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Combots (pc game)
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  • Courtesy of My Abandonware.
  • Courtesy of My Abandonware.

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Old-school Robot Wars

Long before there was Robot Wars and other such robot-based fighting entertainment, there was Combots, a simplistic but strangely compelling slice of two-player strategy fun. The concept is simple enough and sees players taking control of a combat-oriented robot then going head-to-head with another human player or the computer in the arena. The robots are armed with a laser and the goal is of course to be the last robot standing. However, this is not so much an action game but rather one of strategy as the player must give their robot a sequence of ten commands, with a choice of move, fire and turn. The robot will continue to follow their instructions until the timer runs out and once it hits zero, the one who has scored the most hits with their laser is declared the victor. That's pretty much all there is to the game to be honest, with little in the way of variation in terms of arenas or well, anything really. The graphics are of course as crude as you would expect them to be from 1983 with very basic overhead views of the robots (which don't really look much like robots) and the arena being simple an empty room entirely lacking in decoration. However, if you can get past these visual shortcomings (and drag in a second player), then Combots becomes quite a fun little two-player experience, with a similar sort of appeal to Scorched Earth and Capture the Flag. It's definitely not one that's going to last for a long time but there is a certain sense of tension and excitement in the air as you watch your robot flail uselessly around the screen, missing with every blast, while the satisfaction of actually landing a hit is almost palpable. If it's raining on a wintry Sunday afternoon, then fire up Combots and see how they did it in the old days.

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