Atari Coin Connection, Summer 1984

From Atari Coin Connection, Volume 8 Number 3, Summer 1984 edition

I, ROBOT: You Won't Believe Your Eyes!

With the introduction of I, ROBOT, the latest coin-op video game from ATARI, the company displays the results of over two years of game development.

The results are incredible animation, super-realistic three-dimensional graphics and game play excitement never before possible. And along with superior game play, I, ROBOT features "Doodle City," a magnificent alternative to game play, where players can actually manipulate the I, ROBOT game graphics in a variety of colors and shapes.

I, ROBOT has a number of special features which set it apart from ordinary coin video games. Doodle City offers players dynamic interactive computer entertainment.

There are over 100 different waves featuring 22 unique geometric playfields with space waves and bonus waves in between. A special transporter allows players to select higher play levels for extra challenge and bonus opportunities. Players can change their playfield viewpoint from overhead to ground level, where shooting enemy objects is worth more points.

Game play begins with this challenge: "You are an unhappy Interface Robot (#1984) in rebellion against 'Big Brother' and his 'Evil Eyes'. The Evil Eye dictates the 'Law'. The Evil Eye will kill you if it sees you breaking the Law. Your mission is to destroy the Evil Eye."

The Law is no jumping, but the player must move a Robot despite the Law. The Robot must collect all the red zones on the playfield, jumping from one to another when the Evil Eye is not looking. If the Eye is red it sees the Robot jumping and will zap him. Each time the Robot collects a red, the Evil Eye loses one of its protective shields. When all the reds are collected, the Shield is completely destroyed and the Robot can reach the secret pyramid and terminate the Evil Eye.

While in the various terrains, the Robot is threatened by ranks of enemies released by the Eye that must be dodged or destroyed: Killer birds, giant beach balls, robot slicers, space sharks, deadly soccer balls, pyramid mines, and buzz saws, to name a few.

Every third terrain, the Robot must enter a red pyramid in order to eliminate the Evil Eye. Inside the pyramid jewels are scattered about. The Robot has just one chance to collect the jewels before he is thrust into the next space wave.

In between each terrain the Robot must travel through space, once again avoiding or destroying as many objects as possible. If all the tetrahedrons are destroyed, the player will achieve a special bonus. An extra life is awarded if the player spells out "I, ROBOT" by shooting the individual letters as they appear sequentially in various space waves.

To increase challenge at higher levels, an awesome Viewer Killer appears after completion of Level 26 to chase the player (not the Robot). The player can avoid the Viewer Killer by changing the playfield perspective. If the Viewer Killer is not avoided, the player will be "destroyed."

The player controls the Robot by moving the analog Hall-effect joystick. Fire buttons are used to shoot obstacles. Once game play begin, start buttons are used to change playfield viewing angle.

A high score table records the top ten game scores. Plus, the game automatically keeps track of the highest score achieved in the space wave, and also keeps track of the shortest time taken to get through each terrain. If the player beats the high score in the space wave or completes a terrain in a shorter time, he is awarded bonus points.

I, ROBOT is a first - an engineering and entertainment breakthrough.

Cash Box, June 1984

From Cash Box, June 16 1984, page 30

Industry News - New Equipment

'I, Robot'

“I, Robot”, the new coin-op video game from Atari, creates futuristic 3-dimensional worlds in which players can join the “rebellion” against “Big Brother” and his “Evil Eye” in a challenging, adventurous play experience.

“I, Robot is a series of ‘firsts’ for the industry and for players,” according to Jerry Marcus, executive vice president of sales for the Atari Coin-Operated Games Division, “I, Robot is the first result of a two-year Atari technology development program. This new system produces incredible 3-dimensional video graphics and animation not possible before now,” he added.

Elaborating further, Marcus said, “Along with action-oriented multi-level game play, I, Robot is going to be a standout attraction everywhere. Preproduction units have already demonstrated excellent consistent earnings during months of testing at both street and arcade locations.”

The new model is unique and challenging in many ways. For example, “Doodle City” is a first-time interactive entertainment feature in which the player can choose to enter a world of unlimited creativity where the I, Robot graphics can be manipulated in an infinite variety of colors, shapes and patterns.

Also for the first time, players can change their viewpoint on the playfield to an overhead view of the entire terrain or to a ground-level view where shooting enemy objects is worth more points. A “Transporter” feature allows players to select higher starting levels and game play hints are given at the beginning and end of each game.

Game play begins with these challenging instructions: “You are an unhappy Interface Robot in rebellion against ‘Big Brother’ and his ‘Evil Eyes’. The Evil Eye dictates the ‘law’ and the Evil Eye will kill you if it sees you breaking the law. Your mission is to destroy the Evil Eye.”

The “Law” is simple but deadly - “no jumping;” the objective being to jump only when the Eye is not looking, because if the Eye is red it “sees” the Robot jumping and will destroy it.

With this in mind the player controls a Robot in a battle against the Evil Eye. The player must advance toward the Eye by “collecting” all the red areas on the playfield by jumping to each one. Each jump to a red area weakens the Eye’s protective shield. After all the reds are collected the Robot can destroy the Eye and reach the secret Pyramid.

After reaching the Pyramid, the Robot travels through a space wave where he must either shoot or avoid the objects flying at him. At the completion of each space wave, the Robot lands on another geometric terrain where, once again, another Evil Eye must be destroyed.

There are over 100 different waves featuring 22 unique playfield terrains with space waves and bonus pyramid waves in between. To add to the challenge the player is faced with ranks of enemy objects that defend the Eye in each playfield terrain and must be dodged or destroyed.

Operator options include selectable number of player lives, adjustable coinage and adjustable bonus intervals.

Play Meter, August 1984

Play Meter magazine, August 1, 1984, page 60

Eye to I

Atari's I, Robot creates futuristic 3-dimensional worlds in which players can join the rebellion against "Big Brother" and his "Evil Eye."

"I, Robot is a series of firsts for the industry and for players," said Jerry Marcus, executive vice president of sales for the Coin-Operated Games Division. "I, Robot is the result of a two-year Atari technology development program. This new system produces incredible 3-dimensional video graphics and animation not possible before now."

"Doodle City" is an interactive entertainment feature. The player can choose to enter a world of unlimited creativity where the I, Robot graphics can be manipulated in an infinite variety of colors, shapes, and patterns.

Also for the first time, players can change their viewpoint on the playfield to an overhead view of the terrain or to a ground level view where shooting enemy objects is worth more points.

A "Transporter" feature allows players to select higher starting levels. Game play hints are also given at the beginning and end of each game.

Game play begins with these instructions: "You are unhappy Interface Robot (#1984) in rebellion against "Big Brother" and his "Evil Eyes." The Evil Eye dictates the law. The Evil Eye will kill you if it sees you breaking the law. Your mission is to destroy the Evil Eye."

The player must advance toward the Eye by collecting all the red areas on the playfield by jumping to each one. Each jump to a red area weakens the Eye's protective shield. After all the reds are collected, the Robot can destroy the Eye and reach the secret Pyramid.

Play Meter, December 1984

Play Meter magazine, December1, 1984

Excerpt from "Gene's Judgements"

By Gene Lewin

I, Robot / Atari

(available as a dedicated game)

Play: The player first is given a choice, Doodle City or the game. In Doodle City, the player can use the joystick to draw all sorts of colorful pictures on the screen. The game ts the main feature. The player is represented by an interface robot in rebellion of “Big Brother’’—the storyline is from the book 1984.

The player’s object is to maneuver the robot to run over the red areas and paint them blue. Jumping from one point to another is OK unless the eye is red in which case the player is destroyed. There are 26 different playfields with obstacles like space birds, sharks, and beach and soccer balls to avoid. After turning all areas blue, the robot jumps to the eye and destroys it, only to go into a space shoot-’em-up scene.

The play gets progressively harder as the level increases. There is a transponder which takes the player to level 1-5 or any higher level achieved in the previous game.

Controls: An analog joystick is used, but it is much improved over the one used in Food Fight. It has a nice feel to it, but I cannot see any need for it. It seems like a normal eight-way joystick would be sufficient. There is also a fire button on each side and two buttons for changing the viewing level.

Graphics: Very colorful. There is a lot of variety in the shapes of objects. The cabinet is the new unusually shaped one used on the original Major Havoc.

Sound: Normal space shoot‘em-up sounds.

Originality: This is an original game. The Doodle City feature is new to a coin-op game, although home computers have had drawing programs for some time. The game play is different and new.

Opinion: This game caters to the good players. The graphics are very unusual and extremely colorful. But somehow it lacks the excitement necessary to make it a top earning game.

An average player will not be very interested in I, Robot. Atari never should have come out with this game in dedicated form, just as a conversion. Expect to see I, Robot as a closeout and conversion in the near future.

Rating: 2 as a complete $2,600 game. When Atari wises up and offers it as a conversion, 7.

Excerpt from "Critic's Corner"

By Roger C. Sharpe

Atari's I, Robot

Here's a company that has been in the news for everything but its coin-op operation which, admittedly, has had to be severely influenced by the surrounding carnival atmosphere. Whatever the effects might be on Atari, it hasn’t stopped the coin-op games group from introducing a new 3-D raster video animation system.

PLAY: Housed in a cabinet design for uprights which began with Major Havoc, I, Robot (inspired by the Isaac Asimov sci-fi classic) features an Orwellian conflict between an Interface Robot (known as #1984) and the forces of Big Brother and his Evil Eyes. So it’s man/robot against the system with more than 100 levels of play and more than 20 screens, as well as space wave and bonus screens.

The objective of the game is for players to maneuver their on-screen robot via an analog joystick and fire buttons. In addition to these controls, I, Robot also presents the player with the option of selecting one of two playfield viewing angles which can give a head-on or overhead perspective to the action on screen. With variations in the layout of configurations of multi-dimensional structures floating in space, as well as a host of obstacles and enemies, I, Robot reinforces a learned playing strategy that remains fairly constant within the main screens.

The robot must be kept safe while it rapidly fires at a large eye at the top of the field, which can be destroyed only when a given number of shields have been destroyed. However, besides this basic dodge and shoot scenario, the game also incorporates a bit of Crystal Castles where players had to cover an entire structure before moving to the next level. The same is true here in this combination effort that stresses and rewards timing, precision movement, and thoughtful strategy.

Once the eye has been destroyed, I, Robot brings into play a space, or bonus, wave that looks incredibly similar to the action in Williams’ Blaster, although the graphics are a bit more detailed as objects hurtle through space to stop a player's advancement.

These events are repeated, gaining in degree of difficulty, and some nuances are added. In one screen, a floating head must be shot repeatedly to inflict any damage. In a special bonus screen, the player must move his robot around a space structure collecting jewels which dot the area.

By way of providing players with a more active and personalized role in controlling their destiny, I, Robot features a special ‘transporter’ character on screen at higher levels of play. When a player moves his robot into this graphic, the player decides whether he feels confident enough to skip ahead to higher levels, to somewhere in between, or stay at the same pace. It’s a nice touch that most advanced players should welcome.

ANALYSIS: I, Robot isn't dramatically different compared to many of the other space adventures. But the integration of the basic elements strengthens the potential following of the game. Given the expanse of screens and even the ability of players to sometimes skip ahead, the machine breaks the predictability pattern associated with so many other video games.

And, in today’s strange market, I, Robot isn't so difficult that the sometime player can’t feel comfortable after a few plays, while the skilled individual looking for a challenge should have his hands full for at least a few weeks.

One final point to make here is that I, Robot is really two games in one. The folks at Atari liked their graphics so much that they started doodling around in the lab. “Doodle City’ was born and appears at the beginning of play as an alternative for the curious videophile.

GRAPHICS: If you go back to the early days of raster graphics, you probably can appreciate the evolutionary changes which have provided this format with more detail, richer textures, and the methodical advancement to dimensionalized screen images. Atari has taken a next step in refining the art.

PROS & CONS: When someone takes the time and energy to get into I, Robot, the ingredients of play become readily apparent. Just dodge, shoot, and move around a structure until you've traveled its width and length and then travel on to another challenge of basic slide and shoot.

This should be enough to entice an ample portion of the playing public; however, the game doesn’t totally succeed in conveying this measure of familiarity due to its graphics treatments which tend to overwhelm and steal attention away from what this machine wants to deliver to players. This can pose a considerable problem for I, Robot as it tries to get that initial rush of players. Instead, the game's success will be fairly dependent upon its potential for attracting a limited audience in the beginning, who will serve as the demonstrators of the machine's basic play action. Others will watch and observe, then decide if its worth the investment. But I, Robot looks more inviting and less intimidating when it is being played than when it’s in instruction set and attract mode.

RATING: I like the intent, and even the execution of I, Robot but fear that today’s diversified playing public may pass it by. In many ways, it’s the same type of dilemma that kept Crystal Castles from getting its fair due as an original and sophisticated video game. I, Robot won't be a sure-fire sensation, but it does exhibit ‘sleeper’ qualities. We'll go with a ★★★.

Electronic Games, January 1985

From Electronic Games magazine, Volume 03 Number 01, January 1985

By Bill Kunkel

I, Coin-Op

I, Robot - Atari

I, Robot, the latest wonder by Atari's coin-op division, is the most beautiful arcade game this planet has ever seen. What were hailed as state-of-the-art special effects less than two years ago in the Disney film "Tron" have now been seamlessly integrated into a real arcade game! Based on the popular SF novel by Isaac Asimov, I, Robot presents a free-form, three-dimensional universe of the most delicate, subtle shadings and the kinetic realism borders on sorcery.

So why do I have feeling in my gut that this game is doomed...?

Because I, Robot, for all its virtues, has two problems. For one thing, it's not immediately comprehensible. It looks abstract, and because it doesn't fall into any immediately recognizable pigeonhole, it may actually intimidate players.

Its second — and far more serious — difficulty is ironic. Because for all its high-tech, geometric graphics, the game is actually a fairly simple shootout. So even the more sophisticated arcaders, who would at least confer cult status on a game that looked and played equally hot, are likely to become bored with I, Robot long before the graphic delights wane.

I, Robot actually consists of two games — or, rather, a "game" and an "ungame," to use Atari's terminology. The "ungame" is an extraordinary graphics program and quite a good idea — just so long as the player knows he is choosing a drawing program, something the documentation leaves a trifle cloudy.

The actual contest casts the player as a robot standing in a 3-D landscape, straddled by a pair of triangular-shaped boundaries on the left and right borders of a platform. The robot must immediately pass over all red areas on the platform, while occasionally zipping to the triangle's peak and blasting away at the bird-droids that jet by overhead. When all the red terrain has been claimed, the robot must leap over the void into a nearby platform holding a cube inscribed with a massive eye. When the eye is red, the robot cannot jump, but when clear, the leap completes the round and leads into the second scenario: a jaunt through space at warp speed, blasting away at geometric ballistics.

There are also transporters which enable the player to beam up into yet another wildly configured platform. Hitting the start button alters the angle, and the game itself periodically swoops in on a breathtaking zoom angle right in the middle of a shoot-out between robot and birdbot.

Make no mistake, I, Robot is a marvel, a game that must be experienced. If nothing else, you'll be able to say you saw the very latest in computer supergraphics. If only you could say you'd played a great game, too.

Computer And Videogames Magazine, April 1985

From Computer And Videogames magazine, Issue 42, April 1985, page 92

By Clare Edgeley



Space, the Final Frontier, and the year is Stardate 1984. The year in which I Robot from Atari destroyed the Evil Eye and returned the galaxy to democratic rule.

Determined to rid their planet of this terrible scourge - for the Eye has gained full power and rules their lives mercilessly - the inhabitants band together and choose an unhappy interface robot to lead the fight against Big Brother.

The game rules are simple - no jumping! And that is the only way in which I Robot is ever going to get near enough to assassinate the Eye which glows a demonic red as it casts its gaze over the planets. However, at certain times it changes colour as it blinks or looks away and on these occasions the robot can advance forward by way of the red zones thus destroying the Eye's protective shields.

Once the shields are destroyed, he can go in for the kill. But the Eye has other means of defense and the robot will be assailed by attack waves of beach balls, pyramid mines and, in later levels, space sharks - all of which must be avoided or destroyed.

The robot will find a red pyramid on every third screen which must be entered after the Eye's destruction. Inside is a cache of jewels to collect although there is time for only one attempt. Should the robot die, he will be thrown backwards into a space wave and a life will be lost.

After the Eye has been destroyed, the robot will then be free to travel through space liberating other planets where the process must be repeated, though each attempt increases in difficulty.

Whilst travelling through space, it is possible to gain bonus points from shooting all tetrahedrons and you can also earn an extra life by shooting the individual letters of I ROBOT as they appear in space waves.

Once the game is in play, it is possible to view the terrain at different angles by pressing the start button - a nice touch and one that allows you a bird's eye view of the positioning of the red zones.

The graphics are perhaps the most unusual of any arcade game around - a cubist's delight. Control is by joystick and two fire buttons.

Good luck to all who are courageous enough to fight the Evil Eye. Your life expectancy is short but - oh boy! - the satisfaction on killing the Eye.