The Game: You’re a little angel (of sorts). You run around a maze consisting of zippers which close or open, depending upon whether or not you’ve already gone over that section of the maze. Zipping up one square of the maze scores points for you, but it gets trickier. Little devils chase you around the maze, trying to kill you before you can zip up the entire screen. If you zip up enough of the maze and grab a power-pellet-like object, you can dispatch some of your pursuers. Clear the screen and the fun begins anew. (Exidy, 1982)
Memories: One of the first games released for Colecovision, Pepper II lived up to the advertising hype that basically said that owning Coleco’s new console was as good as having your own arcade. While the original arcade game didn’t exactly set the bar very high for any home adaptations, Pepper II really sells the Colecovision = arcade message by being almost flawless.
More or less ignored by Atari and Mattel in the early days of licensing coin-ops for home play, Exidy was a lucky find for Coleco. Its games were graphically simple, but compelling, and home versions of several Exidy games were among the first round of Colecovision games released (see also: Mouse Trap, Venture). It’s probably not too much of a stretch to say that Coleco’s ports of Exidy’s games have a lot to do with Exidy being remembered today.
There’s practically nothing to find fault with in Coleco’s Pepper II cartridge. The game is still a humorously surreal riff on the basic play mechanics of Pac-Man (swap zipping zippers for eating dots, pitchforks for power pellets, etc.), but it perfectly preserves all the thigns that made Pepper II unique in the arcade, such as the ability to exit to other levels without completing the entire screen first.
Exidy’s games always had more elaborate sound effects and music than a lot of their peers, and that part of Pepper II survives the transition to a cartridge game perfectly.
Pepper II was one of many early Colecovision games that helped establish that machine’s sterling reputation. Even today, in an era when arcade games can be emulated perfectly, this version of Pepper II still stands up.