- The Story
In the not too distant future, AI
research suddenly experiences a breakthrough and
computer programs can be made as intelligent as
chimpanzees. This makes it possible to
mass-produce robots for taking over tedious
chores previously handled by unskilled labor,
like garbage disposal, mail delivery and talk
generation of servant robots, popularly titled
"urban droids" or urbanoids
for short, becomes a huge success. They are
inexpensive, they are practical, they come in a
variety of different colors and models. Everybody
To make life easier for robot
owners, most local retailers install a special
control server that automatically transmits
weekly minor software updates and bi-annual major
revisions to each unit, by radio waves. This
totally eliminates the need for customer support
about anything else than mechanical failure.
The only weak link in the system
is the server itself. But it comes with a
warranty and its software was created by the same
company who brought the world six generations of DOS.
They assure people there's nothing to worry
about. They have thought of everything.
They said they had
solved the year 2000 problem.
26, 2000, the control server in a small town
accidentally transmits the wrong system update
information to all local robot units. There is a
file name discrepancy and instead of the intended
code replacements, it grabs the system
administrator's saved settings file for Final
Doom Quakem Raider VI. Then it gasps a
last "WinErr: 013" and crashes. As a
result, every droid in town gets its programming
replaced by one single directive: destroy
all human life.
Panic ensues as the
formerly obedient robots go after their owners,
but eventually everyone gets evacuated, most with
only minor injuries. The military sets up road
blocks and seals all possible exits from town, to
keep the robots from spreading. Phone lines and
communication cables are similarly cut, just in
case the droids would attempt to pass on their
directive over the network. When it turns out
that there is no way to revoke the faulty
programming, a quick decision is made to
fire-bomb the area at nightfall, unless the
problem has somehow resolved itself by then.
knows is that the town was never completely
evacuated after all. You, Erwin O'Skunk
-- an out-of-work TV repairman, were soundly
asleep during the commotion, having partied
yourself into a coma the night before. When you
eventually wake up you are completely alone.
After your initial disorientation and hangover
clear up, you manage to piece together what has
been going on by listening to the radio.
You realize that you won't be
getting any outside help. Nobody will miss you
anytime soon and there is no way you can
communicate to the rest of the world that you are
still alive. There is only one thing to do. You
will simply have to save the town (and yourself)
on your own, by destroying or incapacitating
every single droid before the bombing starts.
So you rush into your hobby room
and build yourself a weapon and some protection
out of the junk you've got lying around. Adding a
trenchcoat and some sturdy boots, you grab a
toolbox and get going. Somehow you feel confident
that you will be able to handle this crisis -- or
at least die trying.
Playing Instructions -
This is the control
panel. The window to the left is where all the
action will be. The one to the right displays
various kinds of information.
While playing, you move the main
character around with the I, J, K and L keys and
fire with SPACE. The background will scroll and
follow you along. You can also climb in and out
of the sewers (see below).
The rounded objects with
numbers on them are symbolic representations of
droids. Your enemies. The bad guys. All of them
have to be killed. You do that by shooting at
them or crushing them with brute force. Of
course, they can do the same to you.
(Otherwise this wouldn't be any fun, would it?)
You have a force field
which protects you from direct physical injury,
but all collisions wear down your energy supply.
So does shooting. When it's all gone, your power
pack has a tendency to explode and, well, kill
you rather violently, so try not to let that
At any time during the
game you can press the S key to pause it. In that
state, clicking on any droid (or yourself) will
bring up statistics about it in the information
window. You get to see, for example, what
strength, shields and firepower it is equipped
with. Pressing G starts the game again.
The graphics have been
deliberately created to make it obvious what you
can walk on and which things are obstacles. But
these items probably need an explanation:
from being worth 25 points, it
replenishes part of your energy.
the sewers by pressing D.
||Exit. Go up
again by pressing E.
Taking over droids
This isn't one of those
mindless games you can beat by just running
around and shooting at everything that moves. (I
thought I'd try something different this time.) A
good strategy is essential. The armors of some of
the droids are simply too strong for your
standard weapon. Sooner or later you will need to
The way you acquire
better strength, shields and firepower is by
hacking into droids and taking control of them.
Then you can ride the droid and get access to all
its capabilities. And if you run out of energy,
only the droid gets killed. You'll be safe ...
for a while.
All droids have a neural
network processor which works as a brain. Leading
out from it, sending directives to the body, is a
neural brain stem. This happens to be
very sensitive to outside influence. By feeding
electrical impulses through the right cables, you
can block out the droid's processor and gain
control over all motoric parts -- wheels, limbs
and weapons. But droids also have a built-in
defense which will try to counteract your
tampering by sending impulses of its own into the
brain stem. The better the operating system, the
tougher the defense.
To initiate a takeover
attempt, hold down the T key and get in physical
contact with a droid. Then you will be presented
with the following screen:
meter. This shows which side is
impulse generators. Release a new
one by pressing SPACE or K.
switch. Any impulse sent through
it will change into the
Splits or combines impulses.
impulse generator. It transmits a
signal for a few seconds and then
- The neural
brain stem of the unit you are
trying to take over.
- Timer. When
it runs out, the dominant side
Move your impulse
generators up and down. When they are in a proper
position, press SPACE to make them fire a signal.
(It may take a couple of tries before you get the
hang of it.)
If you lose, your power
source or the droid you are presently in control
of will burn out and explode. If you win, on the
other hand, the other droid is then your
property, and instead of your character on the
screen you will see a representation of that
droid, but colored white. Now, in addition to its
strength, shields and firepower you will also
have access to its operating system, which may
make it easier to take over other droids, in
Name: Home surveillance
droid, a.k.a. "Door stop"
Armor: Level 1, plastic
Strength: Level 1
Natural speed: 4 km/h
Operating System: CP/M
When you click on a
droid during the paused state, the information
you get looks something like this.
There are five different
droid classes: household (red), maintenance
(yellow), construction (green), law enforcement
(blue) and military (black). Household droids are
typically the dumbest and weakest, with the rest
ranging in that order up to the military droids,
which are the smartest and most powerful. The
number identifies the specific droid model -- in
this case the "Model 100, home surveillance
The level values of Firepower
and Strength determine the
offensive capabilities of the droid, for shooting
and bumping respectively. Similarly, the Armor
value determines its defensive
capability. A level 3 armor will protect against
firepower up to level 3, and so on. (You can also
hear, when you are shooting at a robot, if your
bullets just bounce off. Then there's a
"plink" sound instead of a crash.)
is how fast the droid can move on its own.
This part is pretty
simple. If you kill a droid you get as many
points as its model number. If you take over it
you get twice that amount. And the batteries, as
previously stated, are worth 25 points each.
Clicking the little button that
says "MAP" brings up (you guessed it) a
symbolic map of the current area. It doesn't
contain any information about the terrain -- just
the relative locations of you, the remaining
droids and the batteries.
Clicking on the
"OK" button sends you back to the game
The game comes with a
background tune in three formats: MIDI, MOD and
SID. If you have a fast computer and the
appropriate browser plug-in installed, just click
on the corresponding button to play it. Click
NONE if you wish to turn it off.