Title Robot Commander Game Type Strategy Company Ariola Soft / Art Edition, 1990 Programmer Carsten Herting / Frank Reibold Players 1-2 Compatibility OCS/ECS (buggy on AGA) HD Installable No Submission Bernd Gmeineder Review Robot Commander? Never heard of this Amiga game? You are probably not alone as this game is hardly known and was mainly distributed in German speaking countries. According to one of the authors only about 1000 copies were sold. After reading this review you can form an opinion if it is one of those "undiscovered pearls" or not. As the game's title suggests, its all about robots and you are their commander. There are not many facts in the manual; where the game is situated and what the background story is. Probably the makers did not care because there have already been too many bad storyboards for computer games. Before the actual game starts you are forced to enter the Robot Editor. There are some jobs you have to do here. Lots of things can be manually selected, but for time-consuming concerns there are random generators and other little aids. First of all a robot list has to be configured. Fortunately there are already 20 predefined robot types, but of course it is also feasible to build your own robots by adjusting lots of parameters such as missile range, resistance power, plating power as well as energy allocation and times. However, these options should be used with care because only a small alteration of the paramters can disturb the well adjusted balance of your human or computer opponent. Next, a map is required. Pre-defined maps can be loaded or new ones can be generated by using five modulators of which two control the map size, while the others represent the number of figures and wall dependability. The two headquarters for each player can be set manually or randomly by the computer. If you choose the latter option the game can become more exciting as you won't know where the opponent's HQ is positioned. After setting up all of the above, the actual game can begin. Within the real game the screen is vertically split into two independent parts, one for player 1, the other for player 2. These two parts are split again in a robot view screen (similar to a map) as well as a combined status and selection bar. It is now time to select one of the player's robots in the selection bar. The robot view screen then jumps to the selected robot and usually there are only some visible fields which represent the visual range of your active robot. The rest of the landscape remains black as your robot only has limited eyesight. Now it is time to give some orders to your robots. For instance, a route can be set which the robot will ordinarily follow unless there is a barrier. A similar command is "follow a robot". This is useful if you want to move several robots to the same destination or shadow enemy robots. Additionally, any hostile robots or droids can be identified and/or selected as a point of attack. Your robot will provide you with the necessary specs and then attack that object. In some cases destroyed opponent's robots can even be repaired and made to join your own robot force. But of course not every type of robot is able to do all of these tasks. Another interesting option is energy allocation. It enables you to distribute a limited amount of energy to the robots machinery, weapons, sensors and shields. The status menu is associated with the energy menu and shows your robots health state. A nice feature is a robot's dock in which smaller robots (in the game called droids) can be docked with, transported and even repaired. Droids do not have the power of the big robots and can be used as your reconnaisance or as fast, but less well armoured units for surprise attacks. With this variety of options and several robots you can try to conquer your opponents base. Which strategy you use is up to you. Sometimes a quick and dirty guerilla attack is the right way, while in other cases it requires a real strategy to successfully slaughter your enemy and occupy their territory. Robot Commander is more than a simple "snatch the flag" game. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that a great amount of different pre-defined robots, ranging from attack drones to super battle units and many more types, are available. This keeps up long time motivation! As you would expect, each of these robots has its advantages and disadvantages. It is simply fun to control your small army, plan and enforce attacks and pray that your babies won't get damaged by the enemy's superiority. The ultimate fun is in the two player mode: The fact that the players can control their part of the computer screen simultaneously and independently was completely new at the time the game was released. This means that the game takes place in absolute realtime. Another pro is the repair option which makes the game more interesting as "lost" will not necessarily mean "lost" and you can attempt further attacks. Another potential positive aspect would be a sheet of cardboard which was meant to split the screen so that the two opposing players could not see each others actions. Unfortunately this feature was dropped by the publisher due to cost issues. But no game is without criticism: A disadvantage is the inflexible menu system and the game's really old fashioned graphics. How nice looking it would be if there would be some more colors, better scrolling and smoother robot sprites. Some players may argue that this is not necessary for a strategy game, but these unfortunately absent features would probably have enhanced the game's reputation and impacted on the number of copies sold. If you ever get your hands on this game then try it. There have been far worse games on the Amiga!