Still, no matter how fancy your stunts are, they don't count for jack unless you manage to land your bike safely - and that's not easy. After 90 seconds of half-pipe, you move on to the quarter-pipe. This plays just like the half-pipe, except you only get three jump attempts. Short and lame, quarter-pipe has "filler" written all over it. The final challenge, the ramp jump, is definitely the most exciting. Set on an ocean pier, you fly off one ramp and execute tricks before landing on a second ramp. It's a shame you're not actually jumping over anything - that would have been far more exciting.
BMX Airmaster's graphics are clean and attractive. Your rider peddles his bike convincingly, and when he reaches a certain altitude, a second screen with clouds shows him in mid-air. The graphics are minimal, but the mountain and island backdrops are a nice touch. I also have to give BMX credit for its terrific music. Its edgy, grinding tunes are quite appropriate for a sport of this "extreme" nature. BMX Airmaster takes time to learn, but if you can make it past the learning curve, you might have a good time with it. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
The hilarious instructions attempt to convince you that through the "superb color graphics" and "realistic sound", you are acting out some kind of fantasy situation. I'm sorry, but playing Bachelor Party is a far cry from having a Playmate on your lap. And what kind of bachelor party only has one guy? This is just silly. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
For the most part you'll want to take control of the cannon closest to your target for a better shot. Moving barriers soon begin to appear which deflect your shots directly back at you. Not only do you need to watch for bouncing projectiles, but you need to be really careful not to shoot your cannon on the other side! The barriers can also be beneficial. If your shot is a little off, it'll sometimes hit its target on the rebound.
If an enemy fighter comes too close to the edge of the screen your cannon begins convulsing in the most annoying way. It's almost as irritating as the "death" animation which combines the shaking with random beeps. Keep an eye out for special ships that move across the middle and net big bonuses. Backfire is a dynamic game and sometimes it seems chaotic because there's so much going on! A two-player mode would have been nice, but the single-player action was good enough to keep me coming back, trying my best to score more than just a few hundred points. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
The board is nicely rendered on the screen, and you can easily see what's going on as the pieces are being moved. The paddle control is fast and convenient. I like how the game moves along quickly, unlike other Atari board game adaptations like Video Chess. Eight play variations let you compete against the computer or another person. I'm skeptical about the computer opponent however since I was able to defeat it on the first try, and there's only one difficulty level. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Three cop cars are in hot pursuit, but they can be eliminated by dropping dynamite sticks behind your car. Since the dynamite takes a second or two to detonate, careful timing is required. As you eliminate cops, new banks appear, and after you've robbed nine, you can exit the maze and receive a free tank of gas for your troubles.
The graphics aren't much to look at, with the exception of those nifty old-time cars with the spinning wheels. Bank Heist is more involved than your typical maze game and takes a few plays to get the hang of it. But once you do it's quite satisfying, especially in the later stages where the action becomes fast and furious. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
White birds in the sky can slow you down, but in general Barnstorming requires little technique or strategy. Back in the day this game could get by on its clean, attractive graphics. Your yellow plane features a spinning propeller and a blowing scarf, and the windmills certainly look detailed. Heck, the barns even have weather vanes!
The first few variations are set courses you can memorize, but there's also a random course. Barnstorming is yet another good-looking Activision title, but its humdrum gameplay might just put you to sleep. There's never been another game like this - and let's hope it stays that way! © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
You have to flip between various screens to view your variables, stack, program, and output. Unfortunately, the keypad controllers are ill-suited for letter entry, and you have to press crazy combinations of keys on both controllers just to enter simple commands. It's a tedious process and definitely not worth the effort - especially since your work can't be saved when you're done. Basic Programming might have been a good learning tool in the late 70's, but today not so much. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
The pseudo-3D court conveys a nice sense of depth which was pretty innovative for 1978. The longer you hold in the button the longer your shot. The backboard is very forgiving and you don't even need to call glass. I played this game against my buddy Steve, successfully running my trademark "crossover" zigzag against him again and again. At one point I thought I broke his player's ankle, until I remembered it always blinks like that.
In retaliation Steve would execute his patented alley-oop play which involves passing the ball to himself. It's a little crazy but whenever I play Basketball with anybody new they always admit it was more fun than they thought it would be. It's a back-handed compliment but a compliment nonetheless. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
A circular radar indicates the position of multiple adversaries who don't hesitate to fire from off-screen. Enemy tanks converge quickly and "super tanks" are fast and elusive. Drones approach in zigzag patterns, forcing you to shoot or be shot. Hovering red flying saucers don't present a threat but at 5000 points they're an irresistible target.
The graphics aren't bad at all. Moving treads are visible on the bottom of the screen and the mountainous backgrounds are colorful. When you die chaotic static envelops the screen. In terms of challenge, few 2600 games can match Battlezone's intensity level. This one will put even seasoned gamers to the test. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Beamrider's graphics are clean and attractive, and enemy ships scale nicely over the grid. To complete each stage, you'll need to shoot 15 white saucers, and I like how the number of remaining targets is displayed in the corner of the screen. You'll need to keep an eye out for missiles fired by the saucers, as well as indestructible objects like asteroids. Beamrider's gameplay is solid and the stages gradually increase in intensity. There are two difficulty levels, and the harder one is no joke. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
The controls are responsive and the animation is smooth and flicker-free. The early rounds are mind-numbingly boring however, and I don't like how bonus items tend to fall along the edges of the screen, forcing you to constantly cross the entire screen to snag them. The audio effects sound as if they've been recycled from other Atari 2600 games. The challenge finally kicks in at around 30K, and the manual even mentions a "surprise" at 100K. Beany Bopper will give your wrist a workout but with minimal strategy and little variety, it just feels like a pointless exercise. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Your sub moves swiftly and shoots rapidly, but despite the fast action, Bermuda Triangle is lacking in terms of fun. For one thing, it's entirely too easy. When you collide with most obstacles, they just rattle you a bit. The real dangers are laser beams that appear at random and are impossible to avoid. Why these unfair devices even exist is a mystery on par with the actual Bermuda Triangle. They seem to serve no purpose except to make the game artificially harder.
I have a few other gripes as well. Returning items to the surface should net you 600 points, but your score doesn't register immediately, which is disconcerting. I also hate how you can lose points by taking a hit while transporting an item to the surface. All in all, Bermuda Triangle doesn't play nearly as well as it looks. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
A few concessions have been made from the arcade version, but nothing major. Specifically, the mazes are simpler and the robots cannot fire diagonally. Although these may alter the gameplay slightly, they don't diminish the fun or addictiveness.
Despite what the title would suggest, patience and strategy are required to do well in this game. By tactically positioning yourself, you can dupe robots into running into walls or even shooting each other. But if you stick around too long, Evil Otto, the invincible bouncing head, will chase you out. Otto may look silly, but he keeps the game moving and creates a sense of urgency. Always a challenge, Berzerk stands the test of time. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Now you can experience the same voice-equipped arcade action on your Atari 2600 thanks to this voice-enhanced cartridge. The voice plays between screens, and while hard to discern at first, hardcore Berzerk fans will savor these classic lines. In terms of gameplay, this is the exact same 2600 Berzerk you've always loved. It might not be a big step up, but the voice addition makes this the definitive version of a great shooter. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Like the arcade original, there's only a single maze and fruit bonuses appear in the center. It certainly lives up to its name, but A Better Pac-Man is not as good as it could have been. Instead of a "waca-waca" sound effect, Pac-Man makes a harsh, fuzzy sound when he eats that's not particularly pleasing to the ear. Otherwise, this is a terrific game. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
I was somewhat amazed how the game manages to incorporate the same stages, demented enemies, and bizarre storyline. You explore a submerged art-deco world with diverse areas that include an atrium, theater, market, and medical center. The furniture looks plush by 2600 standards, but those vintage signs can be hard to read.
As far as enemies go, the Big Daddies look imposing - especially up close. The crazed lunatics however are severely pixelated, and when shot they just blink and disappear. Bioshock 2600 pushes the hardware to its breaking point. The uneven frame-rate makes it hard to aim with precision, and severe flicker occurs when you unleash plasmids like fire and acid.
The clunky inventory system forces you to use the black/white switch to access your items. Worst of all, the game fails to convey the surreal, unsettling atmosphere of the original game. The wall textures are repetitive and the blood looks incredibly chunky. The water effects are unconvincing and the physics often goes completely out of whack.
The programmer equated "lighting effects" with "flashing", but they're not the same thing. Even the off-key music lacks the haunting quality of the original game. Blocky cut-scenes do a respectable job of conveying the tale of an undersea metropolis gone mad, but only one of the two endings are included.
Finally, $70 is pretty steep, especially considering it costs more than the original game! I can admire the ambition, but in trying to remain faithful to the original subject matter, Bioshock 2600 is ultimately crushed under its own weight. Just because you can do something doesn't mean it's a good idea. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
I actually played this game for much longer than I had intended. Why? Well, the game of Blackjack doesn't require fancy graphics, and this version is fast and easy to control. Sure you can have sharper versions on your PC, but who wants to hunch over a keyboard and mouse to enjoy a card game? There's something to be said for sitting back and relaxing with a paddle controller.
Once you blow through a few hands you can really get into a groove. The game starts you off with $200, and it's fun to see how high you can go. The game's realistic too, in that eventually you always lose all of your money. Expert card players may be disappointed however that you can't double down or split pairs. Blackjack was discontinued after Atari released their four-player Casino game, which also contains Blackjack. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
You are now pursued by moving handprints, the ghost of Rustin Parr, and even the Blair Witch herself! The scepter is now shaped like a totem, and instead of finding pieces of an urn, you must assemble parts of a camera. The font used to display the numbers at the bottom of the screen has also been modified to good effect. Tim Snider did a great job matching up a classic game with this scary film. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
The beginning of each stage offers a brief glimpse of where the parts are hidden, so pay attention! Personally, I found this whole "memorization" aspect a real pain. If you can't remember where the parts are, the game becomes an exercise in trial-and-error. Should you enter a house that does not contain a part, you end up with a bomb in your hand that must quickly be disposed of.
A red creature pursues you around the maze, but the fire button provides a handy turbo boost to help you escape. Once the cannon is fully assembled, a second screen appears. Here the villain can be seen closing in on your girlfriend on the top of the screen, and a well-timed shot is required to take him out.
Then it's off to the next, more difficult round with more pieces and a shorter timer. Blueprint has impressive graphics, with multi-colored objects all over the place. The nonstop music, on the other hand, is pretty awful. All things considered, Blueprint has nice visuals and ample originality, but its headache-inducing gameplay makes it hard to recommend. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Bowling offers three types of control: straight ball, curve, and steerable. The straight variations are pointless, but the curve and steerable modes are fun. In the curve variations, you throw the ball straight but can initiate the curve at any time. The steerable variations let you freely guide the ball left and right as it rolls down the lane.
You'd expect this degree of control to guarantee a strike or spare every time, but the game has a random element that results in some unpredictable pin setups. Pins can also knock into each other, making it possible to nail tough shots including splits. The on-screen scoring feature is nifty, and the two-player contests can be quite competitive, so grab a friend and give it a go. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
It's very satisfying to watch your opponent's head fly back after a hard hit to the face. Despite the simple controls, there is subtle strategy involved. You can keep your distance with jabs, or go in for the kill with a ferocious combination. Close bouts are especially fun, and the intensity builds as those last few seconds tick down.
Will the boxer who's ahead remain aggressive, or try to run out the clock? One thing's for sure - this game can make your thumb very sore. Back in the early 80's, I used a piece of construction paper to cover the scores during the matches to create a sense of uncertainty. One of my friends named this clever invention "the Boxing Buddy", and I've still been known to use it on occasion. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Since Breakanoid rhymes with Arkanoid, you're expecting a little razzle-dazzle, right? Well, there is some of that. Power-up icons frequently rain down, allowing you to do things like catch the ball, fire missiles, or speed up the ball. Actually I try to avoid the speed icons because they make the game a lot harder.
Each stage has a unique wall design, but Breakanoid's real ace in the hole is its "magnetic paddle". This feature is on by default, but can be toggled via the black/white switch. The magnetic paddle lets you guide the ball to a limited degree, allowing you to ease it into a narrow crevasse or take out a pesky lone brick.
It's a weird and loose sort of control, but it's kind of mesmerizing. I liked it enough to forgive the lack of support for paddle controllers. I also like how you don't need to clear out every last brick before advancing to the next screen. It's not much to look at, but if you give Breakanoid a try, you may find it habit-forming. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The strategy is always the same - create an opening on the far left or right side (or middle if you're feeling adventurous) so the ball becomes trapped in the hollow top area. When this occurs the ball accelerates, bounces around like mad, racking up points and doing most of your work for you. Your paddle then experiences severe shrinkage, adding to the difficulty.
I prefer Breakout's default variation. Simply clearing a single wall is a major accomplishment! I noticed the ball will sometimes hesitate when hitting the paddle, as if it's trying to determine the next random angle it's going to take. The other variations feel gimmicky. The steerable ones let you exert a weird influence on the ball, but you're not so much steering it as fighting it. The catch variations are boring and the invisible wall games are annoying. There are also timed variations that track how many seconds it takes to clear the wall, assuming you can.
Then there's a whole separate set of "breakthru" games where the ball just slices through the wall like butter, taking out huge gashes at a time. I have to admit this is great fun when paired with the steering feature. Each mode supports up to four players and it's not the usual turn-based crap. No, when two players are on a team, each player's paddle covers one-half of the screen. Very clever! So if you think Breakout is lame, pop in this cartridge and try to clear that wall. It will teach you the meaning of humility. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
I remember seeing this in the games section of the newspaper way back in the day. Bridge was the last of the original Activision titles I hadn't reviewed, so I figured, "how hard could it be?" Well... pretty hard. I began to wonder just what I had gotten myself into. The manual inexplicably assumes you already know how to play, tossing out obscure references like the "Stayman and Blackwood conventions". Ummm... what?
The manual has the nerve to state this "is like playing any game of bridge". As if it's common knowledge! There's an extra piece of literature ("How your partner bids in Bridge by Activision") which is totally worthless. I was forced to do some Internet research to get the basics down. I'm still not sure how the "bidding" process works but that doesn't seem to matter.
The object is to win a certain number of hands called "tricks". Players take turns putting down a card (you also play as your partner), and the team with the high card wins. The main rule is to put down the same suit if possible. Sometimes there's a trump suit that adds a little spice. There's quite a bit of strategy and frankly I found the game quite addictive!
There's not much graphics or audio, but the screen layout makes sense, the suits are easy to discern, and the controls are great. I'm surprised this is only a one-player game. I'd imagine joining forces with a friend against the CPU could be fun. As it is, playing Bridge is a lot like playing Solitaire. There's nothing special about it but once you start playing it's kind of hard to stop. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
You begin by guiding your ship over a planet surface, weaving through gates while firing on enemies that appear on the horizon. I like how your ship leans into turns, and the explosions look pretty good! You can fire rapidly, but your missiles travel further if you shoot one at a time.
After passing through a certain number of gates, you enter deep space and take aim at groups of saucers that scale in and out. Once cleared, you face a pink boss ship shaped like a Tie Fighter. You must knock out both halves of this boss to destroy it and advance to the next stage.
Planet of Zoom looks really sloppy, with jumpy objects, erratic collision detection, and some truly heinous color schemes - including a bright red and puke green planet. In spite of that, the game is fairly enjoyable due to its fast action. The timer on top of the screen also adds suspense.
It's a shame there's only a single difficulty level because it really takes about 15 minutes before the challenge finally kicks in (around stage 9). It doesn't help that you get free lives early and often. I could deride this game as sloppy and buggy, but since it's pretty ambitious, I'll be nice and call it quirky and unpredictable. Had Sega taken the time to polish this up, it could have been a real gem. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Before each stage you travel through some kind of inter-dimensional tunnel, but those blinking colors look more like a bad acid trip. Once the action begins, your paddle-controlled crosshairs provide pinpoint side-to-side movement as you aim at centipedes (and lizards!) slowly creeping toward the top of the screen. You also have to contend with a pesky gizmo called a "Phylax" which moves across the screen, zeroing in on your crosshairs.
That thing can only be destroyed by "leading" your shots, and it's the one really difficult element in the game. Unlike every other game for the 2600, the "A" difficulty switch setting is easy, and "B" is hard. Bugs is a pretty sorry-looking game, but its steep challenge might just keep you coming back for more. Even scoring a measly 100 points would be an achievement worth bragging about if the game was any good. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
On the highest platform you also have the option of "stealing" Elmer's bullets, which buys you a little time and nets you 100 points. Be careful: Just because you stole his supply doesn't mean he doesn't have one left in his shotgun! The game looks impressive with its large, flicker-free characters. I like how Elmer closes one eye as he aims, and Bug's diving motion is swift and fluid.
The game demands precision timing, and it's satisfying to dive into a hole as a bullet whizzes by your tail. There's minimal strategy, but the sharply-ramping difficulty prevents monotony from setting in. A two-player option allows a second player to assume the role of Elmer. Atari may not have thought much of Bugs Bunny back in the day, but for classic gamers this is a worthy addition to the collection. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
It's easy to throw your weight around when you're dealing with wimpy sports cars, but those heavy-duty tractors are hard to budge, and dump trucks will unload on you! Your most aggressive opponents are skulls-and-crossbones - literally! Couldn't the programmer have placed the symbol on some kind of black box so it vaguely resembled a car? I mean c'mon now - that looks cheesy as hell.
Pressing the fire button sends your car soaring high through the air, and this marginally-convincing illusion is created through the magic of pixelated scaling. This comes in handy, because would you believe every single [expletive] bridge on the road is out!? This just isn't your day man!! A series of beeps indicates an upcoming gap, but even then it can be hard to time your jump. This jumping ability can also be used to destroy other cars (by landing on them), or as a defensive mechanism to avoid hitting walls.
There's really no scenery to speak of, but the stages are divided into seasons, each with its own color scheme. Bump N Jump's graphics are minimal, but the animation is fast and smooth, and the game is just plain fun. The developers wisely included an option to turn that irritating "happy" background music off (via the black and white switch), and I recommend you do that. Bump N Jump doesn't look like much, but its pick-up-and-play quality is hard to resist. There's only one variation, but it will have you hitting the reset button again and again. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Bumper Bash is tough because the flippers are small and there's a significant gap between them. It also doesn't help that one of the rollers is poorly positioned directly over the hole. The physics is fair for the most part, but sometimes the ball appears to "stick" to a flipper instead of caroming off it. In terms of fun, I'd have to say Bumper Bash falls somewhere between Video Pinball and Midnight Magic. Not bad, but not the best. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
In fairness, this version does have all the basic elements of the arcade game, including multiple screens, pepper, bonus items, and the music. But playing this game made me nauseous. Your chef moves like a snail, and it's hard to navigate the ladders. These graphics have a raw, unfinished look. The eggs and cheese are nothing but flickering squares, and tossing pepper on them causes the whole game to pause momentarily. Yes, the original arcade game was a little on the slow side, but this one is particularly laborious. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
The second game, Naughty List, puts you in the role of Santa flying his sleigh. The idea is to drop presents onto buildings below, causing them to collapse (and you thought the first game was weird!). With each pass Santa's sleigh loses altitude, so you'll want to take out the taller buildings first. It would all be a little easier to swallow if the buildings didn't look like giant phallic symbols. When you see a pink building suddenly grow, you wonder how that got by the testers.
My favorite game of the bunch is Bell Hopper, a mega-addictive mini-game you'll play over and over again. You control a fluffy white bunny in a snowy forest hopping on bells that float down gently from the sky. Each bell boosts you further skyward, and as you ascend so does your score. You might get vertigo playing this!
Last but not least is Christmas Adventure, which takes the classic gameplay of Adventure (Atari, 1980) and gives it a "Grinch That Stole Christmas" makeover. The scenery is blocky but surprisingly artistic. It's fun to search houses for items, and with a little imagination you can make out fireplaces, Christmas trees, and furniture. The colorful cast of characters includes psychotic toys and an oversized Grinch.
The game would be perfect if not for the pitch-dark areas that require a candle to illuminate. Feeling your way around is no fun, especially when you can't even see yourself! Byte Before Christmas is impressive on the whole and gets extra credit for its elegant instruction manual. My friends couldn't get over the quality, and Brent actually said "this... is beautiful!" Byte Before Christmas is a first-class package that will make you look at the holidays in a whole new way. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.