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The History of Robotron: 2084 - Running Away While Defending Humanoids
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The History of Robotron: 2084 - Running Away While Defending Humanoids

August 4, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

This would begin to change again in the 1990s, as systems with control pads featuring button layouts in the cardinal points, like the Super Nintendo and Sony PlayStation, began to appear. For instance, the direct-to-home sequel, Robotron X from Crave (1996; PC, Sony PlayStation),[13] not only took the visuals into 3D, but also allowed a single player to independently fire using the cardinal point button layout in place of a second joystick.

Box back for the 1991 Atari Lynx version of Robotron: 2084. The Lynx version, much like most other home conversions, offered several different control methods, but nothing approaching the quality of the original dual-joystick control scheme.

Of course, outside of the computer gaming world's favored mouse/keyboard combination, it would take the standardization on dual controls on the console side, and then another revolution of sorts -- downloadable games -- for the real explosion of games with simultaneous independent control to happen.

All three current consoles, Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 with their standard controllers and respective Xbox Live and PlayStation Network services, and Nintendo's Wii with Wii Remote/Nunchuck combination and Wii Shop Channel, meet these basic criteria. It's a happy coincidence, of course, as modern controllers are designed (at least partially) for the many 3D games that require movement independent of aiming or looking.

Robotron 64 was the mostly improved Nintendo 64 update to the earlier Robotron X for PC and Sony PlayStation, which itself was a 3D reimagining of Robotron: 2084.

Screenshot from Sony's Jet Li: Rise to Honor for the Sony PlayStation 2, a mediocre action game from 2004 that was notable for primarily using the system's left analog stick to move and the right analog stick to attack.

The Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade seems to represent the natural evolution of the arcade. There have been an abundance of intense dual-joystick games like Assault Heroes (Wanako Studio, 2006), Crystal Quest (Stainless Games, 2006), Mutant Storm Empire (PomPom Games, 2007), Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 (Bizarre Creations, 2008) and Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 (Capcom, 2008).

Even Robotron: 2084 received a faithful emulation of the original on the service in 2005 from Midway, but also featured several updates, including a new online co-op mode.

Screenshot from 2005's Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, found on the Microsoft Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade. The trippy shooter leads a wide range of games on the service that use a straightforward Robotron-style control scheme.

Despite the game's enduring popularity and adoption of both its control format and frenetic style in countless games, Robotron's legacy is broader still. Like Defender before it -- which proved that the public was ready for more complex games -- Robotron proved that the public was ready for the type of simultaneous control that is a hallmark of modern gaming, where controlling both movement and aiming or camera control have become requirements for effective play within today's 3D games.

Robotron may have been challenging and even intimidating, but gamers everywhere were ready to grasp the challenge -- with both hands.

[13] Released in 1998 as Robotron 64 for the Nintendo 64.

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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