Ms. Pac-Man

Ms. Pac-ManThe Game: As the bride of that most famous of single-celled omniphage life forms, your job is pretty simple – eat all the dots, gulp the large blinking dots in each corner of the screen and eat the monsters while they’re blue, and avoid See the videothe monsters the rest of the time. Occasionally various fruits and other foods will bounce through the maze, and you can gobble those for extra points. (Atari, 1984; released circa 1987)

Memories: I know I keep repeating this theme in the Phosphor Dot Fossils coverage of the Atari 7800, but the Tramiels did their new company – and gamers everywhere – a grievous disservice by putting the 7800 on ice until the NES was on top of the world. Continue reading

Mappy Land

Mappy LandThe Game: Mappy the Mouse is back, pursuing his feline arch nemesis Boss The Big Bit and his kitty kohorts through several themed zones of an amusement park. Riddled with ladders, trampolines, secret weapons and treasures, the park goes from wild west to tropical and beyond. Just avoid the cats, lest Mappy become someone’s mousy morsel. (Taxan [under license from Namco], 1988)

Memories: As much marketing muscle as was flexed for the introduction of Namco’s Mappy, you can tell that there was a strong feeling that he was the next big thing. But apparently law enforcement’s #1 rodent didn’t quite catch on; Mappy wasn’t the expected super-hit, going over moderately better in Japan than it did in the U.S. Continue reading

Monopoly

MonopolyThe Game: Does anyone not know this game? You and quite a few other players make a mad dash around the Monopoly board, snatching up properties, railroads, and utilities, hazarding the fickle fortunes of the Chance and Community Chest spaces, and trying to avoid taxes and jail – not to mention bankruptcy – while building an empire that will make you rich. (Majesco Sales, 1999)

Memories: This is sort of like the Game Boy editions of Pac-Man and Space Invaders – it’s an excellent reason to own one of Nintendo‘s portable powerhouses o’ fun. The Parker Brothers board game classic is faithfully reproduced despite the small screen, and the game play is engaging. In many ways, I prefer the Game Boy version of Monopoly to the PC or Playstation versions for the same reason I’d take the Game Boy version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? over the Playstation version of that game: no cutscenes, no animations you can’t bail out of (or shut down from the options menu), no bull – the Game Boy has just enough room for the game. And I like it that way. Continue reading

Marble Madness

Marble MadnessThe Game: You control the speed and direction of a marble which is racing other marbles to reach the finish line. Obstacles along the way include marble-eating creatures, treacherous cliffs and drawbridges, and the game’s own unreliable controls! (Midway, 2000)

Memories: Color me impressed. Atari‘s Marble Madness coin-op, based on the company’s System 1 architecture, was an eye-opener when it hit the arcades in 1984. And it’s still an eye-opener with Digital Eclipse’s stunning port of the game for the Game Boy Color. Marble Madness sports some of the most impressive color graphics yet seen on a Game Boy – but the same maddening and frustrating game play as its inspiration. Continue reading

Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness

Ms. Pac-Man Maze MadnessBuy this gameThe Game: The evil witch Mesmerelda kidnaps Professor Pac-Man into her alternate dimension before Ms. Pac-Man’s very eyes. To rescue Professor Pac, Ms. Pac must retrieve the four crystals of virtue (what, is she gonna run into Lord British along the way or somethin’?) and defeat the countless evil minions of Mesmerelda, ranging from the usual pesky ghosts to fast-moving, whirling-dervish-type critters, fire-breathing dragons, a special guest appearance by Centipede, and more. Power pellets, of course, provide the universal solution to all of these problems: if it gets in your way, eat it! But the challenge becomes how to find that all-important next power pellet? (Namco, 2000)

Memories: I really liked the “maze mode” of last year’s Pacs-travaganza, Pac-Man World, and I can safely say this: those of us who enjoyed that aspect of Pac-Man World will get a big kick out of Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness. Unlike her hubby’s retro revival game, which imbued Pac-Man with numerous new powers such as the rev-roll, the butt-bounce, and so forth, Ms. Pac just has herself. She can’t butt-bounce, rev-roll, or any of that strange stuff. She can only jump with the help of strategically-placed springy things, she can push movable blocks and crates of TNT around, and she can fly with the aid of magic carpets. No super-powers for Ms. Pac-Man – just her own resourcefulness…and, of course, yours. Continue reading

Mario Kart Super Circuit

Mario Kart: Super CircuitThe Game: It’s a big day at the races, with a field of drivers selected from the Mushroom Kingdom: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Bowser, and even Donkey Kong Jr. are among the racers vying for the top spot. From the grassy Mushroom course to the punishingly muddy Star course to the oceanside Flower course, there are challenges, hairpin turns and obstacles. Whoever can learn to navigate each course the fastest without ending up out of bounds struggling to get back on the course will be the winner. (Nintendo, 2001)

Memories: A better-than-merely-passable handheld version of Super Mario Kart, this game may actually exceed its inspiration by offering new environments, new drivers and other neat twists. For the most part, it’s a genuine improvement. Continue reading

Millipede / Super Breakout / Lunar Lander

Millipede / Super Breakout / Lunar LanderThe Game: Relive exciting arcade action on your Gameboy Advance with the latest game pack from DSI Games. Millipede, Super Breakout and Lunar Lander, three classic games from Atari, are waiting for you! (DSI Games/Atari, 2006)

Memories: DSI Games‘ latest game pack consists of three games, Super Breakout (1978), Lunar Lander (1979), and Millipede (1982). DSI has a consistent track record of offering gamers two newer games (Gauntlet/Rampart, Paperboy/Rampage, Spy Hunter/Super Sprint) or three classic games (Pong/Asteroids/Yars’ Revenge, Centipede/Breakout/Warlords) per pack. This pack contains three classic Atari games, although none of them will hold your attention for long. Continue reading

Mr. Roboto!

Mr. Roboto!Buy this gameThe Game: Robots, commanded by the CPU which is in turn commanded by you, take up positions on a battlefield grid. The two opposing armies converge, and if two robots lae square, the action zooms in on that portion of the battlefield so the two can fight it out. When one robot’s energy is exhausted by the other’s attacks or by coming into contact with energy pulses bouncing around the arena, that robot is forfeited and the action returns to the grid. The CPUs can transmit viruses to any enemy robot on the grid, stealing half of that robot’s speed or hit points, or halting it altogether. Robots can attack the enemy CPU, but the CPU has a more robust defensive mechanism at its disposal than the average robot… (Ted Sczcypiorski [published by Packrat Video Games], 2006)

See the videoMemories: Yet another Odyssey2 homebrew is charting impressive new territory for a classic console that many consider to be underpowered. And yet, what we have here in Mr. Roboto! is essentially Archon – a classic computer game that didn’t appear on a console until the NES. And yet here it is running on one of the 8-bit era’s underdogs, and running quite nicely, thank you very much. Continue reading

Moon Cresta

Moon CrestaThe Game: As commander of the three-stage fighter rocket Moon Cresta, your job is to ward off endless varieties of evasively weaving space attackers. Every time you knock out two consecutive screens of assailants, you’ll have an opportunity to dock your ship to another one of Moon Cresta’s three stages, until all three See the videoportions of the ship are combined to create one bad-ass weapons platform. But you can also lose stages very quickly, ending your game – a bigger ship makes a bigger and easier target. (AtariAge.com, 2011)

Memories: Quite simply one of the most superb arcade-to-console ports ever made on an Atari platform, whether cranked out professionally or as a homebrew, Moon Cresta is a knockout on the Atari 7800. Continue reading

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