Friday, 20 July 2012

Paradroid - Commodore 64 - 1985

Static screen shots do not inspire you to play the game.

Having not had much exposure to the Commodore 64 in the 80s, Paradroid is another one of those classics I'd heard about but never had the chance (or desire) to try.  Like Impossible Mission, it is one of those games the does not look much from the screenshots but really comes into its own when you start to play.

The game is based on a fleet of spaceships that has been overtaken by errant robots.  It is too dangerous to board each ship so an 'influence device' has been sent down to destroy all the droids.  The influence device is a helmet-like contraption that attaches to the hostile robots and allows the player to take control of them.  It is also armed with a rather puny laser.  Each spaceship is made up of 20 decks.  You know when you have cleared a deck as the lights power down. Once you clear a ship you are moved onto the next.

One deck cleared, nineteen to go.

The ship is viewed from a top-down perspective and uses line-of-sight mechanic so you can't see enemies around corners or through closed doors.  The play area, which is rather small, scrolls as you move about the ship.  You initially control the rather weedy influence device which is depicted as a white sphere numbered '001'.  The other droids are also depicted as numbered white spheres with the first digit denoting their power (1 is the weakest, 9 is the strongest).  You can destroy enemy robots by either ramming (only works against weaker enemies), shooting or temporarily taking control of them.  If the influence device is destroyed it's game over.

Each droid has a unique portrait though in-game they appear as white spheres.

Starting off with such a weak machine you will want to take control of a stronger robot as soon as possible. Attempting to transfer to another droid brings up a mini game where you play against the computer in an attempt to take over the enemys circuit board.  You firstly choose which side to work from and then, playing against a time limit, have to change at least 7 of the 12 rectangles in the centre of the screen to your colour by 'firing' down the connecting wires.  The more powerful the robot, the more 'shots' are available.  If the mini game ends in a draw you play again.  If you lose while already controlling a robot, the robot is destroyed and you return to controlling the influence device.  If you fail while controlling the influence device the game ends.  Once you take control of an enemy droid you can use it against its former comrades.  It will also start to lose power and will eventually burn out unless you transfer to yet another droid.  

Preparing to take over another droid.  The number of available 'shots' are shown down the side.

Also dotted around each level are lifts, energisers and consoles.  The lifts can carry you between the decks on the starship.  The energisers can be used to restore energy lost due to laser damage.  When accessing the console you can view a plan of your current level, a side view of the starship showing the decks and can access a database showing data for robots of a lower class than your host.

A plan of the current deck as viewed through the console

Overall Paradroid is an excellent game.  The bas-relief graphics are extremely effective and the scrolling is silky smooth.  The sound effects are nothing to write home about but are suitable for the game.  The blend of strategy and shooting is set just about right and there is quite a complex scoring mechanism.  I've still got a few years of Commodore 64 games to play but I'd be amazed if I come across (m)any games better than this one.


  1. I played this for the first time last year. I sucked arse at it but it's a fantastic game for sure, very addictive too :)

  2. Yes, I noticed your first day score ;-)

  3. Haha, oops! I'll get better, I promise! :P

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  5. We're you aware of Paradroid Redux?

    Someone has bug fixed and upgraded the C64 version of Paradroid. Not strictly what you cover in this blog but an amazing achievement in itself.

    1. Thanks for the heads-up. I might check it out but didn't find much wrong with original.