Game of the Week (4/22/18) – Robot War/Torpedo Alley (Videocart-13)

The Channel F Game of the Week is the two-in-one Videocart-13, Robot War/Torpedo Alley. I appreciate any Channel F game that I can play as one player since convincing my kids to join me in playing games that were made 30+ years before they were born is a challenge. So I was happy to browse the manual for Robot War/Torpedo Alley to discover that both of these titles can be played 1 player! That said, the Channel F definition of a 1-player game is pretty loosely defined but regardless, it works for me.

Robot War is a human vs. robot survival game (ala Berzerk) where you control a little green man that must survive each level against four robots (as red characters) by luring them to their death into one of four force fields (as blue squares) positioned on the screen. On each screen, you have 4 lives to accomplish this goal and you lose a life each time one of the robots touches you. If you can destroy all 4 robots before losing all 4 of your lives, you advance to the next screen. The premise of each subsequent screen is the same, the only difference will be where the man, the four robots and the four force fields are positioned. Before starting the game, you can select the speed of the man and the robots. Increasing the speed doesn’t really add that much more difficulty since your man is always the same relative speed as the robots. Your reflexes have to be a little quicker on higher speed levels just because everything moves faster but escaping the fast robots isn’t more difficult. It might have been better if the man was a static speed and increasing the difficulty meant only increasing the speed of the robots. I do like how all the characters can wrap around the screen, which makes evading robots a bit more manageable when they seem to have you cornered. In a two player game of Robot War, the second player will control the 4 robots in unison. I thought the game was a bit too easy in 1 player mode but I imagine 2 player games are much more intense and harder to win for either player and possibly go on awhile if you’re playing to 99 as the game recommends.

Torpedo Alley plays in a similar manner to Atari’s Air-Sea Battle where you control a gun turret either on the left or right half of the screen, depending on which controller used, with the directive of firing rounds towards the top of the screen in an effort to blast various sized boats. There are 3 rows of boats that move across the screen from right to left and vice versa with the smaller boats closest to the bottom and largest boats at the top. Hitting larger boats on the top row is worth 5 points, middle row worth 3 points and small boats on the bottom row worth 1 point. There is also a row of mines that will block your shots if you’re not positioned correctly to avoid them. Your turret can move horizontally across the bottom screen, with an invisible force-field blocking you from entering your opponent’s side. By twisting the controller’s knob left or right, the gun can aim diagonally as well which helps in getting after those boats you missed on the first attempt past. In a two player game, you are competing against your opponent to be the first to score 99 points and in a 1 player game, you are competing against yourself to reach 99 points (or any pre-determined score you wish) in the fastest amount of time (timer not included).

Both Robot War and Torpedo Alley offer some fast action and competitive 1 and 2 player options so I consider both of these games in the upper half of the Channel F library that I’ve played thus far. I do prefer Robot War, however, if I had to just choose 1 of these 2 games to play.

Rating: B

Currently in my collection: game, manual, box

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