chaoticworlddesigns.com

Chopper Command

Chopper CommandBuy this gameThe Game: You’re a lone attack helicopter jockey in unfriendly desert territory, trying to stop a seemingly endless attacking fleet of enemy jets from bombing a convoy on the ground. (Activision, 1982)

See the videoMemories: Maybe the best example ever of Activision stealing Atari’s thunder right out from under it, Chopper Command is essentially the same game as Defender, with the singular exception that the enemy is bombing the ground-dwellers instead of trying to abduct them. Continue reading

Dracula

DraculaThe Game: Looking for a game where you can spread your wings a little? If bat wings are okay, then Dracula is the game for you. As the impaler himself, you wander the city streets at night, looking for victims to bite. Whether you’re chasing a fleet-footed mortal or avoiding adversaries who also roam the streets, turning into a bat is often the only way to fly. You also have to keep an eye on the clock – if you haven’t returned safely to your crypt by sunrise, Dracula turns to dust. (Imagic, 1982)

See the videoMemories: Yet another Intellivision-only gem from the gang at Imagic, Dracula would seem, on the surface, to do some of the same things that Texas Chainsaw Massacre does on the Atari VCS: it puts the player in the role of the villain of the piece, going through the game and searching for victims. But where Texas Chainsaw Massacre tries (rather unsuccessfully, it must be said) to reach for Tobe Hooper-worthy shock value, Dracula keeps things simple – and it makes sure the player is vulnerable too. Continue reading

The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes BackThe Game: Derived from an action scene in the second of a trilogy of little-known films about a budding Jedi Knight named Luke Skywalker, The Empire Strikes Back puts you in the cockpit of Luke’s snowspeeder in a desperate bid to beat back huge Imperial Walkers – also known as AT-ATs – from destroying the Rebel back on the ice planet of Hoth. The AT-ATs’ heavy artillery can seriously deplete your snowspeeder’s shielding with a single hit, though you must score numerous direct hits before you can even begin to have the same effect on the onslaught of Imperial Walkers, let alone destroy one. Occasionally, a weakness will be exposed in the “neck” region of the huge mechanical monsters, and you’ll have a few seconds in which you may take advantage of that and blow the machine away. And even less frequently, the triumphant strains of John Williams’ Star Wars theme – as squeaked out by the Atari 2600’s limited sound facility – will signal that the Force is with you, rendering you invincible for a short period of time. You’re going to need it. (Parker Brothers, 1982)

Memories: The Empire Strikes Back is just one in a series of excellent Star Wars-themed game cartridges released around this time by Parker Brothers (other titles included Star Wars: The Arcade Game, an excellent adaptation of the Atari vector arcade game, and the intriguing Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle). Continue reading

Freedom Fighters!

Freedom Fighters!The Game: Using the left joystick, you control the movement of your ship within the confines of a screen filled with mines, alien aggressors, and occasional purple “confinement crystals” which you have to catch, because these contain human prisoners of war. The right joystick engages your hyperdrive, enabling you to go zipping along in true Defender style. (North American Philips, 1982)

Memories: Another infamous “not quite a copy of a popular arcade game” from the Odyssey2 gang, Freedom Fighters was supposed to be similar to Defender, but somehow it misses the mark. Continue reading

Microsurgeon

MicrosurgeonThe Game: Ready for a fantastic journey? So long as you’re not counting on Raquel Welch riding shotgun with you, this is as close as you’re going to get. You control a tiny robot probe inside the body of a living, breathing human patient who has a lot of health problems. Tar deposits in the lungs, cholesterol clogging the arteries, and rogue infections traveling around messing everything up. And then there’s you – capable of administering targeted doses of ultrasonic sound, antibiotics and aspirin to fix things up. Keep an eye on your patient’s status at all times – and be careful not to wipe out disease-fighting white blood cells which occasionally regard your robot probe as a foreign body and attack it. Just because you don’t get to play doctor with the aforementioned Ms. Welch (ahem – get your mind out of the gutter!) doesn’t mean this won’t be a fun operation. (Imagic, 1982)

Memories: Microsurgeon, designed and programmed by Imagic code wrangler Rick Levine (who even put his signature – as a series of slightly twisted arteries – inside the game’s human body maze), is a perfect example of Imagic’s ability to get the best out of the Intellivision – it’s truly one of those “killer app” games that defines a console. Continue reading

Pitfall!

Pitfall!Buy this gameThe Game: As Pitfall Harry, you’re exploring the deepest jungle in search of legendary lost treasures, whether they be above ground, hidden strategically next to inescapable tar pits or ponds infested with hungry gators, or in the underground catacombs under the guard of deadly scorpions. (Activision, 1982)

Memories: Pitfall! – subtitled The Adventures of Pitfall Harry – was the first blockbuster title from Activision, a software house formed by four former Atari programmers. Activision consistently turned out addictively playable and – bearing in
See the original TV adSee the videomind the 2600’s graphic limitations – gorgeous games. After all, Activision’s core gamesmiths knew the Atari 2600 hardware better than anyone, and were able to avoid such common, erm, pitfalls as flickering sprites and big, clunky pixels. Continue reading

Smurf: Rescue From Gargamel’s Castle

Smurf: Rescue From Gargamel's CastleThe Game: You are an unidentified Smurf en route to save Smurfette from Gargamel’s castle. Now, you may think that Gargamel would deploy his vicious black cat to stop you from reaching that goal, but that sort See the original TV adof melodramatic stuff only happens in cartoons. Real Smurfs can be felled by something as innocuous as a fall off a very short ledge or running into clumps of grass. (Coleco, 1982)

Memories: The early 80s: video games were hot, new wave music was now mainstream, everybody who was anybody had given Rubik’s Cube a twist, and of course, there were Smurfs all over the place. Now, setting aside the fact that with the plural of knife being knives and the plural of scarf being scarves, the plural of Smurf should be Smurves, Peyo’s little blue critters were all over the place – cartoons, clothing, lunchboxes, toys, and more. You’d think that a market would have arisen for an effective Smurf repellant, perhaps in an environmentally-friendly non-aerosol spray form, but instead Coleco gave us this marvelous video game, in which those so inclined could send hundreds of the little pests hurtling headlong, lemming-like, to their death. Continue reading

Space Jockey

Space JockeyThe Game: Space is a dangerous place, full of enemy fighters, hostile vehicles…and even enemy biplanes and enemy hot air balloons. Your job? Blow ’em all away. Your space fighter can hug the ground or zip into the stratosphere in See the videoa second, which is good because there are oncoming enemies at every altitude. If they take out all of your fighters, you might as well kiss the planet goodbye…which is kind of embarrassing if this means you’ve left the world open to invasion by balloon. (Vidtec [U.S. Games], 1982)

Memories: This is the first Atari game programmed by Garry Kitchen, who, after coding a VCS version of Donkey Kong for Coleco as a freelancer, would later join Activision. Space Jockey may not exactly be up to Activision’s specs, but it’s still an eminently playable variation on what was already a well-worn theme by its 1982 release. 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

Zaxxon

ZaxxonThe Game: You’re the pilot of a lone fighter ship, screaming down the trench-like, heavily armed confines of a spaceborne fortress, on a mission to find and destroy the Zaxxon robot – the most heavily guarded of all – at the heart of the See the videostructure. (Coleco, 1982)

Memories: In 1983, Sega’s Zaxxon was the hottest new thing in the arcade, and quickly became a windmill for home video game consoles to attempt to topple. Its vaguely-3D perspective was the game’s claim to fame, and was the hardest thing for home video game programmers to try to emulate. Continue reading

Parsec

ParsecThe Game: You control a space patrol fighter cruising over the surface of a planet. Alien attackers swarm on the right side of the screen and strafe you, and you must get out of the way of their laser fire and return some of your own; the more enemy ships you allow to safely leave the screen, the more you’ll have to deal with when they re-enter from the right side of the screen. Avoid their fire, avoid colliding with them, and avoid slamming into the ground, and you might just live long enough to repel the invasion. (Texas Instruments, 1982)

Memories: This fun little side-scrolling shooter, very much along the lines of Defender, Scramble or Cosmic Avenger, is a showcase for the TI99/4A’s graphics capability. The spaceships are fine line art in motion, and the ground especially is crisp and rich with detail, including Texas Instruments and Parsec logos carved out of the landscape. Continue reading

Sinistar

SinistarBuy this gameThe Game: In a lone space fighter, you’re on the most dangerous space combat mission this side of Luke Skywalker. While evading or destroying drone robots and gunships in a hazardous asteroid field, you’re trying to mine the raw materials needed for Sinibombs, your only defense against the huge, terrifying space See the videostation, Sinistar. You can bomb the components of Sinistar as they are being put in place, but as a last resort, your Sinibombs can damage it in its complete form as well. If you should happen to find yourself within range of the fully-operational Sinistar without the armament needed to protect yourself, there are snowballs in hell that stand a better chance of surviving than you do. (Williams Electronics, 1983)

Memories: A truly intimidating and challenging game, Sinistar‘s only drawback is a slightly aggravating control system; since it doesn’t quite adhere to the physical rules of bodies, motion and inertia that were so interestingly utilized in such games as Asteroids, Sinistar is a bit more difficult to get a handle on. Continue reading

B.C.’s Quest For Tires

B.C.'s Quest For TiresThe Game: As beleaguered caveman B.C., you’ve just discovered the wheel. That’s the good news. The bad news is that, on the same day that you harness mechanical motion for the first time, you’re also going to discover the traffic See the videoaccident. Jump over holes in the ground, rocks and rolling boulders, and duck under tree limbs – and then you’ve got to survive showing your new evolutionary step off to the Mrs.! (Sierra On-Line, 1983)

Memories: B.C.’s Quest For Tires is one of those games that immediately brings the word “Colecovision” to mind – it was a striking game for its day, and this was the platform where it truly excelled (though it was also available on several home computers as well). Johnny Hart’s comic strip wasn’t quite in the Garfield stratosphere of daily newspaper comics, but it was popular enough that its characters would seem familiar. Continue reading

The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes BackThe Game: The Empire Strikes Back puts you in the cockpit of Luke Skywalkers’s snowspeeder in a desperate bid to beat back huge Imperial Walkers – also known as AT-ATs – from destroying the Rebel back on the ice See the videoplanet of Hoth. The AT-ATs’ heavy artillery can seriously deplete your snowspeeder’s shielding with a single hit, though you must score numerous direct hits before you can even begin to have the same effect on the onslaught of Imperial Walkers, let alone destroy one. Occasionally, a weakness will be exposed in the “neck” region of the huge mechanical monsters, and you’ll have a few seconds in which you may take advantage of that and blow the machine away. (Parker Brothers, 1983)

Memories: Based on Parker Brothers‘ rendition of The Empire Strikes Back for the Atari 2600, this is one of those games that you’d expect to be even better on the Intellivision…and yet something is “off.” The phrase “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” is very applicable here. 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

Jungle Hunt

Jungle HuntThe Game: You’re an intrepid explorer, swinging from vine to vine, braving a swim through crocodile-infested waters, leaping over and ducking under an avalanche of rocks both large and small, and trying to leap over angry natives, all to save a See the videodamsel in distress at the end of the game. (Atari, 1983)

Memories: One of the best arcade adaptations for the 5200, Jungle Hunt in cartridge form provided a very faithful port of the arcade game, right down to the jaunty music. Continue reading

Jungle Hunt

Jungle HuntThe Game: You are an intrepid, pith-helmeted explorer of the jungle! Swinging from vine to vine! Swimming through crocodile-infested waters! Jumping and ducking huge rolling boulders! And vanquishing spear-weilding natives to rescue the damsel! (Atarisoft, 1983)

Memories: One of a handful of Atarisoft games for the ColecoVision, Jungle Hunt proves a point: while Coleco was trying to drive discriminating gamers toward its own console with subpar ports of games like Zaxxon (compare the ColecoVision edition to the Atari 2600 port) and Donkey Kong (again, compare the ColecoVision and 2600 versions), Atari – post-2600 Pac-Man debacle – was at least trying to turn out quality games for whatever platform it released games on. Continue reading

Jungle Hunt

Jungle HuntThe Game: You are the king of the jungle! Swinging from vine to vine! Swimming through crocodile-infested waters! Jumping and ducking huge rolling boulders! And vanquishing spear-weilding natives to rescue the damsel! (Atari, See the video1983)

Jungle Hunt, based on the revised version of Taito’s Jungle King arcade game, was a fairly solid entry from the heyday of the Atari 2600 as the premier platform for home editions of arcade games. Faithfully adapting the four levels of the arcade game, albeit in simplified form, Jungle Hunt was actually one of the better 2600 arcade ports. Continue reading

  • IP Disclaimer

    All game names, terminology, logos, screen shots, box art, and all related characters and placenames are the property of the games' respective intellectual property holders. The articles herein are not intended to infringe upon their copyright in any way. The author(s) make no attempt - in using the names described herein - to supercede the copyrights of the copyright holders, nor are these articles officially sanctioned, licensed, or endorsed by the games' creators or publishers.