Tabletop Game: Robo Rally
Robo Rally is a board game from Wizards of the Coast, a product submitted to the company by Richard Garfield. (Wizards liked it, and mentioned that they were also looking for, say, a portable strategy game played using a deck of cards.) The game is a deceptively hard rush to get your robot to touch all of the flags in order, while avoiding the other players.The Excuse Plot is that the players are Master Factory Computers, and they are extremely intelligent, manipulative and bored. They decide to reprogram some of the factory robots to do a race across the floors. Did I mention they have to avoid pits, lasers, fire, radioactive waste, oil spills, pushers, conveyor belts and crushers along the way? Oh, and of course the other robots. The robot can also acquire random, unique upgrades which lets them do everything from shooting two lasers at once to using a jetpack to fly across the board.Needless to say, the more players there are, the more crazy things get.
Tropes seen in this game include...
- Adaptation Distillation: Robo Runner began as a web-based version of the board game but has since practically become its own game complete with distinct minigames and AI-controlled "scanners".
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The robots all try to sabotage each other. With lasers.
- That's more the Master Computer telling it to sabotage their opponents. No, the real crapshoot would have to be the robots' independent personalities.
- Lasers are only the start. You can acquire bombs, one of which goes up to, basically, "trash everything around for eight squares in every direction" to tractor and pressor beams. They don't sound dangerous, but using one at juuuuust the right time can send a 'bot into a Bottomless Pit. If you're lucky.
- Another example are the "smart" rockets, a gadget that can be programmed. They're highly unlikely to fly where you want them to.
- Artificial Stupidity - Even better; you're the one who's making the boneheaded move, though often you find out too late.
- The Chew Toy: The robots themselves. It's expressely stated in the manual and backstory as to why this is; the Master Computers spent their entire existence supervising chip manufacturing, and being bored out of their processors. Cue one hapless robot's navigation system malfunctioning, followed by it stepping on a conveyor belt, sent along the belt while being cut by industrial lasers, smashed by crushers, crisped by flamethrowers, and finally dumped down an endless disposal pit. The computers were amused.
- Death Course: Fully customizeable, at that!
- Frickin' Laser Beams: As the robots' default weapons as well as Death Course elements.
- Malevolent Architecture: Some of the stages do look like factory stages. But why does a factory need a death spiral filled with lasers?
- It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time! Also, the control computers were indescribably bored and probably messing around with the blueprints...
- Perhaps the conveyor belt maelstrom is a garbage disposal?
- Mercy Invincibility: Not very merciful, since certain weapons and tiles can still damage you while your robot is existing as a "virtual copy".
- No OSHA Compliance: Understatement. Especially once you add the extension.
- Programming Game
- Rule of Cool: Why else would this game exist?
- Tractor Beam: The game features both tractor and pressor beams as upgrades that the player can opt to use instead of firing the laser. Hilarity Ensues.
- You Bastard: Not obvious at first, but you're playing as one of the Master Factory Computers... the same computers which are sending intelligent robots to their (or if you're very good) other's doom.
- Videogame Caring Potential: There is none. Ever.
- Videogame Cruelty Potential: On the other mechanical grasping extention, there is an overabundance of this. Bump a bot into a bottomless pit! Hit it with remote-controlled rockets! Scramble its circuits! Lock it in place with goo and drop The Big One next to it!
- Or have your own robot commit suicide because it's going to die next turn anyway.