C64 Review of Paradroid from Issue 7

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


Far, far into the future in a dim distant galaxy a fleet of Robo-Freighters were making their way to the Beta Ceti system when disaster struck. The ships ran into an unchartered field of asteroids and were bombarded by powerful radionic beams. While these rays didn't actually affect the ships In any way, the robots, and consequently the human crew members, weren't quite so lucky. It later arose that the robots' circuitry became scrambled whilst traveling through this field, rendering them hyperactive. This resulted in every living crew member in the fleet being eradicated by the now psychotic robots.

To make matters worse, eight of the ships were last seen breaking away and heading for enemy space. Should the Droids fall into enemy hands then they could be used against man to cause his ultimate downfall. The only way to prevent such a disaster from occurring is by destroying every last robot present on the renegade freighters.

A prototype Droid, known as the Influence Device, has been placed under your command and since docking was out of the question, it was beamed aboard the first ship, the Paradroid (hence the title of the game). This Droid is a effectively little more than a self-sufficient helmet, possessing its own power supply and armament. It has the unique ability of being able to temporarily take full control of any robot, maintaining all the working functions of its new found host In the process. Naturally the host robot objects to this "intrusion" and attempts to resume its normal operation. This leads to the device 'burning out', so in order to survive for any great length of time one must change hosts regularly. To do this one has to gain control of the relevant robot's microcircuits. Failure to do so results in the destruction of your 'host' and ultimately yourself.

By centering the joystick and holding down the fire button you enter Transfer Mode. This enables you to interface with a Droid of your choice by ramming it, and initiates the transfer sequence. On merging with a robot you are reminded of the device you currently control and informed of the one you wish to take over. You are then presented with two sections of circuitry containing twelve wires from both yourself and the target Droid. One must select which side, and therefore colour, is going to be advantageous before a timer counts down from 99 to zero.

Some of the wires lead to a central bar composed of twelve blocks in one of three ways, while others, known as Terminators, don't actually reach at all.

The object of the exercise is to set at least seven of the twelve blocks to your chosen colour within a given time limit of 99 units. This is done by strategically sending Pulses through the wires and Into the blocks, the quantity of which depends upon the class of robot in your possession. If neither Droid has the advantage at the end of a 'bout' then a Deadlock is called and the battle has to commence once more with different circuits. There's more sophistication involved than suggested here, but the game instructions covers the process adequately.

Unfortunately, the Influence Device has some limited capabilities and it can only transmit details of its immediate surroundings back to your screen, ie anything within its own visual range. A large majority of the decks are larger than a single screen, so each is viewed through a multi-directional scrolling window. One critical defect of the optical sensors used in the Influence Device is that it can't see around corners, obstacles or through walls. This gives rise to what can best be described as a sort of three dimensional view in two dimensions.

There are several different deck layouts, most consisting of many smaller rooms with sliding doors that open when a Droid is in close proximity to them. Some sections are nothing more than a single location while others, such as the cargo bays, contain wide open spaces leaving you vulnerable to attack. There are eight lift shafts and many access points spread throughout the ship, allowing you to freely travel from floor to floor.

By logging on to one of the many consoles about the ship one can access the Droid Data Library. This contains useful information on all of the robots, including details on physical attributes, such as height, weight etc and other relevant characteristics. You are restricted though, in that you can only view data on robots of a lower rank than yourself, due to the fact that access is determined by the host Droid's security clearance.

There are 24 different types of Droid, each with their own personality and these are divided into 9 classes: Disposa Robots, Servant Robots, Messenger Robots, Maintenance Robots, Crew Droids, Sentinel Droids, Battle Droids, Security Droids and the 999 Command Cyborg. The latter is the most powerful of all robots and can only be taken over for a very short period of time. There is only ever one Command Cyborg per freighter. The robots are represented on screen as a three digit number, the first showing the class of Droid and the other two merely indicating rank.

While accessing the console it is also possible to view a plan of the deck you are currently inhabiting or a side elevation of the ship. The former shows all elevators, consoles and energisers present on the deck whire the latter is a simple representation of all decks and the lift shafts adjoining them.

Droids can be destroyed in one of three ways: by ramming, shooting or transferring. The first method is only really viable if you are in possession of a well armoured Droid, since you can be considerably weakened on ramming. Shooting is the quickest and easiest way of disposing of a Droid, higher ranks requiring many hits for complete destruction. Some Droids fire back so the utmost caution should be exercised when attacking one in this manner. Finally, the last approach, transferring, gives rise to a game of its own as previously mentioned. If you eliminate several Droids in a short period of time the alert status rise and then you can score more for each 'kill'.

On completely clearing a deck of all Droid activity the lighting system shuts down, plunging the entire floor into semi-darkness, and you receive a small bonus. When you finally clear all twenty sections of the ship you are given a hefty bonus, a congratulatory message and you are beamed aboard the next freighter. Finish all eight freighters and ... Well, any offers?

This review was typed in/OCRed by Brigadon - Zzap!64 Online

ZzapBack Logo by Biggest Jim
In the spirit of ZzapBack, you can have your say about how the game reviewed above, stands up in the cold light of today. Has it aged badly or is it still worth a few plays? Read other peoples thoughts and post your own.

The current ZzapBack rating is : 89%

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Sh1rts - 30 Apr 2016
One of the best games of all time on any machine, let alone just the C64. The way it can change in an instant from cruising around blasting everything as an 821 to suddenly "ohmygodohmygodimgonnadie" - utterly brilliant. Up there with Wizball, Denaris & Turrican as the gretest C64 shoot'em up ever.

Rating : 99%
AndyS - 7 Apr 2011
This was my favourite game on the C64. Original idea and really addictive.

Rating : 95%
Richard Dunn - 5 Nov 2009
Big time overrated C64 game, makes me think Zzap was on the payroll.

Rating : 67%
John Robson - 5 Nov 2009
I never understood all the fuss about this game.

Rating : 70%
Phil - 10 Jun 2009
A masterpiece. My favourite game on C64, and perhaps on any platform, ever.

Its appeal almost indefinable. It plays well but not as easy to pick up as many shooters. Its graphics are simple but well-defined (I'm a sucker for bas-relief). Sounds are minimal. So what is it? Atmosphere? Plenty of that, and the moments that you are reduced to a lowly 001 with a horde of assault droids on your tale are genuinely frightening. Ingenuity? In spades. The transfer game is a fun puzzler in itself, but the concept behind it is just brilliant, and the integration with the action elements flawless.

Above all, it gives you a sense of being right there on a psychotic robo-freighter, and the urge to clear just one more deck...

Rating : 99%
Subculture - 14 Mar 2006
The best C64 game ever, nuff said.

Rating : 100%
iqcumber - 25 Nov 2005
what atmosphere! such a complete and convincing game world, so involving and unique. this is one of the few games my dad would watch me play - and then demand a go! he wasn't very good, but he did alright. it was a game that required intense concentration because it could be all over in an instant. actually, i really liked the amiga version as well, just because it was a bit more varied, but it all started here. fantastic.

Rating : 97%
Aceabo88 - 20 Jul 2005
This really is the daddy. I remember when I first saw the review for this game in ZZap all those years ago and thought "Yer they only rated it high because the did the diary of the game. It looks rubbish!" Anyway how wrong I was and still to this day it is the only C64 game that still has the true depth to stand up against modern games (other the Wizball of course)

Anybody who doesn't rate this game highly has downloaded it played it for 5 mins and not given it chance to weave its magic on them!!!
Andrew Braybrook should be applauded for producing a game of such quality on the humble 64. Even his Amiga remake wasn't a patch on it!!!

The perfect game if ever there was one!!!

Rating : 99%
Wizball 87 - 7 Jul 2005
The definitive c64 game - still plays incredibly well after all these years. Hats off to Mr Braybrook for designing this amazing piece of work!

Rating : 100%
alessio - 4 May 2005
lookout! here is a true classic for the 64! paradroid is by far most likely the best game ever released for the 64 with gameplay that will probably keep the fanatics coming back for years to come!. graphically not brilliant, tunes not really there but hey the sound effects are perfectly suited!. the commodore 64 dtv is out now and it comes with paradroid get it!!

Rating : 98%
clarenceboddicka - 28 Jul 2004
Listen up geeks! This game ROCKS!! Simple as that. They don't make them like they used to etc...

Rating : 100%
neilb - 17 May 2004
Probably the best C64 game of all time.

Highly addictive and (at the time) very original.

Although 100% presentation is still strange 19 years on!

Rating : 97%
PaulEMoz - 17 Mar 2004
If I had to pick just one Commodore 64 game to take to a desert island, I couldn't. Haha. But Paradroid would be on my shortlist if I ever did try and narrow it down to just one. I've loved this game from the first moment I played it, and I still love it now. The concept is genius, and is executed as well as you could ever hope for on a machine such as the Commodore 64. Extremely playable, very challenging, great fun and a legend in the world of computer and video games, Paradroid deserves every bit of the praise it's received over the years.

Rating : 98%
SLF - 8 Mar 2004
I didn't have this back then, and seeing that so many people, including Zzap! over the years, rave about it I played it quite a lot in the past year (reaching a hiscore of about 65,000). I can see how groundbreaking it must have been in 1985, and it's still a playable and worthy game. The downsides are some annoying bugs, the control system which, although very clever, is far from perfect, the lack of a proper ending after ship 8, the subgame which tends to get monotonous after a while and, most importantly, the same layout for all the ships. I think that a wider variety in the droids' weapons and characteristics would add a lot to the game's appeal too. It's a good game, although I tend to find it rather boring. Eh, taste...
Pr 93% Gr 76% So 77% Ho 73% La 87%

Rating : 80%
CraigGrannell - 8 Mar 2004
I have to say, I agree with the original Zzap! staff: Paradroid is a classic C64 game - and that's not something I say lightly.

In its time, the mixture of upgradable weaponry and pseudo-3D environments was unique and cutting-edge. You really couldn't see what was round that corner. And the fact that the "influenced" droids eventually broke free meant the game had a wonderful sense of immediacy, meaning you had to work fast, but that games could be over in a matter of seconds.

The graphics, although not amazing, were well-suited to this game, making it easy for the player to tell the different droids apart.

The controls take some getting used to, but once you do, everything feels so smooth. In fact, the only negative aspect of the game is that new decks don't yield new layouts - you just get more of the same, with harder droids.

Rating : 97%
Iain - 7 Mar 2004
I haven't played this game much, but it doesn't seem to do anything for me whatsoever. It just seems to be wandering around, shooting the odd baddie.

Zzap used to rave on about it but I don't see what all the fuss was about.

Pres 50% Gfx 40% Snd 20% Hk 30% Lt 40%

Rating : 30%
Gary Liddon
This has to be the best combination of shoot em up and strategy in a game that I have seen to date. Even if you put aside the excellent graphics and impressive sound the gameplay elements are astounding. When you first start to play, the immediate reaction is to clear as many decks as possible, ie wipe out the little droids and then move on to the harder decks. Soon you realise that this isn't quite the best way of achieving the awesome task of clearing all twenty decks.

I found that trying to blast away the higher droids meant getting zapped back into a 001 influence device often, making it very hard to find anything to take over since I'd wiped out all the easier influenced droids earlier on. This happened quite frequently so now I've found that the best strategy to adopt is to clear as many of the more difficult decks as possible, then come back for the easier ones.

The overall ship design amazingly well thought out with cargo decks and shuttle bays. Every class of robot having its own personality and movement pattern adds a great deal of atmosphere to the game.
Gary Penn
There have been several new approaches to a shoot am up before, but none have been quite so stunning as Hewson's Paradroid. The very first time I loaded the program I was overawed by the amazing presentation and the scrutinous attention to detail that the programmer, Andrew Braybrook, must have gone to such lengths to achieve. Such subtleties as not being able to 'see' around corners and pillars in plain view and the ability to call up information on the different classes of robot make Paradroid the best presented game I have ever seen. The use of the humblle joystick is just as impressive-- the several functions available being accessible with startling ease and little or no confusion.

Although the scrolling window technique used in Paradroid is similar to that of Andrew's previous game, Gribbly's Day Out it is in fact better. It's just so fast and smooth, with no noticeable screen glitch at all... Marvelous! The graphics are of the same quality as the presentation with brilliant and effective use of the bas-relief technique, giving an excellent metallic and atmospheric look to the ships. The robots are just as well defined as the 'scenery' and the use of colour Is exceptional all round. Each robot has been so well designed and implemented that they really do have individual character.

For a game of such complexity, Paradroid is 'friendly' and easy to get into. The inlay instructions are concise but comprehensive and the information contained within the program complements them perfectly. In this game the blend of strategy and arcade action is quite unique. Gribbly's was great but Paradroid... For once words fail me!
Julian Rignall
When Paradroid finally arrived in the office I wondered if it would be as good as Gribbly's and whether after three months of build up the game would be a flop. I needn't have worried-- it's absolutely superb!

The first thing that strikes you are the stunning graphics. These are tremendously effective and give the game a fantastic spaceship atmosphere, working perfectly in tandem with the wonderful sound effects. These too, add to the general feeling of exploring a hostile future space environment (listen to the robot conversation on the title screen too).

The gameplay is marvelous, with a nice 'feel' as you zoom around the ship, especially when you become an 'eight' class ) robot. The transfer game is great fun to play on its own and there can be some rather tense moments (especially when you try to no from 001 to 883)! The really good thing about the transfer game is that with practice you can make really huge jumps in robot classes once you have become proficient.

Overall Paradroid is one of the best programs I've seen on the 64, and is one that has been keeping my interest for several weeks, something that a game hasn't done for some time. The challenge of clearing all eight ships is immense, end even if you do solve it there's always the possibility of bettering your score to keep you going back to it.
Immaculate. Faultless in appearance and execution with excellent use of joystick.

Stunning bas-relief effect. Brilliant definition and use of colour all round.

No music, but incredibly effective and atmospheric beeps, whoops and the like to compensate.

Virtually enforced addiction as you attempt to clear the first ship...

... and once you've cleared that there are still seven more to go !

It's been worth the wait and it's definitely worth the money.

THE classic shoot em up.