You can hold down the fire button to shoot continuously, but you only fire one missile at a time and it moves slowly. Due to my super low expectations I was impressed that a brief explosion effect occurs when you hit something. The large aliens are easier to hit than miss, and the low difficulty makes the game feel tiresome after a few waves. The mothership is shaped more like an arrow than a saucer, and if the screen is almost clear you'll get several clean shots at it.
After each wave your bonus is tallied, and this time-consuming operation makes it appear that the CPU is struggling to perform simple addition! The audio is limited to a bunch of clicks and blips, making this sound more like a ping-pong tournament than an invasion. During one game I noticed an extra pixel on the screen, which had my mind racing, thinking it could be a secret easter egg on par with the dot in Adventure. Sadly, my bullets just wiped it away so I guess it was just a graphical glitch (*sad face*).
The two-player simultaneous mode works well. It's fun to trade shots at the mothership, especially since each player has their own color-coded missiles. Alien Invasion isn't the best Space Invaders, but just being able to play a decent version of the game on the Channel F feels like a small victory. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
You swing the bat by pressing the button, and your timing does seem to affect where the ball is hit. Then there's the fielding. These fielding controls are so insane, you'll swear up and down that the game is broken. Your outfielders and shortstop move in unison - but only side to side. The good news is that you can pre-position your fielders.
The bad news is there's a hole in left field where no fielder can reach, and sure enough the ball is hit there quite often. The ball is "caught" when it touches a fielder, and it usually comes to a stop in the foot or crotch region. When a hit gets through, you'll need to watch the runners on base to see if it's a single, double, triple, or home run.
The bottom right of the screen displays two numbers: the outs and the number of runs scored this half inning. That's right, you can't view the actual score until the inning is over. At that point both players must hit their buttons at the same time in order to proceed.
Despite its awkward design, Baseball is fun and competitive, mainly because it moves along so incredibly fast. I swear I once retired three batters in less than ten seconds! My friend Scott noted "If real baseball was this fast it would be a lot more enjoyable. Oh who am I kidding - it would still suck." © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
The pins disappear when hit and the noise that emanates from the fuzzy Channel F speaker does sound a bit like pins knocking into each other. Each player's progress is displayed along the side of the lane with symbols for strikes, spares, and open frames. Strikes are not easy to come by and you'll find yourself staring at a lot of splits.
Fortunately it's quite possible to pick these up. In fact, the game features a separate "split mode" with each frame offering a new configuration. This extra mode really ratchets up the replay value because you need to employ a new strategy for each frame. Bowling on the Fairchild is a solid title that goes beyond the call of duty, but the best part is you can play ten frames in under two minutes! © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
The screen is well-organized, although a little intimidating at first with 15 cards strewn around the table. The dealer's cards run across the top of the screen, and below that the table is divided into two halves. One side is you. The other might be a CPU-controlled "robo" player or a friend.
If you think a lack of a manual might prevent me from reviewing this game, think again friend. I stumbled across a scan of the cartridge label which conveniently contains abbreviated instructions! Basically you press right to increase your bet, and pull back to "hold" (or keep a highlighted card). Be sure to think twice before pressing up, as it may cause you to fold or exchange a card.
Once you get a feel for the controls Casino Poker is addictive. The colorful, easy-to-read cards look great against that soft green "felt". Sometimes you'll notice a lot of extraneous beeps and buzzes when you're waiting for the CPU. That usually means the robo player is upping the ante against the house, which could signal a big potential payday.
Having that robo player really enhances the experience, as you're effectively playing against two opponents at once. Even with no real money at stake, I'm always intent on beating that robo bastard. I do not like that guy. Not one bit.
In terms of audio, the beeps and buzzes for actions like call or fold can be a little obnoxious, but I love that pitter-patter sound of the cards being shuffled and laid out on the table.
You'd think a second player would add to the fun but it actually sucks because you can see the other guy's cards! As long as you play solo however Casino Poker is surprisingly enjoyable. So give it a try. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
You can fire rapidly, and since your opponent doesn't move when hit, you can often get in several shots in a row. The action is fast but shallow as you tend to trade shots with your opponent. The collision detection is suspect and I've seen shots pass right through a barrier. The audio is minimal and there's not even a sound when you fire. The two-player action is serviceable but bland.
Shooting Gallery is a single-player variation where you shoot as many "pigeons" (blocks) as you can in the fewest number of shots. Your "rifle" is an angled paddle placed in random locations on the left side of the screen. This isn't as bad as it looks (it can't be, right?).
You'll need to properly time your shots but the collision detection is very forgiving. It cracks me up how the manual provides instructions for calculating your "batting average." I was told there would be no math! Desert Fox/Shooting Gallery is shooting action of the least common denominator. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Each new square seems to increase the difficulty exponentially. Not only do the squares move at various angles but they can carom off each other. This thoughtful feature makes it far more difficult to anticipate where the squares will end up. Your "death" animation is a bunch of concentric squares being rapidly drawn to random noises.
During each round a score "counts up" for as long as you can survive. With two people playing at once the player who survives longest has this score added to his total. It's a neat concept. Each round tweaks the formula slightly, with different sized "arenas", variable-sized blocks, and random speeds.
Sudz and I were pretty high on Dodge-It until we discovered an unfortunate flaw. Frantically moving around the screen is fun, but you'll rack up just as many points - probably more - by just hiding in a corner. Especially if you're a little block on a field with bouncing fat blocks, you'll last a lot longer and work a lot less.
That's a bummer because Dodge-It gets a heck of a lot of mileage out of a dirt-simple formula. This is dodgeball stripped down to its bare essentials. Had they only incorporated electric walls this would have been a hidden gem. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
The scheme for shifting is the exact same one used in real life, which impressed the heck out of my resident car expert Brent. Your RPM meter is displayed on the bottom and shifting gears at just the right time is key. Once you grasp the controls the game is fun. You need to exhibit a great deal of coordination to earn a fast time, which is measured to the 10th of a second.
After crossing the screen a few times a finish line appears on the far right. It's too bad the times are only displayed after both cars have finished; a single-player mode would have been nice. Also, a restart option would have come in handy. Despite these minor issues Drag Strip is a simple racer you should not overlook. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Atari Age, VideoGame Console Library