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Turmoil

TurmoilThe Game: Players pilot a ship trapped in a maze of vertically stacked level, teeming with aliens who are all deadly to the touch. The good news is that the ship has an inexhaustible supply of ammo. The not-so-good news is that the bad guys have an inexhaustible supply of bad guys. Players have to keep the ship from colliding with the enemy, while shooting at the enemy and watching out for split-second opportunities to grab any bonus items that may make a fleeting appearance. Just one word of caution: the prizes turn into smart bombs if you wait too long to go pick them up. (20th Century Fox, 1982)

Memories: Similar in execution to other “vertical shooters” like Ram It!, Turmoil has speed on its side, along with the cruel twist of forcing the player to retrieve bonuses that may blow up in his face. Continue reading

Fantastic Voyage

Fantastic VoyageThe Game: Man a biological “spaceship” and get ready to shrink down to microscopic size – you’re going on a voyage through the human body! Blasting away viruses and disease cells, and leaving the body’s natural defenses intact, you’re going to give the immune system a little bit of a boost – at least until a disease cell takes out your micro-ship. Based on the 1966 movie of the same name. Raquel Welch not included. (20th Century Fox Video Games, 1983)

Memories: It’s a Vanguard clone. That’s really always been my first reaction to the very sight of Fantastic Voyage. Now, it’s not a bad idea for a game, nor is it even a bad license, but…it’s a Vanguard clone. And in any event, the save-the-patient-from-disease genre already had an all-time winner at the top of its list: Imagic’s Microsurgeon for the Intellivision. Now, to be fair, versions of that game were announced, but never released, for other platforms (with the exception of a rare version for the TI 99/4A computer) – this genre wasn’t exactly tapped out on the 2600. But I would’ve hoped for something more than a Vanguard clone. Continue reading

M*A*S*H

M*A*S*HThe Game: In a bizarre collision of two very different game play elements that would probably be considered minigames today, you’re a fearless helicopter rescue pilot for the 4077th, fishing wounded U.S. soldiers out of harm’s way during See the videothe Korean War. When the window of your helicopter no longer shows up as hollow, you’ve got a full load and must safety return the wounded to the M*A*S*H base, and then go to retrieve more wounded. An enemy tank scoots along the bottom of the screen, trying to down both your helicopter and a computer-controlled chopper or an opponent’s chopper. This does not help matters, although being shot down merely causes a delay as an emergency vehicle appears – miraculously impervious to enemy fire – to push the wreckage off the screen before a new helicopter appears. Every so often, the action suddenly switches to the operating table, where you have to retrieve projectiles from victims’ bodies without causing worse damage as you remove them, and with the clock ticking down – if you fail to complete the surgery in time, then it’s goodbye, farewell and amen to that patient. (Think of the board game Operation! here and you’ve got the idea.) (20th Century Fox Games Of The Century, 1983)

Memories: M*A*S*H could be held up as a prime example of the third party video game market right before the Crash, being two very simple (and not terribly original) games squashed together with a licensed title. But let’s give it credit for being better than, say, Chase The Chuckwagon – M*A*S*H is at least fun. Continue reading

Lasercade

LasercadeThe Game: You’re manning an experimental laser in a shooting gallery, trying to zap objects as they cross a screen at the far end of the room. A direct hit scores points, but the clock is always ticking down and any objects that haven’t See the videobeen shot down will remain in play until they’re eliminated. At the end of each round, you’ll be tasked with shooting the flame off of a candelabra, though its rapidly melting candles may make this trickier than you think. With each new level, targets get smaller – and rows of floating mirrors threaten to bounce your laser right back at you if you hit them instead of your target. (20th Century Fox, 1983 [never released])

Memories: In video game terms, lasers are like the opposite of the weather – everyone fires them, but nobody ever talks about them. Though Lasercade belongs to the same category as Carnival and Shootin’ Gallery, its 3-D angle on the basic shooting gallery game is unique in the 2600 library, and for the first time, it really plays with the underlying concept and physical reality of firing lasers. Really. Continue reading

Planet Of The Apes

Planet Of The ApesThe Game: It’s not a good idea being a human on Earth of the future, in a world ruled ruthlessly by intelligent, verbose, violent apes. Or, in this case, persistent, pixellated apes. The player controls a hunted human trying to stay out of the apes’ damn dirty paws. If the human falls into the apes’ hands, an indelicate lobotomy is probably the best treatment he can expect. (20th Century Fox, 1983)

Memories: This is the story of a prototype that was rumored for many years, and with the popularity of the film and TV franchise, it was the subject of much speculation. Little did ardent collectors of unreleased VCS games know that the game was right under their noses the whole time… thanks to being mislabeled. Continue reading

The X-Files

The X-FilesOrder this gameThe Game: FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are investigating a mysterious disappearance at a wharfside warehouse when they come under fire themselves – and then become the next to disappear. As junior FBI agent Craig Willmore, you are assigned to the case. Your mission is to find out what happened to Scully and Mulder…but in the course of investigating this case, you’ll find that you’re vastly underequipped to take on a job where enormous opposition will stop at nothing to prevent you from finding them. (Fox Interactive [developed by Hyperbole Studios, 1999)

Memories: I’m torn on this game. On one hand, it’s an exceptionally cool concept – the “interactive movie” experience that has been sought by game makers since the days of the 1983 laserdisc cartoon game Dragon’s Lair. But on the other hand, it’s a frustratingly limited (and limiting) game, not unlike that same dragon-slaying opus of yesteryear. Continue reading

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