try to best that. Basically that’s just the way the world worked back then, at least in the arcades.
Now this is just my opinion, but I think Robotron: 2084 being released in 1991 on the Lynx is a great example of how Atari under the Tramiels started to fail. They couldn’t compete with Nintendo, and they couldn’t compete with Sega. Because Nintendo and Sega were constantly pushing these games that had HUGE narrative, new intellectual property, new ideas. These were rewarding adventures that told stories. Whereas Atari was like “Hey, Robotron was a hit, let’s just bring that out” instead of trying to do something different.
It’s an okay version of Robotron don’t get me wrong, but I would not have spent too much time on Robotron if I could play some, you know, interesting new role playing game on the Sega Game Gear. In fact, as much as I loved the Atari Lynx, I think I was spending more money on the Game Gear because there was a lot of new games coming out.
“Here’s something else to think about: Atari came up with some really amazing games. Groundbreaking games. I mean, obviously we’re still talking about it today. But where are their mascots? One of my personal favorite arcade games is Crystal Castles. You’re telling me that you couldn’t give Bentley Bear another game somewhere else down the line? It’s bizarre to me.”
– Brian Thomas Barnhart, Lynx Lounge
So if I were on the go and all I had was Robotron: 2084 for my Atari Lynx, would I complain? No, I wouldn’t complain. However, if I want to do it right, (well obviously I’m going to have to get the arcade) but if I wanted to do it right without the arcade… you’re looking at it right over here. The Atari 7800 and two joysticks. I mean what else do you need? Maybe a beer?
If you’re collecting for the Lynx you obviously have to get Robotron: 2084. I mean it is an arcade classic, and if you are just maybe concentrating on getting the arcade ports, hey why not, it wouldn’t hurt, it’s good! It sounds good, it sounds like the arcade, it looks like the arcade. Really the only thing that’s lacking is that control scheme. But that’s not the fault of the Lynx, that’s just the way the arcade game translated to a d-pad.
Hey, I just wanted to thank everybody for tuning into the Lynx Lounge! I’ve been having a lot of fun going through my Lynx collection. I’ve also been enjoying showing my guests all my really super cool Atari Jaguar collection as well.
If you like this I’ve got other shows, I’ve got The Jag Bar, where we look at Atari Jaguar games. I’ve have the 7800 Avenue show that we just started where we take a look at Atari 2600 and 7800 games and accessories, and of course the show that you’re looking at right now, Lynx Lounge! Almost forgot the name of it for a second there. It is the Lynx Lounge, don’t forget that.
Anyway, see you guys next time. Cheers!
Robotron: 2084 was originally developed at Williams Electronics and programmed at Shadowsoft for the Atari Lynx.
Brian Thomas Barnhart is a classic gaming aficionado, retro pop culture connoisseur, and a Senior Fellow at Atari I/O. He is host of The Jag Bar, Lynx Lounge, 7800 Avenue, and the Atari I/O After Hours Podcast. Brian is a Moderator in the Atari I/O Forums under the name btbfilms76. You can follow him on Instagram and at his YouTube channel.
model # PT 5003