Publisher: Atari Age (2012)
Our high score: 29,970
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Atari (1990)
This was clearly intended to be Atari's answer to Nintendo's Super Mario Brothers. Unfortunately, Scrapyard Dog lacks the charm and originality to compete with that classic. It's not even in the same league. You control a goofy-looking guy with a big nose who can jump on his enemies and throw cans at them. Various stages portray him running around different parts of town trying to save his dog. The control is responsive, but certain objects blend into the background, making it difficult to tell what you can and can't jump on. There are too many obstacles flying through the air that are hard to avoid. If you're lucky, you'll find some bonus rooms to play mini-games or purchase items. Overall Scrapyard Dog is not particularly bad, but the so-so gameplay and dorky main character are major turn-offs. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1991)
This previously unreleased cartridge has recently become available through an on-line video game store. After playing it for a while, I came to the realization that some things are best left unreleased. Sentinel is a dismal light gun game that actually was
released for the 2600. The 2600 version didn't have much to offer, and despite some improved graphics, this 7800 version remains equally worthless. A large orb sits on the left side of the screen, hovering over a planet that scrolls by below. Uninteresting enemies approach from the right, and you must destroy them and their missiles before they can strike the orb. Shooting an enemy causes the orb to rise, but it sinks when it gets hit. Sentinel's gameplay equal parts repetitive and boring, and the light gun's accuracy could stand improvement as well. The single strategic element is that when the orb is "powered-up", shooting it destroys all on-screen enemies, like a smart bomb. Big freakin' deal. The mountains, buildings, and volcanoes in the background certainly look better than the plain 2600 version, but there's nothing here that will catch your eye. The monotonous background music will give you a serious headache. You can turn it off using the difficulty switches, but that also turns off the sound effects! Sentinel is a complete dud, and only serious collectors should take note of it. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Tynesoft (2009)
Recommended variation: A
Our high score: 31,900
Publisher: Atari Age (2008)
Publisher: Atari/Epyx (1987)
Summer Games puts you in the Olympics and lets up to eight players compete in six events. The graphics are excellent, with plenty of attention to detail. I really like the opening ceremonies. The athletes are colorful and animated realistically, although not always smoothly. The first event is diving, and it's probably the best of the bunch. You control your diver's body position and rotation speed during the dive. Although you want plenty of movement, you need to make sure you enter the water head-first, which requires some skill. The next event is the 400 meter relay, and the key to this one is to control your pace. The following contest, the 100 meter dash, is one of those events that breaks joysticks. You have to wiggle it as fast as you can - not much strategy there. Gymnastics (vaulting) is another winner. You control every aspect of the vault, so there's plenty of room for error. It requires some practice, but it's great fun when you get the hang of it. The last two events are swimming. The only control you have is a button push for each stroke, which is supposed to speed up your swimmer if you time it correctly. The freestyle relay swimming event runs a bit too long. Overall, Summer Games features two great events, three good ones, and one that's just fair. You have the option of playing one, all, or some of these. The running and swimming events allow you to go head-to-head against another person, which always livens up the action. I was disappointed that there's no closing ceremonies, but overall Summer Games is a great sports title. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1988)
Here's another outdated first-person air combat game that's frustrating and tedious to play. Super Huey puts you in control of a well-armed attack helicopter entering hostile territory. There are three modes: arcade, flight school, and reality mode. Arcade is pure dog-fighting action, but it's not very challenging. Flight school is a confusing tutorial meant to teach you how to lift off and control your helicopter. You'll need these skills in order to tackle reality mode, which combines flight simulation with air combat. Due to the limited number of buttons, the menu interface used to control the aircraft instruments is very complicated (the original game used a keyboard). It takes a lot of effort just to get the thing off the ground. Once you're airbourne, your cockpit depicts the horizon and small buildings on the ground. Maneuvering your helicopter is difficult and confusing, and the shooting is easy by comparison. Overall, Super Huey is too much work and not enough fun. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Absolute (1988)
Tomcat F-14 Fighter Simulator
Publisher: Absolute (1989)
Publisher: Atari/Electronic Arts (1988)
This incredibly lame football game features respectable graphics but slow gameplay and choppy animation. There are six players per team, and they're colorful but move slowly. The football moves in a choppy manner, making it difficult to tell where it's headed. This game was poorly programmed. Forget about the running game - you'll be lucky to make it back to the line of scrimmage! Yes you can kick field goals and extra points, but they are automatically performed, and often missed from short range! There's a wide variety of plays to choose from, but who cares? The longest pass you can throw is about 10 yards. The single cheerleader looks like a muscular dude. I could go on and on about this one. It's pathetic. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1988)
I was tempted to trash this game after getting completely frustrated on the very first level. But Tower Toppler has a certain addictive quality that I couldn't resist. The goal is to move your frog (that IS a frog, isn't it?) to the top of a series of towers. Each has platforms, elevators, and holes to crawl through. A variety of baddies wander the platforms trying to knock you off. You can destroy most of these with your arsenal of snowballs. The graphics are pretty nice. Your frog is well-animated, and the towers rotate smoothly as you move around them. The control is okay, but there are some slippery edges that can be very unforgiving. The game simply does not give you the benefit of the doubt on close jumps. The gameplay is straightforward and the levels are challenging and well-designed. While it may not be easy to climb the towers, you'll find yourself getting a bit further on each subsequent turn. There are ten towers in all. In addition, there's a short bonus stage between each tower that lets you shoot fish from a submarine. Want to cheat? Use the right difficulty switch to choose your stage. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari Age (2009)
This game seems seriously undercooked to me. Wasp doesn't come with a manual, nor does it need one. The idea is to guide a cute character with an oversized nose around a meadow sprinkled with flowers and mushrooms. Large wasps appear around the screen and approach with erratic movements. Your goal is to collect all of the red mushrooms while avoiding the slow, converging wasps. The simplistic gameplay might have worked if the difficulty ramped properly. Unfortunately, the game never gets particularly hard, making it possible to play indefinitely
. Each screen looks the same, and the constant scuttling becomes mind numbing after a few waves. Between stages the screen is reset using a hackneyed "tunnel" effect. Wasp's arcade-style graphics are respectable, but the inappropriate audio effects sound like they were recycled from a space game. Severely lacking in depth, Wasp feels like a half-finished project that the programmer got tired of working on. Atari 7800 fans may be hard up for new titles, but I find it hard to believe they're this
desperate! © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 44,800
Publisher: Froggo (1988)
Our high score: 265,600
Publisher: Atari/Epyx (1987)
This Olympic-style title is even better than Summer Games, thanks to its bright, wintery conditions. You can almost feel the chill in the air! Only four events are included, but they're all winners. The first is the biathlon, which is a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. The key to this event is moving your skier's legs to the beat of the heart displayed in the lower corner. The scenery is a winter wonderland of snow-covered evergreens, and the controls are nice and simple. On the downside however, the event runs a bit too long, to the point of feeling repetitive. Next up is speed skating, which is the only event that lets you go head-to-head against a friend. You'll need to move the joystick rhythmically to your skater's strides to reach maximum velocity. The ski jump event is arguably the best of the bunch. As you take off and soar through the air, you need to constantly correct the position of your body to maintain balance and nail the landing. Points are awarded for both distance and style. The final event is the bobsled, and there really isn't much to it. You basically just steer in the opposite direction of turns to prevent the sled from tipping over. There's no closing ceremonies to wrap things up, and that's a shame because otherwise this is a stellar effort. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1989)
It's clearly inspired by the Alien movies, but unlike those films, Xenophobe fails to generate any
degree of excitement or suspense. It's just a slow, plodding ordeal where you methodically move a blocky bald guy between rooms and floors while shooting every generic alien you see. And since misery loves company, the game is conveniently presented in a split-screen mode for two to play at once. The graphics are dull and blocky, and the gray spaceship backgrounds are plain. Your bald-headed hero moves slowly, and the sluggish controls are even more maddening. You can walk or crawl, but what's really needed is a run button. The poor animation is evident by the fact that he leaps without even bending his knees! That's just sad. The collision detection is dreadful, and most of your damage is caused by accidentally jumping into closed doors. There are a variety of weapons, but they're easily knocked out of your hands, and then it's open season on pixilated bald guys. In addition, this game is far too easy at the standard level. The only
thing I liked about Xenophobe was how your man could still shoot while laying on his side after getting knocked down. That looks cool, but the rest of the game is garbage. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1986)
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