Colecovision Reviews A-C

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 Antartica 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. Consequentially, it's practically impossible to tell whether you're "lined up" with a target. All you can do if 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 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 

Cabbage Patch Kids
Grade: C-
Publisher: Coleco (1984)
Reviewed: 2001/11/18

screenshotIf you're a child of the 80's, you'll recall that the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were the hot item that kept Coleco alive, even after the Colecovision faded and the Adam tanked. This rarely-sought-after game features one of those hideous dolls navigating a series of Pitfall-inspired screens. You'll swing on vines, jump over puddles, dodge bouncing apples, and things of that nature. The challenges are fun at first, but do get repetitive after a while. Still, the control is good and the cartoonish graphics aren't half bad. There's even a happy theme song that plays in the background, and it reminds me of Frogger. Cabbage Patch Kids isn't a bad game, but to be frank, there's nothing here to get excited about. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
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Our high score: 24450
1 or 2 players 

Carnival
Grade: B+
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Reviewed: 2006/6/25

screenshotDon't make the mistake of overlooking this oldie because it's a heck of a lot of fun. About as old-fashioned as you can possibly get, Carnival lets you move a gun across the bottom of the screen, aiming at three rows of moving ducks, bunnies, letters, and bonus items. You have a limited number of bullets, and once your supply is depleted the game ends abruptly. Remaining ammo is lined across the bottom on the screen, and low-flying ducks will actually swoop down and "eat" into your precious supply. If you ever wondered what it is that ducks eat, now you know it's bullets. Who says video games can't be educational? It's possible to replenish your ammo by shooting boxes with numbers on them. A wheel of "pipes" rotates at the top of the screen, and you'll want to clear those out first, as their point values count down quickly. A large box on the top left periodically contains bonus bullets and points - just don't shoot it when it's displaying negative points! I always felt a second box was needed on the right side in order to balance things out, but instead the right side is used to keep track of your B-O-N-U-S letters, which you need to hit in order. Carnival's graphics are bright and cheerful, and I even like the old-fashioned carnival music. Upon clearing each level, you're treated to a cool "shoot the bear" bonus stage, which lets you pump as much lead as you can into a moving bear. Back in the day, I remember how kids at the local bowling alley thought "shooting the bear" was the greatest thing in the world - and they were right! Subsequent bonus stages even let you take aim at two or three bears. Carnival is a simple, no-frills arcade title that even females have been know to take a liking to. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 14910
1 player 

Centipede
Grade: A
Publisher: Atarisoft (1983)
Reviewed: 2008/4/7

screenshotCentipede is indisputably one of the greatest shooters of all time, and this version is outstanding. Strangely enough, Atari seemed to make the best versions of its games for other consoles. The cannon, bugs, and mushrooms objects are extra large, and the animation is silky smooth. Using Colecovision's Roller Controller (trackball) is a pleasure, giving you lightning-fast movement and pinpoint accuracy. The action is relentlessly fun and incredibly addictive. Even women tend to gravitate towards this game - probably due to their disdain for bugs! The huge, hideous spider is a bit slower here than in other versions, but he also tends to linger near the bottom of the screen -- preventing you from getting a good shot at him. The scorpion shows up early and often, and at 1000 points, he's always worth taking a shot at. By poisoning the mushrooms, he indirectly leads to most of your deaths. Centipede has three skills levels and comes with my highest recommendation. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: STP 3870
1 or 2 players 

Chuck Norris Superkicks
Grade: C
Publisher: Xonox (1983)
Reviewed: 2018/3/15

screenshotComing fresh off my review of Chuck Norris Superkicks (Atari 2600, 1983) this Colecovision edition was exactly what I expected. It's the same game except with larger characters, detailed scenery, and stiffer controls. Your guy is a dead ringer for Chuck Norris and I love that spiffy blue uniform. When performing kicks I like how he turns his body sideways in a realistic manner. As you walk up a branching trail the scenery is rich with farms, forests, rivers, stone bridges, and mountains. This is a good-looking game! Trying to stay in that narrow path can be pretty painful however as you wrestle with the rigid controller. During the fight sequences you'll battle preppy guys in Izod sweaters who throw stars like a girl. The collision detection is forgiving as you unleash punches, thrust kicks, and his patented Superkick. If you're familiar with the Atari 2600 game you'll have no problem picking up on this one. The thing is, executing precision movements with the Colecovision controllers will take its toll on your hand. The approach to the final monastery stage is quite a sight as the majestic building rises before you. Only after beating about 30 blinking ninjas inside did I learn that Superkicks doesn't even have an ending! My wrist is still killing me! Much like Chuck Norris himself, this game will teach you the meaning of pain. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
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Our high score: 196,200
1 or 2 players 

Congo Bongo
Grade: C+
Publisher: Coleco (1984)
Reviewed: 2003/1/4

screenshotWith colorful, pseudo-3D graphics, Colecovision's Congo Bongo made Atari 2600 fans of the early 80's green with envy (including me). The game stole a lot of ideas from Donkey Kong, but gave them a whole new dimension (literally). In the first stage, your explorer must climb a tiered cliff to reach the nasty ape at the top, named Congo Bongo. Along the way, he'll have to dodge coconuts, cross a bridge, slide down a hill, leap chasms and avoid monkeys. The detailed graphics are an eyeful, although I would have much preferred a green color scheme instead of the ugly yellow/orange one. The splashing blue waterfalls look beautiful, and minor details like the little skull in a corner gives this game charm. Although the monkeys are mostly an annoyance, if two of them get a hold of you, they can hoist you over their heads and hurl you off the cliff! If only the other two stages were as interesting as this one! The second stage is much less imaginative, featuring a wide-open savannah with charging rhinos all over the place. There are some holes to take cover in, but I've found that if you just jump a lot, you won't even need to use these. The last screen resembles a 3D Frogger, where you need to cross water by hitching rides on lily pads and hippos. This screen is attractive enough, but I found it frustratingly difficult. Worse yet, there's no payoff for reaching Congo for the third time - it's just back to the beginning of the game. Despite the uneven gameplay, Congo Bongo is a challenging, good-looking title. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 9330
1 or 2 players 

Cosmic Avenger
Grade: B-
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Reviewed: 2006/3/19

screenshotI was overly harsh in my initial review of this game, unfairly comparing it to Scramble (a long-time favorite of mine). Cosmic Avenger is one of the more action-packed, challenging titles you'll find on the Colecovision. A side-scrolling shooter, you fire missiles at enemy rockets and ships (many shaped like Tie Fighters) while dropping bombs on ground installations. There are a lot of objects on the screen at a given time, and the action is intense! Usually I prefer to play Colecovision games on skill level 3 (arcade level), but in this case I found it nearly insurmountable. As you move your ship towards the right side of the screen, you speed increases. While this may seem tempting, I'd highly advise against it because the frame-rate becomes choppy and the screen too chaotic. Staying to the left and taking a slow, deliberate approach works better. I actually found it effective to hold in both buttons to fire nonstop. Sometimes you'll find yourself pursued by heat-seeking missiles, and I love how you can make them collide with other projectiles. That's a pretty advanced concept for an oldie like this! On the downside, Cosmic Avenger's collision detection is erratic, and I don't like is how touching an explosion will destroy your ship. In better shooters (including Scramble) it's always satisfying to fly right through the debris. Also, during the "underwater" stages, the high-pitched sonar "pings" got on my nerves after a while. Still, Cosmic Avenger provides a very exciting brand of space shooting action, and it's fairly addictive as well. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 3870
1 or 2 players 

Cosmo Fighter 2
Grade: D
Publisher: Atari Age (2006)
Reviewed: 2008/5/10

screenshotIf you appreciate simplicity in video games, Cosmo Fighter 2 is as simple as they come. You move a cannon side-to-side across the bottom of the screen as assorted objects rain down at various speeds. The game has an appealing arcade look (circa 1982), complete with cycling demo screens displaying directions and point values. You'll face beakless birds (last seen in Atari 2600's Phoenix), heat-seeking Chinese noodles (my interpretation), and bouncing red hourglasses. There's even a big mother ship, although the chances of seeing that thing (outside of the demo screen) are slim. For such a basic shooter, Cosmo Fighter 2 has a hell of a lot of things wrong with it! For starters, the background features descending planets and stars that blend in with dangerous aliens and missiles! You can fire your cannon rapidly, but pressing the button continuously is hell on your thumb, and your cannon tends to "cut out" periodically for reasons I have yet to discern. The "beginner" skill level is insanely difficult, and the unforgiving collision detection certainly doesn't help matters. The sparse audio features some ear-piercing sound effects that are none too pleasant. When I asked my friends to describe this game, they replied with "Not good". Cosmo Fighter 2 has one thing going for it, and that's challenge. You'll be lucky to last for two minutes, yet you'll keep coming back for more. Colecovision die-hards should check this out, but Cosmo Fighter 2 is just too sloppy to recommend to casual gamers. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: 1550
1 player 

Cosmo Fighter 3
Grade: D
Publisher: Red Bullet Software (2002)
Reviewed: 2008/10/15

screenshotCosmo Fighter 3 is a vertical shooter with aliens that emerge from the top of a vertically-scrolling screen. The background graphics feature walls, forests, and lakes, but they look extremely grainy and the colors are ugly. Making matters worse is the jerky scrolling that's not at all pleasing to the eye. Each wave of aliens move in a distinctive manner, including some that drop down quickly but high-tail back before you can get them lined up for a shot. The aliens are so much faster than you that shooting blindly is your only option. Your ship fires two missiles at a time, but the fact that you have to pound the fire button continuously will absolutely kill your forearms. The challenge is there, especially when dealing with the first boss who teleports all over the screen. The background music has a happy-go-lucky vibe that doesn't seem to fit with the theme. I do like the game's opening sequence, which shows a spaceship landing on a partially-destroyed Earth. Cosmo Fighter 3 seems playable at first, but in the long run proves painful and unsatisfying. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1480
1 player 


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