Colecovision Reviews A-B

2010: The Graphic Action Game
Grade: D
Publisher: Coleco (1984)
Reviewed: 2003/12/2

screenshotThis is one of the strangest games I've seen for the Colecovision. 2010 is a series of puzzle games, wrapped in a space station repair mission. This is a game you can figure out how to play without reading the manual. That's good, because the instructions are a series of technical "transmissions to mission control" - realistic yes, fun to read, no.

Upon starting the game, you see a diagram of the ship with detailed areas highlighted that are in need of repair. When you select an area, a close-up "circuit-repair" puzzle screen appears. I must admit that these puzzles are quite challenging and thought-provoking. Typically you guide a spark along circuits in a maze of computer chips, attempting to locate the correct path while avoiding wandering circles which are deadly to the touch. The mechanics owe more than a little to Qix, but this is nowhere near as fun. There's a certain sense of satisfaction that comes with becoming proficient at the puzzles, but after a while they grow tiresome. Eventually it all starts to feel like... work.

The high-tech graphics and alarming sci-fi music do create an Alien-like tension, but there's no characters to care about and little fun to be had. And what does "The Graphic Action Game" in the title mean? One very astute reader pointed out that another 2010 game - a text adventure - was released at the same time for the Adam computer. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: 6240
1 player 

Antarctic Adventure
Grade: C+
Publisher: Coleco (1984)
Reviewed: 2020/1/18

screenshotI've developed an appreciation for Antarctic Adventure over the years. For one thing, I'm a seasonal gamer, and racing a penguin down a slab of ice definitely constitutes some quality winter weather action. The game is an early Konami title and possesses that arcade flair the company became known for. Each stage involves guiding a cute penguin down a long stretch of ice, hopping over watery holes while trying to reach an ice shack before time runs out. There's little in the way of scenery but then again it is Antarctica so what did you expect exactly?!

Your jumps need to be precise but the responsive controls are up to the task. You'll definitely need to master the fine art of jumping diagonally if you want to get very far. Sometimes a seal sticks his head out a hole, requiring you to steer clear instead. You earn points by touching green flags and snapping up orange fish that leap out of the holes. It sounds easy but each stage is only 90 seconds long and you'll need to maintain a brisk pace to reach the end in time.

Sometimes it's a tough call whether to slow for a green flag or maintain your speed. When rounding curves the penguin's momentum actually pushes him to one side, so yeah - this game is super realistic. Antarctic Adventure feels like a racing game at times and it can get pretty intense as those last few seconds count down. My main gripe is that annoying rendition of "Skater's Waltz" which plays non-stop. Drives me nuts. Still, the bright graphics, original concept, and formidable challenge make this ideal to play on a snowy winter day. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 31,970
1 player 

Astro Invader
Grade: C-
Publisher: Atari Age (2005)
Reviewed: 2007/11/27


screenshotThis is a recent port of a not-so-classic-but-definitely-old arcade game by Stern (1980). I had never even heard of this shooter before, but Astro Invader has a real Space Invaders vibe - even borrowing the "cadence" sound effect. You control a cannon on the bottom of the screen as aliens are relentlessly deployed from a large mothership at the top. These aliens slide down into chutes where they sit for a short period of time.

This "chute" concept is one I've never seen before, and if I'm lucky, I'll never see it again. Once the aliens begin to fall out of the chutes, they splatter on the ground, posing a deadly hazard. You'll also need to contend with descending pink saucers that will cost you a life if they land. Shooting these saucers triggers an awesome "wah-wah-wah" echo effect, which is hands-down one of the best audio effects I've ever heard! Objects are rendered in solid colors, but scenery is painted in a rainbow of colors which is pleasing to the eyes.

Sadly, Astro Invader looks better than it plays. The game is only moderately fun, and there's not much strategy besides staying near the center of the screen. The cartridge is not glitch-free, and the collision detection (especially near the splats) is questionable. What makes the game worthwhile is its high difficulty, which keeps the games short and makes you want to give it another try. In addition, Astro Invader has a certain old-school quality that is known to trigger flashbacks to 1980. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 3610
1 or 2 players 

BC's Quest For Tires
Grade: B
Publisher: Sierra On-Line (1983)
Reviewed: 2001/7/4

screenshotQuest For Tires was very impressive in the early 80s; with its huge, multi-colored characters and scenery -- taken straight from the B.C. comic strip. Your caveman character rides a stone wheeled unicycle through a series of side-scrolling stages. The graphics are outstanding, with smooth scrolling and clever animations (although the "crash" sequence looks pretty sloppy).

The first few stages offer simple challenges like jumping over holes and ducking under trees, but later stages will have you hopping between the heads of dinosaurs, catching a ride on a large bird, and jumping a ramp across a huge canyon. The controls are quite responsive and you can adjust your speed using the side buttons.

Speed control is key to completing some stages, but it also serves to allow veterans to whiz through those easy early stages. One noticeable flaw is that your speed doesn't reset between stages, so if you were going full bore at the end of one stage, you're thrust into the next one at the same breakneck speed. BC's Quest offers simple arcade fun in a cartoon world. It's occasionally frustrating, but more often addicting. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 3710
1 player 

BC's Quest For Tires II: Grog's Revenge
Grade: F
Publisher: Coleco (1984)
Reviewed: 2002/7/6

screenshotThe first Quest for Tires game was a refreshing side-scroller with wonderful graphics and addicting gameplay. This sequel retains the same style of graphics, but diverges from the simple "forge-ahead" gameplay that made the first one so compelling. Grog's Revenge is non-linear and needlessly complicated. You spend most of the time navigating the ledge of a narrow cliff, and it's very easy to fall off the side.

Your goal is to collect more clams than another character that looks like a big hairy Muppet, whose location is indicated on a confusing radar screen. Most of the game is spent riding around on a wheel trying to run over tiny clams that you have to be perfectly lined up with. The rest of the game is spent exploring dark caves, and this is when the game goes from bad to worse.

Moving vertically up the screen, you guide a cone-shaped "headlight" from side to side trying to collect clams while avoiding rocks and other hazards. Not only is this zero fun, but it looks like total crap. When you finally complete a level, it's off to the next cliff for even more aggravating escapades. The only innovative feature in Grog's Revenge is the ability to "warp" to different levels, but it's pretty useless in a game this bad. Grog's Revenge resembles the first game by name alone, so don't be fooled. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 1420
1 or 2 players 

Beamrider
Grade: C
Publisher: Activision (1984)
Reviewed: 2002/3/6


screenshotIn this second-rate Tempest, you control a cannon at the bottom of a moving grid in space. The blue grid looks attractive, but mainly serves as eye candy. Your cannon can hop between five beams, attempting to shoot 15 scaling aliens while dodging indestructible meteors. In addition to your normal shot, you also have a reserve of long-range torpedoes. Be sure to save one or two of these for the mother ship, which creeps slowly across the top of the screen at the end of each round. The audio effects are very nice, reminding me of an Alien movie. But despite high marks for presentation and control, the gameplay is barely average. There's not much in the way of strategy and the action gets repetitive. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: 6780
1 or 2 players 

Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom
Grade: D
Publisher: Coleco (1984)
Reviewed: 2006/5/11


screenshotIf you were playing video games in the early 1980's, you may remember how so many game developers were attempting to recreate the classic trench scene from the first Star Wars movie. Buck Rogers is one of the less successful attempts. It would be easy to blame the technology of the time, but in truth, this shooter is rife with design flaws.

The graphics aren't too bad. Sure, the scaling is rough and the rockets resemble blue pineapples, but the visuals do convey a modest degree of depth. The problem is, although your ship has a shadow to indicate its altitude, enemy UFOs and incoming bombs do not. Consequently, it's practically impossible to tell whether you're "lined up" with a target. All you can do is fire wildly and continuously, hoping to hit something - somehow. And sometimes that strategy is good enough.

I did discover that the chances of blasting a UFO are much better when you hover at the very bottom on the screen, despite the fact that the UFOs appear to be much higher. To its credit, Buck Rogers does offer seven distinct stages, taking you into trenches, over planet surfaces, and through deep space before facing the Command Ship boss(!).

After defeating the impressively large (but weak) boss, you're rewarded with the text "Nice play. Go on." Buck Roger's audio is equally lame, and its "musical score" (I'm being loose with the language here) sounds like a two-year-old pounding on a Casio keyboard. It's interesting to see all of the stages in Buck Rogers, but once you've done that, the game doesn't have much left to offer. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 3557
1 or 2 players 

Bump n Jump
Grade: D
Publisher: Coleco (1984)
Reviewed: 2016/1/2

screenshotBump n Jump was one of several exciting overhead racers in the early-80's arcades. Its concept is a recipe for fun. Not only can you run cars off the road, you can propel your vehicle high into the air, landing directly on top of them! So what's the deal with this lame Colecovision edition? The controls are sluggish and the gameplay is downright laborious. You'll strain your wrist just trying to stay on the road. When you touch another car you totally lose control for seconds at a time.

Taking to the air is fun, but it's hard to judge where you'll land because the framerate is erratic. When the road narrows you'll want to brace yourself for the inevitable "bridge out". Jumping bridges is bad enough, but whose idea was it to put that annoying green bush at the end of the road? I always run right smack into that [expletive] thing! Just when it seemed all hope was lost, I busted out my steering wheel controller. What a relief!

Spinning the wheel is far more comfortable than wrestling with a stick and flooring the accelerator pedal means one less button to worry about. I recommend the "one finger twirl" technique for steering, although the wheel spokes can be a little rough. You jump by moving the joystick in any direction but that could be more responsive. The background music is melodic and I like how the stages reflect all four seasons. This may not be my favorite edition of Bump n Jump, but if you own the steering wheel go ahead and bump up the grade by a letter. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 23,568
1 or 2 players 

BurgerTime
Grade: A
Publisher: Coleco (1984)
Reviewed: 2003/11/21

screenshotOh yeah, this one is a winner. BurgerTime for the Colecovision is easily the best home version I've played, and it even gives the arcade a run for the money. With its meticulously detailed graphics and arcade-perfect gameplay, I really can't find any flaws with this one. The object is to move a chef around a series of platforms, walking over burger ingredients, causing them to drop below and form a complete hamburger. You are pursued by a nefarious gang of food items including hot dogs, eggs, and pickles.

They'll converge on you quickly, unless you drop food on them or temporarily stun them with pepper. The game has a Dig Dug flavor to it. BurgerTime is considered one of the more difficult arcade games of the early 80's, but this version lets you choose between four skill levels.

At first glance I thought the game could have taken up more of the screen, but once I saw the high-resolution characters, I had no complaints. These hamburgers look good enough to eat, and the way those hot dogs swagger around, you can tell they mean business. Unlike some lesser versions, in this game the pepper is "contagious" between bad guys, which is a good thing. But don't toss that pepper around carelessly - once you run out, you can go through many lives in a hurry. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: JC 49950
1 or 2 players 


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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, Console Classix , Colecovision.dk, Games Database, The Dreamcast Junkyard