Fairchild Channel F Reviews R-S

Robot War/Torpedo Alley
Grade: D
Publisher: Fairchild (1977)
Posted: 2013/6/25

screenshotThis two-in-one package reeks of mediocrity. Robot War plays like a poor man's Berzerk (Atari 2600, 1982). You move a man freely around the screen as a gang of robots converges upon him. These robots aren't too bright and tend to mindlessly follow your movements. You defeat them by guiding them into "electrified force fields" which bear a striking resemblance to blue squares.

When played at a low speed, the game is easy and unsatisfying. If you crank up the speed however, it becomes a frantic little chase game. There's no predefined score limit (lame), but I'd recommend playing to ten.

Torpedo Alley is similar to Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600, 1977). One or two players move cannons across the bottom of the screen shooting at boats moving across in both directions. Each layer of ships has its own point value, and there's also a layer of mines that block your shots.

The only problem with this is that your torpedoes move far so slowly. In fact, you'll find yourself firing before a ship enters the screen, hoping it will just run into your torpedo. Neither of these games is particularly good, but I guess they might be worth a quick round or two. I love the disclaimer on the box which reads "Game play in color only on color televisions." © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Slot Machine
Grade: F
Publisher: Fairchild (1978)
Posted: 2022/8/25

screenshotSlot Machine games tend to be a pretty worthless bunch but this one has a certain 1970's kitsch going for it. Its black-and-white title screen proclaims "Welcome to the Big Casino" surrounded by flashing light bulbs. The slot machine itself is large, colorful, and intricately detailed with fancy trim. There's even a coin return slot on the bottom.

You begin by establishing an overall "purse" which is the cash you will have to work with - 90 bucks or so. Before each turn you enter an amount, typically 50 cents. You pull the arm by pushing in on the controller, which feels a little backwards. The colorful spinning symbols include an apple, bell, and wine glass. I really like that "tick tick tick" sound they make as they go around.

In most cases the lanes stop on their own but one particular variation lets you stop them yourself, one by one. I thought this might give me the ability to "time" the symbols but as it turns out they are randomized. That pretty much confirmed my suspicion that this game boils down to 100% luck.

You need to get three like symbols in a row to win, which is hard. For the sake of this review however I felt obligated to do it once, if only to see what happens. Well, after about 100 pulls I managed to get three bells in a row. What happened? Besides a bump in my cash purse, absolutely nothing! What a buzzkill.

I looked up Slot Machine's instruction manual on the internet to see if I was missing any pertinent details, but what you see is what you get. You'd think they could have come up with partial payouts for specific combinations, but nope! This game is as brain dead as the sad, pathetic souls who play it. Oh wait... © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Sonar Search
Grade: B+
Publisher: Fairchild (1977)
Posted: 2013/6/25

screenshotSonar Search takes the classic Battleship board game formula (remember that?) and actually makes it fun. Each player takes several "shots" per round by aiming a target at a clear blue screen. Hits are indicated by colored squares until the entire ship is revealed. When a shot misses, a series of "pings" indicate the proximity of the nearest enemy ship.

By making calculated adjustments you can methodically home in on the location of each ship. This extra audio component adds a nice layer of strategy. One flaw is that it's hard to tell apart hits from player one and player two, since their tiny colored dots are surrounded with a white square.

In addition to head-to-head action, Sonar Search also provides a fun single-player mode which challenges you to sink five ships with the least amount of ammo. For such a modest little game, Sonar Search packs a surprising amount of entertainment value. My friend Chris absolutely hates this game, but only because he can never defeat me. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 1-4
Our high score: 59
1 or 2 players 

Space War
Grade: F
Publisher: Fairchild (1977)
Posted: 2013/1/29

screenshotI was beginning to think that all the games for the Fairchild had some degree of redeeming value, and then I played Space War. On the surface it looks a lot like Desert Fox, but instead of tanks you guide a saucer freely around the screen while shooting energy beams at your opponent. You can direct your shots left or right by turning the joystick.

The screen is wide open except for some scattered mines and two diamond-shaped "star bases". Firing shots and taking hits drains your energy, but you can "recharge" at any time by touching either one of the star bases. This leads to endless stand-offs where both players trade a few shots before docking at their bases and returning good as new. Playing Space War is so pointless that you're probably better off doing absolutely nothing instead. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

2 players 

Grade: C
Publisher: Fairchild (1977)
Posted: 2013/1/29

screenshotAfter two minutes of playing this game my friend Chris came to the stunning realization: "Wait a minute - oh, we're airplanes!" Okay, so maybe Spitfire isn't much in the graphics department, but its dogfighting action isn't so bad. Each round begins with a plane on each side of the screen and a green control tower in the middle.

After a brief countdown the planes take off and can fly freely around the screen while attempting to shoot each other down. The controls are a little counter-intuitive, as you push up to dive and pull to climb. I guess it makes sense from an airplane control point of view, but on the 2D screen it would have been easier to just turn the knob.

The game is pretty fun because you need to react quickly to shake an opponent off your tail. The collision detection isn't perfect but that actually makes the game more realistic. I really enjoy the crash animations of the planes spinning into the ground. You can play to any score, and there's even a one-player variation. Easy to play and competitive, this twitch shooter is usually good for a few rounds. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

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Screen shots courtesy of Atari Age, VideoGame Console Library