For one thing, the driving controls are positively counter-intuitive, requiring you to use the lower left button to make abrupt, 90-degree turns. White cars serve as traffic, but unfortunately they tend to drive down the center of the roads, which are pretty narrow to begin with! Touching a car or even a curb causes your car to instantly explode.
The game provides "directions" to the embassy in the form of a colored border, but it's really hard to remember which directions blue, green, red, and yellow stand for (southwest, southeast, northwest, northeast). How hard would it have been for the programmer to put a freakin' arrow at the top of the screen instead?
When you finally arrive, the screen changes to a view of the safe. I was expecting the safecracking aspect of the game to be tedious, but it's actually the best part! As you cycle through the numbers, a beep is heard when you pass the correct one, and the idea is to quickly narrow it down before the timer expires. Apparently it's also possible to "blow up" the safe, but I could never get that to work.
While fleeing the scene, you can actually fire at converging police cars from the front or back of your car. There's a lot of action in this game, but Safecracker doesn't do itself any favors with its confusing controls and steep learning curve. This game is hard! Even so, the more I played Safecracker, the more I liked it. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
You play for high score, and each game only lasts a minute or two. You'll want to target large clusters to score big points. I love how the point values literally float across the screen to your score on the right. Two variations of SameGame are included, and after you play a game or two, you'll be hooked. My friend Chris mentioned, "I could definitely see us sitting around playing this game". He also found it quite amusing when the screen displayed "one moment..." as if it were loading data from a CD-ROM!
This cartridge also includes a turn-based, strategic game called Robots. The idea is to move a cursor around a board and clear the screen of converging robots using bombs and warps. It's so deceptively simple that some may be tempted to write it off as a throw-away bonus game. Actually it's quite addictive once you learn how to make the robots collide with each other.
As icing on the cake, SameGame and Robots supports the voice synthesizer, which is a great feature. Between stages the game tosses out comments like "let's play" and "level complete" in a metallic, robotic tone. It even pronounces your score! I love it!! More than the sum of its parts, SameGame and Robots is perfect if you're looking for a few minutes of instant entertainment. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Scooby is only slightly faster than the ghosts, so snagging all three isn't as hard as it is time-consuming! That skull isn't terribly hard to avoid, and once he starts closing in you can drop a bone in his path to stop him in his tracks. Between stages a submarine sandwich meanders around the maze for a few seconds, and touching it nets you an extra bone.
The maze is trimmed with some interesting graphics like a tree, gravestone, and clock. Thunder claps and an ominous organ can be heard throughout the game, and these are so good you'll wish Mattel had saved them for a better game! Sadly, they are just window dressing for an ultra-lame, mega-generic maze title with minimal entertainment value. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
As you venture forward you're approached by birds, spiders, rats, crocodiles, and snakes. Why are there birds in the sewers? The crocodiles make perfect sense because people returning from vacations to South America bring back baby crocs and flush them down the toilet all the time. As with most classic games, a crocodile is harmless when its mouth is closed.
Sam is armed with a gun, but can only fire six shots before having to wait several seconds to reload. It's possible to scuttle up the walls to escape snakes, but since they just camp out below you, what's the point? Every now and then a doorway appears, allowing Sam to move to a different sewer. Your goal is to locate and destroy three submarines.
The thing is, you need to be armed with a rocket launcher to destroy a sub, and since the sewers are randomized, it's anybody's guess where the hell that thing is located. The gameplay is monotonous and confusing. I often died for no apparent reason, and the worthless instruction manual didn't provide any clues. Sewer Sam offers a smattering of original ideas, but they never really add up to anything worthwhile. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Your goal is to consume other fish of lesser or equal size, which gradually increases the size of your fish. Ominous tones indicate the approach of the large, menacing shark. He's an intimidating adversary, but he can be defeated. If you nip at his tail enough times, he will eventually die and sink to the ocean floor. But don't toy with him - the shark will turn and snap you up in a heartbeat! As your fish grows bigger and more powerful, you become a larger target for other creatures like jellyfish and seahorses.
Other fish will also eat each other, and shellfish even jump up to grab low-swimming fish. It's a challenge to grow your fish to full size, and after you die you return to your original size. The game is enormously fun and addicting, thanks to intuitive controls that allow you to dash ahead or stop on a dime. Audio effects include realistic bubble sounds and harmonized music. Shark! Shark! is a killer game, and it even features a two-player simultaneous mode. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
The Football variation challenges you to score as many touchdowns as you can from the five-yard line within a minute. Since you can't move your quarterback or the receivers (they move on their own), timing is everything. It sounds awful, but it's madly addictive. The second game takes a page from Space Battle. Each player has a set of non-moving crosshairs, and you simply fire when alien ships fly through them. It's possible for a single explosion to take out other nearby ships. Is it just my imagination, or is player one at a disadvantage? It seems like he doesn't get nearly as many ships to shoot!
Sub Shooter resembles Sea Battle but plays more like Atari 2600's Air-Sea Battle. Your sub patrols the bottom of the screen as you unleash three torpedoes at a time towards ships moving above. I like how the ships sink instead of simply flashing and disappearing. Sharp Shot's fourth variation is something completely different. Each player is represented by an arrow moving back and forth across the bottom of a maze with angular corners. By firing arrows and ricocheting your shots, you can target various monsters walking around the maze. Should a monster snag the "treasure" on your side of the screen and return to the top, you lose a point.
Sharp Shot is a heck of a lot better than you'd expect. The games are simple as hell, but they are fun and there's definitely some skill involved. It helps that the games are so short, making you want to play repeatedly to beat your high score. Sharp Shot manages to be better than the sum of its parts. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
The steering controls are nearly effortless as you lean from side-to-side while trying to control your momentum. Making contact with a gate will slow you down and penalize your time. Occasionally you'll need to jump over a rocky ridge using the lower side buttons, and it's exciting when you barely clear the rocks. The upper buttons allow for tight turns but I feel like it's more important to keep my fingers on the jumping controls. Due to lousy controller design you can really only commit to one or the other.
In addition to the downhill course there's the slalom which requires a more deliberate approach as you weave through tightly-spaced gates. The value you enter for slope (1-16) is critical as it determines how fast you can go. I recommend 8 as it's fast enough that you'll never get stuck in a rut. Your score is the best of three runs and it's fun to shave seconds off your best time. I just wish you didn't have to hit the reset button to play again! Other than that annoying oversight Skiing is a fun, well designed game. Boots and goggles are optional but recommended for realism. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Although the look of the game hasn't improved much over NBA Basketball, Super Pro is noticeably faster and far more fun. Players move up and down the floor smoothly, and you really can slam-dunk. The list of features is extensive. You can shoot three-pointers, call time-outs, substitute players, and examine player statistics during the game. You can even get fouled while in the act of shooting. In the one-player mode, there are five skill levels to choose from.
The controls are fair, but passing is more confusing than it should be, and I wish they hadn't differentiated "set shots" from "jump shots". I hate how you can't adjust the duration of each game, and the default 48 minutes is awfully long. Super Pro Basketball is not glitch-free; sometimes a player will soar high into the air - but instead of dunking he'll head for the exit! Despite the problems, this is still one of the best sports games I've seen on the Intellivision. As usual, INTV went well beyond the call of duty with this quality remake. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Unfortunately, Slap Shot is saddled with the same sluggish engine that sucked the fun out of NHL Hockey (Mattel, 1979). And believe it or not, the color scheme is even worse! I can count players of five different colors on the rink at a time! This time the players look like walruses, but they do move slightly faster.
Your shooting angles are severely limited, and your chances of scoring are slim unless the goalie falls down. Those are some impressive head-over-heels flipping animations, but the weak body checks hardly warrant such theatrics.
I really wish Slap Shot provided the option to adjust the game length, because playing this for 60 real-time minutes would be torture! I can only recommend Slap Shot to whoever enjoyed the original NHL Hockey game, if such a person does indeed exist. At least Slap Shot lets you play against the CPU, and we all know how misery loves company. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Space Armada is pretty good until you start playing it. The controls are jerky and inexact, and pressing the side buttons to shoot is uncomfortable as hell. Thank goodness you can hold them in to engage auto-fire. The collision detection is not good. Shots typically pass half-way through an alien before killing it, and some shots inexplicably destroy two at a time!
The barriers don't incur damage exactly where you shoot them, which makes it tough to strategically poke holes. The aliens can actually overlap with the barriers, and that just doesn't look right. In later waves the aliens are invisible, sending the fun factor on a downward spiral. Nobody enjoyed the "invisible invader" variations in the Atari 2600 game, but there's no way to avoid it here. Space Armada looks good, but the more you play it, the more you wish you weren't. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Here you guide a crosshair around the screen, leading your shots to blast alien craft whirling about. Enemies resemble Cylon starships from Battlestar Galactica and their movements are anything but predictable. Just when you think you have a bead on one he'll spin around and change course. Rotating and scaling was considered a big deal in the 1990's so it's pretty astonishing to see the technology used so effectively in a 1979 (!) title.
Enemy explosions can take out nearby ships, and once I witnessed a chain reaction that destroyed four ships with a single shot! Between battles you can redirect your squadrons to address the most serious threats. When multiple battles are happening concurrently the computer takes control although it's only minimally effective. The action becomes more intense as your squadron is whittled down. Can you beat the odds? Space Battle is a showcase title for the Intellivision, blending strategic maneuvering with twitch shooting fun. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
As in Asteroids, It's always fun to thrust across the screen halfway out of control. One thing that puts a damper on the action however, is the fact that you can't touch explosions without losing a life. Since your man is moving at high speeds, this leads to many undeserved deaths. It would have been great to pass right through the explosions. Still, Space Hawk is a respectable little shooter. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Its gameplay consists of guiding a moon rover over a planet surface while blasting bomb-dropping UFOs in the sky and jumping over hazards on the surface. The fact that you have to do two things at once is what gives the game its challenge and intensity. Moving your vehicle further to the right increases its speed, making it possible to take longer leaps over multiple obstacles. Your ship's missiles cancel out incoming projectiles, and this is vital to your survival. Some aliens actually bomb the surface to create craters, so stay alert for that.
Space Patrol also features new hazards like "smuggler" ships that sneak up from behind and shooting turrets that appear in your path. The animation is remarkably smooth and the visuals are extremely attractive. Your vehicle, while blocky, exudes an old-school charm, and I love the way its wheels bounce independently over the terrain. Whoever programmed this was really good, because each of the three backdrop layers moves at a different rate. I also like the high-resolution "explosion" effects. The lettered checkpoint system gives the player a sense of accomplishment, and there are even continue options and high score screens!
Sound too good to be true? What if I told you there was a stage select that lets you play on the Moon, Mercury, Mars, or Pluto?? Now how much would you pay? Hell, I can't even complain about the controls, which are responsive and easy to grasp. A nice set of overlays comes with the game, although they didn't quite fit into my controllers. Space Patrol totally caught me off guard. First-rate homebrews like this prove that classic consoles can be every bit as fun as modern machines. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Space Spartans may not get points for originality, but at least it uses voice synthesis to good effect. Normally this type of game would indicate the status of your systems using colors or symbols. In Space Spartans however, you get briefed by one of several voices. The voices sound clear and provide critical information, including warnings about damage and space station attacks.
You have fine-grained control of all of your systems, but there's an inordinate amount of button pushing involved. The combat aspect of the game is good but not great. Overall, Space Spartans is a little complicated, but provides enough intergalactic shooting satisfaction. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
The beach court is beautiful with rolling waves and distant sunbathers. The players are solid-colored and blocky, but their animations look great as they serve, dig, dive, and wind up for spikes. The well-designed controls let you automatically bump the ball by moving beneath it, and the game does a fine job of selecting the closest player. Super Pro Volleyball is challenging. Spiking requires perfect position and timing, and it's hard to get the ball over the net. It's also hard to anticipate where the ball will come down, as it tends to be slow and floaty.
Still the game has remarkable depth. Players rotate between serves. You get penalized for touching the net, and the net shakes when the ball is hit into it. The ball can also bounce off the top of the net in an unpredictable manner. Spiker's leisurely pace may test the attention spans of today's gamers, but from a technical standpoint this is outstanding. Note: I recommend playing on the Intellivision Flashback system which benefits from softer buttons. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
The screen scrolls slowly but constantly, and you need to keep up. By hovering over a flower you extract pollen, causing it to change color. Carefully navigate so you don't touch the green leaves or stems, as they will cost you points. Spina's detailed graphics feature many varieties of flowers including dangerous Venus Flytraps.
Advanced levels add dragonflies, spiders, and raindrops into the mix. I like the way raindrops splash on the flowers. The game's background "music" features buzzing sounds played at different octaves, and the theme song sounds like it's being sung by a chorus of bees. You can't knock the audio and video, but the control is another story.
Your bee is pretty agile at the start of each level, but quickly becomes weighed down with pollen. It starts to become a chore just to keep your bee aloft, and applying constant pressure to the controller will kill your thumb! Between stages you're presented with a nice honeycomb screen showing your score breakdown as well as the high score. Spina the Bee comes up short in the fun department, but it's still a good-looking and interesting addition to any collection. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
The game ends when three pass you by, but you're awarded a "free steer" for every 1000 points (how many games can say that?) The tan-colored cattle are pretty easy to lasso, but those stationary "black angus" cows appear without warning, so you really need to be on your toes to snag them (a little luck never hurts either).
While this is a close approximation to the original Atari 2600 version, there tends to be less steer on the screen at any given time. Also, your lasso has less range here, which will give Intellivision fans a serious case of "lasso envy". The cowboy is high in resolution, but the steer looks somewhat pixelated. The audio is limited to the steady "clop clop" of hooves. Thoughtfully designed and well programmed, Stampede will have you playing until your thumb is sore. And since you'll be using an Intellivision controller, that shouldn't take very long! © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Star Strike's gameplay is predictable: two aliens appear behind you and shoot a few times before moving into your range. Don't concentrate too much on those guys though, because bombing the targets is your main goal.
The worst part of this game is waiting for the single target you haven't hit yet to cycle back around. Once you hit all five, the planet disintegrates below you. If you're unsuccessful, you'll witness the Earth being destroyed in the distance, which is also pretty cool. The graphics are nice for a 1981 game, but Star Strike's gameplay is definitely weak. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Your Snowspeeder and the approaching Walkers are slightly more detailed than on the Atari, and I love the mechanical sound effects that accompany the stomps of the huge Walkers. Holding down the side buttons engages rapid-fire, allowing you to unleash a steady barrage of missiles. Unfortunately, keeping the Walker in your sights is frustratingly difficult thanks to the clumsy, unresponsive controls. You can't maneuver very well at all, and once Walkers begin unleashing their heat-seeking missiles, your Rebel ass is toast. These Walkers only require 30 hits to take down (compared to 48 on the Atari), but trying to nail their "weak spot" is nearly impossible.
The scrolling effects of the hills and valleys are rough, making it difficult to land on a level area to initiate repairs. And why did the programmer paint the sky that putrid shade of yellow? Intellivision owners clearly got the short end of the stick with this one. For the record, my friend Jonathan holds the record for lowest score in Empire Strike Back for the Intellivision, netting a paltry 12 points in his very first game. Needless to say, I derived more enjoyment from mocking him than playing this game. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Each stage offers a colorful brick configuration, including a few that appear video game-inspired. Your "deflector" can be a little slippery to control, but that just adds to the challenge. Stonix is less forgiving than other Breakout clones. If the ball hits either edge of the paddle, it will bounce downward and you'll lose it. As you knock out bricks various power-ups rain down, allowing you to collect bonus points, extend your deflector, catch the ball, or initiate multiple balls.
One power-up even arms you with a cannon so you can blast chunks out of the wall directly. On top of that, there are flying objects that collide with the ball and alter its trajectory. With so much going on, there's rarely a dull moment. The futuristic background music has a subtle reverberating quality that's very effective. Stonix is expertly programmed and a perfect fit for the Intellivision console. You hardly need an appreciation for classic gaming to enjoy this outrageously fun title. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
To properly play Sub Hunt you'll need both the instructions and keypad overlay. This game is super complicated! One reader wrote in offering a few tips like positioning your sub in the path of the convoy and shutting off your sonar and engines for maximum stealth. The game gets fun once they begin destroying ships. Watching them sink into the depths while leaving behind a plume of smoke is satisfying.
Taking out the destroyer is apparently key to victory, but I could never zero in on that bad boy. There were times I was taking hits like crazy but could not locate my attacker! The manual suggests using the reverse button but it wasn't very effective and there's no way to tell how much damage you've sustained. Sub Hunt is a complex, realistic simulation that requires patience and experimentation. I don't think it's a bad game; it just requires a higher level of commitment than I could muster. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Most of the enhancements are minor (more item graphics, new sounds, new messages), but the fact that pepper is more ubiquitous is the best part. The new ability to "freeze" all enemies seems pretty useless considering it costs two peppers to use. Super Chef BT is a blast to play but I couldn't help but notice a few missed opportunities.
As in the original game, there is still a pronounced lag associated with spraying pepper to immobilize enemies. Also, I dislike how the bad guys still respawn in the middle of the screen. If they re-entered from the side at least you would have a fighting chance. That said, this homebrew offers a heck of a lot of burger-making goodness, and isn't that what we all want? My friend Chris described Super Chef BT as "just plain fun", and that pretty much sums it up. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
This Intellivision version doesn't look terrible but it controls poorly. Your helicopter is rendered in a single color, and it's relatively large with a spinning propeller. The caverns have a granular appearance and are lined with cannons, guided missiles, and dancing aliens. In the arcade you could shoot forward and drop bombs at the same time, but here you can only do one or the other.
Even if you could do both, it would be absolute torture with the Intellivision controller. The instructions give you the option to use the keypad to fire, but that causes your helicopter to jerk around unpredictably. Perhaps to compensate for the marginal controls, you begin with at 6 to 9 lives depending on the skill level.
One unique aspect of Super Cobra is how your score and fuel supply continuously scroll sideways along with the screen along with the scenery. I suspect this was probably done to simplify the programming. When you die the entire screen flashes and makes a lot of banging noises. Equally annoying is the demo mode that kicks in after each game. How do I exit that? Super Cobra looks presentable on the Intellivision I'm afraid its controls are nothing short of punishing. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Creating your own plays was innovative for the time, but the default playbook is more than sufficient. The option menu offers some nice customizations, including the ability to set quarter lengths. You can have the CPU control one or both teams. Once everything is set up, you type the word "football" to begin play. My friend Scott wise-cracked, "What happens if you type hockey?" Thankfully you can ditch that clunky keyboard once play is underway.
Unlike most classic football games that feature a "flat" field, Super NFL boasts skewed yard lines and scaling players to convey a modest illusion of depth. I love the attention to detail in this game. You can kick field goals, punt, or go for two-point conversions. The ball has a shadow so it's obvious when a quarterback overshoots his receiver. On kick-offs the receiving team can "kneel down" for a touchback. And when the ball hits the ground it actually bounces around! Okay, it looks more like a fish flopping around, but I love the random element.
There are fumbles and even pass deflections - some of which are actually caught! Each team has a full set of time-outs, and statistics are presented at halftime and post-game. The only thing missing are the cheerleaders! The action on the field moves fast, making it easy for runners to skirt through the line or fake out defensive backs. My only complaint is that it's hard to tell if a pass was caught or intercepted. There needs to be a special noise to indicate a turnover. After each score a comprehensive drive summary is displayed. Heck, even Madden 13 doesn't have that!
It takes a while to learn Super NFL Football, mainly because the instructions don't include the plays. Experimentation is required to learn the formations, and an annoying buzz hassles you when you hit the wrong keypad button. The game is not bug free. I've seen a player run in the wrong direction on his own, and one intercepted two-point conversion was ruled a safety. These glitches are the exception to the rule however. Super NFL Football is a real treat for classic football fans. Once you warm up to it, you'll be amazed. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Pitches move twice as fast as the original game, so batters need to be quick on the trigger. Statistics like balls, strikes, innings, and score are only displayed if you press enter, which makes the display look a lot cleaner. According to what I've read online the main impetus for this game was to provide a more challenging CPU competitor ("the computer really makes you work for the outs"). Was this really a problem? The computer always kicked my ass!
Whether you're playing against the CPU or a friend, outs are hard to come by. This is an offensive-minded game so expect a lot of balls bouncing off those invisible outfield fences. As its name implies Super Pro Baseball is for experts, so casual fans should stick to World Champion Baseball. Then again, once you get used to Super Pro's turbo speed, it might be hard to go back. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
On offense, you choose between nine formations, and individually program the routes of both receivers through a string of button presses! It would be tedious to program both receivers before every play, but you can skip this step by keeping the same routes from the previous play. It's possible to be creative, setting up streaks, hooks, slants, or anything else you can imagine. You can even have your receiver stop momentarily and then start running again.
On defense there are nine formations and the option to blitz or set pass coverage. On top of all that, you can even view live stats or call a timeout! Once the action is underway, the biggest surprise is how the football has a shadow and moves on an arc. Passing is somewhat choppy and inexact, but the kicking game is very good. Blockers actually block (sometimes), and you can run out of bounds.
After a score, you're treated to a pair of commentators talking silently at a desk as various statistics flash on the screen. Heck, with all these bells and whistles I'm surprised there's no halftime show. As ambitious at Super Pro Football is, the increased realism does take a slight toll on the fun factor.
Entering plays and pass routes is time consuming, and it takes a lot of practice to become proficient in the passing game (although the CPU seems to have no problem). And where's the play clock? You can let the clock run indefinitely if you want to. Super Pro features ten difficulty levels, a challenging CPU opponent, and the most sophisticated gameplay you'll find in a classic football game. But I'd only recommend it to patient, strategy-minded football fans. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Super Pro builds upon the solid foundation of the original game, which was extraordinary to begin with. Serves and volleys can be hit hard or soft, resulting in a nice risk-reward dynamic. The players scurry quickly around the court, and a shadow makes it easy to determine the trajectory of the ball. The wide viewing angle means the ball has to travel farther, allowing you enough time to properly position your player. It's wise to play deep, and players often linger near the edge of the screen where they are barely visible.
The gameplay is fun but I wish the lob shot were more effective, as it never goes deep enough. The set-up could be more intuitive as well. For some reason selecting the number of players and difficulty has to be done with the right controller - and that's after the players have taken the court. It's confusing at first, but I'll give Super Pro Tennis a ton of credit for effectively resurrecting an underrated classic. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Your warriors move a bit slowly, but the control is generally excellent. On your quest you'll face off against phantom warriors and wizards. Fighting involves touching the enemy with your sword, which makes an appealing "clank" sound. A status screen keeps track of your loot. Should you make it through all four levels and encounter the serpent, you'll be in for a real treat. Swords and Serpents is fun enough to keep you coming back for another try. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum