Sawbuck Gamer


The Revolution Will Be Mechanized

Protobotic’s aspiring robot overlord relies on logic rather than deadly neurotoxin.

By Drew Toal • December 14, 2012

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When the singularity scenario, robot apocalypse, Y2K or whatever you want to call it happens, I think most people envision something pretty spectacular. Robots will seize control, replicate themselves in huge and terrifying forms, and smash humanity under the crushing weight of their flawless logic and steel jackboots. But wouldn’t the more immediate war be fought against smaller objects—our phones, our toasters, our neglected Wii consoles? Consider the humble Roomba, the whirring, self-propelled vacuum robot that surreptitiously cleans our floors and those hard to reach, under the couch dust bunnies. Is there a more oppressed and derided figure in the robot hierarchy? When the machines rise up, it is undoubtedly the Roombatarians that humanity need fear the most.

Protobotic begins with a letter from Scientist to Robot: “Dear Robot, you are my greatest creation. You have the potential for incredible power. But first I must test your cognitive processors…” And so begins a series of increasingly difficult puzzles for the Roomba-like hero. Using lasers, your brain, and—later in the game—missiles and bombs, players solve spatial puzzles by judicious use of this robot weaponry, coupled with the rearrangement of blocks, mirrors, and other obstacles. It’s like a simplified version of Portal, but with the humans back in charge—humans who, I’d hasten to add, encourage Robot with positive reinforcement, rather than homicidal rage.

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81 Responses to “The Revolution Will Be Mechanized”

  1. Xyvir says:

    My parents have a Roomba. It’s supposed to have sensors and stuff to make it not crash, but that doesn’t stop my mother from setting up side-ways chair-barricades all over the house to make sure it doesn’t fall down the stairs and such. When I visit and she has the thing running it’s like an obstacle death course. Which is why the Roomba might as well shooting lasers and missiles at me to add to my difficulties.

  2. After experiencing the hopelessness of Alundra in my youth, these puzzles are nothing.