37 years later Death Race has finally arrived home. The packaging offers fun artwork depicting two skeletons enjoying a joyride through a graveyard. Tucked inside the box is a clip from a Eugene Oregon newspaper condemning the game. Among the experts cited is a behavioral scientist (is that even a thing?) who explains the player "is no longer just a spectator, but now an actor in the process of creating violence." If only this game was half as twisted and demented as the article makes it out to be, I'd probably like it a lot more.
In reality Death Race is a pretty tame head-to-head duel. Each 99-second contest begins with two cars on the bottom of the screen. The slick car designs and excellent steering hints that the Odyssey 2 might be a good candidate for an Indy 500-style racer. Running down the two scampering figures causes cross-shaped gravestones to appear in their place.
It's a shame the voice module wasn't used to simulate screams. The crosses form obstacles that are really, really easy to get stuck on. The collision detection is unforgiving and it takes a few seconds just to get back up and running again. The head-to-head competition is moderately fun and you can also play solo for score. Death Race isn't much of a spectacle, but there's some novelty value here. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
I love how the aliens materialize, and sometimes you can destroy them with an early shot before they even know what hit them. The default variation is straight shots, but since your missiles are relatively slow, I recommend the "tracer shot" variations that let you guide your missiles.
Enemy bombs drop quickly, so you'll want to move immediately upon starting a new life or be instantly disintegrated. The harsh sound effects are limited to repetitive beeps and static. Demon Attack isn't anything spectacular, but it's always fun to see what the next wave has in store. Note: This game did not function correctly when the voice module was installed (kept restarting). © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
The large white ball is automatically caught by any player it touches, although holding the button deflects it instead. This scheme makes it possible to pass the ball around, creating some strategy. While the game is certainly playable, I never really felt comfortable with the control scheme. In addition, the slow movement of the ball and constant catching tends to suck the excitement out of the game. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The entire field is one screen wide. There are yard lines on the field, but the end zones are actually off the sides of the screen (out of view). Each team has five players and you have four downs to score (no first downs). There are eight plays to choose from, including a punt and field goal kick. The ability to kick a field goal is pretty impressive considering this is a 1978 game!
After hiking the ball, one receiver runs his route and you can throw the ball at three angles. Good timing is crucial since you can't control your receiver unless he catches the ball. If you manage to get behind the defense (not likely), it's clear sailing to the end zone. Unfortunately, if your opponent drapes over your receiver it effectively shuts down your passing game. That's a problem, because you can never run far before CPU-controlled defenders converge on you.
In addition, you are tackled if you touch one of your own lineman, which is totally bogus. It's a shame you can't control the receiver during his route, as it would have really opened up the offense. As it is, this game could be called Interception City. The sound effects are limited to a whistle and a fanfare sound when someone scores. Football for the Odyssey isn't bad on a technical level, but in terms of playability it comes up short. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Our hero is represented by the letter "H" which you move freely around the screen but slower in water. Displayed on top is your current score and strength. Your first order of business is to collect the key floating in the water while trying not to get snapped up by a croc. The key randomly changes colors so when you touch it opens the associated castle gate. Once inside you'll face a tarantula, octopus, griffin, or reaper.
The creature itself is rendered on the right side on the screen, but you don't fight him directly! Instead you take shots at the "the heart of the monster" which looks like a bullseye bouncing around the room. My friends thought that was kind of lame and they have a point. Why can't that be the monster bouncing around? A cool whipping sound can be heard when you strike the heart but each creature is susceptible to the same attack patterns so the action gets repetitive.
Completing all four castles presents you with a congratulatory screen before proceeding to the next round. The best aspect of the game might just be the glossy manual which contains some really excellent illustrations. Forbidden Lands will keep you busy for a while but it left me wanting more... like maybe Forbidden Lands II? © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Sometimes food will fall where enemies are congregated, and you'll have to let it go. That counts against your hunger bar at the top of the screen, but it's rarely a factor. You only get one life, and more times than not the game ends on a careless slip-up. This is a highly repetitive game. Certain events occur if you reach 50 or 100 points, but it's hard to maintain interest for that long. Free Food For Fish could benefit from a better sense of progression. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Unlike Defender, there's no planet surface below and the screen does not scroll. Everything takes place in one black square of space, not unlike Asteroids. It sounds kind of lame, but Freedom Fighters has its own unique play style. The screen is often crowded with mines, but tight controls allow you to skillfully navigate through the danger.
When a crystal floats into view you'll want to snag it, as it's worth a cool 20 points (in 1982, 20 points was a lot!). When you change direction, I like how your ship smoothly rotates instead of just flipping around. The ability to hold in the button to fire rapidly seems a great asset, until you accidentally blow away a human (whoops!). You'll want to avoid lingering near the edges where enemy ships can enter the fray without warning.
Using controller two offers a different experience. It allows you to "scroll" the screen sideways, but your ship is hard to control. The manual claims two people can play cooperatively, but there's no way in hell. Frankly the only thing player two can do is [expletive] with the other player. An understated cadence plays throughout the game and the explosion sound effects resonate nicely. Freedom Fighters is hard as balls, but its frantic action and relentless challenge are sure to keep you coming back. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Starting a new game, you view a congested city street with multi-colored vehicles moving smoothly in both directions. An equally impressive river screen consists of floating logs, crocodiles, and turtles that submerge every so often. Just remember to jump on the green squares on the riverbank - not the blue ones as you do in other versions. All the major elements of the arcade hit are here, including the sneaky crocodiles, those juicy flies, and that hottie of a lady frog.
The controls are responsive, but your frog takes large hops, making it hard to move side-to-side on the river screen without falling into the water. It's especially challenging to reach the far left section of the riverbank. That flaw is probably the only thing preventing Frogger from getting an A+. Parker Bros. did a bang-up job of faithfully adapting this irresistible game to the Odyssey 2. Note: Frogger was not originally released in North American, but is included on the Odyssey 2 multicart. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of The Odyssey 2 Homepage