You play a diver swimming above the ocean floor with a huge black octopus and menacing sharks preventing you from returning to your boat. Dude, you are in a world of hurt! Your buddy on the surface occasionally drops down an oxygen line, but most of the time he's too busy goofing off! Just look at him clowning around in your boat!
The pixelated octopus has tentacles that "grow" towards you and these must be shot off. Chomping sharks move side-to-side down the screen (one at a time), and they are rendered nicely. You can fire rapidly at the sea creatures above, and I'd strongly advise holding down the fire button. This game may not sound bad, but there's minimal strategy and the gameplay is monotonous to say the least! Name This Game is just plain lousy, and all the gimmicks in the world couldn't help it. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
There are three 90-second courses of increasing difficulty, along with a "random" track. The advanced tracks offer a nice sense of risk/reward, since you have to periodically slow down in anticipation of hairpin turns. Crashing into a post causes the screen to flash, accompanied by a resonating explosion sound.
As one of my first Atari 2600 games, Night Driver brings back a lot of childhood memories. I remember my dad playing this and laughing himself to tears whenever he crashed repeatedly. I also recall my sister and I taking the paddle controllers in the car with us during trips so we could steer from the back seat.
My main beef with Night Driver has to do with its lousy graphics. Whoever programmed this was no artist - that's for sure. I'd like to think that he never intended to have that dumb-looking "car" on the bottom of the screen for the final cut, but just never got around to fixing it. The round, oncoming blue cars look a heck of a lot like Grover from Sesame Street, and that's disturbing.
I also noticed a minor glitch that causes the screen to jump on occasion, but it's not a big deal. Although graphically challenged, the sheer playability of this game impresses the hell out of me to this day. Night Driver also contains some "no time limit" variations, which I recommend to drug-addicted players who just want to zone out to this game all night long. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
It's an interesting twist - a "reverse shooter" of sorts. It doesn't provide for much precision, but I like how you can knock out two or three blocks at a time and make it rain like Pac-Man Jones baby (aww yeeah!) Don't get careless though - the blocks can also crush your Greek ass. No Escape incorporates wave after wave of imaginative, high-resolution creatures rendered in an array of bright colors. For the life of me, I couldn't tell you what most of those things are supposed to be, but it's always interesting to see what the next wave has in store.
One thing that annoys me about No Escape is the cheap hits. The furies tend to hover about one millimeter above your head, dispensing fireballs at point-blank range. When they begin moving erratically in later waves, skill rapidly gives way to luck. One astute reader explained that you can exert some degree of influence on the fury movements by holding in the fire button. He's right, but this is a very limited, funky sort of control that only advanced players will be able to use to their benefit. Still, No Escape provides a nice break from the typical shooters and maze games. It also gets credit for its nifty little ending depicting Jason flying off on his Pegasus. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Another handy power-up allows you to "steer" the ball, making it easier to clear those last few bricks. There are also power-ups that make your life harder, such as the one that makes the ball travel faster. A "red dragon" dances on top of the wall, but it looks more like a big red caterpillar and only serves as an easy way to score bonus points.
Off The Wall is less tedious than Breakout, but it's also too easy. Another problem is the annoying 10-second pause before each new ball is released. What's that all about? Off the Wall is respectable as a one-player game, but the two-player mode is lousy. Both players have to share the same wall, and the scoring system is totally unfair. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
What's unique about the game is how your ship caroms off the walls, letting you finely adjust your line of fire while remaining a moving target. It's fun to be reckless but easy to collide with stationary objects scattered around the screen. Take too long to clear the "rack" and an X-shaped "death ship" appears, zipping around the screen while laying mines and shooting like crazy. When you shoot at this guy you'd better not miss.
Omega Race isn't the prettiest game in the world but then again the arcade original (rendered in single-colored vector graphics) was no beauty either. Objects here are rendered in light blue and the flicker is noticeable. Each level is basically the same as you begin in the upper left and enemies congregate in the lower right. An Asteroids-style cadence plays in the background, picking up in intensity as each wave progresses. Clear a "rack" of enemies and you're rewarded with a triumphant refrain that sounds suspiciously like the Star Wars theme.
Omega Race has one interesting but completely unnecessary gimmick, which is the inclusion of a special "booster grip". This joystick attachment adds two buttons (thrust and fire), with the normal fire button also serving as thrust. Why CBS felt the need for this device is beyond me. The same functionality could have been achieved using Asteroids-style controls, where you simply push forward to thrust. It's a hard pill to swallow when you realize this hard-to-find device is required to play the game. Actually, you can plug a Colecovision controller directly into your Atari and that will work too!
It's a shame you have to jump through so many hoops to enjoy Omega Race because this is a pretty solid shooter. The playing field never changes but the gameplay forces you to keep moving, bouncing around while narrowly avoiding collisions. For such a simple concept Omega Race is remarkably challenging. Your game won't last long but you're in for a wild ride. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
The game requires you to activate every single rope, even though they aren't necessary to reach the top. Patrolling the platforms are "guards" that look more like panicked Mouseketeers. Occasionally a "magic ball" comes bouncing through, and grabbing it lets you defeat the guards. There's some strategy to this game, as you must often crawl half-way up a rope just to avoid a passing guard. You have to respect the pixel-perfect collision detection. The object at the top of the screen looks like a blue cyclops monster but is actually the "sesame treasury".
Reach this and you'll be rewarded with a "close up" shot of the palace, along with a series of tones that vaguely mimic the words "Open Sesame!" You have to use your imagination, but it sounds pretty neat. Unfortunately there's only one skill level and the difficulty hits a wall around 25K. Still, I enjoyed Open Sesame. It may be a Donkey Kong knock-off but it's one of the better ones. NOTE: Zimag published an abbreviated version of this game under the title I Want My Mommy. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
Objects approach from the right, including "space oysters" which you can blast open to reveal pearls. Collecting eight pearls earns you a bomb. After a certain period of time, a boss emerges, which can only be destroyed by one of those bombs. After you take him out (not too tough), you're thrust into a fast-paced "warp phase". Oystron provides fast, non-stop shooting action, and it's very challenging. My main beef is that the stages tend to run a bit too long. But overall, this is a real gem. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.