system Index T-Z
Grade: D-
Publisher: Coleco (1984)
Reviewed: 2006/3/19

screenshotWow, Coleco really butchered this old arcade classic. As an owner of a genuine Tapper arcade machine, I can attest that this lame version conveys little of the charm or frantic fun of the original. Tapper's novel premise puts you in the role of a bartender, pouring and tossing beers down four long bars in order to keep approaching patrons at bay. You also need to collect empty glasses, and you can sometimes snag cash tips for bonus points.

The arcade game is tremendously playable but this version is hard to stomach. The true culprit is the painfully choppy animation. When you toss a beer down the bar, it doesn't slide smoothly, but instead blinks twice over the entire length of the bar! Yes, it looks awful. Making matters worse, returning beer glasses move in a slow, jerky manner. They're so slow in fact that you can ignore them for the most part, causing the screen to flicker as it fills up with empties.

The graphics don't help matters, thanks to yellow patrons that tend to blend in with the light gray background. There aren't a wide variety of patron types, so the "overlapping problem" that plagues the arcade version is even worse here. On a positive note, all four stages are included, along with the "find the unshaken can" bonus stage. The bonus stage definitely looks sharp, but its stilted animation makes it tough to follow the shuffled cans.

Tapper's bartender character also looks good, and when you grab a tip, a musical act appears consisting of a musician and dancing monkey (no dancing girls in this version). As I usually do, I'll give this game extra credit for the monkey, despite the fact that he looks more like a big brown frog. Tapper's festive musical score is practically identical to the arcade, and the controls are responsive enough. But in the final analysis, Tapper for the Colecovision is a serious disappointment. I found the Atari 2600 version to be far more satisfying. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 37200
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Tapper (Atari XEGS)
Tapper (Atari 2600)
Touchdown Football (Atari 7800)
Crossbow (Atari 7800)
Earth Dies Screaming (Atari 2600)

Grade: D
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Reviewed: 2001/7/4

screenshotTarzan tries to be a turbo-charged Jungle Hunt, but falls short due to choppy animation and mediocre gameplay. Visually, the game has plenty going for it. The graphics are gorgeous, with lush, detailed jungle scenery awash in bright colors. There are about a dozen different screens full of trees, vines, monkeys, and crocodile infested rivers. You can either take the high road by swinging on vines, or the low road by walking on the ground.

Unfortunately, the ground is cluttered with cheap pit traps and snakes that appear without warning - not fun! Every few screens you'll be required to save caged monkeys from hunters or gorillas, and this is easily the highlight of the game. Tarzan can climb trees, leap, and his punches temporarily daze enemies. Our hero (and his flowing hair) is nicely rendered, but his movement is choppy and the controls feel unresponsive. The background music features some nice bongo drums, but overall I was not impressed with this title. After you see all the screens, playing this game starts to feel like a chore. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 17250
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Jungle Hunt (Colecovision)
Jungle Hunt (Atari 2600)
Jungle Hunt (Atari XEGS)
Road Rash 2 (Genesis)
Platoon (NES)

Terra Attack
Grade: B-
Publisher: Atari Age (2007)
Reviewed: 2007/11/27

screenshotCombining elements of Missile Command (Atari 2600, 1981) and Atlantis (Atari 2600, 1982), Terra Attack takes a familiar formula and "kicks it up a notch". A planet surface on the bottom of the screen is lined with four towers and three cannons. Enemy ships glide across the sky above, unleashing rotating bombs. Moving the joystick up or down cycles control between your three cannons, and moving left or right lets you adjust the turret of the selected cannon. Personally, I never felt comfortable switching between cannons, and it's too easy to accidentally switch in the heat of battle.

Novice players might be tempted to stick with the center cannon, but since each has a limited amount of ammo, you'll need to switch between your cannons strategically. Pressing 1-3 on the keypad initiates shield protection for each cannon, but calling these controls less than responsive is an understatement. Still, I love Terra Attack's rapid-fire shooting and its satisfying, high-resolution explosions.

The game offers several distinctive waves, including a saucer-shaped boss that explodes into eleven flaming potatoes when defeated. Terra Attack also features a familiar sound effect I couldn't quite identify until my friend Steve pointed out it was from the Crystal Castles arcade game (1983)! Terra Attack is sometimes frustrating, but usually enjoyable and always challenging. Colecovision collectors should definitely take notice of this one. . © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 27625
1 player 

If you like this game, try: ICBM Attack (Bally Astrocade)
Missile Command (Atari 5200)
Atlantis (Atari XEGS)
Missile War (Arcadia 2001)
Atlantis (Atari 2600)

Time Pilot
Grade: C
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
Reviewed: 2018/12/5

screenshotThis simple shooter was a staple of the arcades in the early 80's. At the time it felt quite exhilarating to soar freely through the bright blue sky with the screen scrolling in all directions. You can fire rapidly at enemy aircraft that emerge from the edges and collect parachutists for bonus points. Once you defeat a certain number of planes (marked on the lower left) a "boss" appears in the form of a blimp or bomber.

These require several shots to destroy but since they fly straight across they aren't difficult. After a flash of light you travel to the next time period. The sense of a progression is fun as you battle biplanes in 1910, more biplanes in 1940, choppers in 1970, and finally fighter jets in the "future". And by the future of course I mean 1985. I'm a little disappointed they didn't include a 2020 stage with Amazon drones.

In terms of graphics Time Pilot comes off a little flat. The solid-colored enemies look bland and the explosions are less satisfying than the arcade. The collision detection is forgiving to a fault; you can partially overlap with an enemy without blowing up. Time Pilot feels like a mediocre translation but its simple, free-flying shooting gameplay holds up well over time. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: STP 28,800
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Time Pilot (Atari 2600)
Stealth (NES)
Canyon Bomber (Atari 2600)
Planet Patrol (Atari 2600)
B-17 Bomber (Intellivision)

Grade: A-
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Reviewed: 2016/9/8

screenshotYou'll be hard-pressed to find a classic racer delivering the high-speed thrills and eye candy of Turbo. I'll take the Pepsi Challenge with Pole Position (Atari 5200, 1983) any day of the week! This game is so awesome it requires its own steering wheel controller (aka expansion module #2). While cheaply constructed with a pedal that slides around the floor, it's still more immersive than any normal controller.

The wheel offers precision steering and the accelerator lets you carefully regulate your speed which is critical around turns. Your car does tend to drift slightly but that just adds to the challenge. The screen displays several gauges but where in the hell is the gear indicator!? I know there are only two gears, but it's hard to tell which one you're on!

Speeding down straightaways while whizzing through traffic is exhilarating. The cars are small but multi-colored, and if you look close you can see their tiny tires spinning. The colorful graphics are just icing on the cake. Unlike most classic racers Turbo's scenery is constantly changing with huge scaling objects nearly as tall as the screen! You begin in a city with buildings lining each side of the road and every 30 seconds or so the scenery changes. You'll race over rolling hills, slide along snowy country roads, and even cruise along a beach!

Granted, the scenery changes abruptly but work with me here. Be extra cautious while rounding cliffs which partially obstruct your vision. Driving through the pitch-black tunnels looks amazing with bright pastel lights lining the walls. My friend Chris said it made him feel "like he was in the future." High praise for a game released in 1982! Turbo's arcade-style gameplay has aged well and it's always fun to see what the next stretch of road has in store. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: SDZ 29,432
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Victory Run (Turbografx-16)
Fatal Run (Atari 7800)
Pole Position (Atari 5200)
Rad Racer (NES)
Hot Wheels: All Out (Game Boy Advance)

Grade: A-
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1983)
Reviewed: 2008/5/10

screenshotThis old stand-by delivers the perfect blend of monster shooting and treasure hunting. Tutankham offers four side-scrolling "tombs" strewn with treasure, portals, and "nests" that spawn monsters. This masterful Colecovision translation features crisp graphics and vibrant colors that practically leap off of the screen. The craggy bricks that compose each stage look awesome, and the changing color schemes are very easy on the eyes.

Your pudgy explorer is rendered in multiple colors, and after finding a key, it can be seen in his hat - a nice touch! Creatures include cobras, demons, and flying cats. Although solid in color, they are nicely rendered and menacing in appearance. The character animation is smooth, but the scrolling is undeniably jerky. In fact, this is probably the one legitimate knock against Tutankham.

Unlike most maze shooters, you can fire rapidly to either the left or right by hitting the respective buttons, and unleash "smart bombs" (destroying all enemies) by hitting both buttons at once. Portals let you teleport from one section of the maze to the next, but be careful not to teleport into a creature! Like most well designed games, Tutankham tempts you into taking chances by placing diamond rings in hard-to-reach nooks. For "glory seekers" like myself, these are hard to resist.

Upon losing a life, you continue in the exact place where you left off, which is very convenient. Each stage ends with a "big" treasure, and while the first is supposed to be a map, its green color makes it look more like a stack of dollar bills! Tutankham's sound effects aren't anything special, but the crystal-clear jingle that plays when you grab a chest is old-school joy. Tutankham is so good that you'll wish there were more than four tombs. No Colecovision fan should miss out on this captivating title. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 35,344
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Tutankham (Atari 2600)
Demons To Diamonds (Atari 2600)
Venture (Intellivision)
King Tut's Tomb (Atari XEGS)
Meteoric Shower (Colecovision)

Up 'N Down
Grade: B
Publisher: Sega (1984)
Reviewed: 2003/11/21

screenshotIt's a shame that Up 'N Down is so rare, because it's genuinely fun and there's really nothing else like it. Driving a Volkswagen Bug up a vertically-scrolling screen, you must collect a set of flags as quickly as possible -- while avoiding oncoming traffic. The view is from a slight angle, giving the game a pseudo-3D look that was pretty nifty back in 1984.

The diagonal roads are single-lane only, but you can adjust your speed and switch lanes where the roads intersect. When faced with a head-on collision, you can either jump over the oncoming car, or jump on top of it -- smashing it for points. Just be careful not to jump when approaching a turn, or you'll fly off the road and crash.

Complicating matters are inclines which require momentum to climb, and descents which speed you up. Later stages even have bridges that look surprisingly good. Obtaining all the flags isn't difficult because the roads loop, so when you pass a flag you know where to position your car on the next lap. Up 'N Down is a tough game that requires skill. If you can find a copy, it's a nice addition to your collection. . © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: 14840
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Flag Capture (Atari 2600)
Up 'N Down (Atari 2600)
Super Bug 2 (Arcadia 2001)
Cruis'n World (Nintendo 64)
Dodge 'Em (Atari 2600)

Grade: C-
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Reviewed: 2006/3/19

screenshotI always loved the "pure" brand of adventure this game delivers. Venture's oddly shaped rooms, variety of monsters, and imaginative treasures make it feel like a simplified version of Dungeons and Dragons. Your character is an orange smiley-face equipped with unlimited arrows. Too bad this Colecovision edition is crippled by some of the most horrid controls I've ever encountered in a video game. It's frustratingly difficult to find and maintain the correct angle - especially diagonals.

In addition, whenever you change direction, your character pauses momentarily, making you a sitting duck for swarming monsters. Almost every time I died, it was the result of wrestling with the [expletive] controls (no really - it was!). To illustrate the extent of the problem, I actually had to plug in another controller to make sure the first one wasn't broken! Other than that huge detail, this may be the ultimate Venture game.

The graphics are detailed and sharp, with each room housing its own set of interesting (albeit single-colored) monsters. A few even incorporate moving walls or simple "traps". Unlike other versions, the top of the screen displays the title of each room, such as "Goblin room", "Cyclops room", or "Demon room". One description that definitely belies the graphics is the "Dragon room"; those things look more like yapping winged dogs!

Venture's harmonized musical score is impressive, incorporating a unique theme for each room. I do wish Coleco had included more than twelve rooms over three stages however, because once they start to repeat, the fun factor dips precipitously. Other annoyances include the fact that "hall monsters" can appear practically on top of you after you leave a room. I also don't like how monster corpses (fatal to touch) stick around longer if you shoot them. These are minor quirks, but it's the awkward, hand-cramping controls that really ruin this one. . © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 70,800
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Venture (Intellivision)
Venture (Atari 2600)
Venture (Atari XEGS)
Venture II The Abysmal Abyss (Atari 2600)
Montezuma's Revenge (Atari 2600)

Grade: C+
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Reviewed: 2001/11/18

screenshotVictory, a standard space shooter, resembles a slow-paced Defender. It requires the Coleco Roller Controller. Why? Apparently because of the four "action" buttons required to thrust, shoot, shield, and detonate smart bombs. This control scheme actually elevates what would otherwise be a mediocre shooter. Your mission is to prevent aliens from overrunning a planet, and you're aided by a Defender-like scanner.

The graphics are lousy, with aliens which look like simple shapes, and weak explosions that resemble flashing asterisk symbols. The animation is choppy and the collision detection doesn't always work very well. Still, Victory is fun in spite of itself. The shield and smart bomb controls add an extra level of strategy, and you'll also need to keep an eye on your fuel. Using the roller ball to aim your ship takes some getting used to, but it works. Not bad. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 195950
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Defender (Atari XEGS)
Defender (Game Boy Advance)
Defender II (NES)
Nova Blast (Colecovision)
Killer Satellites (Atari 2600)

War Games
Grade: A-
Publisher: Coleco (1983)
Reviewed: 2000/8/4

screenshotMost movies make for horrible video games (and vice versa) but War Games is an exception. It's actually a fine game that effectively captures the spirit of the film. It's like playing Missile Command on six screens at once - with a time limit! You flip between 6 maps, each displaying a section of the United States. You'll see enemy missiles, planes, and subs approaching, and must direct your forces (missiles, planes, subs, and satellites) to intercept them.

Each type of defense has its own strengths and weaknesses. Missiles are fast, but limited in range. Planes have unlimited range, but move slowly. Satellites are the best all-around defense but are only available intermittently. As enemies begin to strike targets across the U.S., DefCon indicators begin to count down, increasing the tension level. The graphics are sharp and resemble those of the movie. Control is excellent, even with the Roller Controller. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 4
Our high score: 1370000
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Missile Command (Atari 5200)
Missile War (Arcadia 2001)
Missile Command (Atari 2600)
Arcade's Greatest Hits: Atari Collection 1 (Playstation)
Patriots (Vectrex)

War Room
Grade: C-
Publisher: Probe 2000 (1983)
Reviewed: 2000/11/12

screenshotGet a load of the manual for this game: "War Room is a simulation of the computerized war game scenarios played out at the highest level of the world superpowers. It is an extremely graphic and realistic representation of a nuclear confrontation between the United States and Russia". Give me a break.

War Room plays a little like War Games. You have to shoot down incoming enemy missiles while balancing resources between cities around the country. The graphics are pretty good, and the huge, scrolling map of the U.S. is especially impressive. Each city provides a resource such as food or raw materials.

You can collect resources from each city via a simple cat-and-mouse game where you control an Uncle Sam character trying to grab icons before the two Russian symbols touch him (reminiscent of the treasure room in Dragon Fire). Problem is, while you're running around like a chicken, missiles are headed for your cities. They're not hard to shoot down but they will overwhelm you. Apparently there's some subtle strategy to this game -- which I haven't figured out yet. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: 13020
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Mouse Trap (Atari 2600)
Missile War (Arcadia 2001)
Dragonstomper (Atari 2600)
Food Fight (Atari 7800)
War Games (Colecovision)

Wing War
Grade: F
Publisher: Imagic (1983)
Reviewed: 2003/1/4

screenshotI thought for sure I'd love this game, if only because it was made by Imagic and features flying dragons. But Wing War is just awful despite some very respectable graphics. You control a big white dragon that gathers crystals and battles monsters. Flying between contiguous screens, you can explore underground areas or soar through the clear blue sky.

Fantastic scenery includes volcanoes, beautiful lakes, and floating islands in the sky. By pressing the right button you flap your dragon's wings, giving you the same kind of control as in Joust. Pressing the left button lets you shoot fireballs. A nice variety of enemies include spiders, bat, griffins, demons, and hydras. Unfortunately these creatures are all tiny and single-colored, and most are more annoying than dangerous.

Your main goal is to carry crystals back to your lair, but these are easily jarred loose along the way. Sometimes the crystal falls out of your reach, forcing you to go back and track down a new one. That's the main problem with this game - you spend most of your time flying through the same screens over and over; trying not to touch anything. It's not fun at all - just slow and tedious. Since there's no ultimate goal, the whole game seems pointless. Wing War may be easy on the eyes, but once the novelty of the graphics wears off, there's not much depth. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 3025
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Dragonstomper (Atari 2600)
Space Ace (CD) (Jaguar)
Spelunker (NES)
Meteoric Shower (Colecovision)
Eidolon, The (Atari XEGS)

Grade: A-
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Reviewed: 2004/6/12

screenshotIn 1982, Zaxxon took the gaming world by storm. Its isometric viewpoint was revolutionary; compared to the "flat" graphics of other video games of the time. Your spaceship must navigate floating space fortresses fortified with walls, force fields, rockets, cannons, and fuel depots. At first it can be hard to determine the position of your ship, but by using the altitude meter on the left side of the screen (and watching where your shots go) you develop a feel for it.

Coleco was fortunate to get such a visually appealing game for its system; I bet this game single-handedly sold a few hundred thousand Colecovisions. Its graphics are faithful to the arcade, although slightly choppy. In terms of difficulty, Zaxxon is definitely above average. It's tempting to fly low and shoot everything in sight, but this puts you in the range of cannons. You gotta love a game that "dares" you to live dangerously - who can resist?

It should be noted that Zaxxon is one of the earliest games to feature a "boss" at the end of each level. It's a relatively large robot (Zaxxon himself) that appears briefly -- and is easy to defeat. One thing I don't like about this game are the "open space" sections where you have to shoot a series of approaching ships. Without the ground below as a point of reference, it can be awfully frustrating to determine if you're on a collision course with them. Otherwise Zaxxon is pure arcade shooting fun, and there's really never been another game like it. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 22,900
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Zaxxon (Sega SG-1000)
Zaxxon (Atari 5200)
Zaxxon (Intellivision)
Zaxxon (Atari 2600)
Strategy X (Atari 2600)

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