Lock ‘N’ Chase

Lock 'N' ChaseThe Game: You’re in charge of a getaway car loaded with crafty criminals. Your job is to sneak around the maze, avoid four colorful cops who are hot on your trail, and grab all the dough – and, of course, to escape so you can steal again another day. But the cops can trap you with a series of doors that can prevent you from getting away… (M Network [Mattel Electronics], 1982)

Memories: 1982. The year that everybody – and I do mean everybody – was trying to build a better Pac-Man. Mattel’s Intellivision console was suffering from the perception among mainstream gamers that the new, next-generation machine lacked arcade titles in its library; with titles like Major League Baseball, Mattel owned the video sports market. But this was 1982 and America had yet to sweat off Pac-Man Fever – sports games weren’t “in” at the moment. Continue reading

Lock ‘n’ Chase

Lock 'N' ChaseThe Game: You’re in charge of a getaway car loaded with crafty criminals. Your job is to sneak the crooks around the maze, one at a time, avoid four colorful cops who are hot on your trail, and grab all the dough – and, of course, to See the original TV adescape so you can steal again another day. (Mattel [under license from Data East], 1982)

Memories: A fine translation of Data East’s arcade game, this cartridge – one of the earliest examples of a licensed coin-op title from Mattel – is let down by the maddening control problems of the dreaded disc controller. But audiovisually speaking, it was as close as one could get to the original, so I do have to award it some points there. Continue reading

Loco Motion

Loco MotionThe Game: A train scoots around a twisty maze of tiles representing overpasses, turns, straightaways and terminals. One portion of the maze is blank, and a train will be lost if it hits that blank tile. You can move the blank tile and one adjacent tile around on the map – even if the train is in transit on that tile – in an effort to keep it moving around the maze, picking up passengers. (Passengers that the train can reach are smiley faces; passengers cut off from the main route are frowning.) If any passengers are cut off for an extended period of time, a monster begins wandering that route, and it’ll cost you a train if it comes in contact with your train. You may have to outrun it with the “speed” button in order to pick up the last passengers and clear the level to move on to a bigger maze. (Mattel [under license from Konami], 1982)

Memories: Mattel’s licensed adaptation of the extremely minor arcade hit by Konami is actually, believe it or not, an improvement in some areas on the arcade game. The graphic look isn’t one of those areas, but in a strange way, the Intellivision’s disc controller is more instinctive for the sliding-tile-puzzle game play of Loco Motion. Continue reading

Night Stalker

Night StalkerBuy this gameThe Game: You’re alone, unarmed, in a maze full of bats, bugs and ‘bots, most of whom can kill you on contact (though the robots would happily shoot you rather than catching up with you). Loaded guns appear periodically, giving you a limited number of rounds with which to take out some of these creepy foes, though your shots are best reserved for the robots and the spiders, who have a slightly more malicious intent toward you than the bats. If you shoot See the videothe bats, others will appear to take their place. If you shoot the ‘bots, the same thing happens, only a faster, sharper-shooting model rolls out every time. Your best bet is to stay on the move, stay armed, conserve your firepower – and don’t be afraid to head back to your safe room at the center of the screen. (Mattel Electronics, 1982)

Memories: A devious and nerve-wracking little maze chase of a game, Night Stalker is a great game if you’re up for an endurance contest, but not so much if you’re looking for a game where you actually stand a chance of winning or advancing to a new maze. The playing field you see is the playing field you get, and you’re stuck there – until you die. Continue reading

Shark! Shark!

Shark! Shark!The Game: Would you rather be a small fish in a small pond, or a big fish in a small pond? If you’re going to survive in this game, you’d better think big. Sharks and larger fish swim through the water, and if they’re bigger than you, you See the videoBuy this gamehave to avoid them or be eaten. You, on the other hand, can feed on smaller items which are below you on the food chain – and the more you eat, the more you grow, and this means you can eat more of the fish on the screen at any given time. But growth has its price: the bigger you get, the slower your fish becomes and the harder it is to get away from the shark. You can try to nibble the shark to death by biting his tail, but beware…he can bite back! (Mattel Electronics, 1982)

Memories: One of the Intellivision’s more unique titles, Shark! Shark! is literally a cool little game about the food chain – and it’s an addictively fun one too, perfect for the whole family. The first time I set eyes on the game, I had no manual – and it took me the loss of just one of my fishy lives to suss out how it’s played. Of course, every so often one still gets a little too brave and drives the poor little fish right into some blatantly obvious hazard because it looked like it might be small enough to eat… Continue reading

Tron Deadly Discs

Tron Deadly DiscsThe Game: You are Tron, a lone video game warrior pitted against three other enemies with much greater armament. You can take a number of hits before you’re “de-rezzed” out of existence, but those hits can pile up pretty quickly. By throwing your disc at certain portions of the arena wall and changing them to the same color as your on-screen character, you can make tunnels for yourself – not unlike the side tunnels in Pac-Man – handy for escape or ambush. (M Network [Mattel], 1982)

Memories: Though it only corresponds to a very brief scene in the movie Tron, Deadly Discs is a very addictive game – and quite a bit of fun, actually! Continue reading

Tron Maze-a-Tron

Tron Maze-a-TronThe Game: You are Flynn, the hero of the movie Tron. In phase one of the game, you navigate a maze of circuitry, avoiding Recognizers, and trying to, as the manual puts it, “gather zeroes to clear the RAM chips.” In phase two, you’re up against the Master Control Program itself, and you can beat it by matching pairs of numbers in the “bit stream” to pairs in the nearby “bit stack”…or something like that. (Mattel, 1982)

Memories: Maze-a-Tron never got around to impressing me. The rule book is thicker than I could imagine the program would be, and the needlessly complicated game play really doesn’t inspire me to come back for more. And in a way, it almost seems like a game that had little to do with Tron, but was barely similar enough that it merited the grafting-on of elements such as the MCP and the Recognizers from the movie, and voila, instant licensed product. Continue reading

Tron Solar Sailer

Tron Solar SailerThe Game: In the third and final game of the trilogy of Intellivision games based on the movie Tron, you’re piloting the solar sailer vehicle stolen by Tron and Yori about 2/3 of the way through the movie. You ride the light beams through the digital realm, avoiding deadly (but dumb) grid bugs and pursuing Recognizers. You can fire weapons at both of the above, but doing this and keeping yourself on a clear path is the real challenge. (Mattel, 1982)

Memories: Of any of the Tron games Mattel manufactured for its own Intellivision platform or the Atari 2600, Solar Sailer is probably the one which is most closely related to a scene in the movie. It may also be the hardest. Continue reading

Tron Deadly Discs

Tron Deadly DiscsThe Game: You are Tron, a lone video game warrior pitted against three other enemies with much greater armament. You can take a number of hits before you’re “de-rezzed” out of existence, but those hits can pile up pretty quickly. By throwing your disc at certain portions of the arena wall and changing them to the same color as your on-screen character, you can make tunnels for yourself – not unlike the side tunnels in Pac-Man – handy for escape or ambush. Every so often, however, a Recognizer will enter the arena, send out a force field to attempt to hold Tron immobile, and will close off those exits to restore the odds in favor of the house. If the Recognizer crushes Tron, that’ll end the game as quickly as letting the video warriors blast him repeatedly. (Mattel, 1982)

Print new overlaysMemories: Easily the most playable of the three Intellivision games based on Tron, Deadly Discs was also later ported to the Atari 2600, and despite the nice graphical bells and whistles bestowed upon this edition, it’s the 2600 version of the game which is most playable. Continue reading

Bump ‘N’ Jump

Bump 'N' JumpThe Game: The race is on, and no moves are off-limits – bump your competitors off the road (and into apparently highly volatile vegetation that causes them to explode), or jump over them and any other obstacles that get in your way, See the videoincluding areas of water that cover the road. If you survive the race, you live on to the next round – at least until you run out of cars. (M Network, 1983)

Memories: One of a very few arcade licenses snagged by Mattel for the Intellivision and for the M Network line of games for the Atari 2600 and other platforms, Bump ‘N’ Jump has a bumpy ride as it jumps to the relatively underpowered Atari. Continue reading

Masters Of The Universe: Power Of He-Man

Masters Of The Universe: Power Of He-ManThe Game: Don’t be too eager to say “By the power of Greyskull,” because there’s one problem: Skeletor has wrested See the videothe power of Castle Greyskull for himself, and seems none too keen on giving it back. As He-Man, the player is tasked with reaching the castle via a flying vehicle, shooting down fireballs (and, if possible, ensnaring Skeleton in traps from above) along the way; provided He-Man doesn’t use up all of his fuel in the aerial fight, he lands at Greyskull and must dodge Skeletor’s fiery projectiles in order to do battle with the ghastly one. Only one will win. (Mattel Electronics, 1983)

Memories: Early in Intellivision‘s shelf life, the Intellivision programmers had learned a hard lesson: don’t assume that because Mattel’s toy division has the toy license, Intellivision has the game license. This painful lesson had hit home hard when Mattel Electronics’ in-house game designers came up with a winner of a game for Battlestar Galactica, only to discover that they couldn’t release it under that name. When it came to the multimedia marketing slam dunk that was Masters Of The Universe – a hit toy line bolstered by a hit animated series – Mattel made damned sure the video game rights stayed in-house. Continue reading

Lock ‘n’ Chase

Lock 'n' ChaseThe Game: You’re in charge of a getaway car loaded with crafty criminals. Your job is to sneak around the maze, avoid four colorful cops who are hot on your trail, and grab all the dough – and, of course, to escape so you can steal again another See the videoday. But the cops can trap you with a series of doors that can prevent you from getting away… (M Network [Mattel Electronics], 1983)

Memories: Released early in 1983, this version of Lock ‘N’ Chase further proves my “M Network theory,” which is as follows: somehow, no matter what hardware platform it’s on, an M Network game always winds up somehow looking like it’s a port of an Intellivision game. Not that this detracts from the fun factor of having a decent maze chase game on the Apple II, mind you. Continue reading

Night Stalker

Night StalkerThe Game: You’re alone, unarmed, in a maze full of bats, bugs and ‘bots, most of whom can kill you on contact (though the robots would happily shoot you rather than catching up with you). Loaded guns appear periodically, giving you a See the videolimited number of rounds with which to take out some of these creepy foes, though your shots are best reserved for the robots and spiders, who have a slightly more malicious intent toward you than the bats. If you shoot the bats, others will appear to take their place. If you shoot the ‘bots, the same thing happens, only a faster, sharper-shooting model rolls out every time. Your best bet is to stay on the move, stay armed, conserve your firepower – and don’t be afraid to head back to your safe room at the center of the screen. (Mattel Electronics, 1983)

Memories: An adaptation of one of the Intellivision’s signature games, Night Stalker is actually one of the strongest titles in the tiny Aquarius game library. This isn’t to say that it’s a great port, just that it’s less bad than some of the other Aquarius games. Continue reading

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