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Article #9 (79 is last):
From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Subject: LYNX: Robo-Squash
Posted-By: xx004 (aa399 - Len Stys)
Reply-To: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu
Date: Tue Feb 26 21:28:18 1991

>From: (Robert Jung)

for 1 or 2 players
by Atari Games

  It's the 31st century, and after 200 years of peace, there is a conflict.
The two political parties of the universe are arguing over a successor to
the recently-deceased President of the World. Instead of settling the
dispute through barbaric warfare or elections, both parties have sent a
representative to play the zero-gravity game of Robo-Squash. The winning
player will win the Presidency for his party. Guss what? You're one of the

  The Robo-Squash game consists of 16 rounds. For each round, you sit at
one end of a zero-gravity corridor. At the other end is your opponent, and
in the middle are spinning bricks and some icons. A ball is batted back and
forth between the players, picking up speed and knocking out obstacles as
it goes. A round ends when one player fails to return the ball three times,
or one player hits the roving mecha-spider that appears when all obstacles
are knocked out.

  The game is complicated by a few twists: First, missing a ball leaves a
big red splotch on your end of the arena. This is more than a nuisance,
it blocks your view of the ball and makes it harder to see incoming shots.
Second, hitting the icons in the middle of the arena gives you (if you can
catch it) power-ups: a ball grabber, a larger paddle, a fireball launcher,
or a ball spotter are available.

  Before each of the 16 rounds, a player picks a ball in a 4-by-4 grid to
play for. Winning a round wins the ball for the player, and at the end of
all the rounds, bonuses are awarded for getting grid entries in 2, 3, or

  ROBO-SQUASH is a nice, well-balanced "sports game" (okay, sport-like).
The general concept reminds me of PONG, BREAKOUT, SHUFFLEPUCK CAFE, and
ARKANOID. The game and controls are easy enough to learn, and the addition
of power-ups, vision-blocking, and fighting for grid positions make it more
interesting. The game has four difficulty levels, which affect the top speed
the ball can get and the intellect of the coputer opponent.

  ROBO-SQUASH can be played either against the computer or another player.
The computer opponent is good, but not unbeatable -- like video tennis
games, alternating volleys to extreme ends of the arena can trip it up.
Human opponents, though, are another matter; use strategic shots (to set
up vision-blocking splotches) or fireballs (exploding bricks obscure the
view temporarily) to distract your opponent.

  One minor annoyance: You can angle the return of the ball by hitting it
on the edge of the padde OPPOSITE from where you want to go (make it go
down by hitting it with the top edge, for instance). Once you understand
it, ball control is easy -- but until then, it's a mystery. The manual
is of little help here.

  From an original name of "3D Barrage", ROBO-SQUASH makes good use of the
Lynx's scaing capabilites. The 3D effects of the game are very well done;
the ball's size changes and the use of two ball shadows make it clear
where the ball is, and the obscuring blotches are a neat idea. The rest of
the graphics are functional, though the power-up icons are a bit cute (a
dragon's head for the fireball launcher, for instance).

  Sounds are passable but not notworthy, repeating the trend in PAPERBOY
and XENOPHOBE. The actual gameplay is mostly silent, with only the sound
of the bouncing ball and smashed bricks punctuating. The only real music
comes in the opening title tune, and while it's nice, it's not enough.

  A good, slightly above-average game. Playing it by yourself is fine, since
the difficulty levels let you tune the computer to your skills. I suspect,
though, that playing it with another person would be more fun. Best for
players who are looking for a sports-type game for the Lynx (at least
until TOURNAMENT CYBERBALL comes out).

        GAMEPLAY:       7 to 8 (depending on difficulty/number of players)
        GRAPHICS:       7
        SOUND:          6
        OVERALL:        7


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