Rocky Super Action Boxing

Rocky Super Action BoxingThe Game: Spin up “Eye Of The Tiger” on your turntable, power up your Colecovision, and get ready to go ten rounds with Clubber Lang. If you think you’re tough enough to take on a digital Mr. T, take a swing at helping Rocky See the videoBalboa reign victorious once more. Just be ready to taste the mat along the way too. (Coleco, 1983)

Memories: Alas, my feelings on video boxing are a lot like my feelings on video pinball: once you take either activity into the virtual realm and remove the inherent physicality of it, sure, you might be able to nail the look and sounds of boxing or pinball, or just about any other sport, but in so doing you’ve lost so much of the essence that it’s almost a meaningless exercise. Continue reading

Sky Jinks

Sky JinksBuy this gameThe Game: It’s a lovely day for a little bit of prop flying. You’re at the stick of a small, single-engine plane, and you must complete an increasingly difficult succession of courses where you must pass different colored pylons on the left or right. But there are obstacles that don’t make this easy – several balloonists also agree that it’s a good day to take to the air, and then there are the trees… (Activision, 1983)

Memories: I can’t tell you how many hours I spent with this game as a kid. It drove me nuts! I could whip around like a flying ace on the easy courses, but never failed to wipe out on the more advanced ones. Continue reading

Trans-American Rally

Trans-American RallyThe Game: The Videopac puts you in the driver’s seat for a cross-country race. Avoid other cars and obstacles and stay on the road; hitting too many oncoming vehicles causes you to forfeit the See the videorace. (Philips, 1983)

Memories: A surprising game on the Videopac G7400+ (the European equivalent of the cancelled Odyssey3 console), Trans-American Rally is an example of a game done almost entirely in the “extended” graphics set. The only hints of the original Odyssey2/Videopac fixed graphics set is the use of the old “triangle” elements to draw the road and to draw any unchanging areas of solid colors (such as the desert on either side of the road). The rest of the graphics are done entirely in the “plus” graphics, and the game looks surprisingly good for anything running on the Videopac platform: it’s on a par with many a TI 99/4a game. Continue reading

RealSports Basketball

RealSports BasketballThe Game: Two players each control one man in one-on-one, full-court action. Whoever has the highest score by a predetermined time limit wins. (Atari, 1983 [unreleased])
See the video
Memories: Atari’s RealSports series was created to challenge the upper hand Intellivision’s sports games had gained over the blocky, primitive virtual versions of the same sports on the Atari 2600. The RealSports brand was extended into the 5200 line as well, and did manage to score some firsts, including the first home video game to offer speech without additional custom hardware (RealSports Baseball). But for some reason, neither the 2600 nor 5200 versions of RealSports Basketball ever saw the light of day. Continue reading

Buggy Challenge

Buggy ChallengeThe Game: It’s a duel for dune buggy supremacy, and it won’t be easy. Drivers must contend not only with other drivers, but with dangerous terrain (sand hills that can launch a buggy into mid-air with little or no control over where it might land), killer obstacles including rocks and fence posts, and the amazing ease of losing all sense of direction. (Taito, 1984)

Memories: A fairly obscure first-person racer from Taito, Buggy Challenge is visually impressive, but in an era when it seemed like arcade game manufacturers were desperately trying to add complexity to control schemes – after all, a complex control scheme will probably get players “killed” more often, forcing more coin drop – Buggy Challenge most outstanding feature may be its blissful simplicity. There’s a gas pedal and a steering wheel. Try not to hit stuff that will cause the dune buggy to blow up. It really is that simple. Continue reading

Ballblazer

BallblazerThe Game: Pong just got a lot more difficult. The table-tennis-inspired sport is now played at blow-your-hair-back speeds on a 3-D field, with vehicles called rotofoils serving as the paddles. Up to four players can compete, or you can humiliate yourself by trying to fight computer-controlled opponents. (Atari/Lucasfilm Games, 1984)

Memories: The announcement was simple, and ominous, and got a lot of press. “Lucasfilm is entering the video game industry.” It made big waves, and why wouldn’t it? The thought of someone with the tremendous creative resources of George Lucas getting in on the action was enough to excite many gamers – particularly those who, around 1984, were deluged in the kind of mediocre titles which brought the video game business to its knees. 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, including See the videoareas 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. (Coleco, 1984)

Memories: Another Sega arcade sleeper-hit snagged for the Colecovision under an overall contract between the two game companies, Bump ‘N’ Jump is fun on four wheels, and this console version drives it home perfectly. Continue reading

Moto-Crash+

Moto-Crash+The Game: It’s a cross-country motorcycle race, and you’re at the handlebars. Avoid other bikes, stay within the traffic markers, and be alert to constantly changing lighting conditions and weather (this race is 24 hours a day, and the days seem awfully short). (Philips, 1984)

Memories: Released only in Europe (and, for the most part, confined to France, where it was sold for the Jopac+ console, the Gallic equivalent to the Videopac G7400 or the Odyssey3), Moto-Crash+ is a fairly bold attempt to do something that was unheard of on the original Odyssey2/Jopac hardware: a first-person racing game along the lines of Enduro. Continue reading

Pitstop

PitstopThe Game: A day at the races is just another day at the office for you. Pick from a variety of tracks and difficulty levels and try to achieve maximum speed…with a minimum of collisions. (Epyx, 1984)

See the videoMemories: Not quite as pretty as Turbo, Pitstop is a port of a game that Epyx had already made popular on the Atari home computers and the Commodore 64. Though the crash was in full swing by now, Epyx seemed to be hedging its bets by producing console games for the Colecovision and the Atari 2600. But graphically, and in terms of smooth game play, Turbo wins the race ahead of Pitstop in just about every area – and it’s all about control. Continue reading

Track & Field

Track & FieldThe Game: It’s time for the 1984 Olympics! Qualify and compete in such events as the 100-meter dash, the long jump, javelin throw, and the shot-put. (Atari, 1984)

See the videoMemories: In many cases, Atari faced a major obstacle in licensing major arcade games: the time and money required to secure the license (if it wasn’t already part of an overall deal), and the fact that by skipping the licensing process, Activision or Imagic would virtually always get there first with a more visually pleasing and playable product. But this time, Activision’s sheer speed helped Atari out: The Activision Decathlon practically did some of the R&D for Atari. Continue reading

One-On-One

One On OneThe Game: Dr. J and Larry Bird take to the hardwood for one-on-one half-court basketball action. Each player has his own signature moves, from lay-ups to three-point shots to steals. One or two players can play to a predetermined score or to a time limit. See the video(Atari [under license from Electronic Arts], 1987)

Memories: Having already become a hit on such home computers as the Commodore 64 and Apple II, Electronic Arts’ One On One ushered in a wave of celebrity-driven sports games that would eventually lead the company to a far more profitable franchise in the Madden [insert year of your choice here] football games. Atari had courted (no pun intended) EA as a potential developer of games for the Atari 7800, and while that courtship was short-lived, it did result in one of the better looking iterations of One On One. Continue reading

Pole Position

Pole PositionThe Game: Prepare to qualify! Fly to the finish line in a fierce field of Formula One competitors in a qualifying lap. Leaving the track is trouble – and hitting one of the billboards dotted around the edges of the Mt. Fuji track is a sure way to See the videomiss out on the subsequent race. (INTV Corp., 1987)

Memories: Pole Position has suffered a few indignities before; an arcade game that was a huge evolution for first-person racing and boasted stellar graphics is bound to hit a few speed bumps on the drive home. But the Intellivision version of Pole Position is a gigantic pothole that’s likely to relieve most players of their drive to recreate the arcade experience. Continue reading

Pole Position II

Pole Position IIThe Game: It’s your big chance to qualify for the big race at one of four tracks: the oval test track, Seaside, Suzuka, and the Mt. Fuji track from the original Pole Position. First, you try to get through the qualifying heat, racking up laps around the track as fast you can and accumulating as few wrecks as possible. If you pass muster, then you get to try it again with other cars on the track! (Atari, 1984; released circa 1987)

Memories: Until the Namco Museum series came along for the Playstation, featuring true emulation of the original arcade code and graphics, this is as close as we were going to get to the finesse of an arcade Pole Position game at home – at it wasn’t too far off the mark. Continue reading

Slam Dunk Super Pro Basketball

Slam Dunk Super Pro BasketballThe Game: One or two players can set a budget and begin recruiting a top-notch basketball team (or, alternately, recruiting from who’s left after someone else has recruited a top-notch basketball team), and then it’s time to hit the court. See the videoEach player controls a team of three with offensive and defensive moves; the player can control any member of his team. (INTV Corp., 1987)

Memories: Several of the “Super Pro” sports games released by INTV Corp. – the entity that took on the task of continuing software support for the Intellivision long after Mattel Electronics had given up on the system in the face of the then-looming video game industry crash – began life as re-coded single-player versions of existing Intellivision sports titles. Slam Dunk is an example of a game that diverged completely from the code of its two-player-only predecessor (NBA Basketball). Continue reading

Winter Games

Winter GamesThe Game: The Olympic torch is the warmest thing to be found in this multi-event recreation of the Winter Olympics. Downhill skiing, luge, slalom skiing and other events are represented here, and See the videoplayers can even pick which country they’re representing as they go for the gold. (Epyx, 1987)

Memories: One of the more elaborate attempts to recreate Olympic events on the Atari 2600, Winter Games benefits from a few additional years of knowledge on overcoming that system’s limitations. But it’s also, largely, an afterthought: Epyx made its real money from Winter Games on the Commodore 64 and other home computer systems. Continue reading

IK+

IK+The Game: Face not one but two simultaneous opponents in what many consider the apex of Commodore 64 fighting games. IK+ supports one or two players, eighteen different moves, and more fighting action than all of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s movies combined. (System 3, 1987)

Memories: IK+ is considered by many to be the best fighting game available for the Commodore 64, but the history leading up to the game is almost as interesting as the game itself. IK+ is actually the sequel to International Karate, released by System 3 in the UK in 1986. International Karate is a one-on-one fighting game with many similarities with Data East’s game, Karate Champ. In both games, two fighters dressed in red and white uniforms battle. Both games use the same scoring system, awarding either half or full points to successful moves and declaring the first combatant to reach two full points the winner. Both games feature a scoring judge and backgrounds featuring different locations. Continue reading

Skate Or Die

Skate Or DieThe Game: Don’t be a poseur! Skate hard or die trying in the ultimate skateboarding game for the Commodore 64. Practice or compete in five separate events that will lead you over ramps, down streets and even into abandoned pools. (Electronic Arts, 1987)

Memories: Throughout my teenage years, I had three distinct career paths in mind. The first one was professional breakdancer. When I realized that probably wasn’t going to pan out, I began planning on a more obtainable, more realistic goal: professional ninja. This was of course during the big ninja craze of the mid-80s. When that career path didn’t pan out, I set my sights on a third goal: professional skateboarder. Continue reading

Pete Rose Baseball

Pete Rose BaseballThe Game: Batter up! We’re live from the baseball diamond with TV sports-style camera angles that switch to show you where the action is. (Absolute, 1988)

See the videoMemories: An extremely late entry for the 2600, I’d wager that this NES-era baseball game is actually one of the better attempts to bring the sport to Atari’s aging hardware. While I’m still not sure what Pete Rose has to do with this video game, you can bet it delivers a good baseball experience. Continue reading

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