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Sky Jaguar
Grade: D
Publisher: Opcode (2004)
Reviewed: 2004/11/26

screenshotSky Jaguar was originally developed by Konami in 1984, but ported to the Colecovision only recently. To be honest, I'm not so sure this old relic was worth resurrecting. Sky Jaguar is bland vertical shooter that's as generic as they come. The game bears a striking resemblance to Xevious, except you don't bomb things on the ground - you just shoot a variety of airborne objects. If you have any doubt about the Xevious influence, wait until you see the first boss (*cough*rip-off*cough). Sky Jaguar's scenery looks nice, particularly the craggy, red-desert canyon, but it scrolls in a jerky manner. Gameplay involves shooting rapidly while avoiding incoming missiles, but since there's no rapid-fire, you'll need to constantly press the side buttons -- which is absolute murder on your hands. A double-shot power-up eases the pain slightly, but not much. Sky Jaguar is playable, but really doesn't have much to offer. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Slither
Grade: B-
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
Reviewed: 2011/6/4

screenshotIt's a little sloppy, but for the most part this Centipede knock-off hits its mark. Slither is set in a rock-strewn desert in the southwest with sunset-inspired color schemes that are very easy on the eyes. Utilizing the Colecovision's humongous "Roller Controller" (aka Trak-ball) you slide a cannon around the screen while aiming at slithering black snakes which resemble sperm to an alarming degree. Like Centipede, the snakes split in two when shot, but instead of leaving mushrooms in their wake, they leave a little green brush. These brushes really impede your movement, so you'll want to clear them out whenever you can. One original aspect of Slither is how you can move around the entire screen as well as fire both upward and downward! This really opens things up and gives the game a unique flavor of its own. Complicating matters is a fluttering blue pterodactyl and a flying Tyrannosaurus, which play the same basic roles as the spider and flea in Centipede. Slither's action is challenging and fun, but the quality is lacking. The pterodactyl movement is so choppy that it barely even qualifies as animation. As you might guess, the collision detection is abysmal when you're near that thing. Next, the idea of "invisible snakes" is dumb and they look more like glitches on the screen. Finally, each level begins with a short rendition of "When the Saints Come Marching In", which is both inappropriate and just plain bad. Slither is nowhere near as polished as Centipede, but it does manage to offer the same style of relentless shooting fun. Also, it's one of the few titles that properly takes advantage of the roller controller. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 37,450
1 or 2 players 


Smurf: Rescue in Gargamel's Castle
Grade: C
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Reviewed: 2008/5/10

screenshotThe first time I played Smurf I admired its graphics yet couldn't quite grasp its controls. It wasn't until I learned the proper jumping technique that I could enjoy the game as it was intended. Rescue In Gargamel's Castle features multi-colored characters and lush scenery. The flowery meadows, white picket fences, and wooded backdrops look absolutely gorgeous. In some screens you can even see Gargamel's castle looming in the distance! Complementing the ample eye candy is a lively, harmonized musical score. The bass-heavy "echo" effects in the cave screens are also noteworthy. The controls however leave much to be desired. Overcoming many hazards requires performing long jumps by stopping momentarily, hopping straight up, then pushing the joystick up again just as you land. It's not the least bit intuitive, but it's critical if you want to make any progress. Would it have killed the programmer to use one of the two unused buttons for this function? I mean, really! Making matters worse is the unforgiving nature of the game. Simply touching a tuft of grass will cause your Smurf to instantly keel over! But despite glaring flaws that would doom a lesser game, Smurf still manages to be entertaining and addictive - probably because it's so tough! The obstacles seem to be randomized so you can't simply memorize the screens. The ability to "duck" from bats and birds was novel for its time, but in later stages those things behave like homing missiles! Smurf is half idiotic and half brilliant. When all is said and done, it's about a wash. Even so, die-hard Smurf fans can safely bump the grade up by a letter. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Space Fury
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (1983)
Reviewed: 2008/10/15

screenshotYou might mistake this for Asteroids at first glance, but Space Fury has nifty weapon power-ups that set it apart. Before each game you're greeted by a charming alien with a single eye and a translucent bald head. He mocks you with text that scrolls across the bottom of the screen, and when the game ends he returns to rate your performance. During each wave enemy ships float around the screen and merge to form larger ships - like Asteroids in reverse! The left button is used to thrust and the right one fires. If you find this scheme uncomfortable (like I did), you can blame the poorly-designed controller (like I did). Since many enemies zero in on you like heat-seeking missiles, it's not a bad idea to keep moving. Between stages you dock with harnesses that augment your firepower forward, to the sides, or to the back. Space Fury is fast and challenging, and the colorful, star-shaped explosions look nice. There's also a cool musical motif that plays before each stage which has an intergalactic ring to it. What brings Space Fury down to earth is its choppy animation and loose collision detection. When a lot of objects are on the screen the frame-rate drops and the quality of play falls with it. It's a little inconsistent, but as a fast-paced shooter Space Fury is enjoyable enough. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Space Invasion
Grade: D
Publisher: Classic Game Creations (1998)
Reviewed: 2009/5/6

screenshotSpace Invasion is John Dondzilla's home-brew version of - you guessed it - Space Invaders. John normally does good work, but this game is bland and uninspired. The normal mode is downright boring with its solid white aliens and plodding gameplay. Your ship is tiny and the aliens move slowly - a combination that makes for lengthy games that far outlast the player's attention span. After a few yawns, you'll be wondering when this game will end! Fortunately a "deluxe mode" is also included which adds some much-needed pizzazz. This time the aliens come in an assortment of colors and sometimes even split in two when shot. Blinking mother ships hover along the top of the screen and drop bombs that create wide explosions. Barriers allow you to seek shelter, but it's not easy to poke holes in those things. Brief intermissions between waves depict an invader carrying a red mothership up the screen while "S.O.S.!" appears on the side. What the hell is that supposed to mean? There are glitches as well, including one where the aliens can drift off the right side the screen and made a total mess of the score display! I know the Colecovision needs a decent Space Invaders game, but this, my friends, is not the answer. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Space Panic
Grade: D-
Publisher: Universal (1983)
Reviewed: 2005/3/4

screenshotThis generic platform game doesn't completely suck, but it comes close. The idea is to guide an astronaut around a series of platforms (connected by ladders) imprisoning aliens in holes. The left button is used to dig the hole with what appears to be a chicken leg. When an alien falls in, the right button fills it back up, causing the alien to drop out of the bottom and die. Dropping one alien onto another is a good strategy, and the tougher creatures need to fall through several floors to be killed. Space Panic doesn't make a lot of sense to me, and it plays like Dig Dug in slow motion. Sure it's challenging, but that's mainly due to the flaky controls. For some reason you can't dig when in close proximity to a ladder, which severely limits your options. There are some pleasant musical effects, but the graphics are downright boring. I've heard some gamers defend this, but Space Panic did not appeal to me at all. The instructions contain an extra piece of paper with "Additional tips", a sure sign that customers were having difficulty grasping the concept. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 1
1 or 2 players 


Spy Hunter
Grade: A
Publisher: Coleco (1984)
Reviewed: 2012/7/11

screenshotFew games scream "ARCADE EXCITEMENT" like Spy Hunter. In addition to being a faithful translation of the arcade hit, this gives you an excuse to drag out those gigantic, ridiculous Super Action Controllers. Spy Hunter is an action-packed vertical-scrolling car shooter. As you tear up the highway you'll try to dodge civilian vehicles while running bad guys off the road or shooting them with your front-mounted machine guns. The further you position yourself up the screen, the faster you go, creating an exciting risk-reward dynamic. After blasting a car you'll want to quickly swerve to avoid its smoldering wreckage. A red truck occasionally pulls up alongside you, outfitting your car with extra weapons like oil, smoke, or a heat-seeking missile. It's possible to equip multiple weapons, and that's where the Super Action Controller comes into play. A standard controller requires you must use the keypad to unleash special weapons, which can be awkward in the heat of battle. The Super Action Controllers however have those big-ass Fisher Price buttons on the grip, allowing you to easily dispense your weapon of choice. Considering its age, Spy Hunter has a lot of depth. The road periodically branches and enemies are randomized so no two games are the same. You can even transform into a speedboat for a high-speed shootout on the water! The Peter Gun theme that blares in the background adds a gangster flavor. There are subtle graphical touches like the "muzzle flash" of your machine guns, and when you bump a car on the bridge it breaks through the guardrail and splashes into the water! Details like that make all the difference. I played this Spy Hunter so much that it gave me a blister! That's a ringing endorsement if I ever heard one. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 77,790
1 or 2 players 


Squish-Em Sam
Grade: B-
Publisher: Interphase (1984)
Reviewed: 2005/3/4

screenshotDespite its release by a minor third party publisher, Squish-Em Sam is a quality title that pushes the system's sound capabilities to the limit. Squish-Em Sam's main selling point is its brief digitized voice samples that play periodically throughout the game. The Colecovision console was never known for its audio prowess, so Sam's rudimentary voice synthesis was a real treat in the early 80's. The gameplay involves climbing a building, hanging from girders, then stomping on critters that crawl on each level. I love the crunchy noises the bugs make when you "squish-em" although Sam's high-pitched, chipmunk voice is kind of a turn-off. Squish-Em Sam could have gotten by on novelty value alone, but in fact it's a very enjoyable game. Besides killing bugs, you must also avoid falling objects like bricks, hammers, televisions, fire hydrants, and the obligatory kitchen sinks. Sam's graphics are only average and the bugs look pixilated, but its addictive gameplay makes it worthwhile. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 5
1 player 


Star Fortress
Grade: D-
Publisher: CGC (1997)
Reviewed: 2010/7/20

screenshotJohn Dondzilla is an excellent classic game programmer, but this early effort is a rough, glitchy thing. Star Fortress was inspired by Star Castle, an arcade title so unpopular that the only home version was relegated to the Vectrex! The game puts you in command an intergalactic battle cruiser equipped with jet propul- aw hell it's a damned triangle! You can thrust freely around the screen, and in the center is a cannon surrounded by three concentric, rotating force fields. You can blast away at these, but the cannon will retaliate with red plasma balls that pursue you like heat-seeking missiles! They're hard to shoot down, but largely due to the awkward, inexact controls. The collision detection is suspect, and your ship's momentum seems to defy physics. It's tempting to eliminate each shield completely, but that only causes them to regenerate. Lingering in a single spot for too long causes the cannon to unleash a single devastating blast, so keep moving. Star Fortress is sloppy but its severe challenge makes it mildly addicting. Hell, even destroying one cannon is a monumental achievement. This game is available at Classic Game Creations. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 1810
1 player 


Star Wars: The Arcade Game
Grade: C+
Publisher: Parker Bros (1984)
Reviewed: 2005/5/18

screenshotThis first-person Star Wars shooter looks almost exactly like the arcade version, complete with the four guns of your X-Wing on the edges of the screen. The first stage lets you blast Tie fighters to bits, and they look fantastic when they blow up. Normal ties explode into several pieces, and Vader's spins off the screen just as it does in the movie. Too bad most of your energy will be spent neutralizing their incoming fireballs. The second stage involves shooting towers on the surface of the Death Star - a scene which I don't recall from the films. Not particularly fun, it's hard to shoot the towers and also avoid running into them. Still, it's nice how the tower tops "shatter" when blasted. The climactic trench stage is well done, but frankly not much better looking than the Atari 2600 version. Oh well, at least you can hear the Star Wars theme and R2 beeping in the background. Upon blowing up the Death Star, you just see a quick flash and a lame message announcing, "The Death Star is destroyed". The game's main issue is the control; the cursor is slippery and difficult to aim with precision. Visually however, this game is a dead ringer for the arcade, and probably the best home version I've played. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Subroc
Grade: D+
Publisher: Sega (1983)
Reviewed: 2014/4/19

screenshotWhen I was in school in the 80's, kids lucky enough to own a Colecovision would always mention Subroc as one game I could never play on my Atari 2600. They were right of course. Subroc was one of the few games with a first-person perspective, and its huge scaling sprites pushed the limits of home console technology. By aiming a crosshair you fire missiles at saucers and jets, but when aimed downward you'll launch torpedos at boats in the water. The flying saucers are huge but hard to hit due to their unpredictable movements. The ships in the water are easier targets, but since they're moving you'll need to "lead" your shots. Rough scaling is used to convey incoming missiles and trashcan-shaped mines, which suddenly go from being medium-sized objects to screen-sized death! If you keep turning until they're off the screen, you'll be out of harm's way. That's 80's physics for you - out of sight and out of mind! The action is relentless, but the game struggles to keep up. The animation gets very choppy as objects fill the screen, degrading the collision detection and causing controls to become less responsive. You'll try to compensate by tapping buttons like mad, which takes its toll on your hand. At least Subroc is exciting. I like the distinctive waves and there are even boss encounters. The only other game comparable to this was Battlezone (Atari 2600, 1983). Subroc was cutting-edge in its time, but games that sacrifice control for graphics usually don't age well. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 68,100
1 or 2 players 


Super Action Baseball
Grade: D-
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
Reviewed: 2001/4/14

screenshotWhat a *monumental* disappointment this game is! Super Action Baseball requires those huge Super Action Controllers to play, and these monstrosities feature 16 buttons, a joystick, and a roller! You really can't use them without looking ridiculous. Anyway, the main draw of Super Action Baseball is the groundbreaking pitcher/batter screen; featuring huge players. I must admit, this screen looks pretty cool, except that the players are wearing the ugliest uniforms imaginable (purple and orange?!? What were they thinking??). Unfortunately, the programmers must have spent 90% of their time on that screen alone, because the fielding screen is repugnant! Sure you can see the entire field and there's a nice-looking diamond, but the fielder movement is painfully choppy and the player graphics are completely static. The ball movement is equally horrific, featuring THE worst physics I've EVER seen in a baseball game. In addition, the control scheme is overcomplicated and more of a pain than anything else. Even the sound effects are annoying. What should have been a ground-breaking sports title is really only good for a laugh. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Super Action Football
Grade: F
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
Reviewed: 2008/10/15

screenshotOn paper, Super Action Football would appear to be the ultimate classic football game. You view the field from a raised angle as if you were a spectator. The field contains all of the proper hash marks, a scoreboard, and even referees! The detailed players actually scale slightly as they move between the foreground and background. Super Action Football is great until you try to play the damn thing. You need to use the oversized Super Action Controllers, which have about 73 buttons, levers, and spinners (give or take). They're actually quite ergonomic if you're an alien from the Zorgon system with three heads and nine arms. The game comes with two thick manuals. One is the instructions, and the other is a playbook that's thicker than a real playbook! Setting up a simple pass play is a mind-boggling experience, requiring you to enter about five numeric codes. Then you hike the ball and things get complicated. Your players don't move on their own, so you'll need to individually position your receivers and blockers one at a time. Adding insult to injury, these guys move so slowly that you might mistake this for the Senior Citizen Football League! In the meantime your linemen are all standing around like a bunch of statues. The act of throwing a pass requires you to press a non-intuitive combination of buttons - in conjunction with rolling the spinner! The ball moves with no regard to physics, and the animation is horribly choppy. There's only one reason to play this with friends, and that's from the hilarity derived from relentlessly mocking it. Super Action Football may just be the most ambitious and least playable football game ever conceived. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Super Cobra
Grade: C-
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1983)
Reviewed: 2007/2/7

screenshotFor some reason I was expecting Super Cobra to be a complete dud, but it really isn't all that bad. This side-scroller puts you in command of a helicopter, navigating narrow caverns while shooting down rockets and bombing fuel dumps. You can fire forward in a rapid-fire manner, but your range is severely limited. Bombs can only be dropped one at a time, but they do fall rapidly. The helicopter looks somewhat cheesy, but in general the graphics are crisp and clean with surprisingly smooth scrolling. Steering is never a problem, even through the narrowest passages. It's sounds like a fine translation, but something's missing, and it took me a while to put my finger on it. Oh yeah - where the heck are the explosions!? I'm sorry, but it's not nearly as satisfying when you bomb a cannon and it simply disappears. Give me some random pixels or an asterisk at least! Other issues include erratic collision detection and a low level of difficulty. With only one skill level, I played this until my hand hurt. Super Cobra is respectable, but I really wish Parker Bros. had gotten off of their lazy asses and applied more polish to this one. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Tapper
Grade: D-
Publisher: Coleco (1984)
Reviewed: 2006/3/19

screenshotWow, Coleco really butchered this old arcade classic. As an owner of a genuine Tapper arcade machine, I can attest that this lame version conveys little of the charm or frantic fun of the original. Tapper's novel premise puts you in the role of a bartender, pouring and tossing beers down four long bars in order to keep approaching patrons at bay. You also need to collect empty glasses, and you can sometimes snag cash tips for bonus points. The arcade game is tremendously playable, but this one is hard to stomach. The true culprit is the painfully choppy animation. When you toss a beer down the bar, it doesn't slide smoothly, but instead blinks twice over the entire length of the bar! Yes, it looks awful. Making matters worse, returning beer glasses move in a slow, jerky manner. They're so slow in fact that you can ignore them for the most part, causing the screen to flicker as it fills up with empties. The graphics don't help matters, thanks to yellow patrons that tend to blend in with the light gray background. There aren't a wide variety of patron types, so the "overlapping problem" that plagues the arcade version is even worse here. On a positive note, all four stages are included, along with the "find the unshaken can" bonus stage. The bonus stage definitely looks sharp, but its stilted animation makes it tough to follow the shuffled cans. Tapper's bartender character also looks good, and when you grab a tip, a musical act appears consisting of a musician and dancing monkey (no dancing girls in this version). As I usually do, I'll give this game extra credit for the monkey, despite the fact that he looks more like a big brown frog. Tapper's festive musical score is practically identical to the arcade, and the controls are responsive enough. But in the final analysis, Tapper for the Colecovision is a serious disappointment. I found the Atari 2600 version to be far more satisfying. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Tarzan
Grade: D
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Reviewed: 2001/7/4

screenshotTarzan tries to be a turbo-charged Jungle Hunt, but falls short due to choppy animation and mediocre gameplay. Visually, the game has plenty going for it. The graphics are gorgeous, with lush, detailed jungle scenery awash in bright colors. There are about a dozen different screens full of trees, vines, monkeys, and crocodile infested rivers. You can either take the high road by swinging on vines, or the low road by walking on the ground. Unfortunately, the ground is cluttered with cheap pit traps and snakes that appear without warning - not fun! Every few screens you'll be required to save caged monkeys from hunters or gorillas, and this is easily the highlight of the game. Tarzan can climb trees, leap, and his punches temporally daze enemies. Our hero (and his flowing hair) is nicely rendered, but his movement is choppy and the controls feel unresponsive. The background music features some nice bongo drums, but overall I was not impressed with this title. After you see all the screens, playing this game starts to feel like a chore. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Terra Attack
Grade: B-
Publisher: Atari Age (2007)
Reviewed: 2007/11/27

screenshotCombining elements of Missile Command (Atari 2600, 1981) and Atlantis (Atari 2600, 1982), Terra Attack takes a familiar formula and "kicks it up a notch". A planet surface on the bottom of the screen is lined with four towers and three cannons. Enemy ships glide across the sky above, unleashing rotating bombs. Moving the joystick up or down cycles control between your three cannons, and moving left or right lets you adjust the turret of the selected cannon. Personally, I never felt comfortable switching between cannons, and it's too easy to accidentally switch in the heat of battle. Novice players might be tempted to stick with the center cannon, but since each has a limited amount of ammo, you'll need to switch between your cannons strategically. Pressing 1-3 on the keypad initiates shield protection for each cannon, but calling these controls less than responsive is an understatement. Still, I love Terra Attack's rapid-fire shooting and its satisfying, high-resolution explosions. The game offers several distinctive waves, including a saucer-shaped boss that explodes into eleven flaming potatoes when defeated. Terra Attack also features a familiar sound effect I couldn't quite identify until my friend Steve pointed out it was from the Crystal Castles arcade game (1983)! Terra Attack is sometimes frustrating, but usually enjoyable and always challenging. Colecovision collectors should definitely take notice of this one. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Time Pilot
Grade: C-
Publisher: Konami (1983)
Reviewed: 2003/12/2

screenshotTime Pilot for the Colecovision has its problems, but it's still the most faithful adaptation of the arcade game you'll find on a console. The gameplay has four stages of shooting action set in different time periods. You begin by fighting biplanes from WWI, then mustangs from WWII, followed by choppers from the 1970s, and finally fighter jets from the 80s. Each stage ends when you destroy the large "boss" aircraft, and a sneaky way to run up your score is to avoid the boss in the first level and keep shooting planes. You can also rescue parachutists for bonus points. It sounds great, but the visuals leave a lot to be desired. First of the all, the scrolling is awfully choppy, and the screen tends to get messy around the edges. It's also hard to line up your shots with oncoming aircraft, and having to constantly tap the button to shoot is a hassle. Sometimes your gun seems to lock up for no reason - usually at the worst possible moment. Time Pilot was a terrific arcade game, but this translation is only average. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: STP 28,800
1 or 2 players 


Turbo
Grade: A-
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Reviewed: 2011/6/4

screenshotI regard Turbo as the greatest classic racing game of the early 80's, and in the Pepsi Challenge I'd take this over Pole Position any day of the week. Turbo was positively sensational in 1982, delivering a potent combination of innovative graphics and realistic controls. In most classic racers the scenery is limited to small, pixelated objects and an endless horizon, but Turbo features huge scaling objects and constantly changing scenery. The trees and buildings are nearly as tall as the screen for Pete's sake! The tunnels look absolutely brilliant and snow on the roads actually affects your traction. There are even a few hills that you never quite reach the top of. The only blemish is the beachside drive where your vision is largely obstructed by cliff. The scenery does change abruptly between stages, but hey, the game was made in 1982 so cut it a little slack. The cars are small but multi-colored, and if you look close enough you can see their tiny tires spinning. The game was packaged with a steering wheel controller that provides fine analog control and a pedal that lets you regulate your speed with ease. The controller is cheaply built and the pedal can slide around, but it's still far more immersive than a normal controller. It's fun to squeeze through oncoming traffic, and while your car does tend to drift slightly, that just adds to the challenge. The screen layout features several gauges, but the lack of a gear indicator is glaring. Yes, I know there are only two gears, but it's hard to tell which one you're on! All in all, Turbo's arcade-style gameplay has aged extremely well. It's still a blast to whiz past cars at high speeds and always a treat to see what the next section of road has in store. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: SDZ 29,432
1 player 


Tutankham
Grade: A-
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1983)
Reviewed: 2008/5/10

screenshotThis old stand-by delivers the perfect blend of monster shooting and treasure hunting. Tutankham offers four side-scrolling "tombs" strewn with treasure, portals, and "nests" that spawn monsters. This masterful Colecovision translation features crisp graphics and vibrant colors that practically leap off of the screen. The craggy bricks that compose each stage look awesome, and the changing color schemes are very easy on the eyes. Your pudgy explorer is rendered in multiple colors, and after finding a key, it can be seen in his hat - a nice touch! Creatures include cobras, demons, and flying cats. Although solid in color, they are nicely rendered and menacing in appearance. The character animation is smooth, but the scrolling is undeniably jerky. In fact, this is probably the one legitimate knock against Tutankham. Unlike most maze shooters, you can fire rapidly to either the left or right by hitting the respective buttons, and unleash "smart bombs" (destroying all enemies) by hitting both buttons at once. Portals let you teleport from one section of the maze to the next, but be careful not to teleport into a creature! Like most well designed games, Tutankham tempts you into taking chances by placing diamond rings in hard-to-reach nooks. For "glory seekers" like myself, these are hard to resist. Upon losing a life, you continue in the exact place where you left off, which is very convenient. Each stage ends with a "big" treasure, and while the first is supposed to be a map, its green color makes it look more like a stack of dollar bills! Tutankham's sound effects aren't anything special, but the crystal-clear jingle that plays when you grab a chest is old-school joy. Tutankham is so good that you'll wish there were more than four tombs. No Colecovision fan should miss out of this captivating title. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: VGC 35,344
1 or 2 players 


Up 'N Down
Grade: B
Publisher: Sega (1984)
Reviewed: 2003/11/21


screenshotIt's a shame that Up 'N Down is so rare, because it's genuinely fun and there's really nothing else like it. Driving a Volkswagen Bug up a vertically-scrolling screen, you must collect a set of flags as quickly as possible -- while avoiding oncoming traffic. The view is from a slight angle, giving the game a pseudo-3D look that was pretty nifty back in 1984. The diagonal roads are single-lane only, but you can adjust your speed and switch lanes where the roads intersect. When faced with a head-on collision, you can either jump over the oncoming car, or jump on top of it -- smashing it for points. Just be careful not to jump when approaching a turn, or you'll fly off the road and crash. Complicating matters are inclines which require momentum to climb, and descents which speed you up. Later stages even have bridges that look surprisingly good. Obtaining all the flags isn't difficult because the roads loop, so when you pass a flag you know where to position your car on the next lap. Up 'N Down is a tough game that requires skill. If you can find a copy, it's a nice addition to your collection. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 1
1 or 2 players 


Venture
Grade: C-
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Reviewed: 2006/3/19

screenshotI always loved the "pure" brand of adventure this game delivers. Venture's oddly shaped rooms, variety of monsters, and imaginative treasures make it feel like a simplified version of Dungeons and Dragons. Your character is an orange smiley-face equipped with unlimited arrows. Too bad this Colecovision edition is crippled by some of the most horrid controls I've ever encountered in a video game. It's frustratingly difficult to find and maintain the correct angle - especially diagonals. In addition, whenever you change direction, your character pauses momentarily, making you a sitting duck for swarming monsters. Almost every time I died, it was the result of wrestling with the [expletive] controls (no really - it was!). To illustrate the extent of the problem, I actually had to plug in another controller to make sure the first one wasn't broken! Other than that huge detail, this may be the ultimate Venture game. The graphics are detailed and sharp, with each room housing its own set of interesting (albeit single-colored) monsters. A few even incorporate moving walls or simple "traps". Unlike other versions, the top of the screen displays the title of each room, such as "Goblin room", "Cyclops room", or "Demon room". One description that definitely belies the graphics is the "Dragon room"; those things look more like yapping winged dogs! Venture's harmonized musical score is impressive, incorporating a unique theme for each room. I do wish Coleco had included more than twelve rooms over three stages however, because once they start to repeat, the fun factor dips precipitously. Other annoyances include the fact that "hall monsters" can appear practically on top of you after you leave a room. I also don't like how monster corpses (fatal to touch) stick around longer if you shoot them. These are minor quirks, but it's the awkward, hand-cramping controls that really ruin this one. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: VGC 70,800
1 or 2 players 


Victory
Grade: C+
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Reviewed: 2001/11/18

screenshotVictory, a standard space shooter, resembles a slow-paced Defender. It requires the Coleco Roller Controller. Why? Apparently because of the four "action" buttons required to thrust, shoot, shield, and detonate smart bombs. This control scheme actually elevates what would otherwise be a mediocre shooter. Your mission is to prevent aliens from overrunning a planet, and you're aided by a Defender-like scanner. The graphics are lousy, with aliens which look like simple shapes, and weak explosions that resemble flashing asterisk symbols. The animation is choppy and the collision detection doesn't always work very well. Still, Victory is fun in spite of itself. The shield and smart bomb controls add an extra level of strategy, and you'll also need to keep an eye on your fuel. Using the roller ball to aim your ship takes some getting used to, but it works. Not bad. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


War Games
Grade: A-
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
Reviewed: 2000/8/4

screenshotMost movies make for horrible video games (and vice versa) but War Games is an exception. It's actually a fine game that effectively captures the spirit of the film. It's like playing Missile Command on six screens at once - with a time limit! You flip between 6 maps, each displaying a section of the United States. You'll see enemy missiles, planes, and subs approaching, and must direct your forces (missiles, planes, subs, and satellites) to intercept them. Each type of defense has its own strengths and weaknesses. Missiles are fast, but limited in range. Planes have unlimited range, but move slowly. Satellites are the best all-around defense but are only available intermittently. As enemies begin to strike targets across the U.S., DefCon indicators begin to count down, increasing the tension level. The graphics are sharp and resemble those of the movie. Control is excellent, even with the Roller Controller. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


War Room
Grade: C-
Publisher: Probe 2000 (2000)
Reviewed: 2000/11/12

screenshotGet a load of the manual for this game: "War Room is a simulation of the computerized war game scenarios played out at the highest level of the world superpowers. It is an extremely graphic and realistic representation of a nuclear confrontation between the United States and Russia". Give me a break. War Room plays a little like War Games. You have to shoot down incoming enemy missiles while balancing resources between cities around the country. The graphics are pretty good, and the huge, scrolling map of the U.S. is especially impressive. Each city provides a resource such as food or raw materials. You can collect resources from each city via a simple cat-and-mouse game where you control an Uncle Sam character trying to grab icons before the two Russian symbols touch him (reminiscent of the treasure room in Dragon Fire). Problem is, while you're running around like a chicken, missiles are headed for your cities. They're not hard to shoot down but they will overwhelm you. Apparently there's some subtle strategy to this game -- which I haven't figured out yet. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Wing War
Grade: F
Publisher: Imagic (1983)
Reviewed: 2003/1/4

screenshotI thought for sure I'd love this game, if only because it was made by Imagic and features flying dragons. But Wing War is just awful despite some very respectable graphics. You control a big white dragon that gathers crystals and battles monsters. Flying between contiguous screens, you can explore underground areas or soar through the clear blue sky. Fantastic scenery includes volcanoes, beautiful lakes, and floating islands in the sky. By pressing the right button you flap your dragon's wings, giving you the same kind of control as in Joust. Pressing the left button lets you shoot fireballs. A nice variety of enemies include spiders, bat, griffins, demons, and hydras. Unfortunately these creatures are all tiny and single-colored, and most are more annoying than dangerous. Your main goal is to carry crystals back to your lair, but these are easily jarred loose along the way. Sometimes the crystal falls out of your reach, forcing you to go back and track down a new one. That's the main problem with this game - you spend most of your time flying through the same screens over and over; trying not to touch anything. It's not fun at all - just slow and tedious. Since there's no ultimate goal, the whole game seems pointless. Wing War may be easy on the eyes, but once the novelty of the graphics wears off, there's not much depth. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Zaxxon
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sega (1982)
Reviewed: 2004/6/12

screenshotIn 1982, Zaxxon took the gaming world by storm. Its isometric viewpoint was revolutionary; compared to the "flat" graphics of other video games of the time. Your spaceship must navigate floating space fortresses fortified with walls, force fields, rockets, cannons, and fuel depots. At first it can be hard to determine the position of your ship, but by using the altitude meter on the left side of the screen (and watching where your shots go) you develop a feel for it. Coleco was fortunate to get such a visually appealing game for its system; I bet this game single-handedly sold a few hundred thousand Colecovisions. Its graphics are faithful to the arcade, although slightly choppy. In terms of difficulty, Zaxxon is definitely above average. It's tempting to fly low and shoot everything in sight, but this puts you in the range of cannons. You gotta love a game that "dares" you to live dangerously - who can resist? It should be noted that Zaxxon is one of the earliest games to feature a "boss" at the end of each level. It's a relatively large robot (Zaxxon himself) that appears briefly -- and is easy to defeat. One thing I don't like about this game are the "open space" sections where you have to shoot a series of approaching ships. Without the ground below as a point of reference, it can be awfully frustrating to determine if you're on a collision course with them. Otherwise Zaxxon is pure arcade shooting fun, and there's really never been another game like it. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: VGC 22,900
1 or 2 players 



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