system Index M-R
Missile War
Grade: D-
Publisher: Leisure Vision (1982)
Reviewed: 2008/12/6


screenshotClearly a poor-man's Missile Command (1980), Missile War pits you against waves of incoming missiles that are bearing down on four cities. You move a crosshair around the screen to aim your anti-ballistic missiles, which create explosions that envelop the incoming threats. I can't blame Leisure Vision for wanting to rip off Missile Command, but man, couldn't they have made this suck a little less?? The graphics are sharp enough, but the poor programming is glaringly evident. Incoming missiles flicker terribly and randomly disappear for no reason. The speed of the game fluctuates wildly (depending on the number of incoming missiles), which really throws off your timing. Between waves there are inexplicably long pauses. On the bright side, I do like how you can unleash any number of missiles at a time, and they actually do look like small rockets (unlike the dots in Missile Command). But the difficulty doesn't ramp well at all. The first two waves are manageable enough, but the third wave rains down far more missiles than you could possibly defend. Even gamers who've never played the real Missile Command will find this one hard to stomach. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 2800
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Missile Command (Atari 5200)
Patriots (Vectrex)
Missile Command (Playstation)
Missile Command (Atari 2600)
Global Defense (Sega Master System)

Mobile Suit Gundam (Japan)
Grade: B-
Publisher: Bandai (1983)
Reviewed: 2014/3/25

screenshottitle screenMobile Suit Gundam is an old anime series that has spawned many games including a few Playstation 2 mech shooters. Who knew the original Gundam game was released on the obscure Arcadia 2001 console? When I first discovered this game on my Arcadia multicart, my sense of shock was on par with the time I discovered Halo for the Atari 2600. And when I saw Gundam's elaborate high-resolution title screen with the detailed robot face, I thought "that must be all there is." But no, this is a full-blown, legitimate robot shooter. The first wave begins with a white ship flying across the screen to deploy your mech. Your white robot can fly freely and aim his one-pixel blaster in any direction - even diagonally! It's a good thing, because you face an alien armada from above, roving tanks below, and bombers that cross the middle of the screen. The graphics are sharp and clear, and a little theme song even plays in the background. Once you clear the first screen, a space stage begins where you face off against other flying mechs. Mobile Suit Gundam is well programmed and so action-packed that the controller once flew out of my hand! As it turns out, the controls are the game's Achilles' heel. The Arcadia joysticks are stiff as hell to begin with, and the robot's stilted movements force you to wrestle with the controller. I guess that's just how a giant robot would handle in real life. Another issue is the loose collision detection, although that tends to work in your favor. Mobile Suit Gundam is one of the more interesting titles for Arcadia, but beware of its tendency to inflict physical pain. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
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Our high score: 1360
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Congo Bongo (Intellivision)
Math Gran Prix (Atari 2600)
Track & Field (Atari 2600)
Spitfire Attack (Atari 2600)
Escape (Arcadia 2001)

Monaco Grand Prix (Europe)
Grade: F
Publisher: UA (1982F)
Reviewed: 2018/5/12

screenshotMonaco Grand Prix is a two-player head-to-head racer that looks promising at first. The screen layout consists of a white road winding around fancy high rise hotels, not unlike those at the actual Monaco speedway. I would have been happy with a simple overhead racer but failed to anticipate was how badly they could [expletive] up the controls. For some inexplicable reason Monaco eschews the joystick and buttons in favor of the keypad. That's right, the controls are 100% limited to a freaking numeric pad! The number 5 accelerates, 0 brakes, 7 turns left, and 9 turns right. Unreal! Not only this the most counter-intuitive scheme ever devised, but it's also the least responsive! You need to hold the accelerator button for at least five seconds before your car finally begins to inch forward. Hold it in a little too long and your automobile launches like a rocket! Your car maintains its speed when you release a button but your turn radius is so wide you're constantly getting caught on the edge of buildings. You're better off driving slowly and focusing on turning. I assumed the entire course fit on one screen but at some point the screen changes to reflect another section. This next segment is just a small strip running across the bottom. You drive off the right side and it repeats with a different building pattern. There's no finish line so apparently you're just playing for points. Once you get a feel for the unwieldy controls Monaco Grand Prix is halfway playable. If only it were halfway enjoyable! © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
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Our high score: 34
2 player 

If you like this game, try: Super Monaco GP (Game Gear)
Grand Prix (Atari 2600)
Grand Prix (Bally Astrocade)
Pachinko (Odyssey 2)
Indy 500 (Tiger Game.com)

new Nibblemen
Grade: D+
Publisher: UA Ltd. (1982)
Reviewed: 2021/2/3


screenshotFrom the title alone you can surmise (correctly) that Nibblemen is yet another Pac-Man (Atari 2600, 1982) knock-off. Its sharp blue maze gave me flashbacks of Cat Trax (Emerson, 1982) and Crazy Gobbler (UA Ltd, 1982). In fact, this game is also known as "Super Gobbler" which explains a lot. You are a green mouth munching dots in a maze with three non-ghost creatures in pursuit. The animation is smooth enough but boy oh boy is this thing slow. It feels like your "Nibbleman'' is laboring just to turn each corner. There's a selection of mazes to choose from, some with up to three "tunnels" on each side. I guess that's where the "super" comes in. The pursuing creatures aren't very smart; they'll have you dead-to-rights and suddenly turn around! Snagging a power pill turns them white, and catching them in this state causes their eyes to grow super wide like they just had an orgasm or something (editor's note: inappropriate!). There's no "home base" in the center of the screen; they just sort of regenerate in the middle corridor, and that's not natural. The speed of the game is erratic. Your man tends to speed up a bit after you eat a power pill, only to slow down again when it wears off. Creature speeds vary as well, and they will occasionally dart at you. The best part of the game is snagging a fruit bonus, which sounds like a stack of dollar bills flipping as the points are tallied. Nibblemen borrows a lot from the classic maze formula but I'm afraind it doesn't offer a whole lot in return. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 4-1
Our high score: 24,900
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Crazy Gobbler (Arcadia 2001)
Cat Trax (Arcadia 2001)
Cat Trax (Atari 2600)
Jawbreaker (Atari 2600)
Ms. Pac-Man (Atari 5200)

Ocean Battle
Grade: D-
Publisher: Emerson (1982)
Reviewed: 2012/5/26


screenshotOcean Battle uses a classic formula seen in other naval combat games, most notably Sea Battle (Intellivision, 1980). A map screen depicts a series of continents with two armies of ships scattered throughout the oceans. Players take turns moving a ship into enemy territory, triggering a one-on-one battle. The control scheme is not the most intuitive you've ever used, but it's quite possibly the least intuitive! Moving your ship requires pressing an awkward combination of keys, resulting in the vessel hopping from space to space. The actual battles are often mystifying. The larger ships can only move sideways, but they can move off one side and reappear on the other. It's possible to have half of your ship showing on each side of the screen, and man, does that look like crap. The submarines can move in any direction but their slow speed makes them sitting ducks. Each type of ship has its own set of capabilities, leaving some room for strategy. I like how certain ships can fire off shots at any angle. Each battle ends with a sinking animation, which is a heck of a lot better than watching a boat blink and disappear, right? Ocean Battle is playable, but only if you can stomach the sloppy graphics and terrible controls. Sadly, that's a really big "if". © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
2 players 

If you like this game, try: Sea Battle (Intellivision)
Ocean City Defender (Atari 2600)
Marine Wars (Atari 2600)
Space Attack (Atari 2600)
Sea Wolf/Missile (Bally Astrocade)

Parashooter
Grade: D
Publisher: UA (1982)
Reviewed: 2018/4/3

screenshotI'll give Parashooter some credit for being a straightforward shooter that doesn't overthink itself. You move a red cannon across the bottom of the screen as helicopters and planes fly overhead. Raining down are parachutes, bombs, and kamikaze planes that blink from side-to-side in a spastic manner. The odd-looking parachutes look like they are swirling in the wind - as if they didn't open properly! Should one make it to the ground he'll plant a mine, limiting your movement. It's an original concept that doesn't translate into anything fun or exciting. The shooting animation is smooth but some of the targets tend to flicker and disappear for no reason. I normally enjoy shooters like this but the stiff Arcadia controller really limited my enjoyment. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 3460
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Mission X (Intellivision)
Commando Raid (Atari 2600)
Spitfire Attack (Atari 2600)
War Games (Colecovision)
Mobile Suit Gundam (Japan) (Arcadia 2001)

Pleiades
Grade: D+
Publisher: UA (1983)
Reviewed: 2016/3/21


screenshotI hate games I can't pronounce. How did they expect this game to be popular if nobody could even say its name? Pleiades is a shameless clone of the bird-shooting sensation Phoenix (Atari 2600, 1983). Stage one pits you against fluttering targets as you move a cannon across a landscape of buildings. There's some interesting-looking objects in the sky but as far as I can tell they are only there for decoration. Holding down the button initiates rapid-fire but the animation is jerky. Since it's impossible to aim with precision you just tend to shoot in a general area and hope for the best. Stage two features large birds that swoop down at you. You'll net between 100 and 400 points for each, but it's not clear how these numbers are being computed. Stage three features a joke of a mother ship that's a cinch to destroy. The final stage tries to be somewhat original but it's a disaster. This screen displays a pyramid-shaped galactic obstacle course that you must slowly navigate. The controls are so touchy that if you do more than tap the stick you'll veer out of control and crash. I like variety as much as the next guy but Pleiades feels like four mediocre ingredients rolled up into one unappetizing electronic burrito. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 14,300
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Pleiades (Atari 2600)
Birds of Prey (Vectrex)
Condor Attack (Atari 2600)
Space Vultures (Arcadia 2001)
Demon Attack (Atari 2600)

Robot Killer
Grade: F
Publisher: Emerson (1982)
Reviewed: 2008/9/1

screenshotThis is a really shameless Berzerk clone that gets the visuals right but doesn't even come close to matching its fun factor. I can't quibble with the graphics, which make a solid first impression. The maze walls have a granular texture, and the characters are small but nicely detailed. Your man runs by taking super long strides, but he moves in slow motion! And since he's small, you have a lot of ground to cover to reach the exit of each room. You fire huge red balls, but they take forever to cross the screen, and for some reason you begin each screen by firing upwards for no good reason! The robots are shaped exactly like the ones from Berzerk, right down to that single eye moving side-to-side. You can almost picture one of them saying "Shoot him - he's very slowly getting away!!" Only one robot can move one at a time, and they move at a snail's pace. They can also shoot, but their slow projectiles only present a danger at point-blank range. Should you linger in any room for too long, a small bouncing head appears in the center of the screen. Considering he's meant to chase you out, his pace is entirely too leisurely! Robot Killer isn't very challenging, and you'll hands will start cramping up long the game ends. I tried to increase the difficulty by adjusting the options, but each variation was equally slow and laborious. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 4-4
Our high score: 2380
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Berzerk (Vectrex)
Berzerk (Atari 5200)
Night Stalker (Intellivision)
Berzerk (Atari 2600)
Killer Satellites (Atari 2600)

Route 16
Grade: A-
Publisher: Tehkan (1983)
Reviewed: 2013/8/6

screenshotRoute 16 is one of those obscure, long forgotten titles that's so good it catches you completely off-guard. This boldly original maze racer is best described as a cross between Dodge 'Em (Atari 2600, 1980) and Venture (Colecovision, 1982). You begin by guiding a car through a simple maze with three police cars on your tail. Exiting the maze puts you in a giant grid of 16 city "blocks". Here your car looks like a red pixel as you steer it around while avoiding the swarming police. Each block contains openings that let you enter a unique maze. You can tell which blocks have loot, and the idea to snag all the money symbols to clear the level. Your car handles well and you can even reverse direction. The cops never rest, and when they're approaching your maze you can see them driving along the border (even over your score!). This adds excitement and forces you to think ahead. There are times when it looks like you're hopelessly trapped in the grid view, but if you duck into one of the mazes you can draw the cops in and perform some evasive maneuvering. Route 16 also contains mystery icons that cycle between cash (good), oil (slows you down), and a skull (instant death). Clearing the entire level becomes an obsession, and subsequent levels feature more aggressive cops and rearranged icons. My only real complaint is the whiny "siren" effects that play when you're on the grid view. One reader compared the sound to a broken smoke alarm, and that's pretty accurate. Otherwise, Route 16 is hard to fault. It's a shame more people don't know about this exciting and refreshingly original maze chase title. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 2,430
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Dodge 'Em (Atari 2600)
Zzzap and Dodgem (Bally Astrocade)
Grid Runner (Saturn)
Lock N Chase (Atari 2600)
Oil's Well (Colecovision)


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