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

Arcadia 2001 Reviews S

Space Attack
Grade: C+
Publisher: Emerson (1982)
Posted: 2008/9/1

screenshotI 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 highly 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-engineering. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 7700
1 player 

Space Mission
Grade: C
Publisher: UA Ltd (1982)
Posted: 2023/8/20

screenshotAt one point in time it was mandated by law that every classic console had to have at least one sophisticated first-person space shooter in its library. Mattel had Space Battle (Intellivision, 1979), Atari had Star Raiders (Atari 2600, 1982), and the Arcadia had Space Mission. Space Mission gets credit for taking a different tact than the others. Instead of annihilating an alien force, the idea is to construct a space station before a "space storm" arrives. Pretty cool concept!

The first-person view is unimpressive. Unlike Star Raiders, the stars don't zoom into view. They are just strewn around a static screen that scrolls in all directions. Periodically an alien ship appears which sometimes looks like a Tie Fighter, sometimes a Big Mac. I have to admit the laser beams you fire from the bottom of the screen look cool, but shooting an enemy is anticlimactic. After the sound of an explosion, it just disappears.

Things get interesting when you deploy a drone to collect and assemble parts of the space station. This drone is deployed with great fanfare as it exits your ship through a flashy corridor with trippy lighting effects. Once it's out in space you can use it to drag parts together using the "load" and "unload" buttons of the keypad. Piecing together the station is complicated by the fact the pieces need to be in the correct sequence.

To view your progress you hit the scan button which displays a lot of important-looking data. Most alarming is that the solar storm is typically less than two minutes away! The problem with Space Mission is that there's only one skill level and it's not very hard. In addition, the game is never more than two minutes long because that's how long it takes the storm to arrive.

Space Mission does a decent job of conveying the illusion of being caught up in some massive galactic conflict with the fate of the universe on the line. It's a shame they couldn't have built this game out with multiple difficulties and progressively harder missions. It could have prevented Space Mission from being such a one-and-done kind of game. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 235
1 player 

Space Raiders
Grade: B-
Publisher: Emerson (1982)
Posted: 2008/9/16

screenshotIt 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 pixelated 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
1 player 

Space Squadron
Grade: C
Publisher: UA Ltd. (1982)
Posted: 2021/2/3

screenshotWhile 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 continuously 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 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.

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Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: 400
1 player 

Space Vultures
Grade: D
Publisher: Leisure Vision (1982)
Posted: 2008/12/6

screenshotLike so many other Arcadia 2001 games, Space Vultures is sloppy, confusing, and completely lacking in 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 canon 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
1 player 

Grade: D
Publisher: UA (1982)
Posted: 2016/3/21

screenshotWhenever 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 the web gradually encroaches all over the screen. Your canon rapidly fires chemicals that burn 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 an 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
1 player 

Star Chess
Grade: F
Publisher: Emerson (1982)
Posted: 2012/5/26

screenshotFinally someone has figured out a way to make normal Chess even more tedious! Star Chess replaces pieces with starships, 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 the 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.

2 players 

Super Bug
Grade: B
Publisher: UA Ltd (1983)
Posted: 2014/3/25

screenshotThese 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
1 player 

Super Bug 2
Grade: B
Publisher: James Jacobs (2009)
Posted: 2014/3/25

screenshotIf 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
1 player 

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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, Old-Computers.com, Games Database