system Index P-R
Pepper II
Grade: A-
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
Reviewed: 2000/6/14


screenshotPepper II borrows heavily from both Pac-Man and Qix, but has enough originality to be interesting. You control an angel that moves around mazes, "zipping" up different areas. It's a bit like playing Qix -- on tracks. You are pursued by sets of eyes, which you can turn the tables on by zipping up an area containing a pitchfork. This causes you to become an invincible "demon" for a short period of time. One cool feature is the ability to move between four different maze screens, which you can complete in any order. Pepper II features good control and fun music ranging from the Alfred Hitchcock theme to Zip-a-dee-doo-da. It may be derivative, but Pepper II is definitely a good time. NOTE: No, there was not a Pepper I. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: STP 141,180
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Ms. Pac-Man (Atari 5200)
Jr. Pac-Man (Atari 5200)
Amidar (Atari 2600)
Happy Trails (Intellivision)
Pac-Man Collection (Atari 7800)

Pitfall
Grade: A-
Publisher: Activision (1983)
Reviewed: 2000/4/13


screenshotThis is basically the same game as the classic Atari 2600 version, a few subtle differences aside. First of all, the sound effects are slightly improved. The trees and bushes in the background are more detailed, but the treasures actually look worse (what the heck IS that thing??). But the most noticeable change is Pitfall Harry himself! He definitely looks "thicker" in this version. Apparently he got lazy after his Atari success and let himself go a little. I'm not saying that the guy is overweight, but he's picked up at least 20 pounds! Otherwise, the game plays like every other version of Pitfall. Too bad they couldn't improve upon the graphics for this Colecovision edition. Even the scorpion looks exactly the same. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 5576
1 player. 

If you like this game, try: Super Pitfall (NES)
Pitfall (Atari 5200)
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (Super Nintendo)
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns (Colecovision)
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns (Atari 2600)

Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
Grade: B+
Publisher: Activision (1984)
Reviewed: 2017/7/15

screenshotPitfall II for the Atari 2600 was an amazing sequel, turning a side-scrolling jungle romp into an expansive journey with waterfalls, rivers, balloons, and mineshafts. The Colecovision edition more or less captures the same spirit, despite a few notable flaws. First, Pitfall Harry looks ridiculous decked out in his blue sweatshirt and green pants. That angular blue haircut looks like a plastic helmet for crying out loud. Creatures like bats, scorpions, and frogs abound, but they look less detailed than their 2600 counterparts.

The controls are responsive but the hand-cramping Colecovision controllers make it hard to finagle your way up and down ladders. Considering he's a world-renowned adventurer, maybe it's time Harry learned how to duck. I can't tell you how many times I met my demise when a bat wing brushed against my forehead. Sometimes when I find myself on a high ledge, I can't resist the urge to jump. It's a risky move, as the chance of colliding with a flying creature is pretty high. Pitfall II's music is catchy but doesn't quite have the punch of the Atari version.

The scoring system is highly unconventional. Instead of three lives you play indefinitely. Your score is docked whenever you touch a creature, rapidly counting down as you're transported back to the last checkpoint. The only thing Harry likes more than adventure is getting paid, and there's nothing more satisfying than grabbing a gold bar or diamond ring and watching your points rack up. Pitfall II may be less of a technical marvel on the Colecovision but it's still a lot of fun. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Pitfall II: Lost Caverns (Atari 2600)
Pitfall 2 (Atari 5200)
Super Pitfall (NES)
Pitfall II: The Lost Caverns (Sega SG-1000)
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure (Super Nintendo)

Pitstop
Grade: B-
Publisher: Epyx (1983)
Reviewed: 2000/3/10

screenshotHere's a racing game with a cool gimmick - you need to stop every few laps to repair your car and also refuel. Your view is from overhead and slightly behind you car. You never see the horizon, just a winding road with green grass on both sides. The oncoming cars are large and detailed, and bumping into them wears out your tires, as does hitting the walls.

Eventually your tires start to change color, and if you let them turn red, they can bust -- ending your game. That's where the strategy comes in - should you pull into the pitstop now, or can you squeeze in another lap?? The highlight of this game is the remarkable pitstop screen, with four members of the pit crew (two for tires, one fuel, one flag) which you control individually.

It takes practice to get in and out as quickly as possible; it's a nice bit of realism. The game offers a plentiful number of tracks, but since there's no scenery, they all look the same. Pitstop really isn't very hard as long as you keep your wheels in good shape. The longer races (9 laps) can get pretty monotonous. You may also want to try playing this with the Colecovision steering wheel controller. . © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: semi-pro single
Our high score: 53,000
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Pitstop (Atari XEGS)
Formula One World Championship: Beyond the Limit (Sega CD)
F1 Challenge (Saturn)
Flag Capture (Atari 2600)
Danny Sullivan's Indy Heat (NES)

Popeye
Grade: A-
Publisher: Parker Bros (1983)
Reviewed: 2010/7/20


screenshotOne look at Popeye's crisp, cartoon graphics and you know you're in for some good-time arcade action. This likeable platformer challenges you to collect hearts tossed by Olive Oyl from the top of the screen while avoiding Bluto and other hazards. The graphics are absolutely terrific. The first screen depicts a generic set of platforms, but the level of detail is extraordinary. Olive's name is written in cursive (no small feat for an old-school game) and there are little touches like textured bricks and a daisy growing next to Popeye's house.

In the second screen Popeye collects musical notes against a building backdrop, and in the third he scuttles around a huge pirate ship. As for the characters, Bluto and Olive are rendered with colorful detail, so it's surprising that Popeye is solid white. The gameplay is more original than you might expect.

Popeye lacks the ability to jump, but this turns out to be a refreshing change. The stages are designed so you can't linger in a particular area - you'll need to use the entire screen. Keep an eye on Bluto because he has the ability to reach up (and down) to grab you from a different platform. A few times he surprised me and literally made me jump in my chair!

When you eat spinach you can turn the tables, but it's annoying how Popeye freezes momentarily, giving Bluto a head start. There are a few minor collision detection issues. For example, why is it so [expletive] hard to hit that punching bag? Popeye's harmonized musical score is superb, and the sound effects are arcade-perfect. Add in three levels of difficulty and you're left with a must-have title for Colecovision fans. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 32,350
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Popeye (Atari 5200)
Popeye (NES)
Popeye (Atari 2600)
Popeye (Odyssey 2)
Popeye (Intellivision)

Q*bert
Grade: A-
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1983)
Reviewed: 2004/6/12

screenshotThis is a good-looking adaptation of the likeable arcade hit. In Q*bert, you control a cute little round guy (with a long nose) traversing a pyramid, trying to turn its squares the same color. This edition is impressive, with all the elements of the arcade game including those squiggly green things that move across the pyramid sideways. There are even short "intros" to each level. I'm glad to see that the "escape disks" sport that cool swirl pattern, but I must say I'm disappointed Q*bert doesn't have any eyes. He's just not the same loveable freak without those big, white eyes.

Also, when he "curses", it doesn't look like he really means it. I had difficulty with the control until I realized you need to turn the controller forty-five degrees and play it like that. It feels strange at first, but it's not bad once you get the hang of it. The characters are animated smoothly, and the sound effects are faithful to the arcade. Q*bert has three skill levels, and provides plenty of old-school fun. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 11,355
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Q*bert (Atari XEGS)
Q*bert (Atari 2600)
Q*Bert (Playstation)
Q*bert (Atari 5200)
Rabbit Transit (Atari 2600)

Q*bert's Qubes
Grade: F
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1984)
Reviewed: 2018/12/5

screenshotQ*bert (Parker Bros., 1983) was a universal hit starring a loveable, profanity-spewing creature. Its simple gameplay involved hopping around a pyramid until all the blocks were the same color. Q*bert's Qubes adds a Rubik's Cube twist to the formula, narrowing its appeal considerably. Now the cubes you jump between have colors on all sides, and when you jump off a cube it rotates in the opposite direction.

The goal is to rotate them to match the "model cube" in the corner. This is harder than it sounds and extremely irritating. It's often necessary to hop on and off the same cube several times to get it right, and when you have dangerous snakes and balls bouncing around you, cube orientation is the last thing on your mind.

As if the developers sensed the headache they had created, they lowered the bar a bit. Instead of changing all the cubes, you just need to complete any single row. Believe me, when this happens it's completely by accident. Q*bert's Qubes has all the tedium of a puzzle game and absolutely none of the fun. . © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 6905
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Q*bert's Qubes (Atari 2600)
Q*bert (Atari XEGS)
Atari Video Cube (Atari 2600)
Q*bert 3 (Super Nintendo)
Q*bert (Atari 5200)

River Raid
Grade: A
Publisher: Activision (1984)
Reviewed: 2004/6/12

screenshotThere's not a single bad thing I can say about this terrific version of River Raid. Unlike the Atari 5200 version, which bore a striking resemblance to its Atari 2600 cousin, Activision has given this version the royal treatment. All of the graphics have been completely redone, and the multicolored ships, helicopters, and tanks look far more realistic.

The riverbank winds in irregular patterns, and you'll have to squeeze through some very narrow openings. Numbered bridges allow you to track your progress, and it's always satisfying to blast a bridge to smithereens as a tank's rolling over it. This edition of River Raid even throws in a few extra challenges to ratchet up the difficulty. Special helicopters can fire missiles at you, and tanks line up and fire at you from the riverbank!

Your plane is a pleasure to control, and your precision-guided missiles make it possible to obliterate everything in your path. Just make sure to keep an eye on that fuel supply, since fuel barges become more and more scarce as you progress. River Raid has four levels of difficulty. If you're getting tired of the Atari 2600 version, give this one a try. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 18550
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: River Raid (Atari XEGS)
River Raid (Atari 5200)
River Raid (Atari 2600)
River Raid II (Atari 2600)
River Raid (Intellivision)

Robin Hood
Grade: C-
Publisher: Xonox (1983)
Reviewed: 2010/7/20

screenshotRobin Hood features a series of unique screens rendered with some sweet, high-resolution graphics. The lush green countrysides of Sherwood Forest look terrific, but that red sun looks so hideous that it makes me feel embarrassed for the real sun. In the first screen you fire arrows at henchmen who emerge from trees and riverbanks. It's especially satisfying when you shoot them in the head!

The controls are pretty good (you can fire diagonally) and the collision detection is forgiving. In crossfire situations, your enemies can inadvertently shoot each other. The second screen contains a bunch of swordsmen milling around zombies. You can engage each with your sword, but your best bet is to systematically sneak up behind each one and bludgeon them in the back of the head.

You get unlimited lives for this screen only, probably because of its potential to be frustrating. The third screen depicts a majestic, multi-tiered castle on the right half, with archers that randomly appear in the towers. After killing five archers a switch will appear that opens the drawbridge. Just be sure not to touch any water while crossing the bridge, because in classic gaming few things are more deadly than water!

Once inside the castle, your final challenge is to locate the gold and princess behind a series of doors. This stage is a minor disaster. Most doors unleash henchmen, and since you're completely unarmed, you're reduced to running away like a sissy. Navigating the stairways is tricky, and even when you find something it's hard to tell if it registered or not.

After exhausting your lives the game awards you with a title (usually something like "stable sweeper"). In terms of audio, an understated melody plays throughout the game, and it sounds appropriate for the period. Robin Hood delivers a very uneven gaming experience, but collectors will be intrigued. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 1
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Robin Hood (Atari 2600)
Thunder Castle (Intellivision)
California Games (Atari 2600)
Quattro Adventure (NES)
Another Adventure (Atari 2600)

Roc N Rope
Grade: C-
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
Reviewed: 2001/7/4


screenshotRoc N Rope was a minor arcade game that pushed the Donkey Kong formula a little too far. Instead of climbing ladders, your man shoots ropes diagonally between cliffs, then climbs them to higher ground. Monsters lurk in caves on the cliff faces, and they will either shake the rope, or climb down after you. To defend yourself, you have a flashlight that temporarily stuns them. If you make it to the top of the screen, you'll rescue a magic egg and move on to a tougher level. Subsequent levels include elevators and more complicated sets of platforms. I can see why Roc N Rope never really caught on. The controls have a steep learning curve and the game lacks personality. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 16340
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Roc 'N Rope (Atari 2600)
Donkey Kong Junior (Colecovision)
Donkey Kong Jr. (NES)
D2K Arcade (Intellivision)
Donkey Kong Junior (Atari 2600)

Rocky
Grade: F
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
Reviewed: 2013/2/2

screenshotThis is the kind of game I really want to like, if only because it looks so freakin' awesome. Based on the third Rocky film, Rocky is pitted against Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T. The game opens with a digitized title screen and building music that gets you totally pumped. It makes me want to put down the controller and start working out! Not really.

The graphics are extremely attractive and downright stunning by 1983 standards. The muscular fighters are large, colorful, and closely resemble the real actors. There's even a referee wearing a bow tie that oversees the fight. Rocky uses the Super Action Controllers, but despite all of those buttons, your control feels limited.

You can only move your boxer in four directions, and he's slow and stiff. The top two "grip" buttons let you punch high and low, and the bottom two are for block and duck. The buttons are responsive enough but the punches don't generate much power. You can't deliver a devastating uppercut; the best you can hope for is a jab to the face.

Boxing games should be cat-and-mouse in nature, but this feels more like rock-paper-scissors. The scoring is odd, and knockdowns rarely correlate to your score. Skill level one is playable because the CPU is easy and there are only three rounds. The remaining skill levels run five or more rounds, and will leave your hand aching. At the end of each bout the winner is shown donning the belt in the ring, arms raised in victory. Rocky looks amazing but even the best graphics can't save a bad game. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: 113-108
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Realsports Boxing (Atari 2600)
Super Punch Out!! (Super Nintendo)
Buster Douglas Knockout Boxing (Genesis)
Rocky (Sega Master System)
Evander Holyfield's Real Deal Boxing (Genesis)


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