Arcadia 2001 Reviews C-D

Cat Trax
Grade: A-
Publisher: Emerson (1982)
Reviewed: 2008/9/1

screenshotCat Trax takes a page from every maze game ever invented, and the results are pretty good! You control a feline in a cat-nip-lined maze with three dogs in pursuit. Like Pac-Man, "tunnels" along the edge of the screen allow you to escape to the opposite side. Your movement is a little sluggish, but the controls are responsive enough. A fish randomly appears in the center of the screen (that's a fish?), and touching it changes your cat into a dog-catching truck. The pause that occurs during this transformation can be slightly annoying.

Driving a truck you quickly zip around the maze and snag dogs for points. The dogs make little attempt to escape, and they are neatly "crated up" as you catch each one. I like how the dogs don't return to the maze until you after you return to your cat form. Spicing up the action is your ability to open and close "gates" around the maze - much like Mousetrap. Your cat even has the ability to "warp" out of trouble - a feature referred to in space games as "hyperspace".

The graphics in Cat Trax are exceptionally good, and that bright blue maze is very attractive. Each dog has its own distinctive look, although some look more like demons with horns. The sound effects are definitely weak, mainly limited to beeps and buzzes. 32 game variations are included, which is a lot for an Arcadia game. Cat Trax has a friendly arcade quality that makes you want to play, and enough depth to keep you playing. . © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 1-5
Our high score: CJS 9860
1 player 

Circus
Grade: F
Publisher: UA Ltd. (1983)
Reviewed: 2019/11/22

screenshotThe original clowns-on-teeter totter formula was well-established with Circus Atari (Atari 2600, 1978) - a title often imitated but never equalled. At first glance this Arcadia 2001 version looks promising. The clowns are well articulated as they wave their arms while soaring through the air. The balloons are actually round (something us retro-gamers can never take for granted) and move smoothly across the top.

The background is a teal color that's oh-so-easy to the eyes (unlike this screenshot). But these controls... oy! A game like this needs a precision analog controller like a paddle, not a stiff joystick. Instead of moving smoothly across the bottom, your see-saw jumps between three positions (left/middle/right)! So how does the computer move so smoothly in attract mode?

The severely limited controls mean you can only carom the clowns at the same repetitive angles, using the button to "flip" the see-saw. Am I missing something here? Trying to play Circus is like trying to eat soup with a fork. It's not very nourishing and you look like an ass doing it. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 5
Our high score: 965
1 or 2 players 

Combat
Grade: C
Publisher: Emerson (1982)
Reviewed: 2013/8/6


screenshotMost classic gamers associate the word Combat with Atari's 1977 classic. This Arcadia 2001 rendition mimics the same tank/plane shooting formula, but adds scenery, mines, and a slew of options. You can adjust your speed, the range of missiles, and the ability to see and/or destroy mines. There's even a setting that lets you shoot "over" scenery, which consists of simple houses and trees placed randomly around the screen.

The tank variations are severely hampered by an awkward control scheme that requires you to press a button on the keypad to move forward. The battlefields are cluttered, resulting in a lot of abrupt starting and stopping. The game never establishes a flow and tends to be really irritating. The airplane variations are much more enjoyable. The controls are simple since you're flying over the scenery. The action is fast and smooth, and I like how it's possible for the planes to collide with each other. The battles go on indefinitely, so you and a friend will need to agree on a final score, which is lame.

There are 88 variations in all but the pathetic instruction manual makes it hard to find the one you want. It contains a "grid" of options, but not all the numbers are listed along the top and most don't even line up with the squares! Atari demonstrated the proper way to do this in 1977, so there's no excuse for this 1982 game. In many ways Combat on the Arcadia improves upon the original, but you would never know with the lousy instructions and poorly-designed tank controls. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

2 players 

Crazy Climber
Grade: C
Publisher: UA Ltd. (1982)
Reviewed: 2019/11/22


screenshotIf nothing else Crazy Climber captures the arduous nature of climbing a real skyscraper. The challenge begins when you're instructed to press A to select your level. The problem is, there's no A button on the console or controller. Apparently the select button lets you choose between four skill levels. Once you hit start your little stick figure climbs the first few floors on his own, making you wonder what the heck is going on.

The controls feel terribly stiff. You move in a halting manner, pausing between each pull-up or side-step. The idea is to avoid closed windows and falling objects. The windows are adorned with green and yellow rectangles that look more like blinds. Try to grab a shut window and you go into free-fall mode, losing one of your five lives. You'll need to react quickly to falling objects including boxes printed with the words "LOOK" and "OUT".

Your score only flashes when you stop moving, which looks really crappy. The building configuration changes as you progress, but I don't think you can ever reach the top, which is anti-climactic, don't you think? The game over screen presents you score with the current high and the uplifting message "You are great". How about that? Come to think of it, I guess I am pretty great! Then my friend Brent played (not very well) and it said his punk ass was great too. What's going on here?!

Next I tried skill level 2 which features psychedelic swirly windows and objects falling in a "wriggling manner" (per the instructions). Some of the file cabinets dropped appear to have medical crosses on them. Should I catch them for health? Nope. Crazy Climber is just okay. It's got enough challenge and variety, but these stiff controls might just make you want to jump off a building. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 1320
1 player 

Crazy Gobbler
Grade: D
Publisher: UA Ltd (1982)
Reviewed: 2020/5/18

screenshotCraving a new Arcadia adventure I set my multicart to "Gobbler". I was in the process of scouring the internet for instructions, but when I saw the screen I realized there was no need. This is a straight-up Pac-Man (Atari 2600, 1981) clone. The full name is actually "Crazy Gobbler", as not to get it confused with some kind of sensible turkey-related title. I will admit this is one of the more sharp-looking Pac-Man clones of its time.

The blue maze has an arcade-style layout and the characters are well-defined. The developers did make an effort to differentiate themselves from the real Pac-Man. For one thing, Gobbler is a red while the three ghosts are pale green, white, and yellow. When you eat a power pill the ghosts turn faint blue, but frankly it's hard to tell when they return to normal. Gobbler begins each round on the lower right side of the maze, and when caught he bursts. Fruit bonuses assume the form of apples appear under the center square and at 1500 points, they are very lucrative.

Crazy Gobbler looks good but it is slow, slow, slow. It feels downright laborious to drag your Gobbler ass down a long corridor, especially since you need to hold the joystick the whole time. If you release, Gobbler will stop in place. This does make it easier to camp out next to a power pill. All things considered Crazy Gobbler looks like a quality Pac-Man clone but doesn't play like one. . © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 14,180
1 player 

Doraemon (Japan)
Grade: D+
Publisher: Bandai (1981)
Reviewed: 2018/5/12

screenshotdoraemonWhat the heck is a Doraemon? No, it's not a Pokemon - good guess though. No, it's a blue cat from an old Japanese manga series dating all the way back to 1969! The first thing you see is Doraemon's big goofy mug, which probably looked amazing in 1981 when title screens were a new thing.

Doraemon's gameplay is a hybrid of Mouse Trap (Colecovision, 1982) and Venture (Colecovision, 1982). You guide him around a white maze collecting red cookies (I think they are cookies) while avoiding slow-moving mice. Doraemon looks more like an astronaut than a cat with that big round head of his. Taking a maze exit reveals a larger overhead map with nine maze rooms in total. As you methodically move between them the pace is laboriously slow, and even more so when mice show up.

Grabbing a question mark results in either instant death (c'mon!) or earns you three propellers. Pressing the button activates a propeller, allowing you to fly freely over the map and make a beeline for any remaining cookies. The tempo picks up slightly in stage two but you'll need the patience of a saint to last that long. Doraemon has some original elements but the lack of challenge and plodding pace turn it into a grueling test of endurance. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 1800
1 player 

Dr. Slump
Grade: F
Publisher: Bandai (1983)
Reviewed: 2020/5/18

screenshotWho the [expletive] is Dr. Slump? I'm glad you asked! He was the star of a Japanese anime series from the early 1980's, and if this game is any indication, it was a pretty weird show. Start it up and you're greeted with a colorful title screen showing a pixelated closeup of our hero's face. That alone is impressive. The actual game screen is strewn with various houses and cars, with some kind of launchpad in the upper right. A pair of big-mouth aliens wander the screen, stripping vehicles for parts and carrying them to the pad to assemble their ship.

Dr. Slump is an odd-looking character in a red ball cap. To say he moves slowly would be an understatement. It took me a while to figure out what exactly to do in this game. While overlapping an alien you can press a button to have Dr. Slump unhinge his jaw and bite the creature for points. If the alien is holding a part you obtain it and can restore it back to its original location. What kills this game is that pesky energy meter on top. It drains too fast and when it does, all you can do is watch the aliens hastily assemble their ship and escape into the sky. This happens whenever you lose a life, and watching this escape sequence gets really old.

To refuel you'll need to touch a little gas pump (tea kettle?) that periodically appears on the lower right. Unfortunately by the time you drag your slow ass over there it's usually gone. Another problem is how the aliens will inexplicably disappear from one part of the screen and reappear somewhere else. The looping music has a nursery rhyme quality that's super annoying. It took me a while to figure out how Dr. Slump worked but I never did find the fun. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 390
1 player 


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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, OldComputers.com, Games Database, Arcadia 2001 Central, Games Database