Atari XEGS Reviews Q-R

Grade: B
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1983)
Posted: 2008/5/16

screenshotQ*bert was an ingenious arcade hit with engaging gameplay and a loveable star with a tubular nose. Q*bert hops around blocks on a pyramid-shaped stack, trying to turn them all the same color. Complicating matters are bouncing enemies and hazards, including a purple snake named Coily. Unlike most home editions, this one incorporates all the elements of the arcade game, including Ugg, Wrong Way, Sam, and the green ball that lets Q*bert temporarily freeze his enemies. When Q*bert is caught, he "curses" via a little word bubble containing punctuation marks.

The controls are a bit stiff, requiring you to hold the joystick at a 45-degree angle. The audio effects are faithful to the arcade, but the graphics are lacking. Q*bert is pixelated and has holes for eyes, making him look like a zombie! The "shaded" sides of the cubes are ugly pixelated patterns instead of solid colors - what's up with that?

When Q*bert escapes from Coily via a flying disc, the animation is jerky, and worse yet there's an unnecessary pause before you resume play at the top of the pyramid. Clearly Parker Bros. didn't put a whole lot of effort into this project. Q*bert's timeless gameplay is hard to resist, but this home translation is a little weak. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 10425
1 or 2 players 

Grade: C+
Publisher: Atari (1982)
Posted: 2007/9/17

screenshotIt's not the flashiest version of the arcade classic, but this 8-bit Qix gets the job done. In case you're new to the game, Qix is played by moving a small diamond around an empty screen, drawing lines to cordon off territory while eluding wandering enemies. Your adversaries include "sparx" which patrol the perimeter, and the free-roaming "helix", which assumes the form of a rotating set of colored lines. Your goal is to enclose at least 75 percent of the board, and should you exceed that, you'll earn a cool grand for each additional percentage.

Qix is brilliant by design, but this version is not the best. For one thing, the helix is only about half as big as it should be, and it's rendered in cycling colors instead of a rainbow pattern. When touched by an enemy your diamond doesn't instantly explode, but silently blinks as a slow software routine clears out any lines you were in the progress of drawing before contact occurred. This ten-second pause is followed by a belated explosion sound effect. Pretty lame!

The collision detection is also fishy at times. On the bright side, the controls are comfortable, since you can use any Atari joystick. There are several skill levels and an alternating two-player mode. It could have been better, but a second-rate Qix is better than no Qix at all. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 41823
1 or 2 players 

Questprobe featuring The Hulk
Grade: F
Publisher: Adventure International (1984)
Posted: 2011/5/22

screenshotI don't know what's more remarkable: the fact that somebody made an Incredible Hulk text adventure, or the fact that my friends actually agreed to play the God-forsaken thing! But we did indeed put this through its paces. Steve was hunched over the XEGS keyboard with its outstretched one-and-a-half foot long cord. Scott was tapping away on my laptop desperately searching for some kind of FAQ. I was kicking back with a beer, amused.

For those too young to remember the early days of the home computers, a popular style of game in the early 80's were "text adventures". These allowed you to type in simple two-word commands (Ex. GET HAMMER, PRESS BUTTON), and then read about what happened via text. More often than not, the computer would respond with "I don't know how to do that" or "You can't do that now". It was really easy to get stuck!

At least this game presents you with colorful, comic-book style illustrations between commands. I was hoping to see Hulk kick some ass, but the object of the game is to collect gems. You begin as Bruce Banner tied to a chair in an empty room, which is a pretty helpless predicament (hint: shake). Once freed, you can explore two sparse rooms, and if the Internet is any indication, few people ever got further than that.

I could forgive Hulk's trial and error gameplay if the game made any sense, but it does not. The first time you step outside you're instantly crushed by gravity. Come again? Later, in order to obtain a hidden gem you need to dig a hole, and then dig again. And who in their right mind would ever think of lifting a huge dome to uncover another gem?

The Incredible Hulk is as bad as the movie - and I'm talking about that Ang Lee version. The one in which Hulk had to fight a cloud. My friends decided to finally call it quits after Hulk got defeated by ants. Yes, ants. By that point the only command we wanted to type was "FORMAT DISK". © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: floppy disk
1 player 

Realm of Impossibility
Grade: A
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1984)
Posted: 2003/6/28

screenshotIn my book, Realm is one of the most underrated video games of all time. Sequel to a game called "Zombies", Realm of Impossibility challenged one or two players to journey through of series of multi-screen mazes while avoiding monsters. Once you grabbed the key or crown at the end of the last screen, you had to high tail it back to the beginning.

The pseudo-3D graphics are still attractive today. Each player controls a tiny but well animated person. Each screen contains wandering monsters like zombies, spiders, or spheres that drain your hit points when they touch you. The two-player mode is especially fun, because if one player dies he can be revived by the other.

Along the way, you can cast spells that freeze, protect you from, or confuse the monsters (use the spacebar to initiate). The bouncy music is unforgettable, and the levels are selectable. The gameplay is fun, frantic, and ultra-simple to play. My sister and I use to love this game in the early 80s, and after recently playing it with her, I'm happy to report that Realm has held up quite well. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: MKG 13,295
1 or 2 players 

River Raid
Grade: A+
Publisher: Activision (1983)
Posted: 2019/4/17

screenshotBeautiful in its simplicity and endlessly playable, River Raid will never succumb to the ravages of time. Never! This pristine vertical shooter was developed by pioneer female programmer Carol Shaw - an unsung hero of the "golden age" of video games. River Raid offers a harrowing mission as you guide a plane up a twisting river valley while blowing up ships, planes, helicopters, and bridges. You'll bank through narrow passages and fly over barges to replenish your fuel supply.

Precise and responsive, these controls might just be the best I've ever experienced. This computer edition plays exactly like its Atari 2600 cousin but offers a few nifty bells and whistles like craggy valley walls and mountain scenery. New enemies include hot-air balloons, missile-firing helicopters, and tanks that lob mortars from the river bank. Blasting a tank as it creeps over a bridge and watching it plunge into the watery depths has to be one of the most satisfying moments in gaming. With all the eye candy of the Atari 5200 and the crisp controls of the Atari 2600 edition, River Raid is a slice of gaming nirvana. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 32,540
1 or 2 players 

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Screen shots courtesy of Atari Mania, Video Game Museum, Retroist, Giant Bomb, YouTube