The idea of climbing a maze of pipes is a unique concept but the controls are suspect. Tom can only move in four directions and it's remarkably slippery when moving side-to-side. Upon completing a round you're rewarded with a brief image of a woman taking a bath in a red bikini! Maybe this game should have been Peeping Tom? In later rounds the red rats drop on you like heat-seeking missiles and the collision detection is brutal. The game eventually locked up on me. Frisky Tom is a marginal title but it's actually one of the more playable prototypes for the 5200. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
The gameplay seems less forgiving than most Frogger games, and the turtles don't give much notice before diving. Although at first this appears to be a respectable version of the arcade hit, the control is problematic to say the least. Since the joysticks do not auto-center, you have to press the button in conjunction with pushing the joystick in order to hop. This is to prevent extra, inadvertent hops, but it makes it awfully hard to change directions quickly. Frogger of the 5200 is playable, but it's far more enjoyable on other systems. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
The action takes place over three screens: underwater, the water's surface, and up in the sky. Underwater you'll encounter an array of colorful fish along with dangerous crocodiles and barracudas. You'll have to deal with the water current, though a friendly sea turtle will give you a ride on his back. Once you make it to the surface, you'll encounter rows of whales, hippos, ducks, and shark fins.
This stage plays like the original Frogger, as you hop your way towards inner tubes at the top of the screen. The mother duck is your ticket to the sky screen, where you can bounce off clouds and hop between birds. This screen also features some fantastic creatures like pterodactyls and fire-breathing dragons! There's plenty of eye candy in Frogger II - every animal is finely detailed and nicely animated. Frogger II is a real winner for the 5200. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
The explosions are meager, but keep an eye out for the mysterious "Atari" symbol that sometimes appears. The controls are fairly horrible. Your cannon slides continuously from side-to-side, so you end up spraying missiles in a desperate attempt to hit something. Thank God you can hold down the fire button to shoot continuously. As if to compensate for the lousy controls, aliens often fly sideways across the screen or even pause momentarily, making them sitting ducks.
Galaxian also has its share of technical issues including rampant slow-down and fishy collision detection, although these often work to your advantage. The crude audio effects are another black eye. The rhythmic "cadence" sounds like a constipated robot, and the explosions sound like rubber bands and trash can lids. Once you get on a roll, it sounds like you're beating up the black guy from the Police Academy movies!
After my original disparaging review of this game, a thoughtful reader informed me that I should play this using the track-ball controller. I'm glad I did, because the track-ball provides a fine degree of precision that even surpasses the arcade game! In fact, if you own one of these massive controllers, you can safely bump up the grade by not one but two whole letter grades! On a side note, my friend Mike taught me an alternate way of playing Galaxian - by not shooting at all! That's right, this "boogie style" of play is done by touching the missile on the tip of your cannon to oncoming aliens. Now there's a challenge! © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Playing Gorf on the 5200 is like trying to play basketball in a hockey rink. I'm not sure who to blame for this abomination: Atari or CBS. On one hand, the wishy-washy Atari 5200 joystick is poorly suited to a shooter like this (or most other video games for that matter). On the other hand, CBS seemed to buy into the controller's weaknesses by giving the game the weirdest sort of analog control. When the stick is centered, your cannon sits in the center of the screen (more or less). Moving it slightly lets you meander around the center, and pushing the stick hard to either side moves it against the edge of the screen.
Your movements tend to be fast and jittery, making it difficult to aim. Lacking any sort of precision, I often found myself slamming into enemy missiles or hugging the edge of the screen. Worst of all, this just doesn't feel like Gorf. The graphics aren't particularly impressive, and I noticed glitches related to both the visuals and collision detection.
In the first stage, the shield disappears when you hold down the fire button, which is totally wrong. In the arcade, you poked holes in the shield. A lot of liberties were taken, and none for the better. And what happened to the trademark "My Name Is Gorf" voice synthesis? Where is that distinctive sound effect between the stages? By the time I was done with Gorf I don't know what hurt worse: my twisted, contorted hands or my broken heart. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
The idea is to grab all of the Mogwai and place them in a pen in the corner of the screen. Meanwhile you'll need to destroy the multiplying Gremlins using a sword. The gameplay is frantic and fun, with each level growing more intense. Walls and furniture begin to appear in the advanced levels, adding structure to the screen. The graphics are outstanding, featuring detailed, well-animated characters. Check out the gremlin tossing food out of the fridge! You can even select your starting level. Gremlins for the 5200 is a real gem, and one of the few original titles for the system. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Gyruss borrows several elements from Galaga, including the "double-shot" power-up and the "chance" bonus stages. Realizing the 5200 controller offered 360 degrees of circular movement, the developers incorporated it into the control scheme. Well, just because you can do something doesn't mean it's a good idea! Moving your ship around is not the intuitive experience the developers envisioned. It tends to move in fits, stopping and starting unpredictably as you struggle with the joystick.
And bad controls aren't the only problem. Thanks to the super low resolution graphics, the aliens look like shapeless blobs. Their missiles blend in with them, making it almost impossible to see them coming. Unlike the arcade game, aggressive play is punished, not rewarded. The up-tempo musical score is terrific, but music by Bach is too good to be wasted on this sloppy effort. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
The levels get longer and more difficult as you progress, and some rooms are pitch dark so you'll need to feel your way around. The characters and objects are plain looking (and small like the 2600 version) but the underground walls have a more realistic, granular texture. Unfortunately, the wobbly Atari 5200 proves to be a serious liability, preventing you from navigating the narrow mineshafts with precision, causing many undeserved deaths. H.E.R.O. isn't a bad game, but the 2600 version is more playable. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
As you wander through the house, you will encounter spiders, bats, skeletons, and ghosts. Their movements are unpredictable, but they don't pursue you from room to room. Sometimes one will appear from out of nowhere -- which is not fair at all. A sword is available for protection, but you can't collect items while holding it. So what is the "3D" all about? Actually, it's a bit of a stretch. Unlike the original Haunted House, each screen is a separate room (there's no scrolling) with pseudo-3D walls and doors in the background. But it's just eye candy - the gameplay is still completely 2D.
As a matter of fact, the "rendered" rooms are more confusing than anything else. Haunted House II is challenging, but it's not polished enough to merit an average grade. Graphical break-up, hit-and-miss collision detection, and inconsistent speed all hamper the action. One minute you're flying around the screen, then suddenly you've slowed to a crawl. Sound effects include footsteps and thunder, but these are sloppy. Haunted House II 3D does deliver in terms of challenge. There are two houses to complete, and just trying to finish the first one kept me playing for quite a while. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
The accompanying theme song is decent, but the visuals look positively half-assed. The intro is followed by a nausea-inducing first stage that perfectly embodies the game as a whole. Looking like a half-baked Moon Patrol knock-off, you jump over craters while shooting blue "diamonds" floating in the night sky. Bomb-dropping satellites fly just overhead, but inexplicably, you cannot shoot them!
Soon you find yourself moving over water while doing the same damn thing, except now you have to deal with shooting divers. If you're sadomasochistic enough to complete the stage, you can expect equally brain-dead gameplay in the stages to come. Each level is supposedly based on a different Bond film, but they all look and play pretty much the same - crappy! Did Parker Bros. really think the Bond license alone would justify this inexcusable tripe? I'm still waiting for them to issue a formal apology to the gamers of the world.
. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
There's not much to criticize about this version (which is identical to the Atari home computer version, by the way). It delivers all the sights and sounds of the arcade, plus four levels of difficulty as well. The hand of the lava troll only has three fingers, but now I'm nitpicking. The 5200 controller is the only drawback, with slow response and a fire button that's not conducive to constant tapping. Overall this is a rock-solid translation of an old arcade favorite. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
The scrolling is relatively smooth, and our little hero zips around with unabashed youthful exuberance. The graphic quality of the mazes and ghosts is comparable to Ms. Pac-Man, but these huge labyrinths are far more satisfying to clear! Instead of fruit bouncing around there are little toys, although they're often difficult to discern. The only thing missing are intermissions! © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The second screen is the most impressive-looking as you swim in a crocodile-infested river with a pink coral seabed. You're armed with a knife and when you stab it sounds like a friggin' shotgun blast! The hit detection is suspect however so it's wise to avoid confrontation. I really hate those pink "bubbles" that immobilize you for several seconds. According to the manual they are "mysterious murk". In other words, even the manual writer didn't know what the [expletive] they were!
Your next challenge is to run up an inclined plane while jumping over small boulders and ducking under large ones. Ducking requires more skill yet only earns you half as many points. Use the joystick in conjunction with the button to increase the height of your jumps. It's pretty methodical until you encounter two boulders at once, which really throws off your timing.
On the final screen you must leap over a pair of politically-incorrect, spear-toting tribesmen with your captive girlfriend suspended over a boiling cauldron. You'll need to make contact with her on your second jump to save her, even if it means burying your head in her crotch. Then the stages restart but you get a new color scheme and now have to contend with a monkey on the vine stage. The imprecise 5200 joysticks controls don't do you any favors in a twitch game like this, but Jungle Hunt is still a fun romp thanks to its bright arcade graphics and sheer variety. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Climbing the trees isn't easy due to apple crossfire and the fact that falling any distance will kill you. You collect fruit along the way for points and ringing a bell causes more valuable fruit to appear. The arcade-style graphics look sharp but the audio is lousy. The nursery rhyme-style music will make you cringe and the high-pitched sound effects are just grating. And since this is on the Atari 5200 it almost goes without saying that the control sucks. You push up on the stick to jump, and since it doesn't auto-center you end up hopping several extra times.
Leaping between platforms requires a precision these controllers lack. The spaces between branches are small but your timing needs to be exact or you'll plunge to your death. Your toe literally needs to be just over the edge before you initiate that jump! My first instinct was to dial down the difficulty, but there are only two skill levels: novice and advanced! I guess it's that challenge that keeps me coming back for more. Kangaroo follows a familiar formula but has enough twists to keep things interesting. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Koffi's graphics are colorful and appealing. Lightning bolts shoot from the side of Pyro to form actual words like "BURN!" - a nice touch. The three forest screens are colorful and attractive, and I especially like the one with the evergreen trees and snow. There are ten different animals you can save, and each is nicely rendered in multiple colors. I found it amusing how this group includes a blue whale and calamari. The fourth screen is a "boss" confrontation with Pyro's mother -- a cloud stretched across the top of the screen with two huge eyes.
The game has a few technical issues. First, you must fly at just the right height above the fire in order to release your water, and it took me a while to figure this out. Also, the clumsy 5200 controller will cause Koffi to "slide" into the fire if you're not careful. Rescuing the animals is fun - too bad it's not more integral to the game. Finally, the whole "bumping into clouds" business does get repetitive after a while. Koffi is an acquired taste, but it's fun once you get the hang of it. Five skill levels are provided, so there's ample challenge. Koffi Yellow Copter is a fresh addition to the 5200 library that should appeal to arcade fans of all ages. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
The title screen boasts a large Bug Bunny face overlooking a parade of characters. Actually these "characters" are weird monochromatic shapes that require quite a bit of effort to discern. It's a good thing subtitle names are used to identify Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, and the Tasmanian Devil. Taz looks like a giant purple frog for Pete's sake!
Start up a new game and you're presented with a grid of generic doors, prompting some serious eye-rolling on my part. Some doors contain up or down arrows, transporting you between floors. Playing the role of Bugs Bunny you'll try to avoid the roving Elmer Fudd and a bomb-rolling Yosemite Sam.
Doors left ajar allow you to take cover from enemies and bombs. When a bomb comes to a stop you can pick it up and place it in the doorway, ala Spy Vs Spy (Atari XE, 1984). If you think it all sounds perfectly awful, you'd be right! The game is no fun at all and the point system makes no sense. Confusing, awkward, and just plain ugly, Atari did us all a favor by pulling the plug on this mess. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.