Hercules Workshop

Featured Vintage Software: Robot Tank (1983) (Activision)

Thursday November 11 2021 (2021-11-11) : Rob from Hercules Workshop

Programming Language : 6507 ASSEMBLER
Released On (Media): Cartridge (4KB)

Released by Activision, INC. in 1983 for the Atari Video Computer System (VCS) and Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade.


Generally speaking, in the early 1980's, Activision software seemed to have better graphics than other companies producing games for the Atari Video Computer System. However some of their titles lacked the play-ability or fun of games from Atari or Imagic but I think Robot Tank (and others) were the exception.

Robot Tank at it's core is reminiscent of Battlezone, the fun vector graphics based arcade classic released by Atari in 1980. However I think Activision really jazzed up that arcade classic with full colour graphics and some great other features like changing weather conditions in addition to day light and night time.

Original Program Instructions
Downloadable (PDF)


Robot Tanks are quickly advancing cross country, firing at will and stopping at nothing. You must command your own Robot Tanks to stop their charge of chaos. Avoid being hit by enemy fire, or your Robot Tanks may be destroyed.

Figure:1 - Your Robot Tank Display

Figure:2 - Your Robot Tank Hit


This is a One Player game so you only need to use the left joystick controller. The DIFFICULTY and SELECT switches aren't used either.

To begin play. Press game RESET switch, then manoeuvre your robot tank using the joystick. Hold the RED button to to fire your robot tanks cannon, holding down the button will produce continuous fire.


Day and Night Time Fighting;
This is probably my favourite feature of the game. I know it's not a big deal nowadays but game setting changing with the time of day was really neat back in the early 1980's (this really reminded me of the changing time of day in Enduro).

Figure:3 - Sunset

Figure:4 - Night

Weather Alerts;
My second favourite game feature, the game setting also changes with different weather conditions. Like the time of day changing, this was a relatively new concept with early video games. Your robot tank will receive weather reports everyday at pre-dawn. Fog, rain and snow are all reported as alerts.

Figure:3 - Weather Alert

Figure:4 - Fog Conditions

Radar Screen;
Enemy tanks only fire rockets when they are in front of your tank so your tank is safe when the enemy tank is behind you.

Damage Sensors;
Your robot tank has sensors that will report damage to critical systems.

V:– Video, your view screen can black out periodically,

C:– Cannons when damaged, may not fire all the time.

R: – Radar inoperative.

T: – Treads damaged, mobility is affected


A small tank appears at the top left corner of the screen every-time you destroy an enemy tank, when you destroy 12 tanks (an enemy squadron) a small box with the number 12 appears. The game ends after you destroy 12 squadrons or all your tanks are destroyed.

You'll get a bonus tank after every enemy squadron is eliminated, up to a maximum of 12.


If you own an actual Atari 2600 Video Computer System or a Coleco Gemini then you can pickup a game cartridge cheap online somewhere like eBay. If you don't you can also try something like one of the new Atari Flashback consoles, these come preloaded with many different games.

Alternatively you could use a software emulator such as Stella, it's a popular multi-platform Atari 2600 VCS emulator available for many different operating systems. We've made the Video Checkers binary file available for download that you can use with Stella. You can also follow this hyper-link Stella Multi-Platform Atari 2600 VCS Emulator to download the Stella program for your specific O/S. Please note this is an external link to the developers website and not hosted by us.

Download Robot Tank
(4KB) BIN File