Frogger

FroggerThe Game: You are a frog. Your task is simple: hop across a busy highway, dodging cars and trucks, until you get the to the edge of a river, where you must keep yourself from drowning by crossing safely to your grotto at the top of the screen by leaping across the backs of turtles and logs. But watch out for snakes and alligators! (Coleco, 1982)

Memories: Possibly the best of Coleco’s fixed-matrix LED mini-arcade games, Frogger is actually fun and reasonably faithful to its inspiration, while adding cute touches that are unique to this version of the game. Continue reading

Food Fight

Food FightThe Game: You are Charley – but you don’t have the Golden Ticket. Instead, what you have is a playfield littered with immobilizing potholes, lots of food, and four feisty chefs (is there a different word for the plural of “chef”?). Charley Chuck can pick up handfuls of food and fling them at any one of his opponents, but keep in mind that they can do the same. Charley’s ultimate goal? Reach the yummy ice cream cone at the opposite end of the screen without falling victim to any of the above. To do any less causes every piece of food on the screen to hurl itself at Charley. (Atari, 1983)

Memories: This bizarre little game is the first original arcade effort from a small game design firm called General Computer, which was actually responsible for Ms. Pac-Man, which started out as an unauthorized modification kit. Caught in the act, General Computer’s founders offered the game to Namco, and it went on to become the best-earning arcade game of its day. A similar “enhancement” devised for Atari’s Missile Command, however, got them in hot water. 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

Fire Fly

Fire FlyThe Game: As the pilot of a mechanical firefly, you must pilot your bug down to the lowest depths of the screen to rescue a pixie being held hostage by bees. Once you’ve retrieved that hostage, you face a barrage of bizarrely-shaped enemies, ranging from bats to snakes to flaming airborne pumpkins. You can dispatch these obstacles with a laser blast from your firefly’s maw, and once conquered, these adversaries leave behind prizes such as rings, treasure chests, bags of money and so on – precisely the sort of things that you would expect these natural enemies of the common mechanical firefly to be carrying around with them. Once you’ve done away with an entire wave of bad guys, the game begins again at the “pixie” level, only slightly more difficult. (Mythicon, 1983)

Memories: Considered among the rarest games in the Atari 2600 library, the three titles released by Mythicon were a Johnny-come-lately attempt to cash on on the 2600’s popularity. Whereas some of the earliest third-party software houses, such as Activision and Imagic, had hoped to expand the variety and quality of games on the market and make a buck in the process, Mythicon was one of several fly-by-night “software” outfits that bypassed the whole business about variety and quality and simply settled for making a buck. Dumped onto the market at under $10 each, Mythicon’s games were awful when it came to game play. And Fire Fly is no exception. Continue reading

Flipper Slipper

Flipper SlipperThe Game: The water is rising! You’re all that stands between the animals and rising floodwaters. Using a pair of paddles, you have to keep a projectile moving without letting it knock a hole in the seawall behind you; if too many holes See the videoare blasted through the wall, the game will be over and the water will pour in. (Spectravideo, 1983)

Memories: Of all the places to find an oldie-but-goodie game concept. Flipper Slipper is a game that plays very similar to Cutie Q – i.e., the last game designed by Toru Iwitani before he created Pac-Man for Namco. Continue reading

Frostbite

FrostbiteBuy this gameThe Game: As the legendary “Frostbite” Bailey, you’re used to cold temperatures, but tonight’s forecast is just too much. You’ve got to build a cozy igloo before the temperature drops to zero. You accomplish this by jumping onto moving ice blocks in the river; each successful jump adds a “brick” to your igloo. But it’s not just as simple as fording the stream – there are other cold-weather critters who’ll stop you from ever getting home, igloo or no. Snow geese can push you right off the edge of a block, while snow crabs and cold-water clams will grab you and drag you off the edge. Only the fish are non-lethal, as you can grab them for extra points (and probably dinner). You can hit the Watch the TV adaction button to reverse the direction of the ice flow you’re on (neat trick in a raging river, eh?), but unless your igloo’s already completely built, it will cost you bricks – and even then it may not keep you out of harm’s way. If you fall into the river, or fail to get into your igloo before the dropping temperature reaches zero, it costs you one of three lives. (Activision, 1983)

Memories: If Freeway was Activision’s attempt to do the cross-the-road portion of Frogger, Frostbite is their attempt to do the rest of the game – namely crossing the river on the backs of floating objects – with just a touch of Q*Bert thrown in. Continue reading

Frogger

FroggerThe Game: In a faithful home version of Sega’s original arcade game, you’re a frog trying to cross a highway, and then safely hop across the backs of logs and turtles – while avoiding alligators, snakes and otters – all to get home at the top of the screen. (Parker Brothers, 1983)

Memories: I’ve had the Atari 2600 version of Frogger for a long time, and I’ll admit that both the MAME version of the original arcade game and the Coleco tabletop battery-powered electronic Frogger have always struck me as being very faithful. But as far as early 80s platforms go, ColecoVision wound up with the most faithful Frogger of all. Continue reading

Frogger

FroggerThe Game: You are a frog. Your task is simple: hop across a busy highway, dodging cars and trucks, until you get the to the top of the screen. On the second screen, you stand at the edge of a river, where you must keep yourself from See the videodrowning by crossing safely to your grotto at the top of the screen by leaping across the backs of turtles and logs. But watch out for hungry alligators! (Phillips / Parker Brothers, 1983)

Memories: One of the most exasperating things about Frogger for the Odyssey2? Finding a copy that plays well enough for me to review. Many a copy of Parker Brothers’ Frogger has made its way from Europe to cartridge slots in America, only to disappoint whoever hunted it down: unlike many other Videopac titles released in Europe, Frogger won’t play on a North American console. Continue reading

The Official Frogger

The Official FroggerThe Game: You are a frog. Your task is simple: hop across a busy highway, dodging cars and trucks, until you get the to the edge of a river, where you must keep yourself from drowning by crossing safely to your grotto at the top See the videoof the screen by leaping across the backs of turtles and logs. But watch out for snakes and alligators! (Starpath, 1983)

Memories: Making crafty use of a loophole in Parker Bros.’ license for Frogger, which specified that Parkers had permission to market cartridge-based versions of the game, the plucky programmers at Starpath proceeded to make a far superior edition of Frogger for the 2600 and got it on the market by licensing the rights to do a cassette-based version. Continue reading

Frogger

FroggerThe Game: You are a frog. Your task is simple: hop across a busy highway, dodging cars and trucks, until you get the to the edge of a river, where you must keep yourself from drowning by crossing safely to your grotto at the top of the screen by leaping across the backs of turtles and logs. But watch out for snakes and alligators! (Parker Brothers, 1983)

Memories: So, there’s this frog, you see, and he advanced from a best-selling Atari 2600 title to the 2600’s bigger, more powerful brother. And the result? Continue reading

Frogger

FroggerThe Game: You are a frog. Your task is simple: hop across a busy highway, dodging cars and trucks, until you get the to the edge of a river, where you must keep yourself from drowning by crossing safely to your grotto at the top of the See the videoscreen by leaping across the backs of turtles and logs. But watch out for snakes and alligators! (Sierra On-Line, 1983)

Memories: When I fired up Sierra’s rendition of Frogger for the Apple II for the first time in something like 25 years, old synapses that hadn’t fired in ages suddenly came to life once more. This was the very first game I got with my very first computer, back in the day – back when neither one was anywhere in the same neighborhood as “cheap.” So I have a great sentimental attachment to this version of Frogger. Continue reading

Fantasy

FantasyThe Game: Pirates have kidnapped your girlfriend, Cheri, and it’s your job to rescue her, from landing your hot air balloon on the deck of the pirate ship and trying to free her, to flying and climbing your way through the jungle to rescue See the videoher from jungle animals who have abducted her from the pirates. (Texas Instruments, 1983 [unreleased])

Memories: Several years ago, when I wrote up my all-time favorite coin-op, SNK‘s adventurous gem Fantasy (licensed for the US by Rock-Ola), I lamented the lack of a home version. I’ve always thought Fantasy was underappreciated as an arcade game, and a good home translation might have helped. I remember, around the time that NAP finally licensed an arcade game (Turtles) for the Odyssey2, I wrote a letter to them to make the case for an Odyssey2 version of Fantasy, since it now seemed like they were prepared to license arcade titles. When my Fantasy review appeared many years later, TI 99/4a uber-fan Bryan Roppolo wrote in to bring my attention to an unreleased version of the game that had been in the works for that computer system, and I’ve always wondered if it was as much fun as the arcade game. Continue reading

Flash Point

Flash PointThe Game: A zombie infestation has overrun the city. The player, in a mobile unit bristling with weapons, must venture into the infested areas and eliminate the zombies – or die. The center of the infestation See the videoscreens features a green area surrounding the player’s vehicle; this must be preserved as much as possible while fighting off the zombies, as bonus points are awarded for guarding that space. If the player survives, it’s time to move on to the scene of the next zombie attack. (North American Philips, 1983 – unreleased prototype)

Memories: The only game custom-made specifically for the upgraded hardware of N.A.P.‘s never-released Odyssey3 console, Flash Point is a kind of action game that simply couldn’t have been executed with the same finesse on the Odyssey2. Continue reading

Front Line

Front LineThe Game: You’re a lone footsoldier fighting your way through a platoon of enemy troops, trying to take out as many of them as you can until you find your way to a handy empty tank. But once you man your own tank, enemy tanks surround you. If one of them hits your tank, you have mere seconds to bail out before your tank blows, and you have to dodge cannon fire until you can find another friendly tank to commandeer. After crossing hazardous stretches of desert and fighting off entire battallions of enemy tanks, you’re en route to the final confrontation, a showdown with the enemy’s armored headquarters… (Coleco, 1984)

Memories: At one time, this was one of my all-time favorite Atari 2600 games – well, it still is, actually – even though it really pales in comparison to the coin-op it’s based on. Even the version released for the ColecoVision, which used the roller wheel on the Super Action Controller to stand in for the arcade game’s aiming knob, wasn’t quite the same. Still, at the time, this did just fine: you fired your gun in whatever direction you were facing. Continue reading

Frenzy

FrenzyThe Game: You’re back in the maze, but this time, the stakes are increased, the danger is increased, and your strategic options are only slightly increased. Touching the walls, the robots, the robots’ laser blasts, or even your own ricocheted lasers are deadly. And of course, the inevitable appearance by Evil Otto is also deadly. However, you can temporarily repel the smiley little bugger by blasting him until his grin turns into the frown – but he will reappear mere seconds later, moving much faster every time he must retreat and reappear – so you’re not doing yourself any favors. If you enter a generator room, you can halt all the robots in their tracks by penetrating the walls surrounding the generator and blasting it. “Beaded” walls can be eaten away, bit by bit, by laser fire from anyone who shoots it, while solid walls will ricochet lasers around until they hit something – which could mean a death trap for you. (Coleco, 1984)

Memories: It’s a bit of a rarity for an arcade manufacturer to license a sequel game to a different company than licensed the original, yet it happened in a handful of cases. Atari had licensed the arcade hit Berzerk and turned it into a near-perfect cartridge for the VCS, but when it came time to license the diabolically difficult follow-up for home video game play, it was Coleco who nabbed the rights. Continue reading

Frogger II: Threeedeep!

Frogger II: Threeedeeep!The Game: Frogger’s back, and he needs your help to do so much more than just cross the road. First, help Frogger navigate an assortment of underwater dangers to reach the safety of a log at the water’s surface, and See the videothen help him hop across the backs of various animals and objects to cross the river. Once this is accomplished, you help Frogger ascend to heaven…and then the whole process starts once more. (Parker Brothers, 1984)

Memories: Officially authorized by Sega (while Sega was still authorized by Konami as the American distributor of the original Frogger), Frogger II: Threeedeep! is a sequel to the hit arcade game – a sequel that never made it into the arcades itself. Continue reading

Friday The 13th

Friday The 13thThe Game: Find Jason Voorhees and destroy him before he slaughters your friends in this game based on the popular horror movie franchise. People will definitely die; the only questions are who, when, and by whom. (Dormark, 1985)

Memories: I can still remember the night I got Friday The 13th for my Commodore 64. My friends and I were big fans of all the big ’80s horror icons such as Jason (Friday The 13th), Freddy (Nightmare On Elm Street), and Michael Myers (Halloween). The thought of playing a videogame based off of one of those movies at that time was both exciting and a little scary for us young’uns. Fortunately for our young minds, the scariest thing about Friday The 13th for the Commodore 64 was the actual gameplay. Continue reading

Food Fight

Food FightBuy This GameThe Game: Poor Charley Chuck. He just wants to make it across the screen and eat that big, inviting ice cream cone before it all melts away. But there are a bunch of chefs who want to stop him. This, of course, means war – an all out food fight breaks out. Charley and the chefs can both grab whatever morsels are at hand and fling them at each other. If Charley beans a chef, that chef temporarily disappears, but if Charley gets nailed too many times, he’s force-fed a solid diet of game over. (Atari, 1984 – released in 1987)

See the videoMemories: Food Fight on the Atari 7800 almost has an unfair advantage: both the coin-op and this home version were programmed by General Computer, a subcontractor which handled many of Atari’s better home ports of arcade games. In addition to their usual skill in transferring arcade games to home consoles, this time they had intimate knowledge of the original too. Continue reading

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