To begin each round you must hold in the button to make a clown walk to the edge of a platform and jump off. I like this little sequence because it adds a bit of drama. That clown must feel pretty nervous peering through the TV glass to see me with a controller in one hand and a beer in the other. There's little margin for error in this game, especially since each half of the teeter-totter is only four pixels wide!
When you do hit that sweet spot the other clown goes shooting into the air to the sound of a shotgun blast! He sometimes flies clear off the screen, as if this game just can't be contained by CRT technology. When making contact with balloons the physics gets a little funky, and not in a James Brown sort of way. The clowns tend to get sucked into balloons, making it extra easy to clear a row.
But the best case is getting a clown trapped on top of the balloons, racking up crazy points a la Breakout (Atari 2600, 1977). Miss the teeter totter and your clown splatters into the floor, yet still climbs right back up that ladder for his next jump. Now that's what I call work ethic! You get 10 lives which seems excessive but the controls are so touchy you'll run right through them. I thought the Odyssey had analog controls?
If you own the voice module a creepy dude yells stuff like "oh no", "mercy", or "arrrgh". All in all, P.T. Barnum's Acrobats isn't so bad. It's got round balloons for Pete's sake, so just shut up and play the damn thing. Note: There's also an alternate version of this game with nervous jumpers (knees knocking), square balloons, and a more graphic death animation. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Sometimes a ball can bounce into several buckets before coming back down, racking up some big numbers. The point values of the buckets change periodically, and the first player to make it to 100 points wins the game. Pachinko is a simple game that requires more luck than skill, but it's still somewhat enjoyable for some unknown reason I haven't been able to figure out. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The instructions do a lousy job of explaining the objectives. Pete begins in the center of the screen automatically swinging his axe up and down. Colorful doors release random boulders which are a hell of a lot of fun to smash, thanks in part to the explosive sound effects. You can freely traverse the seven-story screen by dropping down gaps and climbing on randomly-appearing ladders. Your axe disintegrates after a while, but you can sometimes retrieve a new one on the bottom of the screen.
There's also a key that occasionally floats to the top, and this is your ticket to the big time. If you can snag the key and enter a doorway, you'll earn a bonus and watch a magnified Pete perform calisthenics before being transported to a new screen. Most look pretty similar, save for the pitch-black stage that's super hard.
The game never really clicked with me until I realized what it was really all about. The secret is you need to be an escape artist. There's a reason why the manual highlights your ability to duck, jump, and slide. When you're without an axe, these moves are your only means of survival. And the fact that you only have one life makes narrowly cheating death all the more exhilarating.
If you're not sold on Pick Axe Pete just try to achieve a score of 100. You'll struggle mightily but the game has an infectious "one more time" quality that keeps you hitting reset. In addition, its random nature makes it feel like a new challenge each time. There's a reason why so many Odyssey 2 fans name Pick Axe Pete as their all-time favorite. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
Aliens do fire back, but their missiles are so big and slow that they're not really a factor. You can activate a shield, but it's so unnecessary I always forget I have it. The second screen features a massive boss ship that consumes the entire right half of the screen. It unleashes huge laser blasts and hurls heat-seeking rings toward you in predictable patterns.
You destroy "Big Boss Blu" by shooting him 25 times in his clearly-defined weak spot. The next time bosses convene for a conference I would suggest that one of their sessions be entitled "Hiding your Weak Spot: A Secret to Success".
The battle can get pretty intense because you only have one life, so one false move means game over. On a technical level Piggyback Planet is exceptional, but its gameplay could benefit from some fine-tuning. The first screen doesn't get challenging until the second or third waves. The boss fights are extremely repetitive as you alternate between shooting his weak spot and dodging his attacks.
The difficulty is too low, and the early waves just seem to drag on. The boss destruction scene is underwhelming, and I have no idea what the title of this game means. Piggyback Planet has enough razzle-dazzle to attract Odyssey 2 fans, but the bottom line is that this game could have been a lot more fun. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
The graphics and sound effects here are minimal. The physics and shooting angles are completely unpredictable and grossly inaccurate. For some reason, the balls tend to roll either up-and-down or side-to-side. Every shot is soft; you can't even shoot the cue ball the length of the table! There are two game variations, eight ball and rotation, but both are two-player only. This is one sorry game. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
There are some tiny stairs on the lowest level, but to reach the higher platforms you'll need to utilize the "elevators" (which look like division signs) moving vertically on each side of the screen. Although the graphics truly suck, the gameplay really isn't a far cry from the original game. You move across platforms, collect hearts, eat spinach, and punch Bluto off the screen every now and then.
Bluto at least makes an effort; he jumps around, swats at you, and throws things, but overall he's not too bright. You can loiter around the bottom level collecting hearts for quite a while before he finally gets a hold of you. Unlike other incarnations of Popeye, this has only one screen. Reaching new screens was a major appeal of the arcade game, so this shortcoming is a major flaw.
Parker Bros. managed to incorporate the part where you can drop a bucket on Bluto's head, but it's difficult to execute and really not worth the effort. Also included is a two-player mode where the second player controls Bluto. The sound effects are decent and include a nice rendition of the Popeye theme. Popeye for the Odyssey is hideous for sure, but if the graphics don't scare you off you're in for a fair amount of arcade action. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Another nice effect is the lava that pours out of the volcano when it erupts. You can move your ship off one side on the screen and appear on the opposite side, and you'll want to utilize this strategy to maintain your distance from the cobra. A gravitational ray kicks in during the later stages, adding to the difficulty. I love the nifty graphics, but they can't hide the mediocre gameplay. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
The characters are nicely drawn and the animation is much smoother than most other home versions. There are several game variations, including some two-player modes. My biggest beef is that Ugg (one of the nasties you have to avoid) often appears without warning on the bottom edge of the screen, resulting in some undeserved deaths. Otherwise I'm pleased with this fine translation. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Quest is a two-player cooperation game. Players traverse the map on the game board, switching over to the video game to hunt for rings in monster-infested dungeons. There are four characters to choose from: a sword-wielding warrior, a spell-casting wizard, a wall-penetrating phantom, and a "changling" who can turn invisible. It's nice to have a choice but let's face it, without weapons the changling and phantom aren't much fun.
Before beginning each dungeon, both characters are shown entering into a "time warp", depicted by some downright irritating visual and sound effects. There are four types of dungeons, each one screen in size. These can feature normal walls, moving walls, walls that are deadly to touch, or invisible walls. Monsters include the human-shaped orcs, giant spiders (which look like octopi), "bloodthirsts" that look like pterodactyls, and large fire-breathing dragons! These dragons put those hollow ducks in Adventure to SHAME! Unfortunately, only the orcs can be killed!
In theory, a "dungeon master" is supposed to use the keyboard to specify the content of each dungeon based on board movement. But I'd recommend abandoning the board altogether and letting the computer generate random dungeons for you. Both players can work together, but the action isn't too deep. Getting a ring usually requires one player to act as a decoy. Your characters move like snails and can only attack from the side, making them highly susceptible to monsters approaching from above and below.
The collision detection is highly questionable, and close proximity to a bad guy usually means death. The graphics aren't bad at all. When a large monster eats your character, he is depicted as being consumed with his legs still twitching! That's a nice touch I haven't seen in any other classic games. But ultimately Quest for the Rings just isn't very fun, and that's too bad. Despite the numerous "extras", the gameplay rarely rises above mediocrity. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
That's not so easy, because the tanks tend to rotate whenever they reach an intersection. Once shot, a destroyed tank forms an impenetrable barrier which alters the maze and may force you to alter your strategy. But the best part of Robot City is how you can lure the tanks into shooting each other (like Berzerk!). This adds a layer of complexity you won't find in most Odyssey games.
Each stage has a short "intro screen", in which the stage number is introduced by a large (but pixelated) tank. It's a nice touch. The initial stage is somewhat slow and methodical, but the pace picks up in a hurry. The sound effects are pleasing to the ear, and they change with each stage. You'll find Robot City on the Odyssey 2 multicart. Don't miss out on this one. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of The Odyssey 2 Homepage