Colecovision Reviews E-F

Evolution
Grade: D
Publisher: Sydney (1983)
Reviewed: 2020/1/18

screenshotEvolution is the type of game you rarely find on a classic system. It's a collection of six mini-games, each allowing you to experience a progressively higher form of life. You begin as an amoeba on the first screen, collecting DNA strands while avoiding wandering antibodies. The controls are really touchy in this one. Next you're a frog on the floor of a pond, nabbing passing flies while avoiding red fish. Wait - are these bugs flying through the water? That doesn't make any sense.

In stage three you're a rodent burrowing through soil while avoiding snakes. Your rat's stilted, erratic movements are really annoying. Next up you're a beaver constructing a dam while avoiding patrolling crocodiles, and this one is probably my favorite. In stage five you're a coconut-tossing gorilla taking aim at pesky monkeys.

The final screen portends a dystopian future as you're a human running around shooting at hideous genetic mutants. The flashing city backdrop is very cool and frankly somewhat alarming. After killing ten mutants you witness the destruction of the earth, but it's not as cool as you might expect. Evolution is high-concept but none of its games are great and a few are borderline tedious. Personally I'd prefer to play one really solid game than a bunch of half-baked, marginal titles. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 793
1 player 

Fathom
Grade: A-

screenshotFathom opens with the astonishing sight of a shipwreck sitting on the ocean floor. Off to one side is a diver helmet and on the other lies a treasure chest. You can tell Imagic went all-out for this version. Fathom even supports using an Atari 2600 joystick, which is quite convenient.

Your first order of business is to construct a trident with pieces found both in the air and water. You'll explore the ocean as a dolphin and upon leaping from the water turn into a seagull. This impressive transformation is about as close to "morphing" as you could get in 1984! Tapping a button to flap your wings feels intuitive, making it easy to thread the needle between black birds in the sky and avoid the slow pelican patrolling the lower altitudes.

While underwater you must navigate mazes of kelp but it's not very hard because your dolphin is so nimble. You don't get stuck as much as slowed down. Just be sure to keep an eye out for the great white shark! All your vital information is displayed at the bottom of the screen, and the golden trident, when completed, is a sight to behold.

Your objective is still to rescue a mermaid, but this time she's not in a cage. No, she's the figurehead of a sunken ship, and touching her causes her to magically swim away (to the sound of the Star Wars theme, oddly). Use your dash move to get past the guarding octopus.

Fathom not only addresses issues with the others versions of the game but incorporates new elements as well. There's a helpful compass that points you to the next screen. A new "bird dive" move makes it a lot easier to navigate the skies and make a quick escape.

Fathom does have one really annoying flaw. When moving between contiguous screens the entire screen shifts in a jerky manner accompanied by an annoying ringing sound. When playing this game it sounds like a cell phone is ringing off the hook! Otherwise Fathom for the Colecovision is compelling maritime fun that plays like a dream. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: 2805
1 player 

Frantic Freddy
Grade: D
Publisher: Spectravideo (1983)
Reviewed: 2001/11/18

screenshotThis game features a grotesque insect trying to extinguish the flames of a burning building. Freddy gets my vote for ugliest video game character ever, bringing to mind disgusting memories of the movie The Fly. The game alternates between two stages. In the first, you shoot water blobs (from the bottom of the screen) at flames in windows while dodging objects that rain down.

The second stage plays like a typical platform game, as you move from floor to floor shooting water at wandering flames. I wasn't too impressed by the graphics or sound, but I'll say one thing for Frantic Freddy - it's tough. The challenge alone is enough to keep you busy for a while. But when all is said and done, Freddie really doesn't offer anything new or exciting. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 7820
1 or 2 player 

Frenzy
Grade: A
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
Reviewed: 2001/7/4

screenshotI've been a fan of Berzerk for twenty years, but only recently did I discover the sequel: Frenzy. I'm glad I did. This brilliantly executed game retains the classic Berzerk gameplay; while adding additional strategic elements. You still control a man running through a series of maze-like screens, attempting to escape the clutches of Evil Otto and his robot minions. Enemies close in fast at the beginning of each round, so those first few seconds are critical.

Your man is impressively animated, especially when he's taking aim or getting zapped. Unlike the menacing robots of the original game, these look more like skeletons with oversized heads. In addition, they are accompanied by roving tanks. Robot AI has been improved dramatically -- they deliberately avoid giving you a clean shot at them.

But the biggest change is the addition of both destroyable and reflecting walls, which add subtle strategic elements. For example; missed shots will sometimes hit their mark after a ricochet, and occasionally you'll have to shoot your way through an enclosed area. You can even shoot Otto now!

But beware - this makes him very angry, and he comes back twice as fast. The game continues momentarily after you die, so even after losing your last man, the robots sometimes can inadvertently earn you an extra life - just when you thought the game was over! I found Frenzy to be just as fun as Berzerk, if not more. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 4627
1 or 2 players 

Frogger
Grade: A+
Publisher: Parker Bros (1983)
Reviewed: 2012/7/11

screenshotLoosely based on a true story, Frogger lets you guide a helpless frog across a traffic-filled street and then cross a stream of moving logs and other hazards. The sympathetic premise is so appealing that even girls have been known to enjoy this. Granted, the frog is the size of an SUV and could probably swallow a man whole, but work with me here!

Frogger is a nice-looking game. The screen is awash with color as every vehicle and animal is exquisitely detailed. Heck, there are even different types of cars in the same lane! All the elements of the arcade are present like the snake who patrols the shoreline and that creepy looking otter paddling in the water. The frog must be a total stud because he is constantly picking up chicks on the way across the river. Pursuing a juicy fly can earn you a fat bonus, but try not to go crazy with this type of glory-seeking.

The controls are less forgiving than most versions of Frogger. You need to land squarely on a log; if your feet are hanging off you'll probably slide into the water. Cars and logs tend to change speeds unexpectedly, making this one of the more challenging versions of the game. And I can't forget to mention something about the catchy theme song. How many modern games have you humming along as you play? Try none! Frogger is a timeless game, and this is the version you want. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 11,920
1 or 2 players 

Frogger 2
Grade: C-
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1984)
Reviewed: 2012/7/11

screenshotThis innovative sequel takes our amphibious hero from the depths of the ocean to the clouds in the sky. You'll traverse three distinctive screens, each with its own set of dangers. Your journey begins on the seafloor, where you must swim past alligators, barracuda, and eel to reach floating logs. It's pretty crowded down there, and that water current is a bastard! Reaching a log takes you to the water surface where you hop across lily pads, ducks, whales, and hippos to reach a life preserver pulled by tugboat. Hopping on a baby duck pisses off the mother duck to no end, but if you hop on the mother directly she'll carry you into the sky.

This third screen lets you bounce on fluffy clouds while avoiding airplanes and dragons. It's clever how the screens are tied together but Frogger 2 is less than the sum of its parts. There are a lot of animals, but most are rendered in a single color. The action is plodding at times, especially when you're waiting for your next chance to jump. Difficulty level 1 is so slow that I caught my friend Chris surfing his phone while playing it! Variation 2 is faster but aggravating. Frogger 2 looks good on paper, but it lacks the simple fun that made the original so appealing. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: SLN 9222
1 player 

Front Line
Grade: C
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
Reviewed: 2006/5/11

screenshotFront Line is the spiritual predecessor to so many of those "one-man army" games like Ikari Warriors and Rambo. You control a machine-gunning, grenade-tossing soldier fighting in a foreign land against all odds. As you forge your way up the vertically scrolling terrain, you'll navigate around bushes, trees, brick walls, and barbed wire while engaging groups of soldiers, tanks, and cannons.

Front Line's graphics aren't nearly as good as I was expecting. The goofy-looking soldiers look as if they're dancing, and the box-like tanks didn't impress me either. The range of bullets is so limited that you can linger just a few feet away from enemies with no fear of being shot. The constantly changing scenery keeps the action fresh however, and the screen even scrolls sideways to widen the battlefield. Occasionally you have the opportunity to man a tank yourself - an impressive feature for a 1983 title.

Front Line is one of the few Colecovision games that actually requires the Super Action Controllers, utilizing all four of its "finger" buttons. Unfortunately, the counter-intuitive control scheme uses two of these buttons to rotate the direction of your aim. While this provides the ability to strafe and finely adjust your shooting angle, it's awfully hard to remember which button turns which way, especially in the heat of battle. Front Line is a challenge, but its confusing controls and so-so gameplay put this one squarely in average territory. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 4700
1 or 2 players 


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