system Index T-Z
Take The Money And Run
Grade: F
Publisher: Magnavox (1978)
Reviewed: 2014/2/4


screenshotWho would have thought a game about financial education would turn out to be no fun whatsoever!? Oh wait that would be everybody in the whole world. Take The Money And Run would have been torture to review had it not been so ridiculous.

The game pits two players in a maze with two robots. During "good" rounds (income, reward, investment) you'll want to catch the robots to earn money. During "bad" rounds (taxes, thief, inflation) you'll avoid them or lose money.

The "robots" look suspiciously like standard Odyssey 2 "men", but the players control tall, lanky freaks. In what has to be the most bizarre use of a fire button ever, pressing it bobs your head. This allows you to squeeze through narrow passages, but it looks unintentionally hilarious. If you keep hitting the button it looks like you're some kind of head-banger, and if you hold it down it looks like you have no self esteem!

Take The Money And Run is played in lengthy, grueling rounds. Navigating the maze is a tedious exercise and there's really no strategy to speak of. Each player begins with a half-million dollars and you're supposed to play to some predetermined amount. Fat chance of that!

Any reasonable person will rip the cartridge out of the console after one minute and promptly toss it out the window. Take the Money and Run describes what Magnavox did when they sold this "game" to their unsuspecting customers. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

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2 players 

If you like this game, try: Insanity (Turbografx-16)
Mr. Roboto (Odyssey 2)
Maze Craze: A Game of Cops 'n Robbers (Atari 2600)
Dark Cavern (Atari 2600)
War of Nerves (Odyssey 2)

Thunderball
Grade: C+
Publisher: Magnavox (1979)
Reviewed: 2020/4/26

screenshotNot likely to be mistaken for the James Bond film, Thunderball is the Odyssey 2's obligatory pinball game. The table looks pretty sparse. There are six "bumpers", some round and square. Four "bonus" dashes line the top of the screen which disappear when hit. The most interesting target is the "bonus box" in the center that catches the ball and spins it around while generating random points.

For the longest time I wondered what the number "1" was doing on the left side. Was it a bonus multiplier? Nope, it just indicates "player one" believe it or not! The fact that it's a physical part of the table that the ball can bounce off strikes me as odd. Anyway, the ball is initially "launched" up between the two flippers which is pretty cheesy.

And when I say "ball", it looks more like a freaking basketball. At least it bounces quickly around the table once it gets going. In addition to using the flippers to keep it in play, you can also shift both flippers in unison slightly left and right. It looks ridiculous, but much like real pinball Thunderball's quick games will keep you coming back for more. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 157,940
1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Midnight Magic (Atari 2600)
Pinball (Intellivision)
Pinball (NES)
Pinball Jam (Lynx)
Bumper Bash (Atari 2600)

Traffic
Grade: B-
Publisher: Chris Read (2014)
Reviewed: 2015/9/4

screenshotEven if you've played your share of animal-crossing-the-street games, don't be quick to dismiss Traffic. The screen has three lanes separated by grassy median strips. Red and blue cars approach from the left at varying speeds. You control a chicken situated near the lower right edge of the screen, and you can only move up and down. The idea is to make it across the screen as many times as you can in 99 seconds.

The action is far more exciting than one might believe at first glance. The cars are huge and they randomly move fast or slow. So just wait for the next slow car right? That's what you'll do at first, but inevitably you'll get impatient and start taking chances. The problem is, you only have one chicken. For such an innocent game, Traffic will elicit all sorts of foul language. You can't blame the controls which are superb.

Unlike most Frogger-style games, your chicken moves smoothly and you can even pull back at the last instant after starting to cross. The game is hard and it took me a while to achieve a respectable score. In this case a respectable score is anything over three! Deceptively simple, Traffic is an unassuming little homebrew you'll find yourself playing over and over again. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 16
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Chicken (Bally Astrocade)
Freeway (Atari 2600)
Road Toad (Bally Astrocade)
Frogger (Colecovision)
Roc 'N Rope (Atari 2600)

Turtles
Grade: A-
Publisher: Magnavox (1983)
Reviewed: 2002/2/23

screenshotThe manual for Turtles calls it a "Superhit arcade game". That's funny, I've never even HEARD of this game before! Still, I found Turtles to be a fine maze game that contains some unique features I've never seen before in an Odyssey 2 cartridge. First off, instead of saying "SELECT GAME" when you turn it on, you get a real title screen with an animated turtle.

Keeping with the arcade theme, there are short intermissions between levels. And instead of one life (typical on an Odyssey 2 game) you get three. The voice module can be used to provide "authentic arcade music", but this horrific noise sounds more like a human voice humming into the speaker!

The game itself looks like a bad Pac-Man clone, with a turtle being chased by circles (beetles) in a simple maze. When your turtle touches a question mark, he picks up a baby turtle, and must carry it to a house that magically appears randomly in the maze. Your only defense against the beetles are bombs you can drop (behind your character). Fun and addicting, Turtles is one of the better Odyssey 2 games. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 3340
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Baby Pac-Man (Atari 7800)
K.C.'s Krazy Chase (Odyssey 2)
Pac-Man World (Playstation)
Ms. Pac-Man (Atari 5200)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan (Game Boy)

UFO!
Grade: A-
Publisher: Magnavox (1981)
Reviewed: 2004/1/4

screenshotUFO is one of the more addictive titles in the Odyssey library. At first glance, this appears to be a pathetic Asteroids clone, with asterisk-shaped rocks and plate-shaped UFOs. Your ship looks like a flying saucer surrounded by a ring of dots. One bright-glowing dot on the perimeter rotates clockwise around your ship as you move, and this mechanism determines the trajectory of your shots.

It sounds like a really bad idea, but works remarkably well. Awkward at first, you soon learn to appreciate how you can move in one direction while shooting in another. Another neat feature is chain reactions caused by the exploding asterisks. UFO is very challenging and I became addicted to it. My only serious reservation lies with the shooting "plates".

Not only do they emerge without warning, but they are deadly accurate, bringing most games to a swift conclusion. I'm all for a challenge, but when you only have one life, that's just unfair. Still, there are techniques you can employ to avoid them. Since they can only shoot diagonally, try to stay parallel to them to avoid their line of fire. Also, try not to hang out on the edges of the screen where they emerge. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 140
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Asteroids (Playstation)
Rockaroids Deluxe (Vectrex)
Meteorites (Atari 5200)
Tetrisphere (Nintendo 64)
Asteroids Hyper 64 (Nintendo 64)

Volleyball
Grade: D
Publisher: Magnavox (1980)
Reviewed: 2015/9/4


screenshotThis graphically-challenged volleyball game looks like it was programmed in a single day. The enclosed court features six-man teams who move in unison. The line running three-quarters up the middle of the screen is apparently the net. This perspective is incomprehensible. The players are viewed from overhead while the ball is viewed from the side?!

You "hit" the ball by running into it, and holding down the button lets you spike. You score when the ball touches the bottom of the other side, prompting your team to flash and jump with glee. The fact that your teammates are arranged in a "stacked" formation is problematic because you sometimes block your own shots. It's quite common to inadvertently knock the ball back and forth between your own players in a frustrating attempt to get the ball over the net.

The one-player mode is a joke (the CPU is atrocious) but I would recommend the head-to-head mode. If nothing else, it's fun to watch your hapless opponent struggle with the controls. Awful in just about every regard, Volleyball is more entertaining than it has a right to be. Brent called this the "best worst game" he has ever played. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Volleyball (NES)
Great Volleyball (Sega Master System)
Kings of the Beach (NES)
Sonic Spike Volleyball (Turbografx-16)
Super Spike V Ball (NES)

War of Nerves
Grade: D-
Publisher: Magnavox (1979)
Reviewed: 2021/4/18

screenshotWith War of Nerves I was expecting a slow, turned-based strategy game like the board game of Stratego. Instead I got what might just be considered the humble beginnings of the real-time strategy (RTS) genre!

Each battle unfolds on a screen with a blue army in the top left corner and a red army in the lower right. Armies consist of four independently-moving robots led by an oversized, lanky general that you control. Rows of trees are scattered across the middle of the screen. Your goal is to "capture" the other general by having one of your robots make contact with him.

Each round begins with the robots dispersing into the woods. Sometimes robots will shoot each other, which is pretty neat but seems to only happen at random. As the general you can resurrect a down robot by touching it. Holding the fire button supposedly makes your robots follow you, but when they're mired in the trees they just bumble around aimlessly.

The game is confusing as hell and it seems like each battle could go on indefinitely. Eventually however the robots speed up and a general gets caught. My friends and I didn't know quite what to make of War of Nerves. The game is barely playable but you could argue it was decades ahead of its time. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Electronic Table Soccer (Odyssey 2)
Robot War/Torpedo Alley (Fairchild Channel F)
Flag Capture (Atari 2600)
Othello (Atari 2600)
Snoopy and the Red Baron (Atari 2600)


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