Publisher: Leisure Vision (1982)
Clearly a poor-man's Missile Command (1980), Missile War pits you against waves of incoming missiles that are bearing down on four cities. You move a crosshair around the screen to aim your anti-ballistic missiles, which create explosions that envelop the incoming threats. I can't blame Leisure Vision for wanting to rip off Missile Command, but man, couldn't they have made this suck
a little less??
The graphics are sharp enough, but the poor programming is glaringly evident. Incoming missiles flicker terribly and randomly disappear for no reason. The speed of the game fluctuates wildly
(depending on the number of incoming missiles), which really
throws off your timing. Between waves there are inexplicably long pauses. On the bright side, I do like how you can unleash any number of missiles at a time, and they actually do
look like small rockets (unlike the dots in Missile Command). But the difficulty doesn't ramp well at all
. The first two waves are manageable enough, but the third wave rains down far more missiles than you could possibly defend. Even gamers who've never played the real Missile Command will find this one hard to stomach. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 2800
Mobile Suit Gundam (Japan)
Publisher: Bandai (1983)
Mobile Suit Gundam is an old anime series that has spawned many games including a few Playstation 2 mech shooters. Who knew the original Gundam game was released on the obscure Arcadia 2001 console? When I first discovered this game on my Arcadia multicart, my sense of shock was on par with the time I discovered Halo for the Atari 2600. And when I saw Gundam's elaborate high-resolution title screen with the detailed robot face, I thought "that must be all there is." But no, this is a full-blown, legitimate robot shooter. The first wave begins with a white ship flying across the screen to deploy your mech. Your white robot can fly freely and aim his one-pixel blaster in any direction - even diagonally! It's a good thing, because you face an alien armada from above, roving tanks below, and bombers that cross the middle of the screen. The graphics are sharp and clear, and a little theme song even plays in the background. Once you clear the first screen, a space stage begins where you face off against other flying mechs. Mobile Suit Gundam is well programmed and so action-packed that the controller once flew out of my hand!
As it turns out, the controls are the game's Achilles' heel. The Arcadia joysticks are stiff as hell to begin with, and the robot's stilted movements force you to wrestle with the controller. I guess that's just how a giant robot would handle in real life. Another issue is the loose collision detection, although that tends to work in your favor. Mobile Suit Gundam is one of the more interesting titles for Arcadia, but beware of its tendency to inflict physical pain. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1360
Monaco Grand Prix (Europe)
Publisher: UA (1982F)
Monaco Grand Prix is a two-player head-to-head racer that looks promising at first. The screen layout consists of a white road winding around fancy high rise hotels, not unlike those at the actual Monaco speedway. I would have been happy with a simple overhead racer but failed to anticipate was how badly they could [expletive] up the controls. For some inexplicable reason Monaco eschews the joystick and buttons in favor of the keypad. That's right, the controls are 100% limited to a freaking numeric pad!
The number 5 accelerates, 0 brakes, 7 turns left, and 9 turns right. Unreal!
Not only this the most counter-intuitive scheme ever devised, but it's also the least responsive!
You need to hold the accelerator button for at least five seconds before your car finally begins to inch forward. Hold it in a little too long and your automobile launches like a rocket! Your car maintains its speed when you release a button but your turn radius is so wide you're constantly getting caught on the edge of buildings. You're better off driving slowly and focusing on turning. I assumed the entire course fit on one screen but at some point the screen changes to reflect another section. This next segment is just a small strip running across the bottom. You drive off the right side and it repeats with a different building pattern. There's no finish line so apparently you're just playing for points. Once you get a feel for the unwieldy controls Monaco Grand Prix is halfway playable. If only it were halfway enjoyable! © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 34
Publisher: UA Ltd. (1982)
From the title alone you can surmise (correctly) that Nibblemen is yet another Pac-Man
(Atari 2600, 1982) knock-off. Its sharp blue maze gave me flashbacks of Cat Trax
(Emerson, 1982) and Crazy Gobbler
(UA Ltd, 1982). In fact, this game is also known as "Super Gobbler" which explains a lot. You are a green mouth munching dots in a maze with three non-ghost creatures in pursuit. The animation is smooth enough but boy oh boy is this thing slow. It feels like your "Nibbleman'' is laboring just to turn each corner. There's a selection of mazes to choose from, some with up to three "tunnels" on each side. I guess that's where the "super" comes in. The pursuing creatures aren't very smart; they'll have you dead-to-rights and suddenly turn around! Snagging a power pill turns them white, and catching them in this state causes their eyes to grow super wide like they just had an orgasm or something (editor's note: inappropriate!
). There's no "home base" in the center of the screen; they just sort of regenerate in the middle corridor, and that's not natural. The speed of the game is erratic. Your man tends to speed up a bit after you eat a power pill, only to slow down again when it wears off. Creature speeds vary as well, and they will occasionally dart at you. The best part of the game is snagging a fruit bonus, which sounds like a stack of dollar bills flipping as the points are tallied. Nibblemen borrows a lot from the classic maze formula but I'm afraind it doesn't offer a whole lot in return. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 4-1
Our high score: 24,900
Publisher: Emerson (1982)
Ocean Battle uses a classic formula seen in other naval combat games, most notably Sea Battle
(Intellivision, 1980). A map screen depicts a series of continents with two armies of ships scattered throughout the oceans. Players take turns moving a ship into enemy territory, triggering a one-on-one battle. The control scheme is not the most intuitive you've ever used, but it's quite possibly the least
intuitive! Moving your ship requires pressing an awkward combination of keys, resulting in the vessel hopping from space to space. The actual battles are often mystifying. The larger ships can only move sideways, but they can
move off one side and reappear on the other. It's possible to have half of your ship showing on each side of the screen, and man, does that look like crap
. The submarines can move in any direction but their slow speed makes them sitting ducks. Each type of ship has its own set of capabilities, leaving some room for strategy. I like how certain ships can fire off shots at any angle. Each battle ends with a sinking animation, which is a heck of a lot better than watching a boat blink and disappear, right? Ocean Battle is playable, but only if you can stomach the sloppy graphics and terrible controls. Sadly, that's a really big "if". © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: UA (1982)
I'll give Parashooter some credit for being a straightforward shooter that doesn't overthink itself. You move a red cannon across the bottom of the screen as helicopters and planes fly overhead. Raining down are parachutes, bombs, and kamikaze planes that blink from side-to-side in a spastic manner. The odd-looking parachutes look like they are swirling in the wind - as if they didn't open properly! Should one make it to the ground he'll plant a mine, limiting your movement. It's an original concept that doesn't translate into anything fun or exciting. The shooting animation is smooth but some of the targets tend to flicker and disappear for no reason. I normally enjoy shooters like this but the stiff Arcadia controller really limited my enjoyment. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 3460
Publisher: UA (1983)
I hate games I can't pronounce. How did they expect this game to be popular if nobody could even say its name? Pleiades is a shameless clone of the bird-shooting sensation Phoenix
(Atari 2600, 1983). Stage one pits you against fluttering targets as you move a cannon across a landscape of buildings. There's some interesting-looking objects in the sky but as far as I can tell they are only there for decoration. Holding down the button initiates rapid-fire but the animation is jerky. Since it's impossible to aim with precision you just tend to shoot in a general area and hope for the best. Stage two features large birds that swoop down at you. You'll net between 100 and 400 points for each, but it's not clear how these numbers are being computed. Stage three features a joke of a mother ship that's a cinch to destroy. The final stage tries to be somewhat original but it's a disaster. This screen displays a pyramid-shaped galactic obstacle course that you must slowly navigate. The controls are so touchy that if you do more than tap the stick you'll veer out of control and crash. I like variety as much as the next guy but Pleiades feels like four mediocre ingredients rolled up into one unappetizing electronic burrito. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 14,300
Publisher: Emerson (1982)
This is a really shameless Berzerk clone that gets the visuals right but doesn't even come close
to matching its fun factor. I can't quibble with the graphics, which make a solid first impression. The maze walls have a granular texture, and the characters are small but nicely detailed. Your man runs by taking super long strides, but he moves in slow motion! And since he's small, you have a lot
of ground to cover to reach the exit of each room. You fire huge red balls, but they take forever to cross the screen, and for some reason you begin each screen by firing upwards for no good reason! The robots are shaped exactly like the ones from Berzerk, right down to that single eye moving side-to-side. You can almost picture one of them saying "Shoot him - he's very slowly
getting away!!" Only one robot can move one at a time, and they move at a snail's pace. They can also shoot, but their slow projectiles only present a danger at point-blank range. Should you linger in any room for too long, a small bouncing head appears in the center of the screen. Considering he's meant to chase you out, his pace is entirely too leisurely! Robot Killer isn't very challenging, and you'll hands will start cramping up long the game ends. I tried to increase the difficulty by adjusting the options, but each variation was equally slow and laborious. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 4-4
Our high score: 2380
Publisher: Tehkan (1983)
Route 16 is one of those obscure, long forgotten titles that's so good
it catches you completely off-guard. This boldly original maze racer is best described as a cross between Dodge 'Em
(Atari 2600, 1980) and Venture
(Colecovision, 1982). You begin by guiding a car through a simple maze with three police cars on your tail. Exiting the maze puts you in a giant grid of 16 city "blocks". Here your car looks like a red pixel as you steer it around while avoiding the swarming police. Each block contains openings that let you enter a unique maze. You can tell which blocks have loot, and the idea to snag all the money symbols to clear the level. Your car handles well and you can even reverse direction. The cops never rest, and when they're approaching your maze you can see them driving along the border (even over your score!). This adds excitement and forces you to think ahead. There are times when it looks like you're hopelessly trapped in the grid view, but if you duck into one of the mazes you can draw the cops in and perform some evasive maneuvering. Route 16 also contains mystery icons that cycle between cash (good), oil (slows you down), and a skull (instant death). Clearing the entire level becomes an obsession, and subsequent levels feature more aggressive cops and rearranged icons. My only real complaint is the whiny "siren" effects that play when you're on the grid view. One reader compared the sound to a broken smoke alarm, and that's pretty accurate. Otherwise, Route 16 is hard to fault. It's a shame more people don't know about this exciting and refreshingly original maze chase title. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 2,430
Publisher: Emerson (1982)
I was totally psyched up about this Galaxian clone when I first turned it on. The alien armada on top of the screen looks sharp, and stars twinkle in the background. Since many Arcadia games are slow, I was pleased by the speed at which your missiles whiz up the screen. Dive-bombing aliens peel off two at a time, but if you ever see them in an "attack formation", it's probably by accident and not design. Space Attack's collision detection is really suspect, and it's not uncommon for your missile to pass clear through an incoming alien. I was surprised to discover that my missiles can collide with alien bombs, causing them to cancel each other out. It seems cool, until you realize it happens all of the time!
There's nothing worse than not being able to destroy an alien bearing down on you because your shots keep colliding! Another unnecessary "feature" is the fuel gauge at the bottom of the screen, which recharges after each wave. Space Attack could have been a great title, but like many Arcadia titles, it appears to be the victim of over-programming. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 7700
Publisher: Emerson (1982)
It may not look like much, but Space Raiders has an arcade vibe that most Arcadia games lack. Like Defender, you guide a ship over a side-scrolling screen while blasting aliens with streaming missiles. When shot, enemy saucers and mutants burst into large bunches of pixilated squares. If the programmer was trying to create the largest possible explosions, he succeeded, but the effect looks pretty messy! There's no landscape on the bottom of the screen, but missile bases periodically move into view. If you bomb both missile launchers, you can dock between them to refuel. The keypad is used to unleash bombs, but the destruction is minimal since bombed launchers simply turn dark blue. Space Raiders has only one variation, but its difficulty is reasonable. Between waves your ship tends to change in appearance, and I have no idea why. It's a shame Space Raiders lacks the concept of "waves", because it would have been a lot more compelling. Despite its shortcomings, this is one of the more intense games for the system. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1005
Publisher: UA Ltd. (1982)
While scouring my Arcadia 2001 multicart for unreviewed titles I thought I hit the jackpot. Who knew this system had its own version of Defender
(Atari 2600, 1982)?! Space Squadron is quite impressive at a glance with its oversized aliens and pseudo-3D structures on the planet surface. Your multi-colored ship can fire shots continously if you hold the side button in, so why wouldn't you? Because it hurts your thumb maybe? Anyway you can make the screen scroll sideways by pushing against the edge. Your ship is so sluggish however you'll likely settle on moving up and down the center, strafing aliens that gravitate into view. What really irks me about Space Squadron is its overused "explosion" effect. The programmer must have been really pleased with these unimpressive square clouds of pixels because they are used all over the place. Aliens materialize in a pixel cloud and go out in a pixel cloud. These things pepper the screen and make the graphics look sloppy. I do respect the game's difficulty. These aliens are dead-eyed dicks so you can never stop moving. A game of Space Squadron rarely last for more than a minute, and it's hard to resist hitting reset when that high score is staring at you in the upper right corner. Space Squadron may be a marginal Defender clone but it will test your mettle, provided you have 30 seconds to spare. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: 400
Publisher: Leisure Vision (1982)
Like so many other Arcadia 2001 games, Space Vultures is sloppy, confusing, and completely lacking of originality. You fire a cannon at the bottom of the screen at waves of birds - some big, some small. If that description doesn't remind you of Phoenix (1980), well, it should
. The first wave opens with a pointless sequence showing large wings being attached to small bird creatures. Once the action finally kicks in, these birds tend to remain still for seconds at a time, making it easy to nail them dead center. Hitting a wing causes smaller birds to be created, which you face in the subsequent stage. This second stage is a little more interesting since the small birds tend to flutter around and you can fire multiple shots at a time. Even so, the animation is choppy, the collision detection is marginal, and there are glitches a-plenty (including one that transformed my cannon into a single pixel). Since Space Vultures is not totally unplayable, it actually has a leg up on most Arcadia games. But on any other system this would probably be considered defective merchandise. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 590
Publisher: UA (1982)
Whenever I try a new game from my trusty Arcadia 2001 multicart, the first question that springs to mind is "What classic game does this one
rip off?" In the case of Spiders the answer is clearly Centipede
(Atari 5200, 1982). Instead of mushrooms the screen is cluttered with webs, and instead of bugs you're bombarded by spiders. To its credit, Spiders is fast-paced and arcade-like. The animation is relatively smooth and it's cool how web gradually encroaches all over the screen. Your canon rapidly fires chemicals that burns through the webbing and easily destroys descending spiders. Your real goal is to clear out the pulsating red sacks that tend to relocate around the screen in an annoying fashion. Clearing the screen leads to a extremely brief "boss" encounter with the momma spider. The action seems pretty straightforward until red lightning bolts begin to zap you from out of nowhere. I'm not sure what they're supposed to represent, but they zero in on you like heat-seeking missiles!
Once they show up you can kiss your remaining lives goodbye. Sad to say, Spiders looks like it should be a lot more fun than it actually is. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 5850
Publisher: Emerson (1982)
someone has figured out a way to make normal Chess even more tedious!
Star Chess replaces pieces with star ships, bombards your ears with beeps and boops, and throws convention out the window. My friend Chris and I attempted to figure this out without a manual, but we got nowhere. Fortunately a helpful reader directed me to an on-line copy of the instructions. As it turns out, the controls in Star Chess are roughly ten times more complex than they need to be. You need to press about 12 buttons on the keypad to move a ship three spaces. The directional pad is inexplicably not used at all. A cursor is used to select your ships, and its light color practically blends into the background! The keypad functions are non-intuitive to the extreme, and one particularly useless button relocates the cursor to the top corner of the screen (I always hit that accidentally). How far you can move each piece is never clear. When you attack a ship, the game emits a lengthy series of high-pitched beeps that give you impression that the program is stuck. You never know how much damage your ship sustained, and you'll need to use your entire turn
just to check its status! One interesting aspect of Star Chess is the way you can temporarily "warp" a piece off the screen for the few turns. This is accompanied by a flashy effect that might just leave you with the impression your ship just self-destructed
. You never know where a warped ship will reappear, so it's a risky maneuver. My friend Scott indicated that the instructions lie
, pointing to some text that describes Star Chess as "a two-player game of strategy and fun
." Any promising ideas the intergalactic theme may have introduced were squandered by bad execution. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: UA Ltd (1983)
These days the term "Super Bug" calls to mind infectious diseases and antibiotic-resistant viruses. Was this old game sending a message to future generations about global pandemics, genetic mutations, and the fate of the human race? Nope, Super Bug is just an insect-themed maze shooter. You control a hideous bug with a jumble of legs who controls (and even sounds) like a tank. Your goal is to snag fruit in each stage and exit without being caught. Each screen is unique in design with a pair of wandering insects like beetles and dragonflies. The fruits include apples, cherries, lemons, and even marmalade. The graphics are chunky but the animation is smooth. Super Bug isn't as easy as it looks because your shots move slowly and enemies are unpredictable. They aren't that smart either. Sometimes they will bear down on you only to turn away at the last moment (*whew!*
). When you shoot one, the insect will respawn a few seconds later either in the center of the screen or near the exit. Respawning near the exit is problematic but it does add strategy. My friend Brent discovered that you can "snipe" these bugs as they reappear. Sometimes it's best to just leave them alone if you can maintain a safe distance. You rack up the big points by reaching the exit so don't dawdle. When you escape a tune plays that sounds a heck of a lot like Frosty the Snowman with a slightly different ending. Each screen has scattered obstacles in the form of card suits (spades, diamonds, etc). Sometimes you can shoot these, sometimes you can walk over them, and sometimes they are deadly to the touch. I have mixed feelings about these arbitrary rules, but it's always fun to see what each new screen has in store. Even with its flaws, Super Bug is infectious fun. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 98,500
Publisher: James Jacobs (2009)
If there was one Arcadia 2001 game begging for a sequel, it was Super Bug. Okay, "begging" is a little strong, but this homebrewed sequel is still a welcome addition. Like the original, Super Bug 2 is a nifty shooter that involves collecting fruit in various stages while avoiding insects who don't take kindly to your thievery. This well-crafted homebrew/hack gives us more of the bug-shooting mayhem we crave. You get a fresh set of stages, brand new fruit, and more challenge. Many screens have not one but two pieces of fruit to collect, which effectively doubles the challenge. The fruit tends to assume recognizable forms like bananas and pineapples. The screens are thoughtfully designed, allowing the player to devise and experiment with different strategies. I especially like the screen that looks like a castle. Super Bug 2 is tougher than the original but every bit as fun. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 139,600
Publisher: Emerson (1982)
This is one of the better and more original titles for the Arcadia 2001. In fact, I really can't really think of any other game
that's quite like this. Tanks A Lot places you in a maze against a brigade of tanks. Your slow-moving soldier is armed with a missile launcher that unleashes large blue balls. Your goal is to protect your "commanding base vehicle" at the bottom of the screen, which actually looks like a little red truck. Several enemy tanks appear near the top of the screen per wave, but only two are active at a time. The stationary yellow tanks may look like sitting ducks, but they'll sometimes surprise you and suddenly spring into action. When dealing with tanks in motion, be sure to stay out of their line of sight. Anticipate their movement into an intersection, and fire just before they arrive. When two missiles collide, they cancel out. The maze is composed of bricks, and it's cool how you can blast holes in the walls. Adding more strategy is your ability to open and close gates, and even "warp" to another part of the maze. Tanks A Lot offers an interesting combination of traditional elements, but the action is so sluggish that you almost feel as if you're playing in slow motion
. Your death animation is so drawn-out that it's almost comical. Tanks A Lot could definitely use a little zip, but compared to most of the derivative garbage on the Arcadia, this is not half bad. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 1-1
Our high score: 1500
Publisher: Konami (1982)
Turtles Turpin is proof that even third-rate
maze games can be fun. The intro screen depicts a turtle slowly
approaching a building with an SOS signal emanating from the roof. Those high-pitched beeps might be more tolerable if it didn't take the turtle forever
to reach the front door (which looks like a brick wall for some odd reason). Once inside, each "floor" is a maze with eight boxes labeled with question marks. You must touch all the boxes while avoiding several trucks in hot pursuit. Hold on a second - why are trucks
driving around the inside
of a building?!
Whatever. You can immobilize the vehicles by dropping bombs which the trucks have a tendency to run right smack into. Most boxes reveal a "turtlette" which hops on your back, but sometimes the box will unleash another truck. When that happens you'll want to turn tail and drop a bomb immediately
to avoid instant death. You really need to stay alert! After all the boxes are revealed an exit appears on the top right. If you survive you'll watch a dull intermission showing the turtle taking an elevator to the next floor. The sound effects are an abrasive cacophony of screeches - I had to hit mute just to write this review. While annoying at times, Turtles Turpin is a pretty solid arcade game. The controls are good, the action is relatively fast, and there's even a bit of strategy to it. It's one of the more playable titles in a lukewarm Arcadia library. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1380