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SummaryThe absolutely best educational game every made!!!
The GoodThis game was the best educational game I have ever seen. I played this game when I was elementary school age, and little did I know I would use the same logic many years later in a high school digital electronics class.
The Scoop In this game you are a little character that has three (and later four) robots that you can “wire” to solve the puzzles to get you out of the land you are lost in “Robotroplis.” The robots have a) four bumpers that “heat” a wire when touching walls, b) four thrusters that when “heated” move the robot around the screen, c) an antenna that when “heated” sends a signal to the other robots, d) a grabber that when “heated” picks things up, e) an on off switch so it can be used or not, and f) set amount of power that gets used up. The wires are “heated” using digital gates (And, Or, Xor, and Not, and FlipFlops) that send electric signals through the wires. Using a tool box full of these gates and other items found in the game you wire up the robots to move around, pick things up, put things down, send signals and a combination of all these things to solve puzzles. The robots, if turned on, then respond when you turn on your remote.
Tutorials There were many tutorials that went through very detailed how to play the game. From exactly what keys to press, to how each gate was used, to how each part of the robots functioned. I was shown how to play from my dad and brothers so I didn’t do th tutorials until much later, I went through them just to say I did.
The first level In the first level you start with three robots. They each are already wired to solve all the puzzles on the first level, this giving you a basic idea of the uses of the gates and how they work with the robots. One robot has a flipflop that changes so the robot moves up or down changing direction when it hits a wall. (I must mention that the flip-flop functions slightly different than in real digital electronics, but basically the same so it gives the idea of digital electronics anyway.) Another robot is wired using a pre-designed chip to “hug” the walls. The third robot, if I remember correctly, was wired to detect things. You must collect a few things including a spare power crystal, before progressing to the next level.
Level Two In this level you must take control of the robots, mainly focusing on the flip-flop and thrusters to move you through some repetitive tasks, this was the most boring level, but important to get you familiar with wiring and re-wring the robots. As you repeat several tasks you are able to move through multiple areas and pickup more objects to help you later.
Level 3 Now my brain gets forgetful, but I believe this one focuses on the use of the antenna and grabber, and you start learning to use multiple robots to accomplish the tasks. The first time I played the game I couldn’t get past the last puzzle on this level, which required the use of the antenna. When I learned how that was used I was able to pass this level the second time I really played the game.
Level 4 This one you must free a fourth robot to help you. You do this by solving four puzzles which take two to three of the robots to solve each one. These took me the longest the first time I played (I never was able to finish level 5 the second time I played) One of these puzzles was a minefield maze where your robot couldn’t touch the walls. The maze was invisible, but luckily there was a version of the maze where you could see the walls and prepare for it. Another one was a maze you could see, but had to bounce around a lot to get through. A third task included using the robot to push a button that kept moving. And the hardest one was using the robots to go through specially colored lines each robot could only pass through a certain color.
Level 5 With four robots now you have to use major teamwork to accomplish all sorts of goals. The most notable that I didn’t get past the first time I played and a couple years later was able to pass was a timing circuit. Unlike in real life, the electricity flowed very slowly through the wires and gates. On one puzzle you had to wire it so that the electricity would be timed just perfect to broadcast a beep on the antenna to the beat of the puzzle. Another really hard puzzle on this level was the last one. You had to time all four robots to push eight buttons in sequence. Obviously each robot had to push two buttons but the way they were spread around the screen each robot had to hit one button before the any could hit the second button. I remember well the third time I played and was able to finish all the puzzles was a new years eve, and I stayed up all night, I think I was in sixth grade about this time.
Innovation Lab In addition to the game there was a part where you could be creative and design your own puzzles or test redesign puzzles found in the game to test your circuits on. If the circuits were too complex to do with the limited number of gates given, you could wire them inside a prototype chip that you could then burn to another chip. There were up to eight chips that could be used, and these could also be used in the game.
The BadThere was nothing I didn’t like about this game. Being now 2003 I could say the graphics are noticeable 1985 style, but in 1985 the CGA (4 color) was good for a PC, much better than the text based games of previous years.