Robotz DX

By: Derek Yu

On: July 22nd, 2010

Robotz DX - James Monkman

James “Heavy Stylus” Monkman might be best known for RGCD, the downloadable disc magazine about retro games, but it looks as though he’s got a future in retro game development as well! Monkman’s Robotz DX is a reboot of an old Atari ST game called Robotz. Even though DX borrows a lot from the original game, including some of the graphics, it’s not a straight remake – many of the mechanics have been changed to make the game more fast-paced and less annoying, and the levels have been built from scratch to take advantage of these changes.

The game features 30 levels, and the goal for each level is to destroy all of the enemies within the time limit. There are two basic types of enemies: daleks, which come in various flavors and are protected by shield emitters, and swarmers, which produce mobile bombs at regular intervals. In each level, the placement of the enemies, shield emitters, and destructible walls is random, which makes replays more interesting but can be frustrating due to how much the randomization can affect the difficulty. Thankfully, the player very generously receives an extra man every 5,000 points, so with smart play it’s possible to build a comfortable buffer for those unlucky draws.

I don’t know much about the original Robotz, but I’m enjoying Monkman’s reboot quite a bit.

TIGdb: Entry for Robotz DX

  • PixelProspector

    A truly great game with fast paced action and the need to pay absolute attention to what's going on…

  • ortoslon
  • Mike Hawk

    My only issue is that the player's sprite has a nasty habit of getting hung up on corners at times. Given that my eyes are usually more concerned with where the enemy robots and their projectiles are, I sometimes just barely miss turns and doorways.

    All the same, a really fun game.

  • James Monkman / HS

    Wow! I am honoured to grace these hallowed pages – and Derek, it was your tutorials that got me started, so a big thanks to you! :)

    As for the random layouts vs difficulty issue, I am aware that sometimes the game is very unfair. I've tried to stop things appearing in overly difficult locations by blocking areas of the map during placement, but I still have an awful lot to learn. I ended up balancing the game by making sure the 1up score threshold was low – not ideal, but at least most players should be able to complete the game with a little dedication now.

    @ Mike Hawk – yeah, this is something I'd like to address in either a future release or the planned sequel, although I'm not quite sure how. Perhaps by using a circular mask? I've managed to add some 'slide' to the player character (pulling down and right when against a horizontal wall will result in the player moving right), but handling corners is a tricky one.

    @ Ortoslon – That is a very quick playthrough! You make the game look too easy! ;)

    FYI, myself, tomchi, 505 and vierbit are working on the design for a bigger, bolder sequel (as well as having a 50% complete Atari STE game based on Self Destruct on the go). I always imagined that creating games was something that only the elite coders could do, but Game Maker proved me wrong :)

    Maybe I'll meet some of you at a future UK TIGJam? This game dev lark ain't arf fun..! :D

  • Mike Hunt

    I agree!

  • Jumps

    This is a very well implemented re-make. Thanks so much!

  • Mark Diehr

    To handle corners, you could have a threshold near the corner where holding down will actually slide you to the right (until you are clear of the corner).

  • Nope

    Love that DOS game feel.

  • James Monkman / HS

    Thanks – I'll try to incorporate this type of solution in my next game :)

  • James Monkman / HS

    Hehe – I think 'TOS game feel' would be a more accurate description, seeing that it's a remake of an Atari ST game! ;)

  • Nope

    Either way. Love that feel.

  • Erico

    agree too, maybe the player should slide easier on corners?
    like when you press diagonal it should take the turn? just a guess, awesome game, having great fun with it, keep up!

  • Inc Inkorporated

    Wait… Daleks? As in, Doctor Who?

  • James Monkman / HS

    Nah, 'daleks' as in:

    The movement pattern is reminiscent of the 'daleks' in this old game, i.e. one tile at a time, hence the nickname ;)

  • xot

    Zelda-style movement would be nice. I'm just thankful that the touching the walls doesn't kill you like it did in the original Atari ST version. This version is much more fun to play yet still challenging.

  • W3R3W00F

    Pretty fun little game. Nice graphics.

    Tbh, that's about all I can say about it. Maybe other than “Woooot, MMF2!” :P