I say well done on that review sir. Well done.
It pulls reviews at random so I never have any idea what's going to appear there.
It does tend to unearth some hidden gems though.
Too harsh, fellas! This game may not be a gem, but its a fun 2 player game. First off, notice what you don't see...the classic Odyssey 2 blockheads! Now, instead you have almost Intellivision like skiers. Laugh if you want, but that's remarkable for the O2 and someone took the time to do that when they could have used the blockheads. They race, they fall, they go splat. All like articulated figures and not blockheads.
Then you have 3 events that are different...well, a bit different. Granted that slalom and giant slalom seem about the same, but they also seem identical everytime I see the Olympics. Down hill is different though, all the flags are horizontal and you can cruise. Yes, cruise! You actually have 3 different speeds. The controls are simple and intuitive so that I just played with one of my daughters - and she got into it. Push up to slow down, pull down to ski, and press the red action button for a burst of speed. In some events, you are tempted to go all out action speed, but its often better to use it to pulse, like a straight away in racing, then slowing down for the next set of flags. Also, you can position yourself in the beginning...not sure what advantage that gives you, but hey, its there.
The box and cartridge art is pretty slick. The manual is first rate and colorful. The sound effects are repetitive and annoying (like blink blink 'oooga' all the time). The controller is just great for the game -- still chugging along and responsive. No discernible flicker, no lag time in the control. As sweet as a pina colada on the love boat.
The scoring is actually somewhat complex - you can't miss a gate, or you don't get a time. That's like Nintendo Hard, dude. If you miss a gate, all you get is a number - and its gets bigger for each gate you miss. There is your skill level. Its like the old East German Olympic team, ve vill not tolerate imperfection.
Sure a one player mode would be nice to race against an AI, and it would be nice if you collided with your opponent instead of gliding through them (cause that would be cool, but really you are just early split screen and not actually side by side) but its not that bad of a game. Okay, back in 1979 you may have wished you bought a different game, but then again, you may have wished you had an Atari to play Space Invaders, but why go there. For an O2 game, its fun, its easy to play, its hard to master, the controls are solid, the video is good.
I think Dave should give this little game another few minutes and consider a regrade.
In looking the Odyssey 2 library, Dave, who was an Atari guy, has given the library a pretty flat set of ratings with 12 As, 8 Bs, 9 Cs, 11 Ds, and 11Fs -- that's not a bell curve, that's a table with a dip in the center. This game (and several others like Armor Encounter, Soccer, Bowling and maybe even Alien Invaders Plus Exclamation Point) are not unplayable F's. Not polished maybe, but not unplayable face palms either. Back in 1979, we used to watch that skier go down in the agony of defeat -- remember that -- well, this game ain't that; its not great, but its not an F.
Back to my alpine skiing now. Still, if there are any O2 fans out there, speak out, and see if you think Dave's been a bit harsh on the Maggie vox.
Today's Review Spotlight was Odyssey 2's football, just in time for the NFL playoffs. I think I've tried to uphold the honor of this game Dave gives a D too before. It was one that got a lot of play time back in the day when the other best football game around was a Mattel or Coleco LED handheld. Best to think of O2 football 5 on 5 action as neighborhood backyard football. Y'know, they kind you played after school, where you had 4 downs to go the distance, where the mailbox over there was the endzone, and the street was out of bounds, and you had to watch out for dog poop. Considering the Atari version with trashcans on a hideous looking field, and that this game is really early in the history of video games, it ain't that bad. You got selectable plays, you can run, pass and kick. Like many Odyssey 2 games, its 2 player only. What do you want in an early 2k game, John Madden?
If you could create a hack of this game, given the limits of the system, what would you change to improve it?
I think I might try to take a page out of Odyssey 2 Blockout!/Breakdown! (Gee, two exclamation points, really Magnavox) and have the defense have two controllable players - but you can only control one at a time. Press the action button to choose defensive guy #1 (maybe a lineback), and not control player #2 (maybe a safety). Left uncontrolled, they follow the basic defensive scheme the other players do. Offense uses the action button to throw, so I am not sure how one could control the receiver as Dave laments (at least not until the ball is in flight)- but it could add in a second receiver, or tight end or tailback. That would tip things probably too much towards the offense, and make it 6 on 6 - but still within the limits of an O2 cartridge I think.
Today's highlights a review Dave made back in 2001 about the NES game, Karate Champ. In the review, he says it has not aged well, and 'that those of us who cut our teeth on Street Fighter II, there's no turning back'. Now, I played this game on the C64 (or was it World Karate Championship - same difference), and yes, the moves were restricted, but you block high or low, lunge and punch high or low, kick high or low, do a roundhouse kick or a foot sweep, and if you were quick, do the moves in reverse if you just flipped over the opponent (or they flipped over you). That ain't bad. So, even if the NES version is markedly poorer than the C64 one, is it really an F?
I think the tone of the review is off. This site is about appreciating the older games for what they were (or are), and not comparing apples to oranges. This is an early NES game, and an early attempt at one on one fighter, and of course its not the same as a wonderful SNES game like Street Fighter 2. If Activision's pixelated simplistic boxing on the 2600 is worth an A- and praised for subtle strategy, is Karate Champ really only worth an F and lampooned for aging like milk? Granted that Dave also gave the Intellivision and Colecovision boxing games very poor scores for poor gameplay, so maybe Karate Champ is the same, but it strikes me that its being trashing as being an early attempt at a slightly different genre of fighting games that branched off of the boxing games and wrestling games and maybe peaked with Street Fighter 2 in the 16 bit days. Comparing Karate Champ to Street Fighter 2 just does not seem to be the same open minded spirit of the rest of Dave's site.