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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Atari 5200 Reviews H-J

Grade: C
Publisher: Activision (1984)
Posted: 2004/7/16

screenshotH.E.R.O. was an interesting little adventure game for the Atari 2600, but on the 5200 it's a major letdown. Assuming the role of a rescuer sporting a propeller backpack and laser goggles, you must navigate mineshafts to save injured miners. To complete each stage, you'll need to blow up walls with dynamite and shoot small but deadly creatures.

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.

Our high score: 18030
1 player 

Haunted House II 3D
Grade: D
Publisher: Mean Hamster (2002)
Posted: 2021/11/5

screenshotThis little homebrew opens with a nice title screen and harmonized music. Like the original Haunted House (Atari 2600, 1982), the idea is to move a pair of square eyeballs between contiguous rooms, collecting items while avoiding wandering dangers of both the natural and supernatural variety. Lighting a match will illuminate your surroundings, allowing you to see and pick up items.

I like the simplicity of Haunted House II 3D. All you have to do is locate the big chalice and head back to the entrance before losing your three lives. The appearance of a spider, bat, ghost, and/or skeleton will cause your candle to blow out as they converge upon you. Fortunately they're all pretty slow so you can typically outrun them.

So what is this "3D" business all about? Actually, it's a bit of a stretch. Each room is one screen in size (there's no scrolling) but with candle light you can see pseudo-3D walls and doors in the background. It's just eye candy however as the gameplay is still entirely in 2D. There are a few cobwebs but not much else to see. Some furniture could have gone a long way.

There are extraneous items to collect but without a manual I don't really know what their purpose is. There's a scepter that protects you, but since you can't carry any other items at the same time, there's not much of a point. Borders around the screen indicate where you can go, but that same border outlines your treasure panel at the top, which is confusing.

Haunted House II 3D is interesting to mess around with but graphical break-up, hit-and-miss collision, and inconsistent speed hamper the action. One minute you're flying across the screen the next you've slowed to a crawl. That skeleton is far too cute to be scary. I like the concept but Haunted House II 3D is too undercooked to be a satisfying sequel. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

James Bond 007
Grade: F
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1984)
Posted: 2006/10/7

screenshotWow, I really can't get over what an absolute piece of [expletive] this game is. Not only is it terribly unpleasant to play, but the entire concept behind it is idiotic. It's hard to believe someone actually gave the "go ahead" to this ill-advised project. James Bond 007 begins with an incredibly shabby intro that borders on embarrassing. First you see a huge James Bond character getting into a tiny yellow car. Next, the car's wheels inexplicably begin to blink, and then the car shrinks down even smaller.

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.

Our high score: 7900
1 or 2 players 

Grade: A-
Publisher: Atari (1983)
Posted: 2000/12/28

screenshotIn this eccentric arcade classic you control a warrior armed with a lance, flying around the screen atop a flapping ostrich. There are several floating platforms and a lava pit located on the very bottom of the playfield. You "joust" other flying warriors by colliding with them, and victory goes to the warrior whose lance was higher at the point of impact. It sounds overly simplistic, but it works remarkably well. Two players can cooperate to clear each wave together (the best way to play), or engage in cutthroat competitions.

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.

Recommended variation: skilled
Our high score: 46850
1 or 2 players 

Jr. Pac-Man
Grade: A
Publisher: Atari (1984)
Posted: 2003/5/26

screenshotJr. Pac-Man stars in a remarkable game, although he's often overshadowed by his parents. In this innovative spin-off, the mazes are so big that they don't even fit on a single screen! That's right, as you move junior around, the screen scrolls sideways to display the current section of the maze. You'd think this might slow down the action, but in fact Jr. Pac-Man is faster than Pac-Man or Ms. Pac-Man.

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.

Our high score: 26080
1 or 2 players 

Jungle Hunt
Grade: B

screenshotWhen I frequented my local arcades in 1982 I pumped a lot of quarters into a game called Jungle King. This home version was renamed Jungle Hunt and Tarzan was replaced by a dorky explorer decked out in a yellow outfit. The game features four unique screens, beginning with a vine-swinging section. The vines swing back and forth at varying rates, but it's not hard to leap between them if you take your time. After the last vine there's a nifty animation of your man diving into a river.

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 joystick 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.

Our high score: 16,600
1 or 2 players 

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Screen shots courtesy of Atari Age, Moby Games