Retro Game of the Day! Atomic Robo-Kid
Atomic Robo-Kid was developed by the weirdos at UPL and released for the arcade in 1986 - can't say I know for sure if it released in the States, though we did at least get a Sega Genesis port courtesy of publisher Treco in 1990 or so.
So, yeah, weirdos indeed - 'cause this is a strange little game. UPL, as noted, obscure developer who's name is lost to history - they have made them some strange (but enjoyable) games, and though even ARK is not the weirdest one (that I have seen - that'd be a little game called "Mutant Night," we will get into that another time!). Anyway, to the point - this is mostly a little shooter game, with all of those trappings - powerup weapons, speed ups, end of round bosses, scifi theme, etc. Unlike most of those, this wasn't a shmup (flying a lone spaceship through the cosmos), it was a little pseudo-platformery in that you controlled this little character who could walk around and jump, or just activate his jets and fly around as you pleased. A nice little option which hasn't really been done much (at all?) like that..
The game was met with mixed reception and nothing really ever happened with it. It was a strange engine, a strange concept, a strange art-style, even the music was kind of kooky. Fr all of these reasons, I mean - look at the boxart, the title, "Atomic Robo-kid?" Really? Who would buy this farce?
Me, that's who! And I am still kind of surprised, in hindsight. I think it was the weirdness of the prospect that captivated me. Also I saw a couple of seconds of video early on, and watching him saunter around then take flight just looked sort of cool. Going from a forest to a half-skeletal/half techno cave was a weird-enough mashup. Maybe just a slow month and I needed something to play. But whatever, I picked it up and I enjoyed this odd little gem.
Sad to say, the title never really went anywhere. I would have loved to see them go somewhere further with this, it had a lot of potential to be an interesting world with some unique gameplay. The actual game was fairly well balanced, fun to play, ambitious in the right places - it did things right. But it was a little too out-there and too much was against it, so it is just a little marker in history for an industry that didn't "get" it. Well, I get it - and I remember it pretty fondly.