ASCII-GAMES - Play and Review
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robots review by wliao 01-Dec-03

Robots/robot is a classic ascii game that just won't quit.
The setup is simple: the player is in a featureless, finite
field surrounded by robots. When the player moves a step, the
robots take one step closer to the player. Whenever the robot
touches something, the robot, and whatever the robot touches,
is reduced to a rubble pile.

The trick, then, is to move in such a way to lure the robots
into each other. Do this enough times, and the field is
eventually cleared of the robots. The player earns points for
each destroyed robot, and each level has a set number of
robots. Clearing the level in the normal method is par (no
time constraints for classic robots), with a ``wait'' option
to score bonus points. The player can also teleport to an
empty point on the field as a last resort.  Of course, a robot
can move into the same point on the next step, so teleporting
does not reset for free.

The beginning rounds are simple with only a handful of robots
to clear out. With each level advancement, the field is seeded
with more and more robots. With more robots, the game becomes
increasingly difficult.

Robots is simple to play and turn based (no time pressures).
At any point in the game, there is the sense that a ``perfect
game'' can be played given enough time for analysis.

At the same time, it can be exceedingly frustrating since an
element of luck is absolutely necessary to progress. For
example, it is possible to start a round with absolutely no
legal move except the teleport...which leads to an insta-death.
Plus, controls are ``vi-keys'' which is an instant turn-off
for many people.

The gameplay is probably a medium: deeper than checkers, but
no chess nor go. The teleport introduces the element of chance,
but it is no backgammon, neither. While the odds can be played
to be better than even, losing forces the player to start from
the beginning.

Overall, 3.5 robots out of 5, although SunOS users will give
it 4 out of nostalgia.