I was eagerly anticipating Paradroid before I even owned a Commodore 64. I'd somehow found myself reading ZZAP! 64 every month, and Andrew Braybrook was writing a diary of his progress on his latest game. It promised to be amazing... robot warfare on giant spaceships! How could it go wrong?
Oddly, then, I was somewhat disappointed when I first played it. My visions of colourful, angry-looking droids were dashed, replaced instead by an overhead view of black-and-white numbers floating around a screen. This wasn't what I was expecting... not at all.
And then I played it.
It was like no other shoot 'em up I'd ever seen. Suddenly, everything made sense. The numbers were essential... they made every robot recognisable at a glance. You'd know how much trouble you were in by the class of robot you were mixed up with. Then you had a decision to make... should you take it on in a firefight, or attempt a transfer?
That was the other genius element of Paradroid... the transfer game. So simple in concept, it added a level of depth and strategy that was previously unimaginable in a mere shmup. By engaging an enemy robot in a battle of wits, your Influence Device could take over the enemy for a short time, inheriting its abilities and therefore becoming much more powerful than the standard device.
This was a simple but brilliant idea, and elevated Paradroid from sci-fi shooter to bona fide games legend. The feeling of exhilaration from accidentally tumbling into a 999 droid as a 001, with transfer mode activated, and actually winning, was unparalleled. Even today I find it a joyous experience to play.