Duck-dragons, dancing raccoons, and robots
March 28, 2008 2:38 PM   Subscribe

Inspired by this earlier post, I thought it was time to formally introduce people to Rocky's Boots.

Created in 1982 by Warren Robinett, Rocky's Boots was intended to teach digital logic to elementary-school kids. It was a sort of spiritual sequel (in that you also play a rectangle who can pick up and drop stuff) to his better-known game, Atari Adventure. Robinett is not only entirely responsible for that game (including the duck-dragons), but was the inventor of the Easter Egg, used there to make sure people knew whose work it was; it was Atari's policy at the time to never name its programmers or let them share in the profits from the sale of the games they'd spent so much hard work on.
After leaving Atari, Robinett got funding from the NSF to found The Learning Company, which, in addition to producing Rocky's Boots, also came out with a much more difficult sequel two years later called Robot Odyssey, which has the player burning microchips and rigging up automated robots to solve puzzles. Robot Odyssey itself has been given an enhanced port to Java, although it hasn't been updated in a while.
posted by wanderingmind (12 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Rocky's boots was the bomb. I an entire field trip at the Lawrence Hall of Science geeking out on the thing.

Until, that was, I found that if as the bright energy square you picked up Rocky, it kind of killed him. You could move him around, but that was it -- the game would go no more. RIP Rocky...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:56 PM on March 28, 2008

these boots, what is their involvement with the circuit boards?
posted by shmegegge at 3:00 PM on March 28, 2008

Holy shit, I just had a powerful childhood flashback. Good post.
Those games were HARD. I wonder if that's changed now that I'm a computer science grad.
posted by naju at 3:05 PM on March 28, 2008

Man, Robot Odyssey was awesome. I was originally introduced to it in one of those 80s computer classes that was a complete waste of time for everyone but me and one or two other kids (remember LOGO?), but I loved it. I asked my dad to buy it so I could play it at home. I don't think I ever got all that far, but it was a lot of fun.

Also, Atari programmers did share in the profits: they didn't get royalties, but there was a bonus program where they got larger bonuses based on higher sales. It is true that they forbade credits, as they wanted their programmers to be a secret so other companies couldn't recruit them.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:16 PM on March 28, 2008

Rocky's Boots! Oh my god damn! This is that damned game I couldn't remember the name of, for all these years, that thing that I was sure I hadn't made up but couldn't suss out to save my life, like some song heard on the radio and only half-remembered.
posted by cortex at 3:44 PM on March 28, 2008

Ah, Rocky's Boots and Robot Odessey were so spectacular; I spent many afternoons watching orange electricity flow through various circuits.
posted by Spacelegoman at 3:58 PM on March 28, 2008

shmegegge: The boot is a component you hook into a circuit; when power flows to it, it kicks outward. It's what you use to tell the puzzle to pick out certain shapes (by kicking them off to the side) from a list that scrolls by.
posted by wanderingmind at 7:22 PM on March 28, 2008

Rocky's Boots!!!!

When I took over the media center at **** High School in 1980, my principal released two Apple ][e's (and some window-unit air-conditioning) that he had been withholding from my little-old-lady predecessor. In the next few years, I bought a couple of games: Zork I, II, and III, and Rocky's Boots, to entice students to play with the computers and improve their thinking skills. Everyone loved all of these. I adored Rocky's Boots and was thrilled to come across it via ][e emulators last year.

Hm. I may need to reintroduce it to my current crop of elementary students.
posted by ancientgower at 7:32 PM on March 28, 2008

psst, WanderingMind--I too was reminded of Rocky's Boots by the Blinking Lights post, but I was too lazy or busy to respond. Thank you for doing what I should have done!!!
posted by ancientgower at 7:35 PM on March 28, 2008

I don't understand why no one's written a game like these in the past few years.
posted by Nelson at 9:14 AM on March 29, 2008

wow, what a flashback, thanks!
posted by buzhidao at 7:37 PM on March 29, 2008

Ah, Rocky's Boots. I too loved this game.

And I agree, there does seem to be a dearth of anything quite like it today, at least that I've seen recently. RB hit a nice sweet spot between being 'educational' and actually being fun/addictive to play.

For younger kids, Think Quick was another good Apple ][ game. (I had forgotten the name of it for years until I saw it mentioned in an AskMeFi post a while back.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:39 PM on March 31, 2008

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