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.
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.