Publisher: Imagic (1983)
Safecracker's premise is pure dynamite, but its execution leaves much to be desired. You play the role of a criminal robbing various embassies around Washington DC by breaking into their safes. It's very original and ambitious concept! When you first turn on Safecracker, it actually looks more like a driving
game! You can freely cruise around a scrolling city with blocks of colorful buildings and scenic parks. Locating that first embassy is not easy though. For one thing, the driving controls are positively counter-intuitive, requiring you to use the lower left button
to make abrupt, 90-degree turns. White cars serve as traffic, but unfortunately they tend to drive down the center of the roads, which are pretty narrow to begin with! Touching a car or even a curb causes your car to instantly explode. The game provides "directions" to the embassy in the form of a colored border, but it's really hard
to remember which directions blue, green, red, and yellow stand for (southwest, southeast, northwest, northeast). How hard would it have been for the programmer to put a freakin' arrow
at the top of the screen instead? When you finally arrive, the screen changes to a view of the safe. I was expecting the safecracking aspect of the game to be tedious, but it's actually the best part! As you cycle through the numbers, a beep is heard when you pass the correct one, and the idea is to quickly narrow it down before the timer expires. Apparently it's also possible to "blow up" the safe, but I could never get that to work. While fleeing the scene, you can actually fire at converging police cars
from the front or back
of your car. There's a lot of action in this game, but Safecracker doesn't do itself any favors with its confusing controls and steep learning curve. This game is hard!
Even so, the more I played Safecracker, the more I liked it. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
SameGame and Robots
Publisher: Mike Hayes (2005)
The title of this game is ironic, considering it's one of the more original titles published under the IntelligentVision label. In fact, I don't think I've ever played anything like SameGame before. It's a deceptively simple puzzler that's strangely addicting. The idea is to clear out a grid composed of a random configuration of three types of symbols. Selecting a symbol causes it and any identical connected ones to disappear. The board then collapses down to fill in the gaps, creating a very dynamic playing field. You play for high score, and each game only lasts a minute or two. You'll want to target large clusters to score big points. I love how the point values literally float across the screen to your score on the right. Two variations of SameGame are included, and after you play a game or two, you'll be hooked. My friend Chris mentioned, "I could definitely see us sitting around playing this game". He also found it quite amusing when the screen displayed "one moment..." as if it were loading data from a CD-ROM! This cartridge also includes a turn-based, strategic game called Robots. The idea is to move a cursor around a board and clear the screen of converging robots using bombs and warps. It's so deceptively simple that some may be tempted to write it off as a throw-away bonus game. Actually it's quite addictive once you learn how to make the robots collide with each other. As icing on the cake, SameGame and Robots supports the voice synthesizer, which is a great feature. Between stages the game tosses out comments like "let's play" and "level complete" in a metallic, robotic tone. It even pronounces your score! I love it!! More than the sum of its parts, SameGame and Robots is perfect if you're looking for a few minutes of instant entertainment. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Pro
Our high score: 1596
Scooby Doo's Maze Chase
Publisher: Mattel (1983)
This plodding maze game is a disappointment, especially considering it requires
the Intellivision ECS (computer and keyboard) attachment. You control a nicely animated Scooby Doo who must snatch three ghosts wandering around a maze while avoiding a single skull. There are ten mazes to choose from, and you can even create your own. The maze options are nice, but what the game really
needs is a skill select, because Maze Chase is incredibly easy and tediously slow. Scooby is only slightly faster than the ghosts, so snagging all three isn't as hard as it is time-consuming!
That skull isn't terribly hard to avoid, and once he starts closing in you can drop a bone in his path to stop him in his tracks. Between stages a submarine sandwich meanders around the maze for a few seconds, and touching it nets you an extra bone. The maze is trimmed with some interesting graphics like a tree, gravestone, and clock. Thunder claps and an ominous organ can be heard throughout the game, and these are so good you'll wish Mattel had saved them for a better game!
Sadly, they are just window dressing for an ultra-lame, mega-generic maze title with minimal entertainment value. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 12,150
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Mattel (1980)
At first glance, Sea Battle seems like a very dull strategy game with uninspired graphics and complicated controls. Once you get the hang of it however, Sea Battle is a sweet combination of strategy and arcade action. Most of the strategy occurs at the beginning of the game, when you deploy and position four fleets of ships on a large map. Your fleets move slowly around the map, but once you enter enemy range, you get a close-up view of the action. The battle controls are complicated and require some practice. One button is used to aim, and another to shoot. The battles would be a lot more exciting if the controls weren't so awkward. Still, Sea Battle has the potential for fun if you can find a friend willing to give it a fair shot. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Interphase (1983)
When you turn on this game you're greeted by a truly pathetic rendition of "Pop Goes the Weasel". It does not
inspire confidence. Sewer Sam is a novelty title that relies on that pseudo-3D "tunnel" effect achieved by cycling the color palette. In this case it conveys the illusion of trudging through endless boring sewers. Sam himself is an unattractive fellow decked out in an orange jumpsuit. As you venture forward you're approached by birds, spiders, rats, crocodiles, and snakes. Why are there birds
in the sewers?
The crocodiles make perfect sense because people returning from vacations to South America bring back baby crocs and flush them down the toilet all the time
. As with most classic games, a crocodile is harmless when its mouth is closed. Sam is armed with a gun, but can only fire six shots before having to wait several seconds to reload. It's possible to scuttle up the walls to escape snakes, but since they just camp out below you, what's the point? Every now and then a doorway appears, allowing Sam to move to a different sewer. Your goal is to locate and destroy three submarines.
The thing is, you need to be armed with a rocket launcher
to destroy a sub, and since the sewers are randomized, it's anybody's guess where the hell that thing is located. The gameplay is monotonous and confusing. I often died for no apparent reason, and the worthless instruction manual didn't provide any clues. Sewer Sam offers a smattering of original ideas, but they never really add up to anything worthwhile. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 2,975
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
Sharks have fascinated me since my childhood. I'd pretty much buy any
game with "shark" in the title; so one with "shark" mentioned twice
(with exclamation points no less) is clearly a "must have". Over time this underrated game has become one of my all-time favorites. Perfect to play on a hot summer day, the action takes place in the cool blue depths of the ocean, where you control a tiny yellow fish. Other fish of all shapes, colors, and sizes swim across the screen as crabs and lobsters creep through the swaying seaweed below. Your goal is to consume other fish of lesser or equal size, which gradually increases the size of your fish. Ominous tones indicate the approach of the large, menacing shark. He's an intimidating adversary, but he can
be defeated. If you nip at his tail enough times, he will eventually die and sink to the ocean floor. But don't toy with him - the shark will turn and snap you up in a heartbeat! As your fish grows bigger and more powerful, you become a larger target for other creatures like jellyfish and seahorses. Other fish will also eat each other, and shellfish even jump up to grab low-swimming fish. It's a challenge to grow your fish to full size, and after you die you return to your original size. The game is enormously fun and addicting, thanks to intuitive controls that allow you to dash ahead or stop on a dime. Audio effects include realistic bubble sounds and harmonized music. Shark! Shark! is a killer game, and it even features a two-player simultaneous mode. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
is a pleasant surprise. At first glance, Sharp Shot seems like a lame collection of mini-games inspired by other, better-developed Intellivision titles. But despite its shallow nature and simplistic controls (one button!), Sharp Shot proves oddly compelling. Its gameplay is clearly derivative, but you could argue that it incorporates the best aspects
of other action games. The Football variation challenges you to score as many touchdowns as you can from the five-yard line within a minute. Since you can't move your quarterback or the receivers (they move on their own), timing is everything. It sounds awful, but it's madly addictive. The second game takes a page from Space Battle. Each player has a set of non-moving crosshairs, and you simply fire when alien ships fly through them. It's possible for a single explosion to take out other nearby ships. Is it just my imagination, or is player one at a disadvantage? It seems like he doesn't get nearly as many ships to shoot! Sub Shooter resembles Sea Battle but plays more like Atari 2600's Air-Sea Battle. Your sub patrols the bottom of the screen as you unleash three torpedoes at a time towards ships moving above. I like how the ships sink instead of simply flashing and disappearing. Sharp Shot's fourth variation is something completely different. Each player is represented by an arrow moving back and forth across the bottom of a maze with angular corners. By firing arrows and ricocheting your shots, you can target various monsters walking around the maze. Should a monster snag the "treasure" on your side of the screen and return to the top, you lose a point. Sharp Shot is a heck of lot better than you'd expect. The games are simple as hell, but they are fun and there's definitely some skill involved. It helps that the games are so short, making you want to play repeatedly to beat your high score. Sharp Shot manages to be better than the sum of its parts. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1980)
As one of the earliest skiing video games, this is remarkably well designed! Skiing nicely captures the spirit of the sport as you careen down steep slopes and dodge trees while trying to maintain control. Satisfying "whoosh" effects are heard as you round each gate. The controls are responsive as you lean from side-to-side, and momentum plays a key role. Making contact with a gate knocks it over, slowing you down slightly. Occasionally you'll need to jump over a ridge using the side buttons, and it's exciting as you barely clear the rocks. The top of the course depicts a scenic mountain backdrop, and a bright red finish line awaits you at the bottom. Peppering the trail are evergreen trees that look attractive against the bright powdery snow. Two types of events are available: downhill and slalom. The downhill events are exciting as you race down the mountain to top your best time. The slalom events are less successful however, mainly due to gates that are spaced too closely together. You practically need to ski sideways
to make it through some, which can bring you to a dead stop (ugh). Stick with the downhill events and you'll be in for a good time. Ski boots and goggles are optional but recommended for maximum realism. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: downhill slope 5
Our high score: 60.4 sec
1 to 6 players
Slam Dunk Super Pro Basketball
Publisher: INTV (1987)
Holy cow! This basketball game has amazing depth for an old-school title. Slam Dunk Super Pro bears a striking resemblance to Mattel's NBA Basketball (1979), but the similarities stop there. This cart has so many features you'd think it was a Playstation game. No real teams are included, but you can draft fictional players and customize your own roster! Each player has unique attributes, and you have a fixed budget with which to assemble a team. Although the look of the game hasn't improved much over NBA Basketball, Super Pro is noticeably faster and far more fun. Players move up and down the floor smoothly, and you really can
slam-dunk. The list of features is extensive. You can shoot three-pointers, call time-outs, substitute players, and examine player statistics during the game
. You can even get fouled while in the act of shooting
. In the one-player mode, there are five
skill levels to choose from. The controls are fair, but passing is more confusing than it should be, and I wish they hadn't differentiated "set shots" from "jump shots". I hate how you can't adjust the duration of each game, and the default 48 minutes is awfully long. Super Pro Basketball is not glitch-free; sometimes a player will soar high into the air - but instead of dunking he'll head for the exit! Despite the problems, this is still one of the best sports games I've seen on the Intellivision. As usual, INTV went well beyond the call of duty with this quality remake. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Slap Shot: Super Pro Hockey
Publisher: INTV (1986)
Time has not
been kind to Intellivision hockey games. The sport generally translates well to video games, but fossils like Slap Shot: Super Pro Hockey are best left buried deep within the earth's crust. A marginal upgrade to NHL Hockey
(Mattel, 1979), Slap Shot offers a CPU opponent option and an enlarged rink. Unfortunately, Slap Shot is saddled with the same sluggish engine that sucked the fun out of NHL Hockey
(Mattel, 1979). And believe it or not, the color scheme is even worse!
I can count players of five
different colors on the rink at a time! This time the players look like walruses
, but they do move slightly faster. Your shooting angles are severely limited, and your chances of scoring are slim unless the goalie falls down. Those are some impressive head-over-heels flipping animations, but the weak body checks hardly warrant such theatrics. I really wish Slap Shot provided the option to adjust the game length, because playing this for 60 real-time minutes would be torture!
I can only recommend Slap Shot to whoever enjoyed the original NHL Hockey game, if such a person does indeed exist. At least Slap Shot lets you play against the CPU, and we all know how misery loves company. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1981)
Atari veterans will immediately recognize this game as Surround. Each player guides a box around the screen, leaving a trail and trying to be the last one to run into a wall. Been there done that right? Well, yes and no. Snafu offers some interesting variations, including diagonal movement, up to four simultaneous trails, and random obstacles. I can't get enough of the music, which is easily the best I've ever heard on the system. It's a far cry from those boring beeps you hear in most Intellivision games. Snafu isn't an exceptional one player experience, but it's pretty good with two players. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1981)
Space Armada was Mattel's answer to Space Invaders, and while the game might look
like a million bucks (in 1981 currency), it plays more like a buck-fifty. The graphics are the highlight, with sizeable aliens that come in four different varieties. Across the top are slimy purple creatures with dangling tentacles. The next row is composed of yellow "stomping" machines, followed by more traditional green aliens with antenna. Across the bottom are orange bird creatures with powerful talons!
Aliens drop bombs that slither down the screen and explode on contact. Space Armada is pretty good until you start playing it. The controls are jerky and inexact, and pressing the side buttons to shoot is uncomfortable as hell
. Thank goodness
you can hold them in to engage auto-fire. The collision detection is not good.
Shots typically pass half-way through an alien before killing it, and some shots inexplicably destroy two at a time! The barriers don't incur damage exactly where you shoot them, which makes it tough to strategically poke holes. The aliens can actually overlap
with the barriers, and that just doesn't look right. In later waves the aliens are invisible, sending the fun factor on a downward spiral. Nobody enjoyed the "invisible invader" variations in the Atari 2600 game, but there's no way to avoid it here. Space Armada looks good, but the more you play it, the more you wish you weren't. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 4990
Publisher: Mattel (1979)
For some reason I was convinced that Space Battle was going to be a total dog. Maybe it's the generic name, or perhaps it's that boring-looking radar screen that appears when you start it up. Or maybe I got it confused with Sea Battle. Whatever the reason, this game made a lousy first impression but ultimately won me over. One reason is the exceptional controls. Few Intellivision games take advantage of the keypad as well as this game does. It's a breeze to select your squadrons and send them off to battle. And once your ships engage the aliens, the real fun begins. During the battles, the screen displays a cockpit view with alien ships flying around. By moving crosshairs around the screen, you can take aim at those nasty alien bastards. I love how you can lead your shots, and it's satisfying when the ensuing explosions wipe out nearby aliens. The ships look a lot like Cylon Raiders (from Battlestar Galactica), but what really impresses me is how the alien ships scale and rotate on the screen. There are some nifty visual effects here, especially considering this is a 1979
game! There's no score in Space Battle; you either wipe out the enemy squadrons or have your base invaded. But with four skill levels, there's more than enough challenge. Space Battle is great fun with one player, and there's even a two-player cooperative mode. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1981)
At first glance, I thought Space Hawk was incredibly lame. You control a guy floating around space in a jet pack, shooting bubbles at alien ships that appear one at a time. But there are two things that save this game from mediocrity: the "auto-fire" and "drift" modes. The auto-fire saves your thumb by constantly shooting for you, and the drift mode keeps your man moving, even after you stop thrusting. As in Asteroids, It's always fun to thrust across the screen halfway out of control. One thing that puts a damper on the action however, is the fact that you can't
touch explosions without losing a life. Since your man is moving at high speeds, this leads to many undeserved deaths. It would have been great to pass right through the explosions. Still, Space Hawk is a respectable little shooter. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Left Turn Only (2007)
It's truly astonishing what some of today's programmers can do with classic hardware. I've seen some great homebrews in my time, but Space Patrol falls into the "Are you [expletive] kidding me?!
Get the [expletive]
out of here!" category. This is the kind of game that will have your friends exclaiming in disbelief, "This
is the Intellivision?!
" Space Patrol is a basically the best Moon Patrol clone you'll ever play - even surpassing the excellent Atari 5200 version. Its gameplay consists of guiding a moon rover over a planet surface while blasting bomb-dropping UFOs in the sky and jumping over hazards on the surface. The fact that you have to do two things at once is what gives the game its challenge and intensity. Moving your vehicle further to the right increases its speed, making it possible to take longer leaps over multiple obstacles. Your ship's missiles cancel out incoming projectiles, and this is vital to your survival. Some aliens actually bomb the surface to create
craters, so stay alert for that. Space Patrol also features new hazards like "smuggler" ships that sneak up from behind and shooting turrets that appear in your path. The animation is remarkably smooth and the visuals are extremely attractive. Your vehicle, while blocky, exudes an old-school charm, and I love the way its wheels bounce independently over the terrain. Whoever programmed this was really
good, because the each of the three backdrop layers moves at a different rate. I also like the high-resolution "explosion" effects. The lettered checkpoint system gives the player a sense of accomplishment, and there are even continue options and high score screens! Sound too good to be true? What if I told you there was a stage select
that lets you play on the Moon, Mercury, Mars, or Pluto?? Now
how much would you pay? Hell, I can't even complain about the controls, which are responsive and easy to grasp. A nice set of overlays comes with the game, although they didn't quite fit into my controllers. Space Patrol totally caught me off guard. First-rate homebrews like this prove that classic consoles can be every bit as fun as modern machines. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Moon/Beginner
Our high score: 482,750
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
Atari 2600 players will recognize this immediately as a Star Raiders clone. Space Spartans is your typical first-person shooter where your mission is to destroy all the aliens while maintaining your energy, computer, and shields. The screen toggles between map and cockpit views. Space Spartans may not get points for originality, but at least it uses voice synthesis to good effect. Normally this type of game would indicate the status of your systems using colors or symbols. In Space Spartans however, you get briefed by one of several voices. The voices sound clear and provide critical information, including warnings about damage and space station attacks. You have fine-grained control of all of your systems, but there's an inordinate amount of button pushing involved. The combat aspect of the game is good but not great. Overall, Space Spartans is a little complicated, but provides enough intergalactic shooting satisfaction. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: IntelligentVision (2012)
Here's yet another lost Intellivision title that is only now seeing the light of day. Spina the Bee (originally entitled "Zzzz!") exudes the spirit of Spring with colorful flowers and pollination theme. I don't think I've ever seen a game like this before. You control a nicely animated bee on a side-scrolling screen of large flowers. Hey - that looks like a real bee! The screen scrolls slowly but constantly, and you need to keep up. By hovering over a flower you extract pollen, causing it to change color. Carefully navigate so you don't touch the green leaves or stems, as they will cost you points. Spina's detailed graphics feature many varieties of flowers including dangerous Venus Flytraps. Advanced levels add dragonflies, spiders, and raindrops into the mix. I like the way raindrops splash on the flowers. The game's background "music" features buzzing sounds played at different octaves, and the theme song sounds like it's being sung by a chorus of bees. You can't knock the audio and video, but the control is another story. Your bee is pretty agile at the start of each level, but quickly becomes weighed down with pollen. It starts to become a chore just to keep your bee aloft, and applying constant pressure to the controller will kill
your thumb! Between stages you're presented with a nice honeycomb screen showing your score breakdown as well as the high score. Spina the Bee comes up short in the fun department, but it's still a good-looking and interesting addition to any collection. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1930
Publisher: Activision (1982)
For such a short and simple game, Stampede packs a lot
of fun! This game was highly underrated in its day, but over the years I think people are starting to realize what an ingenious little game this is. You guide a cowboy on horseback up and down the left side of the screen, lassoing steer that approach from the right. Cattle of different shades approach at varying rates, and you can "nudge" groups of them to keep them in front. The game ends when three pass you by, but you're awarded a "free steer" for every 1000 points (how many games can say that?
) The tan-colored cattle are pretty easy to lasso, but those stationary "black angus" cows appear without warning, so you really need to be on your toes to snag them (a little luck never hurt either). While this is close approximation to the original Atari 2600 version, there tend to be less steer on the screen at any given time. Also, your lasso has less range here, which will give Intellivision fans a serious case of "lasso envy". The cowboy is high in resolution, but the steer look somewhat pixelated. The audio is limited to the steady "clop clop" of hooves. Thoughtfully designed and well programmed, Stampede will have you playing until your thumb is sore. And since you'll be using an Intellivision controller, that shouldn't take very long! © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: VGC 2,658
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
Star Strike generated quite a bit of hype in 1982. With its pseudo-3D graphics, it brought to mind the awesome Death Star trench scene from Star Wars. I recall watching a commercial for this game and being extremely envious of the system's graphic capabilities. You view your tiny ship from a third-person perspective, and your goal is to bomb five targets in the trench. Star Strike's gameplay is predictable: two aliens appear behind you and shoot a few times before moving into your range. Don't concentrate too much on those guys though, because bombing the targets is your main goal. The worst part of this game is waiting for the single target you haven't hit yet to cycle back around. Once you hit all five, the planet disintegrates below you. If you're unsuccessful, you'l see the Earth being destroyed in the distance, which is also pretty cool. The graphics are nice for a 1981 game, but Star Strike's gameplay is definitely weak. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Publisher: Parker Bros (1983)
It took a few years for the Atari 2600 version of Empire Strike Back to win me over, so I was hoping this version might also grow on me. No such luck! Upon turning it on, you're treated to a rendition of the Star Wars theme that's almost
on key. Hey, it's the Intellivision - we'll take what we can get! The object of this side-scrolling shooter is to keep a parade of advancing Imperial Walkers at bay on the ice planet of Hoth. This game might have been a lot of fun if not for the choppy animation and imprecise controls. Your Snowspeeder and the approaching Walkers are slightly more detailed than on the Atari, and I love the mechanical sound effects that accompany the stomps of the huge Walkers. Holding down the side buttons engages rapid-fire, allowing you to unleash a steady barrage of missiles. Unfortunately, keeping the Walker in your sights is frustratingly difficult thanks to the clumsy, unresponsive controls. You can't maneuver very well at all, and once Walkers begin unleashing their heat-seeking missiles, your Rebel ass is toast. These Walkers only require 30 hits to take down (compared to 48 on the Atari), but trying to nail their "weak spot" is nearly impossible. The scrolling effects of the hills and valleys are rough, making it difficult to land on a level area to initiate repairs. And why did the programmer paint the sky that putrid shade of yellow? Intellivision owners clearly got the short end of the stick with this one. For the record, my friend Jonathan holds the record for lowest
score in Empire Strike Back for the Intellivision, netting a paltry 12 points
in his very first game. Needless to say, I derived more enjoyment from mocking him than playing this game. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Arnauld Chevallier (2004)
IntelligentVision produced several impressive homebrew titles for Intellivision, and this is probably the best of the bunch. Stonix is a very sophisticated version of Breakout, very much along the lines of Arkanoid. As soon as you lay your eyes on the title screen, you know this is a quality product. The well-designed menus, easy-to-read text, and futuristic music are appealing. There's even an option to enter a password. Each stage offers a colorful brick configuration, including a few that appear video game-inspired. Your "deflector" can be a little slippery to control, but that just adds to the challenge. Stonix is less forgiving than other Breakout clones. If the ball hits either edge of the paddle, it will bounce downward
and you'll lose it. As you knock out bricks various power-ups rain down, allowing you to collect bonus points, extend your deflector, catch the ball, or initiate multiple balls. One power-up even arms you with a cannon so you can blast chunks out of the wall directly. On top of that, there are flying objects that collide with the ball and alter its trajectory. With so much going on, there's rarely a dull moment. The futuristic background music has a subtle reverberating quality that's very effective. Stonix is expertly programmed and a perfect fit for the Intellivision console. You hardly need an appreciation for classic gaming to enjoy this outrageously fun title. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1513
Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Mattel (1981)
Sub Hunt is one of those action-strategy titles that tries to make itself seem more sophisticated that it really is. Each screen features a bunch of complicated-looking gauges, and the pacing is slow and deliberate. When you begin a new game, you have four tiny subs on the right side of the screen, and one enemy convoy enters from the right. You must first select a sub and then slowly drag it across the screen to meet the enemy. This time-consuming process alone costs Sub Hunt a letter grade. And just when you're ready to engage the enemy fleet, you now have to traverse a short range
radar screen (there goes another letter!). The main screen displays a series of working gauges and a small "periscope" view for lining up your torpedo attacks. Before you even reach the convoy however, you'll find yourself taking heavy fire. That's because each convoy has a super-agile "destroyer" ship that sticks to you like white on rice. You can never get this bastard in your sights, and even if you submerge he'll just camp out over you and drop depth charges on your ass. When these charges hit, the explosions are so jarring I could have sworn my Intellivision controllers had force feedback
. The explosions are effective, but also relentless, and eventually headache inducing. Ships you sink don't capsize (lame!), but go down with a little cloud of smoke. When your
sub is sunk, the screen fills with water and you're sent back to the original screen to use one of your remaining three subs. This game takes forever
to play, and casual players will hit the power switch long before burning through their remaining subs. The instructions indicate this is a one or two player game, but I don't know how a second player would participate. Sub Hunt is definitely challenging and requires a certain amount of technique, but only the most patient, dedicated gamers will persevere. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Super NFL Football
Publisher: Mattel (1983)
The Intellivision has some great football games, but this is the ultimate
. Unreleased until 2012, the game requires the ECS module (with keyboard attachment). Super NFL Football has considerable depth and offers a few features even modern football games lack. First off, you can customize your playbook and save it to a tape drive - if only somebody owned
one of those things! Creating your own plays was innovative for the time, but the default playbook is more than sufficient. The option menu offers some nice customizations, including the ability to set quarter lengths. You can have the CPU control one or both teams. Once everything is set up, you type the word "football" to begin play. My friend Scott wisecracked, "What happens if you type hockey?
" Thankfully you can ditch that clunky keyboard once play is underway. Unlike most classic football games that feature a "flat" field, Super NFL boasts skewed yard lines and scaling players to convey a modest illusion of depth. I love the attention to detail in this game. You can kick field goals, punt, or go for two-point conversions. The ball has a shadow so it's obvious when a quarterback overshoots his receiver. On kick-offs the receiving team can "kneel down" for a touchback. And when the ball hits the ground it actually bounces around! Okay, it looks more like a fish flopping around, but I love the random element. There are fumbles and even pass deflections - some of which are actually caught!
Each team has a full set of time-outs, and statistics are presented at halftime and post-game. The only thing missing are the cheerleaders! The action on the field moves fast, making it easy for runners to skirt through the line or fake out defensive backs. My only complaint is that it's hard to tell if a pass was caught or intercepted. There needs to be a special noise to indicate a turnover. After each score a comprehensive drive summary is displayed. Heck, even Madden 13
doesn't have that! It takes a while to learn Super NFL Football, mainly because the instructions don't include the plays. Experimentation is required to learn the formations, and an annoying buzz hassles you when you hit the wrong keypad button. The game is not bug free. I've seen a player run in the wrong direction on his own, and one intercepted two-point conversion was ruled a safety. These glitches are the exception to the rule however. Super NFL Football is a real treat for classic football fans. Once you warm up to it, you'll be amazed. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Super Pro Football
Publisher: INTV (1986)
If you thought the first Intellivision football game, NFL Football
(Mattel, 1979), you'll flip over Super Pro. The game begins with a flashy intro showing a stadium, scoreboard, and even a blimp flying overhead! The field and players look just like they do in NFL Football, but when the play calling screen appears, you'll realize this is not
your father's football game (well, actually it is
but that's beside the point). On offense, you choose between nine formations, and individually program
the routes of both receivers through a string of button presses! It would be tedious to program both receivers before every play, but you can skip this step by keeping the same routes from the previous play. It's possible to be creative, setting up streaks, hooks, slants, or anything else you can imagine. You can even have your receiver stop momentarily and then start running again. On defense there are nine formations and the option to blitz or set pass coverage. On top of all that, you can even view live stats or call a timeout! Once the action is underway, the biggest surprise is how the football has a shadow
and moves on an arc. Passing is somewhat choppy and inexact, but the kicking game is very good. Blockers actually block (sometimes), and you can run out of bounds. After a score, you're treated to a pair of commentators talking silently at a desk as various statistics flash on the screen. Heck, with all these bells and whistles I'm surprised there's no half time show. As ambitious at Super Pro Football is, the increased realism does take a slight toll on the fun factor. Entering plays and pass routes is time consuming, and it takes a lot of practice to become proficient in the passing game (although the CPU seems to have no problem). And where's the play clock? You can let the clock run indefinitely if you want to. Super Pro features ten difficulty levels, a challenging CPU opponent, and the most sophisticated gameplay you'll find in a classic football game. But I'd only recommend it to patient, strategy-minded football fans. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Swords and Serpents
Publisher: Imagic (1983)
This is a rare game with more arcade action than your standard dungeon crawler. Player one plays a warrior, and if there's a second player, he's a wizard with the ability to cast spells. As you traverse a dungeon maze from an overhead viewpoint, you'll seek out scrolls, treasure, and a key needed to enter the next level. Although the levels aren't particularly large, it can still be tricky to locate the key. Your warriors move a bit slowly, but the control is generally excellent. On your quest you'll face off against phantom warriors and wizards. Fighting involves touching the enemy with your sword, which makes an appealing "clank" sound. A status screen keeps track of your loot. Should you make it through all four levels and encounter the serpent, you'll be in for a real treat. Swords and Serpents is fun enough to keep you coming back for another try. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
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