The Antstream Arcade Archive: Paradroid
In our latest Antstream Arcade Archive feature, we look at another specific game from the Antstream Arcade retro gaming vault, giving you the lowdown on its plot, gameplay, tips and more. This month we proudly present Andrew Braybrook’s Commodore 64 classic, Paradroid. Revered throughout C64 circles and beyond, if you’re a Paradroid newbie, this is the place to start!
So what’s it about?
Far across the galaxy, a fleet of robo-freighters is making its way to the Beta Ceti system when a freak radioactive storm hits. The powerful rays fry the circuits of the onboard robots, sending them into a psychotic frenzy. Soon, all the human crew are dead, and the freighters are wandering aimlessly through space. It would be catastrophic for the human race if they were to fall into enemy hands.
Crikey. I imagine it’s up to me to do something about this?
You got it! Earth forces have decided it's far too risky to send humans to the fleet, so you are in remote control of a cute robot known as the Influence Device. Beamed onto the first ship (named the Paradroid), the Influence Device sets about clearing each deck of its loopy metallic inhabitants. And when we say clearing, we mean destroying!
How does the Influence Device work?
The small robot begins as a simple device, self-sufficient but weak. Although the Influence Device can eliminate robots with its laser, it’s a much better idea to take over the rival bots, assuming all of their powers in the process, for a limited time before its circuits burn out. Therefore the player must constantly look for new robots to take over. Of course, you can also ram enemy robots, but we don’t recommend this until you have a powerful robot at your disposal.
I’m guessing these mad bots don’t just let me take them over?
You guess correctly. By holding down fire, the Influence Device enters interface mode and will attempt to take over any robot it bumps into. Once contact has been made, the game switches to Transfer Mode, a mini-game that pits the two droids against each other. You have a short time to decide which side (colour) to choose, and the aim is to turn the majority of the central nodes to your colour using a set of electronic pulses. But beware: some wires lead to dead ends and can even turn the node your rival’s colour instead, and naturally, there’s a tight time limit. When you’ve cleared the level of droids, the screen turns grey, and it’s time to switch to another deck.
You mean there’s more?!
Oh yes. The Paradroid has many decks, each infested with maniacal robots. The circular lifts take you to your deck of choice while computer screens display your current status and a handy map of the level you’re on. You can also call up a library of the ship’s robots, albeit only those of a lower status than your own. Oh, and there are another seven ships to explore.
Seven! OK, I’m almost sold. But what makes Paradroid such a renowned classic?
The sheer variety and imagination on show in Paradroid instantly secured its legendary status back in the day, and beyond the impressive presentation and cute graphics, there’s a game of remarkable depth. The notoriously parsimonious reviewers of Zzap! 64 magazine lavished praise on Paradroid, calling it ‘the best combination of shoot-‘em-up and strategy in a game… to date.” A final overall score of 97% cemented its place in gaming folklore. The gameplay also inspired Braybrook’s friend and colleague, Steve Turner, to create a similar game on the ZX Spectrum called Quazatron – also available on Antstream Arcade.
Right. I’ve gotta play this. Tips, please!
The higher the number of a robot, the more powerful it is. Taking over these is trickier, and they are also more unstable, meaning you’ll have to find a fresh host in double-quick time. If you’re low on energy, recharging fields can give your robot a top-up, and you can check the computer terminals for the location of these and the lifts. Watch for wires with dead ends or recolouring mechanisms when entering the mini-game, and the latest energy bolt will always prevail at the end of a round – but with the clock ticking down quickly, don’t leave it too late!
I’m ready to sync with some psycho robots! How are things looking on the Antstream Arcade high score table?
In third place is Craig Grannell, with a score of 25,570 points. But the top two robot-killers are way ahead of the pack. VeeKiraRay has interfaced their way to 75,195 points, but the number one Paradroid dweller is Dion Guy with a remarkable 93,540 points. Fancy becoming an influencer in the top ten? Then you currently need to beat KernzyP’s 11,280 points. Get interfacin’!
Anything else I need to know?
No, that’s it – get to the Paradroid and start clearing those hazardous decks! But keep an eye on your energy level, or it’ll be game over.
Thank you for reading - watch out for another blast from the Antstream Arcade Archive soon! Also feel to carry on the discussion on our discord, do you agree with the opinions on this game? Do you have any Easter eggs you want to share or just show off your hi-score? Get involved in our discord.