Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Robot Odyssey: The sewers and subway

Don't you hate when this happens?

Hope you did the tutorial, noob.


Robot Odyssey's campaign unceremoniously dumps you into the sewers of Robotropolis and dares you to escape with the aid of three robots, which later versions name Sparky, Scanner, and Checkers.

All three are found in the room to the right.

Sparky has a module that acts as a simple wall-following maze algorithm. He will also grasp any objects in reach as long as no key is in the room.

Checkers is wired to propel right at all times, and to bounce up and down between horizontal walls. The antennae will also send a high signal if a crystal is in the same room.


Scanner is simply wired to bounce left and right between vertical walls, and also to grasp objects if the key isn't in the same room. The key is also stashed inside him (this doesn't count as being in the same room, neither to Scanner nor Sparky).


To save battery power, I shut off all of the robots' engines, and then stashed Sparky and Checkers inside Scanner so that I could easily bring them all with me.

One room beyond, I found, unlocked, and mapped out a non-Euclidean sewer maze.


There's a few things to pick up here; a mysterious chip marked '1', some sensors, a magnet, and a crystal, and the latter objects are guarded by sentries who will forcibly remove you should you get too close, but can be retrieved by the appropriate robot.

After catching them all, Checkers deftly gets me through the sewer grate patrolled by a sentry.

Hope you remembered your key. This is gonna be one of those games where you can't leave anything behind.

Before teleporting to the next level, I did a bit of logic analysis on the '1' chip, using inverters to test the pins, and I think I determined its function -  a simple output selector. Pulses to pin 1 light up pins 3 through 8 in sequence, and a pulse to pin 2 resets the state.

It's not clear how this chip helps me, but I have it.

The teleporter goes to the next level of Robotropolis - the BART (Bay Area Robot Transport).


A loose '3' chip here, next to a big robot-catching magnet, appears to be blank (erased by the magnet, perhaps?), but this is the only thing I can collect for free in this mazelike subway station.

The first real challenge is to steal a guarded subway token.

Better save. Don't want a badly-programmed robot to get irretrievably stuck in there.

None of the robots are quite equipped right for this job. Sparky, with his wall-hugging chip, can get in and out, but by wall-hugging, won't get close enough to the token to grab it, and my attempts to modify this program with token-sensing override behavior failed; adding any additional logic gates slows the output down enough that he fails to get through the narrow opening.

The solution I settled on was dumb but worked; modify Scanner to bounce around up and down as well as left and right. 

And also to grab the token and only the token.

 No thinking means minimal delay, and he'd find his way out eventually.

I'm sure there's a more optimal way.

The token opens the turnstile (but only for a few seconds!), and once past I summon the tram with Scanner's help.

From here you can travel to any of the stations, but it's a one-way trip, and to ride again you'll need to make your way back to the central subway area and steal another token. You can save to ensure you don't wind up somewhere useless and waste your token.

  • Picadilly Circuit Station has a crystal recharging station nearby. I don't really need it at this point.
  • Seer's and Robot has a '4' chip which appears to be blank.
  • Jack in the 'Bot leads to the exit, where a ticket must be inserted into a slot to leave.
  • The Laundrobot holds the ticket in its maze-like confines, guarded by a sentry. Sparky can't solve this, as the narrow corridors just confuse his wall-hugger brain.

It ain't elegant, but pinbot logic gets the ticket and (eventually) returns it.

Ticket retrieved, I returned, got another token, and went to Jack in the 'Bot where the exit ticket unlocked the escalator to town.

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