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Galactic Space Wars
Grade: C
Publisher: Zircon (1980)
Posted: 2013/11/13


screenshotThis first-person space shooter feels like a scaled down Star Raiders (Atari 2600, 1982) so strap yourself in! The black screen features moving stars that convey the illusion of movement in a less-than-convincing manner. The lower left side displays a pair of coordinates, and your goal is to reach sector 0,0. Occasionally an enemy ship (a clump of white pixels) moves into view, and you'll want to center it on the screen before taking a shot.

The collision detection is loose to say the least, but it usually works out in your favor. When you blast an enemy the screen turns yellow and you hear a fuzzy, obnoxious beep. Different point values are awarded depending on the type of enemy. If you aren't quick enough, you'll incur damage and be subjected to all sorts of irritating noises. Score is kept for both you and the aliens on the lower right, and you'll want to be ahead when time expires.

For a bare-bones space shooter, Galactic Space Wars provides some decent twitch shooting action, and as a bonus you get a Lunar Lander mini-game. Unlike the slow original, your lander drops like a bag of bricks so you need to immediately thrust to prevent a crash. With a little practice you'll be landing that bad boy in under 10 seconds. Galactic Space Wars was better than I expected. You won't love it but you probably won't hate it either. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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High score: 48-34
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Star Master (Atari 2600)
Star Raiders (Atari 2600)
Star Ship (Atari 2600)
Space Spartans (Intellivision)
Star Raiders (Atari 5200)

Hangman
Grade: F
Publisher: Zircon (1978)
Posted: 2022/8/25

screenshotThis may be the most patently offensive retro game I've ever played, depicting a man actually being hung from the gallows! At least Atari had the decency to use a monkey hanging by the tail in its version of Hangman (Atari 2600, 1978). Here you can even see the noose for crying out loud. The fact that the guy looks like a member of the Las Vegas Blue Man Group doesn't make it right.

From a gameplay standpoint Hangman is harder than it looks. You would not believe how difficult it can be to guess basic words like "luxury", "regular", and "bounce"! Or maybe it's just me.

The interface is sensible enough as you simply cycle through the letters and select the one you want. Keep in mind the game will let you select a bad letter more than once! Five wrong answers your guy drops, causing his neck to snap. Brutal!

If you think Hangman's visuals are disturbing, brace yourself for its audio. A wrong answer causes the system to emit an extended, loud cacophony of noises and you can't turn it down. That's because the original Fairchild's speaker was built into the system! The guys from Dumb and Dumber couldn't produce a noise this obnoxious. You've been warned. Play Hangman on the Channel F and you will be at its mercy. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

If you like this game, try: Hangman (Atari 2600)
Tetris (Fairchild Channel F)
Coconuts (Atari 2600)
Las Vegas Blackjack (Odyssey 2)
Super Monkey Ball (GameCube)

Maze
Grade: D
Publisher: Fairchild (1977)
Posted: 2013/1/17

screenshotHere's a competent maze game marred by an incomprehensible user interface. Maze lets one or two players guide blocks through a randomly-generated maze that's ideal in size. You can usually "eyeball" the maze to figure out the right path, but while you're doing that your opponent may already be off and running.

The game has several variations, but the game is only fun when the maze is completely visible. The invisible variations will make you miserable. Feeling your way around is a chore, especially when bumping into a wall results in an annoying buzz sound.

One nice feature is the option to include a free-roaming, computer-controlled "cat". This makes the game playable solo and adds spice to the head-to-head action. Unfortunately, configuring a game requires entering a confusing sequence of keyboard and joystick commands. Even when you get it right, after one round it usually reverts to one of those dreadful "blind" variations. That's your cue to move on to another game! © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Maze Craze: A Game of Cops 'n Robbers (Atari 2600)
Cat Trax (Arcadia 2001)
Cat Trax (Atari 2600)
Surround (Atari 2600)
Scooby Doo's Maze Chase (Intellivision)

Memory Match
Grade: F
Publisher: Fairchild (1978)
Posted: 2022/2/16

screenshotI enjoyed playing the card game Memory as a kid with my sister. I've even enjoyed playing video game versions of it on occasion. And yet I absolutely detest Memory Match for the Channel F. This game is worthless!

The interface isn't bad. Using a cursor you navigate a grid of face-down "cards". One or two players take turns selecting pairs. Finding a match removes the pair and earns the player a point. Scores are displayed on the bottom, and in single player mode you also see the number of turns.

The problem is, the symbols on the cards are not my idea of "memorable". In one variation the cards have single-digit numbers on them. That would only leave 10 possibilities right? Not if the numbers are different colors. Either way it's boring as [expletive].

The variation that uses shapes is arguably worse. These abstract symbols all look very similar, often only differentiated by their orientation or color. While playing Sudz we actually found ourselves doing progressively worse as the game went on. Memory Match is so forgettable, you begin drawing a blank while you're still playing.

This is the kind of game you just want to be over. I can't believe Sudz lobbied for a D-. What a [expletive] push-over! Memory Match doesn't bring anything to the table at all. If anything, it tarnishes the memory of a classic game! Thanks for destroying my childhood, Memory Match! And here I thought George Lucas was bad! © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Tetris (Fairchild Channel F)
Las Vegas Poker and Blackjack (Intellivision)
Concentration (Atari 2600)
Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories (Playstation)
Pseudo-ku 2008 (Bally Astrocade)

Pac-Man
Grade: A
Publisher: Blackbird (2004)
Posted: 2013/1/29

screenshotThis astonishing Pac-Man translation has got to be the high water mark for the Fairchild Channel F. Remarkably faithful to the arcade original, Pac-Man kicks off with an attractive title screen that introduces the ghosts, each of which is a different color. The main screen features a maze with a layout that's identical to the arcade.

The background is white (instead of black) and the opening tune sounds distorted though still easily recognizable. The maze over-scans my television a bit, so the upper and lower regions are just barely visible. The game plays like a dream and the controls are very comfortable.

The collision detection is less forgiving than the arcade, so if you're camped out by a power pill, don't wait too long to snag it. Upon getting caught by a ghost you're treated to the classic death animation and sound effect. Pac-Man is a heck of a lot of fun to play on the Fairchild. I hear there's another version with full intermissions, but as far as I'm concerned this one already goes well beyond the call of duty. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

High score: 11270
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Pac-Man: Special Color Edition (Game Boy Color)
Ms. Pac-Man (Atari 5200)
Muncher (Bally Astrocade)
Pac-Man (NES)
Pac-Man (Atari XEGS)

Pinball Challenge
Grade: F
Publisher: Fairchild (1978)
Posted: 2015/6/27



screenshotIf Pinball Challenge was Fairchild's attempt to rip off Breakout (Atari 2600, 1977), they went about it the wrong way! For one thing, you don't call it "pinball" when it has absolutely nothing to do with pinball. Just about any other name (including gibberish words) would have been more appropriate.

The controls are abysmal. You push the joystick left or right, and if you hold it long enough your paddle moves faster. Why couldn't they use the analog "twist" controls instead? The butt-ugly screen layout is composed of three thick colored lines. The ball moves in a jerky manner and the paddles flicker annoyingly.

The best part of Pinball Challenge is when you get the ball trapped at the top and witness the console struggle mightily to tally your score. The CPU just can't keep up! The variations are odd and most make no sense. One player moves the paddle left and the other moves it right? Players alternate hits? A second paddle appears just under the wall? If anything, these ill-advised alterations make me think even less of this piece of garbage. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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High score: 705
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Breakout (Playstation)
Breakout (Atari 2600)
Off The Wall (Atari 2600)
Super Breakout (Atari XEGS)
Super Breakout (Atari 5200)

Pro Football
Grade: D-
Publisher: Fairchild (1978)
Posted: 2016/9/20


screenshotThis primitive football title begins with a rousing rendition of the Notre Dame fight song! Wait what? Last time I checked Notre Dame was a college team! Okay, just work with me here! Pro Football requires more suspension of disbelief than a Keanu Reeves movie for crying out loud. Calling its graphics "abstract" would be a major understatement. You are literally controlling X's and O's on the screen!

You select from nine plays but the players always line up in the same formation and that sucks! To select a play you not only push the joystick but have to twist the controller to register it. Is that really necessary? Once you get the hang of it you'll be able to run your X between gaps in the O's, but you only have four downs to travel the entire length of the field.

The passing is ineffective because the ball moves slowly and is easily picked off. If you do complete a pass it feels like a monumental accomplishment. You may want to yourself a favor and quit while you're ahead. In its defense, Brent said he liked Pro Football better than the new Madden, so there's that. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

2 players 

If you like this game, try: Bill Walsh College Football (Genesis)
Bill Walsh College Football '95 (Genesis)
NFL Football '94 (Genesis)
NFL Quarterback Club (Game Gear)
Madden NFL '94 (Super Nintendo)


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