Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
Although the original Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) "board game" is designed to be played with paper and dice, it's a natural fit for the world of video games. Its randomized encounters, tedious mapping, and turn-based combat practically beg
to be computerized. Many old video games tried to capture the D&D formula with varying degrees of success, but this Intellivision gem practically nailed
it. A fast-paced, easy-to-play adventure, AD&D effectively conveys both the combat and exploration aspects of the original dice-throwing game. Your journey begins on a sprawling map screen complete with mountain ranges, walls, forests, and your final destination: Cloudy Mountain. It looks like something from Lord of the Rings! As you traverse the wilderness you'll stumble into a series of monster-infested dungeons. These caverns are randomly generated and contain oddly-shaped rooms - something you don't see in old games. I love how the dungeons "draw in" as you roam, auto-mapping your progress. While searching for key items, you'll encounter bats, spiders, rats, snakes, blobs, demons, and dragons. It's a shame these creatures are all really, really tiny
. The demons resemble aliens (complete with antennae) and I mistook the dragons were bears
! Another problem is how you can't see an approaching monster until the thing's practically on top
of you. Be sure to listen for sound cues that signal when danger is near. You can shoot a limited supply of arrows, and it's great how they actually ricochet
off the walls! You'll want to take advantage of this technique in winding hallways - just be sure the arrows don't bounce back
at you! AD&D's controls are responsive, and you can even run one way while shooting another. Five difficulty levels are included, and even the easiest is no cakewalk. If one element of the original game is missing, it would be the complexity. There are only a few items, no treasure, and no magic. Still, AD&D is a fun, arcade-style quest that will probably surprise a lot of gamers. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
Treasure of Tarmin must have been awesome in 1982, with its first-person view of the dungeon and a wide variety of monsters and objects. The control scheme makes excellent use of the keypad, allowing you to easily manipulate an inventory of items. As you move forge ahead, the hallway animation conveys an effective illusion of movement, although turning 90 degress requires about a second to redraw the screen. The small, non-animated monsters include snakes, scorpions, skeletons, dragons, and a minotaur. Items you come across include normal weapons, spiritual weapons, armor, containers, treasures, keys, books, and more! So what's the problem? Well, it's tedious to make your way through a huge dungeon, especially when every freakin' hallway looks the same. Still, AD&D Treasure of Tarmin is incredibly deep for a 1982 release, and if you have enough patience, you might still enjoy this one. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1979)
With Armor Battle, it's clear Mattel was taking aim at Atari's Combat
, trying to "show it up" with better graphics and deeper gameplay. While it may have succeeded on those counts, Armor Battle isn't that much fun to play. A two-player-only game, both players get two tanks situated on a randomly generated battlefield with roads, trees, water, and buildings. While these obstacles are meant to provide strategy, they rarely do. Most battles are a series of one-on-one confrontations with each tank blasting away until the other blows up. This occurs because the tanks don't relocate after being hit (as in Combat), leaving them open to continuous fire. Another problem is the control. The directional disk is only used to turn the tank - you have to hold in a side button to move forward. This would make sense if the cannon could aim independently of the tank movement, but you can only shoot forward. One cool feature is the ability to lay invisible mines (one at a time) but they are rarely a factor. The funniest part is how the game doesn't officially end until you lose 50 tanks! I thought one round was bad enough, but then the game told me I had 48 tanks left! Armor Battle is one of those games that looks great on paper, but is less than thrilling to play. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1981)
In 1981 Atari had a runaway hit on their hands by the name of Asteroids. Mattel needed an answer, and what they came up with was pretty good! Astrosmash is a fast-paced shooter combining elements of both Asteroids and Space Invaders. You move a cannon back and forth over a planet surface, firing at raining asteroids which split in half when shot. You'll also need to keep an eye out for white "spinners" which cost you a life should they reach the surface. Upon scoring 20K, a huge bomb-dropping mother ship makes an appearance. The action is non-stop and a handy auto-fire feature unleashes three shots per second (sweet). Obliterating asteroids is a blast, and their explosions even incinerate other objects in the vicinity. To discourage the player from becoming passive, the game actually deducts points
whenever an asteroid reaches the surface, so your final score is actually your "peak" score. For the first few minutes, Astrosmash is the best game you've ever played, but over time it wears out its welcome. The game drags on for far too long, and after 20 minutes or so you tend to grow weary of it all. The main culprit is an overabundance of lives - one awarded every 1000 points! I actually racked up over 20 reserve ships
on the hardest difficulty! Even in advanced stages the game seems to replenish ships as fast as you can destroy them. I also noticed that the animation gets choppier and the collision detection suffers as you progress. It's still a good game, but I prefer the Atari version of Astrosmash, known as Astroblast
(Atari 2600, 1982). © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: hard/auto
Our high score: 47,770
Publisher: Imagic (1982)
Whoa! The Atari 2600 version of Atlantis was great, but this Intellivision version is amazing
! Imagic pulled out all the stops for this, with outstanding visuals and surprisingly rich gameplay (relatively speaking of course). Heck, even the art
in the instruction manual looks great. The gameplay involves shooting down invading ships that fly progressively lower across the screen until they begin frying your city below. The half-submerged city of Atlantis looks gorgeous, with its oscillating generators perched upon shadowed undersea mountains. Unlike the Atari version, you actually move crosshairs around the screen to precisely aim your missiles. Missiles are launched from cannons on both sides of the screen, and I love how they rotate in flight. Upon reaching their target they explode into a cloud of flack, so you don't have to hit your target dead-on. Since you can fire two missiles at a time, the game takes on a certain Missile Command flavor. You also have the option of unleashing your "Sentinel Saucer", which you move freely around the screen while firing missiles from both sides. Atlantis contains three distinct stages: day, dusk, and night. The day screen features a bright blue sky with white clouds, and dusk looks somewhat gray and overcast. The night screen is pitch dark
save for two floodlights that pan the night sky for enemies. That's one nifty piece of programming. So what's not to like? Well, the controls could be better. Instead of using the left buttons to fire the left cannon and vice versa, the top
buttons shoot the left cannon, and the bottom buttons fire the right. A balanced approach would have made the controls much
more comfortable. The night stages seem to last a lot of longer than the day stages, which is annoying because they tend to be very hard. There's no co-op mode, but you do get three skill levels. Ambitious in scope and easy on the eyes, Atlantis is truly a showcase title for the Intellivision system. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Medium
Our high score: EV 8650
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Mattel (1979)
My friend Jonathan tossed out a great line while helping me review this game: "Dave, are you mad at me? Is that why we're playing this?" Auto Racing is one relic that might be best left buried deep below the earth's crust. If its counter-intuitive controls don't make you wince, its never-ending races certainly will. The action is viewed from an overhead perspective, and by all accounts the graphics are quite good. The houses on the side of the road have a slick 3D appearance with realistic shadows and colorful bushes. The roads twist and turn in every direction, but the scrolling has a herky-jerky quality that's not exactly pleasing to the eye. The two-player contests are similar to Micro Machines, in that you score points by taking a commanding lead or having your opponent crash. The main problem with this game lies with its steering controls. Pressing right always turns right, no matter which direction your car is facing, and even after you get the hang of it, it's very easy to suddenly become disoriented. Having to press the disk "lower" for sharper turns complicates matters even further. Another issue is Auto Racing's hit-or-miss collision detection, which will have you asking, "What the [expletive] did I just crash into?" The unpleasant "roar" of the car engines sound more like an out-of-tune radio signal. Finally, the races are simply too long. The two-player matches are meant to last until someone scores 50 points - which is a complete joke. Even racing solo (for best time) requires you to complete five long, boring laps. Auto Racing's gameplay was ahead of its time, and I'm sure it's quite fun with two players who know what they're doing. But only the most patient gamers will be able to overcome its steep learning curve. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
This is one of several titles that use the Intellivoice voice module to good effect. In this surprisingly sophisticated combat simulator you pilot a B-17 Bomber over 1942 Europe, where you shoot down enemy planes and bomb key targets. The keypad allows you switch between several screens including: your map, the bomb bay, your gauges, and four windows around your plane. There's plenty to keep you busy, and several different voices to warn of approaching planes, targets, flak, etc. How many people are in this plane anyway? Shooting down enemy aircraft is fun. They scale in nicely from the distance, and it's quite satisfying to see them go down in flames. The bomb bay provides a cool view of the ground below; revealing land, water, factories, and aircraft carriers. A handy "target preview" button lets you know exactly what to look for. You can return to your base in England for repairs at any time, but it's hard to tell if you've sustained much damaged until you hear "Mayday! Mayday!". There are 6 skill levels in this innovative, well-designed game. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 31
Battlestar Galactica Space Battle
Publisher: IntelligentVision (2020)
Those who lived through the late 1970's may recall the sci-fi mania spawned from the success of Star Wars. TV networks went all-in, premiering space-themed shows like Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica. The shows weren't particularly good but Galactica's Cylon warriors were scary and their starships were badass. This excellent new title takes Intellivision's classic Space Battle
(Mattel, 1979) and gives it a Battlestar Galactica makeover. After recently revisiting Space Battle I was a little worried about this. Did I waste my money? How could they improve upon a game that was already so good?
Heck the ships already look like Cylons to begin with!
My worries quickly subsided when I turned on Battlestar Galactica Space Battle for the first time. The graphics have been given a noticeable overhaul. Your base looks like the Galactica mother ship and there's more color and information on the screen. There's even some orchestrated music. The new controller overlays look slick and it's easy to direct your squadrons around the screen. But it's the first-person battle sequences that benefit the most. The controls are a lot faster and more responsive! Enemy shots come at you quick and linger on the screen, ratcheting up the difficulty. I love how the border reflects the color of the squadron you're currently using. The voice effects are terrific and really help immerse you in the action. The voices even sound different. "Nice shot!" is clearly a human cheering you on, while "the base is under attack" is announced by a robot. The action is intense, and when you're down to your last ship it's white-knuckle
time! Battlestar Galactica elevates Space Battle to a level I didn't think before possible. It will be hard to go back. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Activision (1982)
Beamrider is one space shooter that never made much of an impression on me. Much like Star Strike
(Mattel, 1982) the game relies on an optical illusion. Instead of gliding through a trench, you ride along blue lines that convey the impression of being on a moving grid. It's like a flat version of Tempest
(Atari 5200, 2013). The animation is smooth but the illusion is not what I would call impressive. As alien saucers zig-zag in from the distance they deploy slow-moving missiles before retreating back into the horizon. You have two weapons. Your normal shots have limited range but I like how you can hold in the button to fire continuously. You also have a limited number of long-range missiles and the only obvious use for them is against the mothership that warbles across the top of the screen after each round a la Space Invaders
(Atari 2600, 1980). She's really not very hard to hit. Advanced stages also incorporate asteroids and invincible alien ships you need to dodge. As the hazards increase the controls begin to feel more slippery but it's always satisfying to "thread the needle". Beamrider is sharp-looking and easy to play, but you'll forget about it the minute you shut it off. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 9818
1 or 2 players
Beauty and the Beast
Publisher: Imagic (1982)
Beauty and the Beast is an entertaining platformer with bright, arcade graphics and fast, frantic gameplay. At first glance it looks like a Donkey Kong knock-off with an oversized dude instead of an ape. The damsel in distress ("Mabel") looks more like a blue alien, but hey, some guys are into that kind of thing (have you seen Avatar?). You play the role of a complete dork named Buford who must scale the Old Mutton building four floors at a time. You can only ascend at open windows, and they open and close at random. You need to avoid deadly bats, rats, birds, and boulders that split in two. It sounds familiar but Beauty and the Beast has its own distinctive look and feel. It's one of the fastest Intellivision games I've played and you can knock out levels quickly if you keep moving. Your character only slows down to jump, but that's rarely even necessary. Hearts tossed by Mabel grant you temporary invincibility, allowing you to plow through obstacles for bonus points. Each time you reach Mabel a separate screen shows how far you've climbed and how many lives remain. Racking up seven lives may have you thinking, "Man, I'm going to be playing this thing forever
". Fear not, because by the third building you'll be pissing away lives left and right
. Whenever you reach the very top you're treated to a cool animation of the villain falling to his death (a la King Kong). Then you start over. Beauty and the Beast could use a difficulty select, but its quality graphics and exciting gameplay make this is a showcase title for the system. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 7,550
Body Slam: Super Pro Wrestling
Publisher: INTV (1988)
You can't expect much from an Intellivision wrestling game, but Body Slam: Super Pro Wrestling will surprise you. I was astonished
by its remarkable graphics and surprising depth! You select from 12 large wrestlers, each with a unique appearance and individual attributes. There are wacky names like Judge Injury, Baron Von Thud, Jack Hammer, and Barf the Caveman. You select from a set of 26 moves (!), mapping them directly to numbers of the keypad. Each player can select his own skill level, and fighting the CPU is also an option. Each fighter makes an entrance amidst a cheering crowd, and it looks cool how they climb into the ring. A full-screen, bikini-clad chick displays the round numbers, and she winks when someone whistles in the crowd. Once the action begins, you're treated to some truly entertaining (and often hilarious) animations. The basic "grapple" moves include suplexes, head-butts, pile-drivers, and body slams. The screen often shakes to emphasize the impact of each blow. There are moves to execute while running, standing, on-the-matt, and even off-the-ropes!
Running moves include devastating clotheslines and drop-kicks. Some of the more imaginative moves include the "face masher", "iron claw", and a "rainbow punch" which sends your opponent flying out of the ring! Be sure to read the instructions, because certain moves are only available in certain situations. Fighters with big ego attributes tend to showboat, giving their opponents a chance to recover. Body Slam is a technical tour-de-force, but as with most wrestling games, the fighting becomes tiresome after a few matches. It's too easy to get tossed out of the ring, and the matches last too long. Fighters can continue to execute moves even after their health has been reduced to zero, which is bogus. There's no final rating or score - you either win or lose. The tag team option is nice, but I wish you could team up with a friend against the CPU. Even with its flaws, Body Slam is a showcase title that really pushes the system to the max. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
In this highly original title, you must deactivate a bomb before it blows up a city - not a bad premise for a video game. Bomb Squad uses Intellivision's voice synthesis, but it really isn't essential to the gameplay. Your main goal is to solve the bomb's three digit code. You reveal "pixels" of each number by rewiring circuit boards. Each circuit board is a maze of wires containing a few colored components, and your vocal assistant "Frank" advises you how to modify the board step-by-step. You'll need to use cutters, pliers, a soldering iron, and sometimes a fire extinguisher to get the job done. Although the gameplay is fairly methodical, it takes skill to rewire the boards quickly. As the clock ticks down, you may be forced to guess some of the digits, adding to the suspense. Some may find Bomb Squad somewhat tedious, but it's not a bad game. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: 3240
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
This bowling game is amazing! I can't believe how incredibly deep and expertly designed this is. One to four people can participate by taking turns. The screen displays the pins on top, a scoreboard in the center, and your bowler (side view) on the bottom. Using a slightly over-complicated control scheme, you pick up your ball, line up your character, take aim, and apply spin. You actually have 16 degrees of precision for your spin. As the ball rolls down the lane, you get a close-up of the pins, which bounce around realistically when hit! The animation of the pins falling is slow (like slow motion) but it's great fun to watch, and the realistic pin movement makes it possible to nail some tough combinations. The game's attention to detail is remarkable; you can even select your ball weight and the slickness of the lane. In addition to regular bowling, there's also a challenging "pick-up-the-spare" game thrown in. This is by far the best classic bowling game I've come across. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 5
Our high score: 136
1 to 4 players.
Publisher: Mattel (1980)
Here's a sports title that appears impressive but plays poorly due to sluggish controls. The game features a boxing ring that actually looks
like a boxing ring with two oversized fighters. Although heavily pixilated and rendered in single colors, the fighters pose and move in a fairly realistic manner. The action is controlled entirely with the keypad, but if you think that's going to give your hands a break, think again. Boxing is just as uncomfortable to play as any other Intellivision game. You have a wide range of punching options, but your fighter lags behind your commands, making it hard to employ strategy or initiate combos. The disc moves your boxer around, but is extremely slow and unresponsive. I have to admit that some of the animations are pretty neat. It's satisfying to see a well-thrown punch knock a fighter's head back, and I also like how the winner raises his hands over his head in victory. But the matches tend to drag on for far too long, turning each contest into an extended ordeal. There are six distinctive boxers to choose from (distinguished by colors) and the crowd noise effects are superb. Unfortunately, the game is two-player only, and finding two people with enough patience to master Boxing may be too much to ask. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel/Data East (1982)
"Intellivision" may not be the first word that pops into your mind when you think of arcade action, but Bump N Jump makes the system shine. With its colorful cars, varying scenery, responsive controls, and tuneful background music, it's impossible to dislike this game. As you guide your wobbly-wheeled car up a vertically-scrolling screen, you can bump other cars off the road or pounce on them for points. It's like a typical commute on 695. There are plenty of hazards to keep an eye out for, including broken bridges you need to jump over. An audible beep and a flashing exclamation point warns you when you're approaching a gap, and you'll want to keep you finger on the trigger because the end of the road comes fast! You'll also want to guard against jumping too early
, leading to a condition my friend Scott coined as "premature jumpulation". Bump N Jump's bright graphics include a wide variety of vehicles and roadside scenery that actually changes with the seasons
! The audio is sensational, with pleasant background music and satisfying "bang!" sound effects. I also like how Bump N Jump encourages you to be reckless to rack up the big points; it makes the action all the more addicting. If there's a flaw, it may be those cheap "oil slicks" which cause you to explode on contact. Nevertheless, if you're collecting games for the Intellivision, this one should be near the top of your list. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: EV
Our high score: 153912
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Data East (1982)
Burgertime is fun on any system, but it may just shine the brightest on the Intellivision. Not only does this game retain that arcade look and feel, but its seven stages feature better layouts than most versions of the game. The idea is to guide a little chef along platforms and ladders while avoiding hot dogs, pickles, and eggs. Walking across buns, lettuce, tomato, and meat patties causes them to compress, drop, and ultimately form burgers on the bottom of the screen. Your chef is so detailed you can actually make out his little eyes and white mustache. Burgertime has a lot more strategy than your garden-variety platform game. If you drop a food item while an enemy is walking over it, he'll "ride it down" for major bonus points. Likewise you can squash multiple enemies walking below. Pepper is used to immobilize an enemy, but use them sparingly because they are super-rare and often your only means of escape if surrounded. A good general strategy is to stay high on the screen, as it gives you more opportunities to trigger satisfying chain reactions - intentionally or not. Navigating the platforms is a piece of cake, but the side buttons used to spray pepper could be more responsive. Another issue is how enemies can respawn in the middle of the screen, resulting in cheap deaths. One oddball feature is how the game keeps track of how many times you've turned the score over
. Considering you need to reach one million point to do that once
, it seems a bit gratuitous. But maybe the fact that the developers were willing to go the extra mile is part of why Burgertime is so satisfying. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 20,250
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Mattel (1983)
Nothing makes you appreciate the real Centipede like a bad Centipede clone, and that's what Buzz Bombers is. At first glance the game seems to have potential, but ends up being a complete bore. You control a spray bottle on the bottom of the screen, shooting at bees that start at the top and gradually drop down. Shooting a bee turns it into a honeycomb. You can shoot the honeycombs, but you'll actually score more points if you wait for the hummingbird to emerge and eat them instead. I soon found myself afraid to shoot - pretty bizarre for a shooting game! The slow, unresponsive controls don't help matters. The background music features a nice rendition of "Flight of the Bumble Bee", which would sound pretty good if it weren't interrupted by each shot! On top of everything, this game is far too easy - it goes on and on. I did enjoy the short intermissions, but otherwise Buzz Bombers is a nice-looking with minimal play value. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 70200
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
Coleco usually does a fine job of converting arcade hits to the Intellivision, but this one is almost unbearable! Carnival is an old-fashioned shooter where you move a gun across the bottom of the screen while shooting ducks, owls, and various other rows of targets. Unlike the fun arcade version, this one is slow and choppy. Aiming your gun with any kind of precision is impossible, and your bullets take forever to clear the screen. In addition to its poor gameplay, Carnival's background music is nauseating. Not only does the it sound horrible in general, but the tune starts over
with each shot. It will drive you absolutely nuts! I couldn't even tell you if the bear bonus stage is included because I didn't have the intestinal fortitude to finish the first screen! This is by far the worst version of Carnival I've ever played. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1983)
The Intellivision wasn't famous for fast arcade action, but Atari managed to recreate the frantic fun and excitement of Centipede pretty well in this cartridge. Graphically, there's not much to complain about except for the choppy animation of the centipede. The control is surprisingly crisp, and Atari tailored the game to the Intellivision controller, including auto-fire and a speed button. This Centipede is quite a bit easier than most others, thanks to its slow, predictable spider and large, easy-to-shoot centipede sections. But it's still great fun. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 29553
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Nice Ideas (1986)
I was expecting Championship Tennis to be an incremental upgrade of Tennis
(Mattel, 1980), but the designers went a totally different route. Instead of the side view, you're presented with a vertical view of the court as you would see it on TV. The players look pretty amazing considering their low resolution, to the point where they look motion-captured!
When it comes to features, no other first-generation tennis title even comes close to matching this ambitious title. After selecting your speed you choose from three venues: Flushing Meadows (synthetic), Roland Garros (clay), and Wimbledon (grass). The player selection screen lets you configure a one-on-one match or doubles. Not only can you both have a CPU-controlled partner, but two people can team-up
against the computer! Unfortunately the set-up process is confusing as hell
so you'll probably need to consult the manual. The game's ambition is matched only by its steep learning curve. It's so hard to serve in-bounds, I once lost a game completely on faults. Returning the ball is hard because you need to be in perfect position and your swing timing must be exact
. Considering the touchy movement controls and laggy swing controls, you'll need a lot
of practice to become proficient at this. I'm usually happy just to make contact, only to watch the ball sail out of bounds. The game is frustrating and hard on your hands too. An "automatic swing" option would have been nice, similar to Activision's Tennis
(Atari 2600, 1981). Championship Tennis is a sophisticated tennis title that poses quite the challenge if you're willing to take it on. Personally, I prefer my classic tennis to be a little more playable. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Chip Shot Super Pro Golf
Publisher: INTV (1987)
In terms of classic golf games, Chip Shot is a tour-de-force. Its advanced play mechanics were years ahead of their time, with modern features like a swing meter, contoured greens, a scorecard, and even wind! In addition to being fun to play, it has a truckload of options. You can choose from one of five
full courses, and play the front or back nine if you don't feel like playing a full game. You even have the option of creating your own course
out of 99 pre-made holes! Holy cow! There's even a driving range and putting green to brush up on your stroke! Each hole is one screen in size, and a smaller window gives you a close-up of your golfer and provides vital statistics. Although objects like trees and bunkers look small on the screen, it's still pretty easy to tell what's going on. If there's one aspect in which Chip Shot falters, it would have to be those damn trees. Once your balls gets lodged in a thicket of trees, it takes an excessive number of hacks to get it back onto the fairway. Other than that, I really can't say enough good things about Chip Shot Golf. It makes the Intellivision look like a Genesis. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Christmas Carol Vs. the Ghost of Christmas Presents
Publisher: Left Turn Only (2012)
This is a pretty amazing new homebrew, and the fact that it happens to be a seasonal title is a sweet bonus. Christmas Carol's title screen features a decorated tree, colorful gifts, and a harmonized rendition of "Ring Christmas Bells". The game itself is a little less festive but still includes a variety of holiday elements. You control a green elf, and you probably wouldn't know she was a chick if you didn't see the game's box cover. Each stage is a frozen cavern maze lined with ice blocks and icicles. The light blue color scheme is very easy on the eyes, especially over the deep black background. Gifts of various colors and sizes are scattered throughout each maze and your goal is to snag them all. The controls are super responsive as you scamper around the maze, occasionally darting through a tunnel on the side. The straightforward nature of the game is appealing, but the tricky maze configurations require quick thinking. You're pursued by a gift-stealing ghost and a psychotic snowman that enters the screen after unleashing a bloodcurdling howl. This mentally unstable snowman will strike fear into your heart as he wobbles around the maze while waving those freaky stick arms of his. If he catches you, your character freezes into ice before crumbling into a pile of snow (eat your heart out, Sub Zero). You can confuse your adversaries by grabbing a snowflake, and there are plenty of these around so don't hesitate. Between stages you're treated to some very cute and surprisingly entertaining intermissions (a la Pac-Man). The challenge ramps nicely, steadily becoming faster and more frantic. This is a long game that packs a heck of a lot of content. It comes packaged in a classic Mattel-style box, along with an instruction booklet and two overlays. The glossy manual is a lot of fun to read and really gets you in the spirit. Christmas Carol Vs. the Ghost of Christmas Presents is a quality title that every classic gamer will appreciate having every December. The official site for the game is CarolsVsGhost.com
. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1,459
Publisher: INTV (1987)
Perhaps more than any other home version, Commando for the Intellivision remains true to the spirit of the arcade. You can run-and-gun up the screen with reckless abandon while firing multiple shots and tossing grenades! The graphics are sharp, beginning with the screen-sized soldier on the title screen who appears to be smoking while leaning on a pile of explosives. The characters in the game are small but that allows you to see far into the distance and your bullets have excellent range. The Intellivision disc is put to good use, allowing you direct your fire with analog precision. I love how lobbed grenades move in an arc, even if they only affect a small area. You move upward at a steady clip but moving sideways feels terribly sluggish. The scenery is quite lush, with palm trees, rock walls, and swampy areas that slow you down. Like Rambo, it's amazing how many bullets you can dodge while caught in perilous crossfire. It helps that the collision detection is incredibly forgiving. There were times when I stopped playing momentarily because I thought for sure
I was dead. Sometimes you'll spot a prisoner being led away, and if you can shoot his two captors before they escort him off the screen you'll earn a big points, calling to mind Galaxian
(Atari 2600, 1983). At the end of the first level you need to enter a gate with soldiers pouring out, and I could never get past that. The gameplay is so intense my thumb kept sliding off the disc!
Commando is hard, but it might just be the best version of the game you'll find on a classic home system. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 41,800
Publisher: Sega (1983)
This game is so super rare I had to review it off a Flash cartridge. If you've never played Congo Bongo, it's kind of a 3D Donkey Kong. Instead of ladders you climb tiered platforms while avoiding monkeys and bouncing coconuts. I have to tell you this Intellivision version is a real feast for the eyes with its lush foliage and cascading blue waterfalls. The monkeys are chunky but colorful. The villain of the game, Congo the ape, is rendered in red, making him a dead ringer for a Baron of Hell from Doom
(Xbox One, 2016). Unlike most home versions of the game, this one begins with a short intro showing Congo setting your explorer's tent
on fire! This is one Bad Monkey
we're talking about here! Your little multi-colored explorer dude is surprisingly nimble, scurrying up slopes with relative ease. The game doesn't display your score and the timer at the same time, but instead alternates between the two, which is kind of distracting. The second screen plays like a sideways version of Frogger
(Atari 2600, 1982), and it made me yell a lot of words I'm not proud of. There's zero room
for error as you hop between lily pads, hippos, and slippery red fish to reach the opposite river bank. It's bad enough you need to be on the correct pixel
to execute a jump, but the isometric perspective makes it really hard
to judge where you're going to land! When I did make it across I would get caught up on an invisible wall and then trampled by a rhinoceros. I couldn't even tell you if there's a third screen. Congo Bongo should have been a great safari but its unforgiving controls will have you speaking fluent French. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 6070
Publisher: Elektronite (2012)
Donkey Kong Arcade was a tour de force for the Intellivision, and D2K takes that winning formula to a whole new level - literally!
The cartridge contains two game variations. Game 1 is basically Donkey Kong Arcade, which is a faithful adaption of the original Donkey Kong with four near-arcade-perfect screens. Game 2 contains no less than nine screens
, mixing in five brand new stages! These new screens are interesting, colorful, and fairly sophisticated, introducing new mechanisms like safety valves and retractable ladders. Best of all, they retain the familiar look and feel of the original set, resulting in a seamless blend of the old and new. For Donkey Kong fans, this game is what Donkey Kong 3 should
have been! As with Donkey Kong Arcade, you have the option of playing as Toni and Bruno (in addition to Mario), adding even more replay value. D2K is not only fun and addictive, but it's extremely challenging as well. The controls are responsive, and it's a good thing because there's little margin for error with the jumps. Combining arcade graphics, tight controls, and imaginative new screens, D2K Arcade must be seen to be believed. This dream-of-a-homebrew is a must-have for all classic gaming enthusiasts. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 11,100
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Atari (1983)
I remember this arcade game from the early 80's well - they had one at the local High's convenience store. My friends and I would go there all the time because despite our lack of money, we could usually scrounge up enough change for a candy bar or a Mad magazine. Like most people, I was intimidated by Defender's vast array of buttons and controls: forward, reverse, shoot, hyperspace, smart bomb, and an up/down lever (not to mention the one or two player select buttons). And the game really was
as hard as it looked, and a rookie would be lucky to last 30 seconds. Defender was a huge arcade hit nonetheless, but its Atari 2600 version was sub-par. The Intellivision folks had to wait a whole extra year to get their version, but it's a far superior translation. The minute I turned this on and feasted my eyes on that classic Defender logo, I knew I was in for a real treat. Defender pushes the Intellivision hardware to the limit. Your ship is blue, but it's perfectly shaped and rapid-fires streaming green missiles. The landscape below is constructed with angular red lines -- just like the arcade. The aliens even gyrate slightly, and with the exception of the minuscule enemy missiles (which are hard to see), the graphics are smooth and colorful. Perhaps the biggest surprise are the fantastic explosions that rival the arcade game - they look like fireworks! Even the sound effects are faithful to the original. Unfortunately, my elation was tempered by the fact that I had to use an Intellivision controller, which is ill-equipped to handle fast arcade action like this. As a result, the game is a lot harder than it should be, and your fingers pay the price. But as long as you can withstand the controller, you'll enjoy some first-rate Defender action. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 8950
Publisher: Imagic (1982)
Similar to Phoenix, the goal of Demon Attack is to shoot down waves of alien birds, some of which divide in half. While the premise is the same as the popular Atari 2600 version of Demon Attack, this one has a far different look and feel. For one thing, there are some nice background graphics not present in the Atari version. As your cannon moves across a cratered moon surface, you can see Earth looming over the horizon. The demons themselves are less impressive, lacking the fluid motion and high-resolution detail of their Atari cousins. Only after you survive about a dozen waves does the game reveal its trump card: the mother ship. This thing is incredible - probably the most impressive single thing I've seen in an Intellivision game. Colorful, detailed, and immense, it takes up about half of the screen. As in Phoenix, you must wear down its thick hull in order to reveal a weak spot. As a defense mechanism, the mother ship releases a steady stream of small kamikaze birds. Upon blasting the core, you're treated to a very satisfying explosion. The waves then start over, but this time the demons also drop bombs that explode upon hitting the surface. Demon Attack has two skill levels and a two-player cooperative mode. A guided missile option is also available, but I found the straight missiles to be far more effective. Demon Attack is a real gem, and one of the few fast-paced shooters you'll find for the Intellivision. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: 4472
1 or 2 player
Publisher: INTV (1987)
This is an exceptionally good port of a legitimate arcade classic. In case you've never played Dig Dug, shame on you!
The game is a perfect blend of action and strategy as you tunnel through an underground maze while clearing out monsters. It's the only game I know of where you have the ability to inflate monsters until they pop
. Please kids, don't try this at home!
It's fun, but skillful gamers will rack up the big
points by methodically dropping boulders on the creatures instead. Dig Dug's gameplay is far greater than the sum of its parts, and this Intellivision version retains all the charm of the original. The monsters seem especially unpredictable, often doubling back when you're about to drop a rock on them. In terms of graphics, the layers of dirt look properly granular and you character is rendered in two colors. A harmonized ditty plays in the background with audio quality that puts most Intellivision games to shame. If one element was compromised, I'd say it was the graphic quality of the monsters. Those goofy green dragons look like little kids in Barney outfits - not very intimidating! Also, those bonus vegetables come in some really bizarre shapes (the less said about that, the better). Still, this Dig Dug is a very competent port that compares extremely well to other home versions. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 31,395
Publisher: INTV (1987)
I want to thank all the readers who recommended this superb Burgertime sequel. In terms of graphics, Diner is to Burgertime what Congo Bongo is to Donkey Kong. It takes some classic 2D gameplay and incorporates fantastic 3D stages. You play a chef attempting to construct a sub sandwich by kicking large "food balls" into a roll on the bottom of the screen. Animated hot dogs, bananas, cherries, and a frothy mugs are in pursuit, but you can roll food balls over them for big points. Squashing one bad guy is worth 500 points, and the bonus doubles for each additional enemy you nail with the same food ball. Like Burgertime, a limited supply of pepper lets you temporarily immobilize adversaries. Diner's gameplay has a definite Burgertime flavor, but it's more fun and less difficult. There's an impressive number of attractive pseudo-3D screens, including some with bright neon signs. A pleasant harmonized tune plays in the background. Four difficulty levels are available, and in two-player contests each player can choose his own skill level. As much as I love Diner, I would be negligent if I didn't mention one major flaw. When an enemy is vanquished, it tends to reappear later in unexpected places - sometimes right on top of your chef. That's not cool, but otherwise this game is solid gold. And you'll only find this super fun arcade title on the Intellivision. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: SDZ 39400
1 to 2 players
Publisher: Coleco (1981)
Intellivision clearly got the short end of the stick when it came to its Donkey Kong arcade-to-home conversion. Colecovision got great graphics and the Atari 2600 got playability, but this version suffers on both counts. The stages are blocky and Mario looks like one of the Berenstain Bears
for Pete's sake! And what is the deal with Donkey Kong's face?!
Apparently the programmer just poked in two eye holes and called it a day. For a major license like this you'd expect a little more effort. The controls could be more responsive as Mario tends to move in fits and starts. My friend Scott described his jumps as "anemic". He gets no distance and actually slows down
when he jumps. The hammer is hard to pick up, even when you jump right on it. There's no music when weilding the hammer, but at least it flashes before disappearing. On the second screen the umbrella looks like a grappling hook and the solid-blue girl looks like an apparition. Grabbing the hammer on the left edge is nearly impossible, and I really dislike how the fireballs tend to respawn on top of you with no warning. As the final insult, this cartridge doesn't even work on the Intellivision II. It was literally decades before the Intellivision's Donkey Kong deficiency was properly addressed. And witnessing the near-arcade-perfect splendor of Donkey Kong Arcade
(Intellivision, 2011) will only further erode your opinion of this, if at all possible. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 39,800
1 or 2 players
Donkey Kong Arcade
Publisher: CMJR (2011)
this new homebrew to be superior in every way to the original Intellivision Donkey Kong, which was universally derided by critics. What I didn't
expect was a game so close to arcade-perfect!
Classic gamers are in for a shock.
This cartridge is every bit as challenging, addictive, and fun as the arcade original. All four
screens are included: barrels, rivets, elevators, and even the pie factory! The level of detail is astonishing. Except for the girl and bonus items (which are solid colors), the vibrant graphics look exactly
like the arcade game! The barrels bounce, the oil burns, and the girl even yells "HELP!" from the top of the screen. Beginning with the ominous opening refrain, all the memorable sights, sounds, and intermissions are here. When Kong falls at the end of the rivets screen, his eyes even roll! Enjoy that concussion ya big ape!
The game generally controls well. Mario is a nimble guy who has no trouble scooting up ladders. The game is less forgiving near the edge of platforms however, making the elevator screen a colossal challenge. I don't even think it's possible
to snag the hammer on the left side of the rivets screen. Donkey Kong Arcade makes efficient use of screen real estate by displaying your score, lives, and the timer down the right side. There's even a colorful title screen with playful Kong mugging for the camera. As if that wasn't enough, you can select from two alternate characters
with unique abilities. Toni is very fast and Bruno can climb while he's holding a hammer! As you would imagine, this adds quite a bit of replay value. Donkey Kong Arcade is not completely glitch-free, but issues are rare and will likely be addressed in future revisions. This is arguably the best version of Donkey Kong available for any home system, and it just might change your whole perception of the Intellivision console. You can purchase this game from www.elektronite.com
. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 16,700
1 or 2 players
Donkey Kong Junior
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
If I overrated this the first time around, it's only because playing Intellivision Donkey Kong
(Coleco, 1981) calibrated my expectations to an all-time low. Donkey Kong Junior is good-looking, highly playable adaptation of the coin-op hit. When you first turn on the game you hear what sounds like the refrain from Phantom of the Opera. Why, I do not know. And why is Junior decked out in a wife-beater T-shirt instead of a diaper? Mario looks like a smurf and Donkey Kong looks a little bit like a naked man!
That's disturbing. The gameplay is tougher than Donkey Kong, but that challenge makes it all the more satisfying when you complete a stage. The first screen is all about vine-climbing, with much of your movement sideways. You'll need to avoid crocodile heads and it's a great feeling when you drop fruit on them. Unfortunately I noticed the control is a little finicky when you're trying to make slight adjustments left or right. The second screen requires you to push locks up chains in order to release Donkey Kong from a cage. If you straddle two chains you can push two locks up at once, and that's pretty sweet. Avoiding the birds is a challenge, as they fly across the screen in random patterns. That music sounds awfully familiar. Is that the same song from Popeye
(Parker Bros., 1983)? I don't like how it stops and restarts whenever you move. Otherwise, Donkey Kong Junior is a solid effort that should help you get over the trauma of having played the first game. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 12,400
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Imagic (1983)
This remarkably sophisticated side-scroller captures so many elements of the Dracula legend. The action takes place on a quiet London street lined with townhouses and a graveyard. Each night you rise from your coffin to feast on helpless townsfolk before returning by sunrise. You can find people wandering the streets or you can scare them out of their houses by knocking on the door. The manual states that Dracula is momentarily stunned when they dash out, but we know that's just a convenient excuse to give them a head start. Chasing down these people requires some effort! You need to be lined up perfectly and they won't stand still! It doesn't help that a constable (cop) is constantly tossing wooden stakes in your direction. Dracula looks great but when biting a victim his head looks a lot like Kermit the Frog. You can kill people for 50 points or transform them into constable-killing zombies. Since the zombie is controlled via the second controller, you really need a friend to help you perform this move. Once you've sucked a certain number of folks dry a panting white wolf chases you around. You can transform into a bat to avoid him, but that makes you vulnerable to a purple vulture. If that bird carries you off the screen it's game over! There's a lot going on in this game but the devil is in the details. Thunder doesn't crash until a few seconds after lightning strikes. Eyes peek from windows, but the people won't venture out if they've seen you kill somebody. A bright moon rises each night and the sky progressly brightens as dawn approaches. Dracula is off-the-charts when it comes to novelty value, but the repetitive action is tiresome and the controls are hell on your wrist. Still, that shouldn't prevent you from pulling this game out every October. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: med
Our high score: 5250
Publisher: Imagic (1982)
This fun, medieval-style action game was released for a number of consoles, and this one looks like a cross between the Atari 2600 and Colecovision editions. The first screen, featuring a prince crossing a drawbridge, is impressively detailed -- much like the Colecovision version. You can see a lot of the castle, and the water in the moat below rises and falls. An arrow-shooting archer resides in the tower, making your job a bit more tricky. The animation is fast and smooth, but control is problematic. Keeping your prince in the crouch position requires you to hold the pad DIRECTLY down, which takes its toll on your thumb. I like the idea of the prince splashing into the water below after taking a hit, but it looks strange how he falls in diagonally. Upon entering the castle, the action is identical to the Atari 2600 version. You simply dash around while grabbing treasures and avoiding the fireballs delivered by a dragon at the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately, the graphics are not as sharp as the 2600 version. Although the dragons look exactly
the same, the chunky, single-colored treasures pale against the beautiful riches of the Atari version. Also, the collision detection is poor and you'll sometimes run right through a treasure. Dragonfire for the Intellivision is a good, albeit uneven, effort. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: easy
Our high score: 4150
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Activision (1983)
Most early space shooters involved shooting down aliens and small fighters, but what about the massive destroyer ships like those in Star Wars? Blowing up one of those bad boys requires a lot
more effort and that's what Dreadnaught Factor is all about. The opening "map" screen displays a planet on the left and a blinking green enemy approaching from the right. The game involves deploying a seemingly endless supply of attack ships to defend the planet, one at a time.
While flying towards the right a resonating sound grows louder as you close in on your target. When the "dreadnaught" appears it's so sprawling the screen needs to scroll up and down to reveal the whole thing. In 1983 this was positively mind-blowing. It's fun to strafe the ship, methodically taking out the rows of cannons and missiles that plaster its surface. The first pass is gangbusters because you're blowing up stuff as fast as you can shoot. It's a degree of carnage you rarely see in a classic game.
Your fighter can only move forward so several passes are required to degrade and ultimately destroy the dreadnaught. To finish it off you'll also need to bomb all of the vents, which is a time-consuming and somewhat tedious process. It's difficult to position your ship with precision over the vents. You get only so many passes before the dreadnaught reaches firing distance and obliterates the planet.
The subsequent "explosion" is anticlimactic. It's just some flickering colors along with a generic sound effect. Should you prevail, a new dreadnaught appears, this time with a new configuration and more powerful armaments. I like Dreadnaught Factor. It's a bit tedious at times but it's also very unique, maintaining a high level of excitement and suspense until the bitter end. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 4
Our high score: 2,849