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<   No. 5228   2024-07-03   >

Comic #5228

1 Paris: What’s Paradroid?
2 Serron: A classic game about clearing a ship of hostile robots by using a low-powered influence device to take them over and access their weapons.
3 Paris: Sounds dangerous. No way I’d want to do that in real life.
4 Serron: And that’s why we’re going down another level of cyberspace into the Paradroid setting!

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Paradroid is basically what Serron describes: A classic game about clearing a ship of hostile robots by using a low-powered influence device to take them over and access their weapons.

To give it a bit more description: The gameplay takes place on a multi-level map of a spaceship interior, viewed from a top-down perspective. You begin the game controlling an "Influence Device", which has a code number 001. Other (enemy) robots have different numbers and are distinguished visually only by the number. Higher numbered robots are more powerful and dangerous. Low numbered enemies can only damage you by direct contact, while higher ones have ranged laser weapons.

To defeat the enemies, you use the Influence Device to take over their programming and take control of enemy robots, which gives you the ability to use their offensive weapons against other enemies. To take over an enemy robot, you have to touch it and then activate the Influence Device (using a controller button), and this drops you into a mini-game in which you have to duel the enemy robot over a series of control circuits. You and the enemy robot each fire logic signals into a randomly generated set of circuits and "logic gates" that can split or combine signals. The goal is to take control of a majority of the nodes using your signals. Low numbered robots have fewer signals to fire, so defeating a high-numbered robot to take control of it is more difficult.

The idea is to take over a low-numbered robot first, and then slowly work your way up to controlling a powerful high-numbered robot. But you can't stay in control for long. The robots eventually reject your influence, the higher numbered ones doing so more quickly. So you have to work fast.

Paradroid is a true classic of video gaming. I enjoyed it immensely in a younger incarnation. But don't trust my word for it. Upon release in 1985 it received uniform praise and high reviews. Zzap!64 magazine gave it the highest rating of any game in its publication history. The game was ranked 14th in a 1993 list of the top 100 Commodore 64 video games. And by 2002, Paradroid was voted the best C64 game of all time.

You can get Paradroid on various C64 emulator platforms. If you want to experience a slice of video game history, try it out.

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My comics: Irregular Webcomic! | Darths & Droids | Eavesdropper | Planet of Hats | The Dinosaur Whiteboard | mezzacotta
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