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Released: 1990

Genre: Puzzle

Format reviewed: Atari Lynx

Publisher: Atari Games

Developer: Atari Games

Let’s face it, back when we were first discovering gaming on the fly, ‘portable’ was only really a term that could be applied to the Game Boy and PC-Engine GT. The Atari Lynx – although a fantastic handheld home to some sublime arcade ports – looked and felt as cumbersome as Michael Knight’s steering wheel. However, the machine still swanked some of the finest titles ever made to remedy short, sharp gameplay urges.

While Robo-Squash touts itself as a futuristic game of squash, in reality, the sport depicted actually plays out like a cross between Shufflepuck and Breakout. Set in the 31st Century, the President of the World has suddenly died. His death has somehow ignited a global conflict between two warring factions. And with “conventional warfare of the uncivilised past” now obsolete, everyone’s decided to settle the dispute the only way they know how – with a game of squash.

Adopting the 3D first-person look of Shufflepuck, Robo-Squash’s tournament is split into 16 rounds, each comprising first-to-three-point matches. With a racquet resembling a large baking tray, it was your job – standing at one end of an anti-grav court – to repeatedly smash a red ball between you and your opponent.

Failing to return the ball would cause red paint to splatter on your screen, obscuring your view and making it difficult to spot incoming shots. This made for some frantic matches as the pressure and difficulty would mount with every lapse of concentration. Also adding variety to the matches was a cluster of destructible blocks and Arkanoid-style power-ups that sat in the middle of the arena.The power-ups varied from letting you blast fireballs to clear the tiles to an all-seeing eye that would show you the ball’s direction.

If you’re the owner of a Lynx and stumble across a copy of the game going for pennies, you could do far worse than pick it up. It might not look or sound anything special but Robo-Squash certainly holds a lot of pick-up-and-play charm. Squash it isn’t, but fun it most certainly is.

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