Warren Robinett is a man with a vision. Albeit his is a vision of rectangular heroes who can only hold one object at a time, it’s a vision none-the-less. Mr. Robinett’s is a master coder who's first significant contribution to the video gaming world is creating the first “Easter egg,” which was hidden in the game “Adventure” for the Atari 2600 and amounted to a shameless plug for himself at a time when programmers weren't otherwise given credit for the games they designed. Afterwards he formed “The Learning Company” and there brought forth two gems: Rocky’s Boots in 1982 and then two years later Mr. Robinett’s next big (and in my opinion, crowning) achievement, Robot Odyssey.
The game starts when our hapless but apparently mechanically inclined hero falls out of bed into a world of Robots. It could be mentioned at this point that 'story' is not a strong point of Mr. Robinett’s games. Escaping the world of Robot Odyssey involves wiring the circuitry inside of three friendly robots. To wire up the robot you simply climb inside of them, change your character to a soldering iron (with the 's' key) and connect sensors to thrusters in the right way to get the response you need. Inside the robots you will find contacts that lead to external touch sensors and thrusters to the north, south, east, and west, as well as a claw and antenna.
Robot Odyssey stands apart from some of the previous works of Warren Robinett in that the hero isn't represented by a rectangle. However he can still only carry one thing at a time. In order to overcome this problem Robot Odyssey allows nesting objects inside each other. If you were caring an object when you enter a robot, you take that object with you, even if that object is another robot. Consequently anything you find, even other robots all goes inside one robot, and you carry that one super loaded robot with you.
When you start Robot Odyssey you quickly find the three robots you'll be using the rest of the game wandering around in one room. There are places in the game where you need the robots to enter a room for you, bypass the sentry robots there, do some task or pick something up, and return to you. When you first find the robots all of them are pre-wired to solve specific puzzles on the first level, so all you need to worry about is being sure that when you get to the end of the level that you've picked up everything there is to get. If you get to the end of the first level and have missed something it's not easy to go back. If you actually go on to the second it's impossible without restarting to go back.
As you venture further into Robotropolis you will need to tear out the wiring of the three robots and manually re-wire them. In later levels you will even need to take advantage of the antenna on the robots to get them to coordinate their efforts. It's not an exaggeration to say that not many people have seen the end of Robot Odyssey. However, there exist many excellent resources on the Internet if you absolutely need to see the end but don’t feel you can’t do it without help. If you are determined to beat the game on your own, though, owning a master's in engineering wouldn't hurt!
Like Rocky’s Boots before it, Robot Odyssey has several tutorials that you will need to go through if you expect to succeed. Go through these first before you venture into the main game to save yourself a lot of frustration.
Ground breaking and unique, it is difficult to find Robot’s Odyssey’s equal. Perhaps this is the type of games that is only suitable for a unique niche. If so, I guess I'm one. I give this game a 5.
You'll want to slow down the game with either a slowdown utility or DOSBox. Use PLAY.EXE to play Robot Odyssey or you will have troubles. If you are having trouble navigating use the number keys with num-lock on or the SHIFT key may not make you walk slower.