As you fly over a jagged landscape you blast aliens that abduct humanoids from the surface and transform them into spastic mutants. The programmers were really on the ball when they made this. The scrolling is so smooth - a rarity for the Colecovision. Your sizzling lasers pierce multiple aliens at a time and when your ship takes a hit its blooming explosion is a sight to behold. Your ship doesn't shoot fire out of its exhaust, but hey - you can't have everything.
There are a variety of enemies distinguished by their own unique sound effects. Most dangerous are the pods which unleash groups of tiny red "swarmers". When the screen is crowded that's usually a good time to detonate one of your smart bombs via the right trigger. Hyperspace, always a last resort, is relegated to the "0" button on the keypad, which means you'll never use it.
What's not to love about this game? Well, the controls feel stiff and when you change direction your ship becomes immobile as it reorients itself. The single skill level is ideal for beginners, but the generous free lives and bonus smart bombs can drag things out for experts. Still, Defender is an undeniably impressive arcade port for the Colecovision. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Destructor offers an overhead view of a small tractor you steer around a scrolling maze. The title of the game is utterly misleading, as the crux of the "action" involves finding crystals and hauling them back to your "starcruiser" (which resembles a psychedelic shack). You'll be pestered by wandering bugs, but these are easy to avoid. The instruction manual seems to indicate there's some underlying strategy involved, but it never became apparent to me.
The sprites look awful, the screen scrolls in a choppy manner, and unsightly artifacts litter the screen. The crystals and bugs seem to appear at random, giving you little incentive to wander far from your shack. The audio is equally horrendous, with all sorts of irritating beeps and blaring sirens. Once you gather enough crystals, you're off to the next monotonous level, which looks and plays just as poorly. Destructor is one of those games that's so pointless that you switch it off well before depleting your lives. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
The three screens are fine renditions of their arcade cousins, with only minor alterations. Die-hard fans will notice a missing girder here and there, but the elaborate elevator screen looks just as amazing as it did in the arcade. The controls are a little stiff, but tapping the joystick to scoot up and down ladders is a very effective technique.
The collision detection can be a little fishy, especially when you're trying to grab the hammer and you jump right through it. Is it even possible to grab that hammer on the left side of the rivet stage? While holding the hammer you become completely invincible - unlike the arcade. This game has been surpassed by subsequent editions on other systems, but let's face it - you can't take the fun out of Donkey Kong. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Instead of climbing ramps and ladders, the gameplay mostly consists of sideways vine-climbing in jungle environments. Enemies include chattering teeth and egg-dropping birds which can be defeated by dropping fruit on them. The second screen requires you to climb chains to unlock your father's shackles. A rope snaps as you unlock each padlock, and it's a neat effect you won't find in any of the other home versions.
Three of the four screens from the arcade are included, with the electrified level having been omitted. Each stage provides a fresh set of challenges, and the game is arguably harder than Donkey Kong. Brimming with innovation and vibrant visuals, Donkey Kong Junior is one of the more underrated sequels of all time. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Once you make it inside, you see a 3D view of the treasure room, with a menacing dragon at the bottom of the screen. As you frantically run around collecting treasures, your prince actually scales in and out. My only complaint is that the treasure items that looked so nice in the 2600 version are plain and single-colored here. In advanced stages a troll patrols the treasure room, adding to the challenge. Dragonfire has ten skill levels, and although it's tough, the controls are perfectly responsive. This game has it all. There's even a nice title screen showing a princess in the tower and the dragon peeking out of the gate. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Unfortunately the jumpy framerate and choppy scaling make it hard to steer with any degree of precision. You'll be swerving from side-to-side so much that avoiding head-on collisions requires more luck than anything else. It's such a struggle to remain centered on the road that the whole chase element becomes secondary. Graphical glitches don't help matters, including oncoming cars that appear to be approaching from the right, but then suddenly jump to the left. Regulating your speed using the H-shaped gearshift is also tricky.
The scenery is fairly impressive, with occasional trees, streets signs, intersections, and even a few single-story buildings in the downtown area. But the highlight of the game is definitely bridge jumping, which can only be done if you're exceeding 75 MPH. I can appreciate what Coleco was trying to accomplish with Dukes of Hazzard, but the technology wasn't quite there yet. It's a playable game, but the problematic controls wear thin after one or two plays. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum