I was expecting to only move up and down, but in fact your "forward" paddle has a full range of movement all over the field! That's right - you can walk right up to your opponent's goalie and get all up in his business! Better yet, you can actually twist the joystick to angle your paddle! As icing on the cake, you can independently control your goalie by pulling or "plunging" the joystick!
I was going to characterize this unprecedented degree of control as "4D" until my friend Scott pointed out that this game falls just short of letting you manipulate time itself. Is it hard to wrap your brain around this crazy control scheme? Yes. Does it add to the challenge? Yes. The collision detection could be better but the matches are action-packed. This isn't your father's hockey game! Oh wait... it might be. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
The game itself plays perfectly well. The "next block" is displayed near the bottom, and completing a row raises the blocks on your opponent's side. The intuitive controls allow you to turn blocks by twisting the joystick. My friend Brent who is a Tetris grand master was actually quite impressed with this.
Honestly though, the Channel F may be the last console you'll want to play Tetris on. The colors are ugly, there's no skill level select, and the game is played in total silence. Still, you have to give the game credit for doing exactly what it set out to do. Tetris on the Channel F is a fine technical achievement and a perfectly functional version of the all-time classic. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Tic-Tac-Toe is up first, and there are no fancy variations or gimmicks to spice things up. Heck, at least Atari's 3D Tic-Tac-Toe (Atari 2600, 1980) incorporated some semblance of originality. As if plain Tic-Tac-Toe wasn't lame enough, it's saddled with a really awkward control scheme.
Instead of freely navigating the 3x3 board, you can only move the joystick sideways, letting the cursor travel row by row. As the final insult, you don't push the button to make your move - you pull up on the joystick. When the Video Game Critic has to consult instructions to play freakin' Tic-Tac-Toe, something is very, very wrong.
Up next is Shooting Gallery, and believe it or not, it's not terrible! The game positions a paddle on the left side of the screen at random positions and angles. You need to time your shots to hit targets moving down the right side, and it's often necessary to ricochet your shots. If you set the game to quick (2 minutes) and fast (speed 4) you'll have yourself a mildly amusing little shooter.
The next game, Doodle, is a simple drawing exercise where you "paint" by moving around a box. It's pointless in 2013, but during the bicentennial I'm sure it was considered a novel way to pass the time. You can turn the knob on the controller to change colors, or pull up on the knob to increase the size of your painting block.
Quadra Doodle takes the concept to the next level by having the computer first draw random geometric patterns on the screen - which you can draw over. This four-in-one cartridge is a true relic, but not the kind that Indiana Jones would risk life and limb for. You shouldn't either. Note: Shooting Gallery is also included on the Desert Fox cartridge. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Video Blackjack is remarkably well-designed. The table area is curved with green "felt" just like the real thing! Upon starting a new game you're prompted to cut the deck. Whoa - nobody told me this game was fancy! I feel like I should be wearing a tux!
You begin with $500 and turning the knob lets you place a bet. I like how the table is organized with the house cards along the top and players' hands running diagonally down each side. The cards are large and easy to read. You press the controller knob in to "hit" (which makes perfect sense) and pull it out to stay. It's all quite effortless.
Sudz and I enjoyed this one. When going head-to-head it feels like you're competing against both the house and the second player. Even playing solo can be strangely addictive. Just call me the Fairchild Channel F Video Blackjack Kid! On second thought please don't. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
There's a blue square protecting the left goal and a green one on the right. Pressing in on the joystick throws a small square. Hitting your opponent makes him disappear for several seconds, but tossing a rock through his goal doesn't increase your score! Why not? Keep reading!
Large orange squares begin bouncing around the interior, sometimes with numbers on them. Hitting these square "boulders" pushes them toward your opponent's goal. The more you hit them, the more momentum they gain. Only when one of these large blocks breaks your opponent's goal line do you score.
Since the boulders have different values printed on them you tend to score in bunches. The game is interesting when there are four boulders bouncing around. I'm glad you can hold in the joystick to constantly shoot, because continously pressing in the joystick would be torture.
While the game is clever and innovative, it's easy to fall into a stalemate with the boulders stuck in the middle. Video Whizball isn't the kind of game I'd want to play twice in a row but it's moderately fun and certainly original. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Atari Age, VideoGame Console Library