Most play well and I really love those crisp clean high-definition lines in Adventure. Your block-shaped knight has never looked so... square! Missile Command looks stunning with its sharp lines and vivid color schemes. Still, there are issues. Missile Command's controls feel a bit laggy, and during Centipede sections of the bug will disappear for extended periods. Night Driver and Steeplechase were designed to be used with analog paddle controllers and are practically unplayable without them. Double Dunk is glitchy.
You also get a trio of "new" 2600 titles. There's the colorful underwater shooter Aquaventure, a hideous Tempest prototype, and the obscure sequel to Yars' Revenge called Yars' Return. How about the original Yars Revenge?
More exciting are the inclusion of four Atari 7800 titles, which are obscure almost by definition. Alien Brigade is a cool first-person army shooter with impressive animations of aliens splattering and helicopters exploding. Food Fight is an addictive arcade game and Motorpsycho is a good-looking motorcycle racer. Ninja Golf is an unusual take on the sport, where you hit the ball and then fight your way to your next shot.
I don't think the people who put this collection together were very knowledgeable about the Atari 2600. Swordquest Earthworld is incomprehensible without the accompanying instructions and comic. Many 2600 games like Asteroids have dozens of variations originally detailed by colorful grids in their instructions. They should have included digitized manuals.
There's no mention of the difficulty switches, which can play a vital role in certain games. I later discovered that the shoulder buttons toggle these, but it's not documented and there's no feedback when you change them. At least the main menu incorporates the spectacular original box art. Atari Collection 1 is an interesting mix of games, but I think they deserve a little better treatment. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
Next up is BurgerTime, one of the more devilishly difficult platformers ever devised. You're a little chef dropping giant burger patties and toppings onto pursuing food byproducts. Good luck getting past that second screen! If you thought the excellent Intellivision edition of Lock N Chase (Intellivision, 1982) was a treat, this arcade version will blow your mind with its smooth animation and easy controls.
Chain Reaction is a Bust-A-Move-style puzzler that's easy to get sucked into, but that ice cream-truck music has got to go! Darwin 4078 is a primitive vertical shooter that requires you to mash not only the shoot button but the bomb button as well. Thankfully this game was phased out by natural selection.
BreakThru begs the question "why have I never heard of this?" Like a fast-paced, isometric Moon Patrol (Atari 5200, 1982), you'll blast tanks and soldiers with three-way shots while jumping bridge gaps. I suspect this one was doomed from the outset by its hopelessly generic name.
Sly Spy is a stunning James Bond shooter featuring oversized characters and quality violence. The action begins in the skies over DC, before moving to the highway, and eventually underwater. Tumblepop is an engaging co-op platformer similar to Snow Bros., but its freaky clowns and circus music gives me the creeps!
Its controls are a little stiff, but Gate of Doom (Dark Seal) is a brilliant isometric D&D style brawler I could only dream about back in the 80's. Wizard Fire (Dark Seal II) ups the ante with improved graphics, smoother controls, and a magic button. You face a huge red dragon early on that's positively jaw-dropping.
All of these games support two players and several are co-op. Data East was always a heavy hitter when it came to arcade games, and this collection is living proof. Spanning from 1981 to 1995, it offers a nice cross-section of eras and genres. Some of these titles may have appeared in previous forms but they have never looked this good. Carts like this are the reason you own an Evercade! © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
The collection incorporates a wide range of genres, spanning from the late 80's thru early 90's. Bad Dudes (NES) is a brawler which seemed awfully choppy until I went back and played the original NES cartridge. Yep - it's supposed to be that way! It's classic old-school ninja mayhem. Two Crude Dudes (Genesis) refines the side-scrolling violence with larger 16-bit sprites and creepy mutant enemies.
Burgertime and Burning Rubber (aka Bump N Jump) are two NES classics, although I found the control in Burgertime a little stiff, causing me to get hung up on ladders. Midnight Resistance (Genesis) is an army shooter with a Contra vibe and a great auto-fire feature. Fighter's History (SNES) may be a blatant Street Fighter II rip-off but at least it's a quality rip-off.
Karate Champ (NES) is a rudimentary one-on-one fighter that shows its age. Joe and Mac 2 (SNES) is a great prehistoric side-scroller but is there a reason they included this sequel over the original? Magical Drop 2 (SNES) is a decent puzzle game not previously released in the US. Side Pocket offers addictive billiards fun, but this SNES version lacks the swanky lounge music of the Genesis, and I found its controls touchy.
I wouldn't say this collection contains any "must have" titles but it is consistently good. Each game inherently tracks the best score so it's possible to use the load/save state feature as a high score save system. Packing ten titles with only one clunker in the bunch, Data East Collection 1 is your ticket to simple, old-school escapism. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
Alligator Hunt may be the most poorly-named video game ever. It's a fast-paced, point-and-shoot title a la Nam 1975 (Neo Geo, 1990). You fire non-stop at hulking robots trudging through destroyed cities, as well as alien ships scaling in and out. The War-of-the-Worlds theme is fun but the repetitive gameplay and mind-numbing guitar music prove tiresome.
Biomechanical Toy is a stuff of my nightmares. You're some dude blasting freaks in an Alice in Wonderland world of clowns, jokers, and other distorted characters. The colorful graphics look sharp but the animation is rough and enemies absorb too many bullets. I think the programmers at Gaelco liked to smoke, but not cigarettes.
Glass is a simplistic game where you guide a ship around an open grid, knocking out panels while avoiding wandering monsters. Other than the hot chicks introducing each stage, this is instantly forgettable. The next game, Thunder Hoop, puts you in the role of a bratty kid in a factory, unleashing rapid-fire shots on random wacky creatures. This could have been okay if enemies didn't materialize on platforms just as you're about to land on them.
Fortunately I've saved the best for last. Snowboard Championship is a fast-paced thriller combining 2D gameplay with lush digitized graphics. The bright powdery snow looks almost as inviting as the babes in purple pants cheering at the end of the run. I like how the game displays the time required "to classify". It's also constantly prompting me to "run" but I have no idea what that means.
World Rally is the creme of the crop. Much like the snowboarding, it boasts digitized graphics and a slick isometric view. Imagine a top-down version of Sega Rally Championship (Saturn, 1996)! Even with a digital pad it's very easy to slide around turns and remain on the road. Gaelco Collection doesn't have many highlights, but a winner like World Rally might just be enough to put this one over the top. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
Astrosmash kicks things off by letting you blast asteroids and "spinners" hurtling towards a planet's surface. The rapid-fire shooting is exciting but the real challenge doesn't really kick in until around 20K when the big "mother ship" finally makes an appearance.
Buzz Bombers is an arcade-style bumble bee shooter with gameplay that's surprisingly obtuse. Frog Bog is a terrific game totally botched here. Its default variation is too easy and the "hard" difficulty has broken controls. I push straight up and my frog inexplicably jumps left!
Night Stalker is a classic maze shooter that suffers from laggy controls and bullets so slow you can literally outrun them! The multi-table Pinball looks amazing and plays well, despite laggy controls. Princess Quest (2016) is a fairly recent homebrew that might just knock your socks off. It effectively brings the Ghouls N Ghosts (Genesis, 1989) gameplay to the Intellivision with gloriously-blocky retro graphics.
Shark! Shark! is one of my all-time favorites. The undersea sights and sounds are soothing but the dash move appears to be broken. When playing Slap Shot Super Pro Hockey with Sudz he inquired "what team am I, blue or phlegm?" The players look like walrus slowly waddling around the ice, but the game is still competitive.
Snafu is one of those simple draw-a-line-and-try-not-to-crash games which always seems to end with two players boxing themselves in. Thin Ice is a charmingly penguin skater with cute animations. Thunder Castle is a visually spectacular dungeon crawler, but when I say "crawler" I mean it literally. I wish there was an option to speed it up. Word Rockets is an unexpected surprise, offering good word-shooting, head-to-head fun.
Intellivision Collection 1 offers a decent cross-section of Intellivision games. But while they look terrific in HD, they do not play significantly better - and some much worse. At least the manual is well done, packing all the pertinent information into a small space. This collection is a cost-effective way to sample the Intellivison library, but it's clearly no substitute for the real thing. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
Earthworm Jim is the headliner, offering rapid-fire, cow-launching intergalactic mayhem. Its surreal graphics, excellent soundtrack, and humorous animations made it a darling of critics. I can't tell if this is the Genesis or the SNES version, but judging by excellent sound quality I'm going with SNES. Why does Evercade choose to hide this information?
Boogerman is a juvenile 16-bit platformer known for its gross-out humor. We're talk farts, loogies, and booger flicking. Is it funny? Not particularly. Is it fun? Yeah, actually it is a lot of fun.
Clayfighter was a hit with my friends back in the day but its clunky, imprecise gameplay hasn't aged well. That said, what other one-on-one fighter lets Elvis face off against an evil snowman? Too bad there are no moves listed anywhere. You'll have to hit up the internet for those.
Battle Chess is the oddball of the bunch. It's simply chess with animated pieces. You choose a piece to move, and the character will slowly trudge across the board, occasionally pausing so other pieces can get out of its way. Upon "capturing" a piece, an animation depicts a brief one-on-one battle sequence. These are mildly entertaining at best and certainly not worth the wait. Why did they choose to include the NES edition of the game, which has got to be the least impressive?
Incantation is a whimsical wizard side-scroller never released in the States, and once you play you'll know why. Titan is a generic clear-out-the-bricks game that suffers from unsightly, choppy scrolling. All in all, I'd rate this collection as one-third yay, one-third meh, and one-third ugh. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
10-Yard Fight is a vertically-scrolling football game. You may have played it on the NES but this arcade version is so much better, starting with the large, detailed players. You only play offense, where you can run, pass forward, or pass sideways. The action is non-stop but it seems like everytime I throw the ball it goes into the waiting arms of a defender!
I was a little disappointed that Battle Chopper turned out to be the arcade version of Mr. Heli (Turbografx-16, 1989). Still, not many people own that game, so most will regard this whimsical side-scrolling helicopter shooter as a revelation. Its bright arcade graphics and rapid-fire shooting are compelling, and the ability to purchase power-ups substantially improves the replay value.
Lightning Swords (1991) is a side-scrolling slash-a-thon set in feudal Japan. It feels like a combination of Shinobi (Sega Master System, 1988) and Ninja Warriors (SNES, 1994). That is one lethal combination! As with some other games in this collection, two-player simultaneous play is supported, but it's so hectic I prefer playing solo.
Moon Patrol (1982) is the "elder" game of the bunch. I was surprised to see it, as I normally associate it with Atari. Anyway this is a fantastic side-scrolling shooter where you bounce along the surface of the moon, jumping craters while shooting bomb-dropping UFOs. I love how your wheels go flying off as your rover explodes.
R-Type is a famous side-scrolling space shooter that's appeared on just about every console. Its gimmick is that you get a little shooting pod that you can direct around the screen. I think this is the first time I've been able to experience the arcade original, and it is insanely addictive.
In The Hunt is a breathtaking submarine shooter. Until now you had to settle for the Playstation or Saturn console versions, both plagued with massive slowdown. Now only does this run great, but features fantastic stages (like the sunken city) not available on the consoles. The spectacular graphics are reminiscent of Metal Slug (Neo Geo, 1994), and the destruction quotient is off the charts as you blast undersea mines while unleashing heat-seeking missiles at helicopters above the waterline.
Reviewing the Irem Arcade 1 was quite a thrill. Its six games are a compelling case for quality over quantity. There's not a dud in the bunch! I eagerly look forward to future arcade installments like this that provide titles not previously available for home use. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Evercade