Colecovision Reviews G-I

Galaxian
Grade: A
Publisher: Atarisoft (1983)
Reviewed: 2001/3/3


screenshotHere's one of the few cases where the home version of a game is actually BETTER than the arcade! This adaptation of the classic space shooter is absolutely superb in every way. The graphics are so detailed you can even see the fluttering wings of the swooping aliens. Your ship's explosion is impressive - far better than the arcade. Even the sound effects have a crystal clear, 3D quality to them.

This game is hard though. On the intermediate skill level I found it almost impossible to take out both escorts and the boss, a task I'm usually proficient at. What really makes this game special is the speed. Your shots move much faster than the arcade game, but this is offset by aliens who are faster and more aggressive. Overall, it's pretty spectacular. If Atari could do this, why is the Atari 5200 version so bad? © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Avg
Our high score: 6210
1 or 2 players 

Gateway to Apshai
Grade: D
Publisher: Epyx (1984)
Reviewed: 2009/5/6


screenshotWhen I would play the Dungeons and Dragons board game in the early 80's, it seemed like the hardest part was plotting your journey on a piece of graph paper. What a hassle! I could only dream of the day when a video game would automate the tedious task of mapping. And dice rolling. And everything else. Well, apparently that day arrived in 1984, because Gateway to Apshai is a pretty straight adaptation of the D&D formula.

You control a small warrior wandering through a series of dungeons which actually materialize as you walk through them. Around each dark corner you'll find treasure, hidden traps, and magic items. These are normally guarded by evil fiends like swamp rats, snakes, green slime, and evil priests. The Colecovision keypad is well utilized, allowing you to manage your inventory, switch weapons, cast spells, search for traps, and check your vital signs.

This is a pretty sophisticated dungeon crawler for 1984! Hell, you can even select the level of the dungeon you want to explore - from 1 through 99! Something's got to give, and in this case it's the visuals. The graphics are very modest, and even advanced enemies are small and single-colored.

The fighting controls are extremely awkward. You need to press "2" to enter "fighting mode", and this allows you to "wave" your sword. This waving action is neither precise nor effective. Even lowly rats can sustain multiple hits, and if two monsters gang up on you, you're toast. Yeah, the fighting stinks, but you also have the option to flee or use spells. Gateway to Apshai is an interesting stepping stone in the evolution of adventure gaming, but you won't want to ditch your old D&D player's handbook for this. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 620
1 player 

Gorf
Grade: A
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
Reviewed: 2001/3/3

screenshotLet's get one thing straight - Gorf kicks ass. What other game provides so many different flavors of space shooting fun? Indeed, Gorf is four games in one; hence four times the fun of your normal shooter. The first stage, "Astro Battle", is basically a Space Invaders clone, except you have a shield above (that you can poke holes in) and your cannon can move up and down -- as well as side to side. I love the unique firing mechanism, which allows you to abort your previous shot simply by firing a new one; preventing the need to wait for your bad shots to leave the screen.

The second stage, "Laser Attack", has more of a Galaga flavor to it, with aliens moving around the screen in various formations. Then there's the third (and very brief) "Space Warp" stage. This one didn't turn out quite as well as the others. It's supposed to be a black hole with aliens emerging from it, but all you really have to do is shoot away at the middle of it, taking out aliens before they can escape.

Finally, there's the climactic "Flag Ship" stage; where you take out the mother ship as it moves back and forth across the top of the screen. You can blast away at the hull all you want, but only a perfect shot to the reactor will destroy the thing. The subsequent explosion, four fuzzy boxes, is pretty weak compared to the arcade. But overall the graphics are fine, and the sound effects are even better. There's a certain set of tones that play at the end of each stage that I really like. The only thing missing is the "My name is Gorf" voice synthesis from the arcade version. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 6940
1 or 2 players 

Gyruss
Grade: C
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1984)
Reviewed: 2003/11/21

screenshotI loved Gyruss in the arcade because it took the standard shooter formula and added a cool twist. Instead of shooting up at invaders that flew above you, your ship rotates in a circle, shooting aliens that emerge from the center of the screen - clever stuff. I also like the fact that this game has an actual "goal" of trying to reach the planet Earth. Every few stages you reach a new planet, beginning with Neptune (what happened to Pluto?).

If you're a Galaga fan, you'll recognize several similarities, including the "double shot" power-up and the bonus "Chance" stages (known as "Challenge" stages in Galaga). The graphics here are sufficient, but not great. The stars that emerge from the center of the screen look pretty sloppy and hardly convey the feeling of movement. The aliens are plain-looking and move in a choppy manner, making them tough to shoot when they're moving laterally.

The biggest strike against this game has to be the control. Not only is moving your ship in a circle a chore, but having to tap that side button continuously to shoot is very awkward. An auto-shoot option would have been nice. If you enjoy the elaborate musical score, you should know that you're listening to Johan Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Little did Bach know when he was composing 300 years ago that someday it would be used in a video game. I should also mention that although the instruction manual mentions an options screen, I could not get it to appear. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 37200
1 or 2 players 

Heist, The
Grade: C
Publisher: Micro Fun (1983)
Reviewed: 2013/2/2

screenshotThe title screen of Heist displays the company name (Micro Fun) with the slogan "the fun goes on forever." Wait a second... doesn't micro mean small? Anyway, it won't take classic gamers long to notice parallels between this and Keystone Kapers (Atari 2600, 1983). You play a burglar in a three-story museum, snagging art while using elevators and escalators to move between floors.

Your character is large and certainly looks the part of a chain-smoking thug. If you look close enough, you can even see his tattoos and body-piercings. Not really. The pictures have small images on them but the rest of the scenery is limited to plants and a few benches. The game has a timer and you'll need to avoid touching the various alarm mechanisms.

Alarms look like blinking red lights you need to jump over, and some even roll along the floor. Running around grabbing keys and artwork is fun, but the designers missed a few opportunities. First of all, a "count down" showing the number of remaining art pieces would have been extremely helpful.

The elevators are fun to ride (just enter the number of the floor on the keypad), but the escalators are a nightmare. They look big and inviting but stepping onto one requires pressing diagonally after perfectly positioning yourself, which is problematic. Anyone who's played Keystone Kapers knows that hopping on and off escalators is one of the simple joys in life. Heist is moderately fun but it doesn't do much to elevate itself over average status. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 17,737
1 player 

Illusions
Grade: F
Publisher: Coleco (1984)
Reviewed: 2005/10/9

screenshotThis game never made any sense to me, and I've given up trying to figure it out. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, but even after dozens of plays, I still can't wrap my mind around Illusions. The first screen is an "impossible" 3D maze of walkways and stairs that twist around in a maze-like fashion. The second screen is a simple cube. These are well rendered and interesting at first, but the novelty doesn't last.

In the first screen Amoeba-like blobs circle the maze, and your goal is to merge them together. In the second screen, your challenge is to break them up. You don't control the creatures individually, but can alter their direction (by pushing the joystick up or down) or make them "jump" to different parts of the maze (by pressing a button). The problem is, they only jump at predetermined points, and these are not the least bit obvious to the player. As a result, your jump command will register immediately, but the blobs won't actually jump until they reach a certain point, and the lag time is disconcerting.

Illusions was clearly inspired by a work of modern art, but translating it into a video game was a mistake. The gameplay is hard to grasp and even harder to enjoy. Making matters worse, the looping background music will drive you absolutely insane (thankfully you can toggle it). If the developers were trying to create something totally unique, they've succeeded. But actually playing Illusions is an exercise in misery. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 600
1 or 2 players 

It's Only Rock 'N Roll
Grade: D+
Publisher: Xonox (1984)
Reviewed: 2014/4/19

screenshotIn the 70's and 80's K-Tel produced compilation record albums containing not-so-fresh hits like "Sugar Sugar", "Candyman", and "My Green Tambourine". Apparently they also tried their hand at video games, resulting in It's Only Rock 'N Roll. I kind of expected an arcade-style title like Journey Escape (Atari 2600, 1982), but got a text-based business simulation instead! The main screen displays status information like money, energy, bank loans, fan clubs, popularity, and a happiness score. A menu of options lets you write a song, record an album, make a video, tour, and take time off.

It's Only Rock 'N Roll is kind of cheesy and amateurish. When you choose "write a song" you're presented with a set of nonsensical lyrics like "she never did like jiving", "I can't look into my eyes", and "why do I like a raw steak". The lyrics are incomprehensible yet the game will insist the song is a "10 out of 10". When you accept a song, it prints "OK" all over the screen, which looks like something I would have programmed in BASIC when I was 10.

The graphics are minimal but during a gig you'll watch an animated sequence of your band playing random beeps and boops. It's a nice surprise the first time you see it, but after that you'll wish you could skip it. Another irritation is the exorbitant cost of touring (damn you, Ticketmaster!!). Unless you tour early on, it always seems out of your financial reach. Touring involves watching money rack up on the screen along with random status messages like "arrived late" and "drummer was drunk".

It's Only Rock 'N Roll starts to get interesting when you break into the top 10 next to artists like The Cure, Billy Joel, Whitesnake, Queen, and Genesis. Sadly, it's hard to move up the charts because the game will end abruptly with some lame excuse like "you are over the hill" or "you died from a broken heart". I know It's Only Rock N Roll, but I don't like that! There's novelty and originality here, but not much of a game. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 76
1 player 


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