The Game: Alien ships are sliding toward you on a gridwork of energy; as the pilot of the Beamrider, your job is to destroy them before they get too close to home (i.e. the bottom of the screen). They can fire back, though, and while in some cases you can return fire and intercept their shots, it depends on what kind of weaponry they’re using. When you run out of Beamriders, the aliens take over. (Activision, 1984)
Memories: The Colecovision port of Activision‘s answer to Tempest, Beamrider is – perhaps not surprisingly – a lot smoother than it is on the Atari 2600. But somehow it manages to take its sweet time getting faster.
The graphics on this version are clearly superior than the somewhat choppy, disjointed not-quite-grid-lines of the Atari version, but if there’s a frustrating thing about Beamrider on Coleco’s system, it’s that it just seems slow. And it may be purely perceptual: the game events could take the same amount of time to happen, but just scrolling those horizontal grid lines would help the illusion along. It’s several levels in before things really get into sweaty-palm-on-the-controllers territory.
The graphics are a whole order of magnitude better on the Colecovision, but the speed and the surprisingly limited sound palette conspire to make it seem as though Beamrider isn’t the home run here that it was on the 2600. It’s actually pretty good – and you get a decent warm-up into the bargain before the action gets too intense.