Intellivision Reviews E-I

new Fathom
Grade: D+
Publisher: Imagic (1983)
Reviewed: 2021/8/22

screenshotThis mystical adventure takes place both in the air and sea. In Fathom you assume the forms of both a dolphin and seagull as you travel between contiguous screens in search of a magical trident. Once it's fully constructed you can save a mermaid trapped in a cage at the bottom of the sea. Okay maybe it doesn't make much sense, but work with me people!

The controls feel different from the Atari 2600 version. Instead of tapping a button to flap your wings, you tap the directional pad upward. It feels natural when you get a feel for it, giving you just enough finesse to dodge other birds in the air. Swimming as the dolphin however is kind of a grind. Not only do the directional controls feel mushy, but the underwater screens require navigating mazes of kelp. It's easy to get stuck on these, and trying to work your way free is exhausting.

There are a few nifty things that stand out about this Intellivision version of Fathom. First, I love the relaxing sound of the waves as you fly over the water. The screens scroll smoothly, making the "world" feel a lot more expansive. The volcanoes look awesome, and when your bird comes to rest he actually assumes a "sitting duck" pose. Sometimes it can be difficult to initiate the transition between bird and dolphin however.

There are no indicators on the screen and that's a problem. You need to use the touchpad to view your health which is constantly frittering away - even when you remain still! This is definitely the most challenging version of Fathom, with birds and jellyfish converging upon you like heat-seeking missiles! Still, I think some will appreciate the challenge. When you finally release that mermaid you can rest well, knowing you've accomplished a goal of aquatic proportions. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 114
1 player 

Frog Bog
Grade: C+
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
Reviewed: 2007/8/18

screenshotHere's a novel little head-to-head game that puts each player in control of a frog on a pair of lily pads. Bugs flutter overhead, and you score points by leaping up and snatching them with your sticky tongue. Ideal to play on a hot summer evening (in the comfort of air conditioning of course), Frog Bog features peaceful pond scenery, natural sound effects, and a colorful sunset culminating in a star-lit sky and the sound of crickets.

The little frogs are nicely animated, and there are four varieties of bugs you can catch. Lightning bugs come out at night, which is a nice touch. I really like the splash sound effect when your frog overshoots his pad, which unfortunately happens a lot. Frog Bog looks great, but lousy controls are its downfall. As much as my friends rave about the Atari 2600 version of the game (Frogs and Flies, M-Network), they were really turned off by Frog Bog's clumsy, imprecise controls.

You're supposed to be able to control the jump's angle and distance, but the Intellivision controller is not up to the task. Another issue is the extremely erratic flight paths of the bugs. These two issues combined make the game feel more an exercise in luck than skill. Frog Bog is first-rate in terms of graphics and sound; too bad its gameplay isn't up to the same standard. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 215
1 or 2 players 

Frogger
Grade: B-
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1982)
Reviewed: 2000/3/19

screenshotSorry, but I couldn't help but notice how the Intellivision Frogger doesn't look or sound nearly as good as its Atari 2600 cousin. The graphics are extremely blocky (especially the cars), and the music doesn't have the harmony of the 2600. Beyond those comparisons however, this is still a fun game. All the elements of the arcade game are here -- including otters, which I don't recall seeing in any other home versions of the game. The gameplay is decent, but there is occasional slowdown, as well as an annoyingly long pause after you die. I get the feeling Parker Brothers could have done a better job with this. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 7250
1 or 2 players 

Happy Trails
Grade: A
Publisher: Activision (1983)
Reviewed: 2001/11/9

screenshotOh yeah - this is a good one. Although Happy Trails borrows heavily from Locomotion; it's actually a major improvement, featuring streamlined gameplay and smoother graphics. The game features a little white hat (with feet of course) walking around a maze that's broken up into squares. By sliding these squares around, you must alter his path and guide him to the bags of money. In later levels there's a black hat that you have to avoid, adding to the challenge and complexity. Happy Trails takes a while to get the hang of, but once you do it's very satisfying. As you progress, the mazes become larger and more complex. A range of options offer standard mazes, random mazes, and a pair speed settings. Not a big hit in its time, Happy Trails is a real gem. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 6070
1 or 2 player 

Horse Racing
Grade: B

screenshotNot only is this a fun game, but it can teach you a thing or two about gambling. One to six players begin with $750 each and bid on a series of four-horse races. Prior to each race, you view the recent history of each horse before placing your wager. There are two types of bets: Win and Exacta. Once the race begins, you are not just a spectator. No, you'll actually get one chance to strategically "coax" and "whip" your horse. While these actions don't make a dramatic difference, they could be critical in a close race.

Horse Racing is a well-designed game, and the screens are chock-full of information and stats. The racetrack graphics are good, although the horses are small. The instruction manual steps you through the game and provides useful background information. If there's one problem with this game, it's the fact that there's minimal action, and the races usually aren't very close. Still, this offers as much as you could expect from a horse racing title. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 6 players 

Hover Force
Grade: C+
Publisher: INTV (1986)
Reviewed: 2008/9/24

screenshotWhen I play a game like Hover Force, I have to tip my hat to those programmers who worked for INTV. You'll see things in this game you would never expect to see on an Intellivision. Hover Force is a first-person helicopter shooter where you fly over a city while destroying terrorist helicopters and extinguishing fires. Upon selecting your starting level, you're treated to an amazing cinematic intro of your pilot entering his aircraft, giving the thumbs up, and taking off. It's impressive!

Once in the air, you have an aerial view of the city with a gunsight in the center of the screen. As you scroll around you'll enjoy rich scenery that includes skyscrapers, bridges, basketball courts, train tracks, and scenic parks. You can move pretty quickly, but momentum plays a large role. Pressing zero on your keypad brings up a radar screen showing a map of the city with "blips" indicating enemies and fires.

What's cool about this is how you can actually continue to navigate while using this screen. You can fire either missiles or water, and I love how enemy helicopters break into pieces when shot. They also have a habit of shooting star-shaped missiles at you that seem impossible to avoid. But the biggest flaw in Hover Force is the difficulty in tracking terrorist helicopters.

In advanced stages these guys tend to move so fast that trying to get one to appear on your main screen can be maddening. If you can take care of business without running out of fuel, you head back to base where you are graded on your performance. It's not as fun as it is technically impressive, but Hover Force is still a nice addition to any Intellivision collection. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: SDZ 73
1 player 

Ice Trek
Grade: D
Publisher: Imagic (1983)
Reviewed: 2002/3/18

screenshotLike most Imagic games, Ice Trek is a visual work of art. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better-looking game on the Intellivision. Unfortunately, two of the game's three stages are mediocre, and one is frustrating as hell. You control Vali the Avenger, a warrior on a perilous ice trek to find and destroy the Ice Palace of Kaltkron the Terrible.

The first stage puts Vali in a pair of skis, walking through a forest as a herd of caribou stampedes his way. The use of different sized trees gives good perspective and I like the "clomp clomping" sound effects. Snow always looks great in video games for some reason. Besides dodging caribou, Vali can also strike them down with his axe. It's sort of like Stampede (Activision) in reverse. A "wildlife goddess" (who looks like the devil) occasionally materializes and shoots arrows at you. The stage looks great but doesn't quite fit my description of fun.

It's the second stage however where the wheels come off. This time you must construct an ice bridge across a river of stray icebergs. To do this, you throw a grappling hook to pull in icebergs and extend your bridge. You can also use a torch to melt approaching icebergs that threaten to smash your bridge. The concept itself is pretty original, but the execution is painful. It's difficult to aim where your hook is thrown, and you're constantly sliding off of that narrow strip of ice.

This torturous, overly-long stage is murder on your thumb, and only the most dedicated gamers will overcome it to witness the final stage. In the grand climax, a huge, colorful ice castle fills the screen, and Vali must shoot fire at certain targets while avoiding the black crystals that rain down. When all the targets are hit, the castle melts and crumbles into the sea, in what has to be the best ending ever for an Intellivision game. And believe me, if you made it that far, you've earned it! © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 3,040
1 player 


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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, Games Database, Moby Games