GAME REVIEW: Robotron 2084

written by David Steffen

Robotron 2084 was developed by Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar of Vid Kidz  and released in 1982. A multi-directional shooter survival game, where the object is to survive in a fight against endless waves of killer robots while rescuing human survivors along the way.

The game uses a dual-joystick movement and shooting scheme that made it easy to share controls with a friend, and featured some major hardware innovations for the time that allowed large numbers of enemies to be animated on the screen at the same time making for exciting fast-paced action. At any given time you are being swarmed by robots for multiple directions and you have to move in any direction to avoid them while firing in any direction as well–the direction of firing is independent of direction of movement, so you can fire in the direction you’re moving, or fire backward, or fire to the side. (This scheme was used for later games like Super Smash TV if it seems familiar).

This game’s dual-joystick independent control also makes it suitable for two players cooperative play–one player per joystick. I played it with kid, for which most 80’s arcade games are way too hard, and together we were better than I was by myself, with me controlling the movement (and really just concentrating on dodging) and them controlling the shooting from the moving.

I played this game for the first time at the Game Changers exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Not the most detailed, but where this one really shines (for its era) is the number of animated things on the screen at a time!

Typical for the era.


Simple (not unusual for that era).

Session Time
Depends how good you are!

Simple controlers, with basic direction joystick and directional shooting, but hard to master, it’s hard to do both at once and the challenge ramps up quickly.

Not in the usual way I mean, but if you like this kind of game there’s certainly plenty of fun to be had.

It was a major innovation at the time that has inspired other games since then.

I don’t know how long it would take to play all the way through.

A lot of fun, especially if you get a chance to play it on the arcade console, especially with a friend. I haven’t found a really convenient source to play this game, but it’s had some console ports to SNES among others you might be able to find.

Published by

David Steffen

David Steffen is an editor, publisher, and writer. If you like what he does you can visit the Support page or buy him a coffee! He is probably best known for being co-founder and administrator of The Submission Grinder, a donation-supported tool to help writers track their submissions and find publishers for their work . David is also the editor-in-chief here at Diabolical Plots. He is also the editor and publisher of The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List series. David also (sometimes) writes fiction, and you can follow on BlueSky for updates on cross-stitch projects and occasionally other things.

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