Sunday, December 30, 2007

Joust (Atari 1983)

I REALLY can't find anything wrong with this translation. I've always held this opinion, and after playing it again this morning, I'm sticking with it. I don't understand why it gets trashed in some quarters; you mean that graphics aren't on the same level with it's Williams arcade namesake? Oh gee, what a surprise the vcs doesn't have the graphic resolution power of coin-ops!!! The eggs float???? So what!! I think it diminishes nothing in the game play. No lava troll? The pterodactyl doesn't swoop? This is still quite challenging without those elements. Focusing on what this translation doesn't have obscures what you do get. Nice title screen as well!!

Rating: A

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Conquest of Mars (Champ Games 2006)

Wow. This is quite an impressive outing on the 2600. This incredible game is based (and quite like) Caverns of Mars, which was a 1981 game programmed for the Atari 8-bit computers, which kind of was a vertical scrolling version of the Konami arcade game Scramble. I hated this game at first; the laser gate level seemed to hard to get through with out any visual ques to help...but it is doable, and once that hurdle was overcome I began to realize what a fantastic game this is. You scroll downward through six martian caverns avoiding all kinds of obstacles to defuse a bomb at the bottom. Then you must make your way back up before the bomb explodes. This game DOES have a high difficulty level; so much so I thought of downgrading it's rating a little....but I can't, this title is pure genius. Plus, the programmer states that there's a nice ending if you can complete all levels.

Rating: A

Aquaventure (Atari Prototype 1983)

Given my love for many things seafaring, this unreleased title gives me the warm fuzzies. I can't tell if it's completed or not, but the difficulty increases gradually and I find myself fighting to beat my last high score. You are a diver with a spear gun descending through various stages of sea depths to grab a treasure chest and make it back up to the top before your oxygen runs out. There are various nicely drawn sea-creatures which you must avoid on the way down, and on the way back up. It's best if you try not to shoot them though...because they get replaced by fast swimming hard to hit fish that are more difficult to get around. Prudence is essential. A turtle keeps track of your air supply at the top. It moves from left to right....if it gets all the way to the right you lose a life. Now an appealing aspect to this game is that you have to touch a mermaid to complete the dive!! She carries you the rest of the way to the top were your air is replenished and your imagination runs wild!! This game along with the Classic Intellivision title Shark! Shark! help me get through the long winter months by giving me a taste summertime pleasure when I'm engaged in my water activities. Very pleasant, I must say.

Rating: B-

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Gyruss (Parker Brothers 1984)

By the time the mid-80s had arrived, I wasn't playing arcade games anymore, but a friend of mine had the fortune of his parents buying him a Texas Instruments computer in which he had a bunch of the old games that I loved from a few years back, like Pac-Man, on floppy disk. One game that I wasn't familiar with though was Gyruss. It became my favorite game to play on the computer. The 2600 version captures the spirit of the game. It has the famous Bach fugue playing continuously, but no other sound effects. The alien spacecraft do not have the circular formation in the middle of the screen; they simply disappear; plus they look like single colored flying blocks. All the levels are included--including the planets (except Jupiter) and the chance stages. It's a must to hit the middle satellite for double shots, because shooting singly is a lukewarm experience. Watch those meteors as well--I play the most difficult setting and am always getting nailed by those things. Really, a shadow of it's arcade namesake.....but it works, and I like it.

Rating: B

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mr. Do! (Coleco 1983)

While not a pure translation and with a few, perhaps glaring, faults, I find this version of Mr. Do! mildly addicting. The tunneling is flawed; you knock out big chunks instead of being able to make thin-walled mazes. In this case, your maze strategy has to be tunneling in wider patterns. The monsters are pretty aggressive and have no problem getting to you. It's up for debate whether these are problems, or a different challenge twist. The title and "game over" screens, plus the "EXTRA" feature add to the quality of this cartridge. It may not be perfect, but it's still fun. It will have to "do" until I get another working Colecovision.

Rating: B

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Skeleton+ (Eric Ball 2003)

One of life's greatest pleasures is blasting the undead; Skeleton+ provides plenty of opportunity to do so. Maybe my ignorance allows me to be easily impressed, but this is allot of game fit into 4k. Sort of similar to Tunnel Runner in that it is played from a first person perspective while you navigate various mazes, but I think this game is more enjoyable. Eliminate the skeletons before they eliminate you sums up what goes on here. A side note: the game seems easier when you first turn it on--the skeletons don't need as many shots to be killed than if you start the game by hitting the reset. Various difficulty features are programed as case it gets too easy for you.

Rating: B+

Monday, October 8, 2007

Entombed (US Games 1982)

Here's a great over-looked title that's allot of fun. You are an archaeologist in a vertical scrolling maze. The better your progress, the faster the mazes get. There are zombies to slaughter you though; some of them can even run through the catacomb walls. There's also moving blocks that you can snag to either make holes in the maze walls or to put a block up behind you. I've never found a reason to use it for the latter--especially when the action gets fast. Although, you have to be careful you don't block yourself at the top of the maze. If you run out of maze you die. A fun, challenging game. The only problem is I get a hand cramp when the going gets tough!

Rating: B