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.
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 to option 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Much like my site, 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.
The stages are loosely based on four old Bond flicks, but you'd never know unless I told you. For the record, the films are Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, and For Your Eyes Only. The stages do look different, but they all play the same and none are particularly enjoyable. 007's heinous graphics feature ugly color schemes and constantly flashing skylines. I hate how the blue diamonds in the sky don't even disappear when you shoot them (hey, maybe they really are forever!).
James Bond 007 is not a pretty sight, but remarkably, this version holds a slight edge over its pathetic Atari 5200 counterpart. The controls are better, the difficulty is lower, and you can actually shoot the satellites that attack from overhead. But make no mistake; James Bond 007 is still unadulterated crap. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
In the first stage you strafe shambling skeletons in a graveyard and in the second you blast ghosts emerging from coffins. The ghosts tend to disappear as they move down the screen but fortunately you can still destroy them in their invisible state. The third stage pits you against waves of green Frankenstein monsters. I love the game's sense of foreshadowing as the castle gradually looms larger and larger in the distance.
When a creature reaches the bottom of the screen it briefly turns into a skull before draining a point of your life. You begin with 50 points so you can afford to let a lot of them pass. Especially in arcade mode it feels like a war of attrition as you're turning back hundreds of creeps. Shooting down a passing bat recovers some life and that becomes a big deal later in the game. Upon losing your final life the game concludes with a shriek and diabolical laugh. I love it!
Jeepers Creepers has a lot of nifty details but its gameplay is taxing. Each button throws with a hand so you naturally want to hold in both for maximum firepower. The problem is, after a few minutes your wrist will hurt like hell. My friend Scott said his hand ached so bad he had to call in sick to work the next day! He swore up and down next time he was bringing a vice grip. Okay, so it's not as fun as it looks, but for a little Halloween hijinks Jeepers Creepers is probably worth the pain. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Unlike Donkey Kong, there are a LOT of screens - 12 in all! Each provides unique challenges such as spontaneously combusting flames, bouncing rocks, and guided bullets. There are numerous ways to complete each screen. The controls are responsive and mercifully forgiving, so you can't blame the game when you screw up. Little details add to the fun; for example, when your man falls or takes a hit he'll tumble down the entire structure, and occasionally you'll get lucky and he'll fall right onto the last circle, clearing the screen. It just doesn't get any better than that.
Jumpman Junior is one of the few titles that let you set the game speed (from 1-8) and I recommend setting 3. Another nice feature is the excellent harmonized music - these catchy tunes brought back some serious memories! Jumpman Junior is simply a blast to play, and only a sore thumb could pull me away from this. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
The first stage requires good reflexes to jump from vine to vine, and then it's off to a crocodile-infested river. I don't know why the crocodiles are red, but they die pretty easy when you stab them (even if their mouths are open). Back on shore, you'll leap over small rocks and duck under large square ones before reaching your final destination.
Here you'll find your girlfriend tied up and hanging over a boiling pot, and you'll need to leap over two natives to rescue her. Too bad there's no sort of ending. During the second time through, monkeys appear on the vines, a feature not found in most versions. This Jungle Hunt is fairly forgiving, and after you die you pick up right where you left off. I've played Jungle Hunt on many consoles, but this is my personal favorite. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
The store is populated with random angular shapes that look more like glitches. I can vaguely make out telephones and stools, but otherwise the scenery looks like garbage. Objects like shopping carts, airplanes, and escalators are bland and single-colored. That ugly city skyline is the absolute worst. The controls are responsive but a little touchy. You'll get used to jumping over shopping carts and radios, only to accidentally jump face-first into a toy airplane.
The policeman and striped convict look a little more detailed in this version; you can see their eyes. The cringe-worthy jingle that plays when you catch the crook sounds like something from a haunted carnival. The one saving grace is that this is Keystone Kapers, a game that delivers a challenging combination of jumping and ducking action with a dash of strategy. I found myself employing all my old tricks, like jumping onto escalators and pouncing on the crook. It's a satisfactory effort, but this Colecovision version should have been so much more. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Unlike most maze games, there's no way to turn the tables on your enemies -- you're always on the run. Adding some variety are scattered bonuses and letters you can collect to earn a free bug. There's nothing fancy about the graphics, but the background music is pleasant enough. I found the control to be a bit stiff. I sometimes got caught up on the walls, and my hand started to ache after a while. But other than that, Ladybug is just good clean fun. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Once the missiles are destroyed, you must navigate a series of narrow mazes while shooting the occasional obstacle. During this part of the game you'll hear music that wouldn't be so annoying if it weren't so freakin' LOUD! If you reach the end of this section, you're off to the next stage, which is slightly faster.
The graphics aren't bad; there's plenty of detail and color. Looping has other problems, however. The control is super-sensitive; hardly providing the precision required to navigate the tight, narrow mazes. The collision detection is poor, and the game feels sloppy in general. Most importantly, it's just not much fun. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.