Failsafe's opening stage lets you invade small townships, and later you'll travel on highways, beaches, and the inside of a fort. Your tank moves smoothly with its animated treads, and it's surprisingly agile and easy to control. That's good, because the two keys to this game are positioning and timing. Your diagonal line-of-fire is slightly different from your enemies, and you can exploit this fact to systematically destroy them. You also have better range, so as long as you can avoid crossfire situations, you're not in imminent danger. Spicing up the action are power-ups left behind by blown-up enemies. These icons provide invincibility, extended shooting range, and the ability to freeze enemies momentarily.
These powers really don't affect your strategy, which is always pretty much the same. Failsafe's slow, deliberate pace might test the patience of action-oriented gamers. When you snag a "speed" power-up you'll be tempted to whiz right across the screen, but more often than not that strategy places you in harm's way. If you play it right, Failsafe can be a little time-consuming. It's not the kind of thing you'll want to play over and over again, but if you're in the mood to really hunker down with a well-programmed shooter, this is a safe bet. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Like a low-rent James Bond your tiny car is outfitted with machine guns, smoke screens, oil slicks, and missiles. You'll achieve speeds upward of 200 MPH as you drive around curves and over hills. The sense of speed however is modest and other cars appear to be floating on the road. There's not much scenery, except for a few blank road signs.
The right button selects weapons and the left fires them. You push up to accelerate, so you'll be doing that the whole time. The combat is kind of weak. There are no tracers when you fire your guns; you only hear the rat-a-tat-tat of bullets. The ensuing explosions look like a firecracker going off.
In theory you can bump cars from the side but it's difficult to line up with them. Even when you do, it doesn't feel like you're banging into them so much as rubbing up against them. For long stretches of this game there's really nothing much going on. There's no shortage of stages but they're pretty boring. The best part is when you approach the next city and its majestic skyline rises up from the horizon. That looks awesome.
Upon reaching a town you're greeted by a side-scrolling view of people waving on the side of the road, some of which inexplicably explode and become graves marked with crosses! WTF? At first I thought these represented all the drivers I killed on the way, but it turns out these are the people who didn't get the vaccine in time. Each one has a unique look. There's a cheerleader, an old man with a walker, a girl with a balloon, and an ice cream man among others.
Each town has a shop, and I like the idea of outfitting your vehicle with new weapons and upgrades. Unfortunately, by the time you repair your car and refill your gas tank there's not much money left for fancy weapons like guided missiles and oil slicks. And without those bells and whistles at your disposal, traveling from town to town can be pretty dull.
In terms of audio, the constant squeal of tires over a scratchy drum beat does not make for a pleasant experience. I feel like there are sound effects missing, like the sound of exploding vehicles. Fatal Run tries to do a lot but fails to deliver on its promise. © Copyright 2024 The Video Game Critic.
I love the simple premise, and the ability to hurl food in a rapid-fire manner is immensely satisfying. I especially love how the bananas rotate as they fly through the air. Food Fight isn't too difficult until the chefs also begin tossing food, creating some nasty crossfire situations.
Once the kid reaches the ice cream, he freakishly unhinges his jaw like a python to swallow the entire thing. You're then rewarded bonus points as the unused food is literally sucked into your score. When caught by a chef, all the food converges on you, creating a big mess. Occasionally a round is played back in a "slow motion" replay, but I could have done without that. If you own an Atari 7800, Food Fight needs to be in your library. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Berzerk is pretty intense and you need to be quick on the trigger. Frenzy ups the ante by doubling the number of robots and incorporating destructive and reflective walls! With bullets passing through tiny openings and ricocheting all over the place, you may need to take your anxiety medication! Those skinny-ass skeletons are so hard to shoot from above or below, sidestepping your shots. But the thing that really burns me up about this game (literally) are the explosions. Not only are they deadly to touch, but they block your shots as well!
Still, Frenzy is addictive as hell. I love how you can continue to score points after you die (the perfect time to earn a free life, by the way). The game incorporates Otto's digitized voice with memorable lines like "intruder alert" and "chicken, fight like a robot". Sadly, Otto has a lot of phlegm in his throat (allergies?) which makes him hard to understand. I kind of wish there was an option to turn off the voice since it pauses the action momentarily, hurting the flow of the game - especially in two-player mode.
Speaking of which, in addition to alternating turns, you can play cooperatively or competitively! Coop is a blast, but it's the competitive mode that really takes things to a new level. During one epic game I narrowly eluded Otto, leaving my friend Scott in a precarious position. But just as I was making a celebratory exit, Scott shot me in the back! A cartridge like Frenzy cartridge not only revives a pair of classics but gives retro gamers the ability to experience them in exciting new ways. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
In this 7800 version, your cannon is quite a bit smaller, making it easier to dodge bombs. The aliens look a bit washed out, and the boss aliens aren't any larger than the others. At least the distinctive Galaga melodies and sound effects are included. To be fair, this game was actually written in 1984, although it sat on the shelf until 1987 (nice going Atari)!
The gameplay is still fast and furious, but ONLY on the expert mode (forget about the others). In a way, I like the fact that this version is unique, because I've already played the original one to death. Be sure to use a good arcade-style 2600 joystick instead of the standard 7800 controller for this one. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
The rink is viewed from directly overhead with players that look like ampersands. A poorly-animated puck blinks from spot to spot, bouncing at predictable 45-degree angles. The collision detection is really bad, often passing through your stick like a ghost. When you do gain possession, you can't tell which way your player is facing, much less aim for the goal.
Pushing up or down lets you reposition your goalie on the fly. I'm not averse to the one-on-one concept, but why is the action so choppy? There's only three objects moving around the screen at a given time! Even the appearance of a zamboni, usually worth a letter grade, can't save this one.
With Hat Trick, Atari set the bar ridiculously low and then proceeded to trip over it. I've played technically superior versions of Pong. The audio is the final nail in the coffin. The constant sound of that irritating fanfares and cat-call whistles will have you lunging for the remote. For the volume button? No, the power. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
The thing is, nearly every platform is patrolled by indestructible rolling robots that fire electrical beams from their eyes. Most move in predictable patterns but some will mirror your movements. You'll often find yourself playing a tedious game of cat-and-mouse, darting over to a device whenever a robot is looking the other way. You can somersault over the robots, but precise timing and positioning is required. Your "portable computer" lets you piece together clues to form passwords, but it's hard!
A phone icon lets you "dial out" for hints, which is accompanied by distinctive dial tone and modem noises (circa 1982). Even if you overcome the sizable learning curve however, you still have to play the game, and that's a problem! The audio is obnoxious as hell, and whenever you enter a room full of robots the noise is migraine-inducing. The abrasive sounds will bore into your brain like a small alien insect. I should also mention that a coding glitch makes it literally impossible to finish the game, making this the saddest case of truth in advertising ever. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The star of the game (a blue head with antenna) has been outfitted with a set of big white teeth which look pretty heinous! The gameplay is challenging and having only one life makes things exceptionally nerve-wracking. I love the worried look on K.C.'s face when he gets caught by a mutant.
The main problem with the game is the controls, which is surprising considering the original had outstanding controls. It's hard to describe, but K.C. tends to move in fits and starts. This is really problematic when the action gets fast and there's no time to hesitate. Upon earning the high score you enter your initials at the bottom of the screen, but even that is awkward and confusing. I like the idea of bringing K.C. Munchkin to a wider audience, but in this case I'm afraid something was lost in translation. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
In addition to the kung-fu action, sharp, realistic graphics were a big part of the game's appeal. In this version, the graphics aren't bad, but the animation is jerky as hell and the control is utterly poor. The controller is not responsive at all. Your fighter may or may not react to a button or joystick push you made three seconds before.
Karateka was originally designed for keyboard control, and it shows. This implementation of joystick control is ill-conceived and completely counter-intuitive. For example, in order to punch right you need to press the joystick left. Just be glad that I've gone through this torture so you don't have to. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
The controls are not exactly intuitive. The fire button initiates punches and kicks, but only when you hold the joystick in a particular direction. Pressing the button alone does nothing, which is very confusing! You can also jump or duck, which is critical to dodging projectiles. Your most common enemies are blue henchmen who hold up their arms like mindless zombies. Once they get you in their grasp, they'll try to hold you in place and drain your life. It's not obvious, but you can shake them off by wagging the joystick.
One key to success is to keep moving - you don't need to defeat every foe. Each boss wields a traditional Japanese weapon such as a staff, a boomerang, or lightning. The game is definitely challenging, especially when you encounter that spastic knife-thrower on the third floor. I'd recommend using an Atari 2600 joystick, or anything that lets you tap the fire button rapidly. Kung Fu Master is an enjoyable fighter despite its awkward design. You just need a little patience and perseverance. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Atari Age