Robot plays against itself!
Allied & Leisure advertisement, circa 1975.
Robot was an old Bronze Age arcade game released by Allied & Leisure way back in 1975.
Pong was released in 1972, and by 1973 there were already a dozen different Pong clones on the market, many of which were basically the exact same game. Robot didn't come on the scene until three years later, and it was one of the most complicated versions of Pong every created. Most Pong games used a simple paddle, some had a joystick that was surprisingly remniscant of those little 1986 era analog computer joystick; but Robot had itself a real set of controls.
This title is pretty simple in terms of gameplay. The object is to avoid missing ball for high score, pretty simple right? Well to make it a bit more difficult you had to control two paddles at the same time, using a pair of heavy analog joysticks, and a velocity button. The game you were playing doesn't really seem to have an analog in the real world, the goal is at the lower end of each side of the screen, and you must put the ball through it, but the world has gravity dragging the ball down, and you bounce it like you were playing ping pong. Overall it is massively complex for a Pong game.
Robot came in a woodgrain formica dedicated cabinet. It was very curvy and very sexy in a 1970s sort of way, if you like cheap woodgrain panelling and burnt orange carpet then you would love what Robot looks like.
The front of the machine featured a fairly low key monitor bezel that actually had volume and brightness knobs right there where the players could mess with them (some games were still getting modified television sets back in 1975, and this was one of them. Coins were inserted on the control panel, twenty five cents for one player and fifty cents for two players.
The controls consisted of four heavy duty analog top fire sticks (basically flight sticks), one controlling each paddle, with each player controlling a pair of paddles. I feel these controls were a little bit too much for most people. It is hard enough to play games like Robotron 2084 that simply have two 8-way joysticks, trying to handle two analog sticks at the same time with buttons on them is just more than most people can handle.
The game itself was run by a single circuit board that contained exactly zero processors running at zero mhz, along with zero ram, and no information stored in EPROMS. In fact the entire thing was done with analog circuits and logic gates. You could actually copy this game perfectly just by soldering up an identical circuit board, there was no game code to copy, just hardware. The game is displayed on a modified 23" black and white television with the tuner removed. In the past I have successfully replaced these displays with other television models with only minor modifications.
Where to play
Actually, you can't really play this game anywhere. It is not emulated by any current software (not even MAME), and would be hard to do because it would require emulating analog circuits. It would be much easier to simply clone this title, than it would be to emulate it. Which is really too bad, because it is pretty sweet; well it is pretty sweet for a Pong clone.
You may want to add this to your arcade game collection. But you are probably going to have a really hard time finding one that still works. If you do manage to find one, then it will probably be fairly cheap. Most 70s era ball and paddle games sell for very affordable prices, but any individual early 70s title besides Pong will be almost impossible to locate, and this game is no exception to that rule.