Version tested: Retro
When beardy old farts bang on about how games were so much more original in the old days, they're not just wallowing in a misguided sea of addled nostalgia. Paradroid - a robot power-struggle game quite unlike anything else - is proof positive of this.
Set on board a multi-tiered spaceship, you got to play as weakling robot No. 001, with the aim to working your way up the robot 'food chain' and gradually shut down or destroy everything on each deck. As you approached other robots, you could sidle up to them and jack into their circuit board, setting in motion a quirky logic gate puzzle.
Choosing which side of the circuit board you want, the idea was to quickly plug in a certain number of 'power supplies', and aim to ensure that once the countdown has expired, you have more power (or colour, effectively) on your side than your opponent. If that sounds complicated, it really isn't, and provides an excellent tug o' war mini-game as you work your way up the ranks to No. 999.
Of course, with higher robot rank comes better weaponry, from basic crappy lasers to area-effect smart bombs which shorted out everything in range.
But as superb as the concept was in Paradroid, it was never a game that really wowed visually. Depicted in a simple top-down environment, the background detail was minimal, and the sprites were simple circular droids with a number in the middle. Nevertheless, its minimalist style gave it a cool, futuristic feel totally in keeping with its otherworldly bleeping sound effects. Kraftwerk would have been proud.
Braybrook later expanded on the concept on the Amiga in Paradroid 90, but historians should definitely seek this one out as soon as possible to discover (or rediscover) a game of rich intelligence, and enigmatic grace.
9 / 10