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December 26, 2008

I Learned Something About Myself Today

When did the internet get awesome? I ask this because, while I was aware that it was a place that I could get the news, watch TV, download movies, and correspond with ninth grade girls, I did not know it was a place where I could play Robotron 2084. 

As a young man, I spent a great deal of time and quarters attempting to master this classic video game. What initially attracted to me to it were the complex controls: not one, but TWO joysticks. One for each hand. People with one hand like the drummer from Def Leppard needn’t even bother with this game because it was only for fully functioning human beings. Nay, it was for super-functioning human beings because it required both hands to work independently. It’s like being a concert pianist times a million.


                        (Eat me, Mozart)

The object of the game is to run around shooting robots (awesome), different robots (awesome), and giant-brained creatures that shoot lasers out of their heads (awesome to the point of pre-cum). Why? For the only reason that matters: to save humanity.

It is a great, great video game.

Did I ever conquer Robotron 2084? No I did not. In fact, I never even got competent at the game. There were simply too many robots, too many lasers, too many cybernetic things trying to kill me. At times, the game felt like an almost perfect metaphor for my life.

Eventually I put away a child’s things and took up the things of men.
Nevertheless, over the years whenever I passed Robotron at various pizzerias and roller rinks, I would pop a quarter in and blast away for the sake of nostalgia. But I had given up any hope of mastering Robotron. In fact, I had pretty much given up any kind of hope at all.

Until today.

While stumbling around the internet, I happened upon a website called Gametap, where you can play hundreds of free video games, including Robotron. Not a facsimile of Robotron, but the actual Robotron. Complete with high score board and oh-so-robotic sound effects. This may not seem like a big deal to all of you young people who take such things for granted, but I am old enough to remember how exciting it was when the Missile Command on the Atari 2600 looked kind of like the actual Missile Command in the arcade. So this is a no shit big deal for me. And when I discovered this website, and when I discovered Robotron, I knew what I had to do.


     (Can't you sense the awesomeness?)

For the last sixteen hours I have done nothing but play Robotron, which probably exceeds my total time playing this video game up until this point in my life. At twenty five cents a game, I have more than paid for the computer on which I am playing. In other words, I am theoretically making money!

One problem is that you have to use the keyboard to play instead of the joysticks which definitely robs the experience of some of its awesomeness. But this is a niggling detail. The game experience itself is identical. And the passage of years has done nothing to diminish the game’s greatness. Unlike other relics of my youth, such as “Revenge of the Nerds Part II,” this one definitely holds up. And so it is now my job to make up for lost time, to finally master Robotron 2084. Will I play Robotron to the exclusion of online poker? I will. Will I play it to the exclusion of my familial responsibilities? Of course I will. I will play Robotron until Robotron himself begs me for mercy. Because I learned something about myself today: time may dim the candle of hope but it cannot extinguish it. Robotron, you shall be my bitch.


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If your wife is noisily shagging your best friend in the other room but you can't be bothered to go see what is going on, that is how you'll know if you're spending too much time with the game.

Stacey E

Glad to see that "first" horseshit has seemed to stop. Those people should be impeded. How's that for some fancy talk?


I've just decided to use the word "niggling" more.

Barry Lutz

Michael, don't waste your time with Gametap and other game services. You will have much more fun with MAME. (get the version here - it's the most user-friendly -- http://mameui.classicgaming.gamespy.com/)

It seems complicated, but it's super easy -- just install the program, search for some game files (called ROMS) and you're all set w/ the original game just like it was in the arcade. Any old game you loved when you were younger is available and pretty easy to find out on the innerwebs.

Barry LUtz

And here's your Robotron ROM for MAME btw... :)


"Eat me Mozart" got me. I like that you took time and energy to post pictures today. Clearly this is near and dear to your heart, and luckily we get to benefit from your memory lane trip - as well as your many acid trips.

Hey, I wonder if they have Ms. Pacman or Asteroids or Donkey Kong? Stuff I used to rock back when I was afeather-hairedZayre Deptstoreorangesmock-wearingDork.

Ok, I looked. (It's www.gametap.com for those of you who are too curious for your own good). I'm concerned about this message, but maybe I don't need to be: "Click here to install the following Active X Control".

"Active X" = scary virus? I don't know. All I know is I was told to never ever click on that, although I was told only once. But really, I only need to be told once (being a quick study AND a Phi Theta Kappa). ::hair flip::

So here's the real live question for anyone who cares to answer: What's a lady (or even me) to do? Heed the prior warning or click with the sort of abandonment and passion that makes one blush? (Even someone with severe Rosacea.)


I've seen commercials for Gametap, but never knew that shit was free. I hope they have some Street Fighter.

Thanks Michael, now my eyeballs will bleed from playing hours of 8-bit video games.


Isn't StumbleUpon the greatest thing that ever thinged ever?!?! (i presume that's what you meant when you said stumbled through the internet as opposed to actually just stumbling through the internet. you stumbled with the aid of Stumble. .... i'm sure i just epic failed in that conclusion.)

Rock that bitch. I'm happy for you.


Click "Active X" Reen, do it. I've done it and I liked it. Nothing bad happened to me or my computer. We're both still here. It'll make you feel good. Come on. Do it! Try it, you'll like it.

In other news, I've never heard of this game but it sounds interesting. Maybe I'll check this old fashioned stuff out one day, but I'm too into my Wii right now (that sounded dirty, and it is).

dave minogue



It seems that although I've played piano my whole life, my brain does not want to try this hot mess of instructions:
"1 Player Start2 Player StartEscapeFire UpFire DownFire LeftFire RightMove UpMove DownMove LeftMove Right" <---each using a different keyboard key.

I just don't want to attempt it. Give me my plug 'n' play instead. (that's also kinda dirty) Where's Q-bert on that site?

GOod luck, playah...


Thanks Bailey, but, oh gosh. I'm still so worried. I think I'll play 1950's wife and wait for my husband to do the installing for me. (Right after he shaves my back).

Cammie, someday the Blacks will commission you and I to play "Heart and Soul" on the piano during one of their many fancy dinner parties. After our "performance" we will double as ladies who sashay with trays of canapes'. (And in the back rooms with those uptight yuppies? Damn straight. We'll make more money than God.)


I like to think of robot killin' as man's work, so instead of looking at any of those game websites, I will instead go out boutique shopping for my birthday so that the young salespeople can flatter me with mock-surprise; "What? You are really that old? Nooo, you couldn't be!!! Here try on this really expensive leather/cashmere micro-mini, you have the legs for it, lucky!!!!"
You know, the kind of bull that one of a certain age needs to hear every now and then...
So, Happy gaming!


Ever notice how the video games when you were a kid are still fucking impossible? They never got any easier. Kids these days have it easy as shit with their Halo and Grand Theft Auto. Oh, look at me, I can throw a grenade at an alien! I can punch some Alzheimer patient roaming the streets of Liberty City in the face! It requires sooo much strategy!

To this day, every single "regular" Nintendo game (as we called them back then) blows my mind with their mind-blowing difficulty. 'Nightmare on Elm Street'? Yeah, fucking hard. 'Friday The 13th'? Fucking impossible. Castle-goddamn-Vania? Forget it. Just hang 'em up right now, kiddo, and save yourself the tears.

The last difficult video game to have ever been created was 'The Lion King' for "Super" Nintendo. If I ever met a man/woman who beat the Hakuna Matata level, I would instantly offer myself as their sexual servant.


Haha, I have to agree with you, Reptar.

I just finally beat Ecco: The Tides of Time on hard mode this past year.

I've had that game since I was SIX.


Ah, the nostalgia...such a warm feeling in my pants. I remember when I was a young boy and wasted endless hours of my life playing Super Mario World...and I can still play it by being able to download it directly from my browser...history repeats itself.



I don't think I know Heart 'n' Soul but I have some Richard Marx, Bryan Adams and a little Fiona Apple in my bench. Or perhaps a nice,light sonatina?
I'm thinking we'll end up having to pay the yuppies,given the economy;)


I have the day off of work and thought I would make the most out of my day by trying to organize my chaotic life. I had a mile long "to do" list, but thanks to you Michael I have accomplished NOTHING! I too visited Gametap and came across the game Rampage. They used to have this game at the roller rink's arcade. Now it's almost 3:00 PM and I've wasted 2 hours of my life.


I hope you see the humor is this article:


mike g

"Revenge of the Nerds II" definitely stands up.

mike g

"Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds In Paradise" definitely holds up.

Deb Phonli

Now you've opened Pandoras box.


Michael: Did I just see you at a Caribou Coffee in Minnesota? I'm not very good at approaching Very Famous Celebrities, so I couldn't be sure. I'm sorry that my kids trampled all over your laptop cable.


Those symbols look like the motorola symbol.


You're spending your free time playing Robotron instead of internet poker?? Say it ain't so!!

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