chaoticworlddesigns.com

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Cartridge

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons CartridgeThe Game: Your quest begins as you set out from the safety of home to look for adventure in mountainous caverns. When you wander into the dungeons and caverns, your view zooms in to the maze See the videoyour adventurer is exploring, complete with treasures to collect and deadly dangers to duel. (Mattel Electronics, 1982)

Memories: Combining sword-and-sorcery – traditionally the territory of paper-and-dice role playing games – with video game action has been one of the more inspired mash-ups to come from the golden age of video games. As combinations go, it was almost inevitable – with Dungeons & Dragons being more geeky than mainstream in the 1970s, it was an activity with which game programmers – another geeky crowd – were likely to be acquainted. With all of that crossover going on, it was therefore inevitable that someone, presumably whoever had deep enough pockets to license the title and game elements, would eventually produce an official video game. Continue reading

Adventures Of Tron

Adventure Of TronThe Game: As video warrior Tron, you scale the heights of the MCP’s domain, avoiding Tanks, Recognizers and Grid Bugs, and trying to collect Bits. You can occasionally hitch a brief ride on a perpetually airborne Solar Sailer on one level, allowing you to fly over your opponents’ heads for a few seconds. (M Network [Mattel], 1982)

Memories: Though formatted like one of the numerous platform adventure games that would one day become associated with Mario, Adventures Of Tron, while quite challenging, is frustrating since there seems to be no actual goal to reach. After a few levels, it becomes extremely repetitious. Continue reading

Astrosmash

AstroblastThe Game: Your planet is under siege by an unending hail of asteroids, bombs, and space debris. Your simple mission? Blast all of this stuff, or dodge it. But you’re toast if a bomb hits the ground. (M Network [Mattel], 1982)

Memories: Not one of Mattel’s finest titles for the 2600, Astroblast is a loose adaptation of Astrosmash, a game originally released for Mattel’s Intellivision console. The graphics are clunky even compared to such bottom-of-the-barrel entries like Atari’s Pac-Man and Combat. Continue reading

Attack Of The Timelord!

Attack Of The Timelord!The Game: The game begins as the skull-like face of Spyruss the Deathless (the Timelord of Chaos, no less!) taunts you (well, only if you had the Voice), and then a bunch of pesky spaceships pops out of a vortex to shoot at See the videoyou. They shoot at you rather a lot. Fortunately, you can shoot back with reckless abandon, but their ammunition – as you ascend into the higher levels of the game – can track you and even, if you don’t destroy their shots in mid-air, crawl along the ground briefly while you head for the opposite side of the screen, neatly trapped for their next volley. (North American Philips, 1982)

Memories: One of the last few games to be made for the Odyssey 2, this gem of addictive shooting-gallery fun is obviously heavily derived from the all-time arcade classic Galaga. Continue reading

Atlantis

AtlantisThe Game: In a conceptually simple but occasionally very difficult game, you man three fixed artillery batteries defending the advanced underwater city of Atlantis. Alien spaceships pass overhead, and you have to choose your target – and which See the videoBuy this gameof the three guns you’re firing – carefully in order to knock them out. Any ships which survive one pass will drop down one level and make another pass. At the lowest level, the ships will begin bombing the city, knocking out habitation domes, power generators, and even your artillery nests. When the final destruction of Atlantis comes at last, one tiny ship escapes into the sky… (Imagic, 1982)

See the original TV adMemories: A pretty simple variation on the Missile Command format, Atlantis starts out exceedingly simple, luring you into a false sense of security. After a while, the game is just about unbeatable. Second only to Activision in its wonderfully crafted games, Imagic made its games extremely colorful, with distinctive graphics and sounds that became an Imagic signature. Continue reading

Atlantis

AtlantisThe Game: You man three fixed artillery batteries defending the advanced underwater city of Atlantis. Alien spaceships pass overhead, and you have to choose your target – and which of the three guns you’re firing – carefully in order to knock them out. Any ships which survive one pass will drop down one level and make another pass. At the lowest level, the ships will begin bombing the city, knocking out habitation domes, power generators, and even your artillery nests. When the final destruction of Atlantis comes at last, one tiny ship escapes into the sky… (Imagic, 1982)

Memories: Sometimes it just takes a slight advance in hardware to make the same game a whole different game. Atlantis is the proof in the pixellated pudding, for the Intellivision edition not only has you defending the city under the ocean in broad daylight, it demands that you defend it in the dead of night, with only sweeping spotlights panning across the sky to pick out your approaching foes. And that is a whole different game – not being able to see the buggers is tough. Continue reading

Barnstorming

BarnstormingBuy this gameThe Game: Players climb into a biplane to race against time to fly through barns and try to avoid geese, who have a habit of finding their way into one’s propellers. Other obstacles include windmills and, well, the broad side of a barn; collisions are a mere setback, not a fiery death. (Activision, 1982)

Memories: As one of the best-remembered early Activision titles, Barnstorming is actually See the videoa very simple game: most, if not all, of the game is based on easily memorized patterns, and the rest is down to reflexes. One element of the game, however, has a surprisingly checkered history. Continue reading

Beauty & The Beast

Beauty & The BeastThe Game: You control Bashful Buford, apparently a redneck cousin to Mario. You’re trying to reach the top of the Mutton Building to rescue your ladyfriend, Tiny Mabel, from huge Horrible Hank, who’s chucking boulders at you. See the videoYou can jump over these, and use open windows to get a leg up on the next floor of the building. Avoid bats and birds – and try to catch any floating hearts Mabel sends down, because they make Buford invincible for a short time. If you reach Hank and Mabel, you advance to the next few floors, which get increasingly cramped since the Mutton Building tapers off to a point. If you can reach Hank and Mabel at the top level of the building, you can clobber Hank right off the side of the structure and rescue Mabel – but not for long, since it all starts again a moment later, only faster. (Imagic, 1982)

Memories: Remember the hideous mutant of a game Coleco made for the Intellivision under the name of Donkey Kong? Not only did it bear only the most superficial resemblance to the arcade game of the same name, but it was even more inadequate than the legendarily bad version Coleco turned out for the Atari 2600. Continue reading

Burgertime

BurgertimeThe Game: As Chef Peter Pepper, you climb around a multi-level factory whose sole function is to make some really big burgers. We’re talking about some BIG burgers here. But your ingredients aren’t exactly cooperating with you… (M Network [Mattel, under license from Data East], 1982)

Memories: In an ambitious bid to exploit their Burgertime license on systems other than the Intellivision, Mattel did their best to bring Chef Peter Pepper and that pack of pesky pickles to the 2600, and while the end result fell a little bit short, it also racked up its share of good selling points. And perhaps by virtue of its name alone, Burgertime was one of the best selling M Network titles. Continue reading

Burgertime

BurgertimeThe Game: As a trundling chef, you’re simply trying to make four nicely-stacked burgers, but there’s one little obstacle – the ingredients are coming to life and stalking you! If the walking pickles, eggs, and hot dogs catch up with you, See the videothey’ll make a meal of your chef. You have a limited number of pepper shakers you can use to repel your enemies (talk about pepper spray!), but the only way to do away with them permanently is to squash them by dropping a layer of your burger-under-construction on top of them. (Mattel [under license from Data East], 1982)

See the original TV adMemories: Burgertime was one of Mattel’s biggest arcade game licensing coups, and the arcade game is usually fondly remembered. The best feature of the Intellivision edition of Burgertime may, in fact, be its calliope-like music – after a few minutes, it grates on the nerves, but it’s a very close match to the arcade game. The graphics are a bit blocky, but the game is still recognizable as Burgertime. Continue reading

Centipede

CentipedeThe Game: Centipedes, spiders and fleas invade your garden of ‘shrooms. Spiders follow an evasive course and can collide with you at any moment. Fleas poison the mushrooms, making them impervious to your fire (and thus giving the Buy this gamecentipede impenetrable cover). And the centipede itself can split into many segments, and if it reaches the bottom of the screen, will turn around and start to move upward again, possibly catching you from behind. Every time you manage to completely “debug” the screen, you move up to a harder level. (Atari, 1982)

Memories: Centipede was a huge arcade hit, so it’s no wonder Atari wasted no time in creating the home translation. Though the Atari 2600 version of the game couldn’t compete with its arcade ancestor’s colorful graphics, the home version did get the point across. Continue reading

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

Clean Sweep

Clean SweepThe Game: Years before Robovac and Roomba, there was Clean Sweep, a vacuum cleaner patrolling the vaults of a bank and picking up stray bits of money. (Makes you wonder who programmed it, and who’s emptying the bag!) As you grab more wayward currency, your bag fills up; when you hear an alarm sound, you have to go to the center of the maze to empty your bag and start anew; until you do that, you can’t pick up See the videoany more dead presidents. But those aren’t the only alarm bells going off here: things that look alarmingly like huge forceps are chasing you around. If they grab you, it’s your money and your life. There are four corners in the vault that will power up your vacuum cleaner temporarily, enabling you to suck up those forceps and (for a brief while) grab all the cash in your path without filling your bag. Clearing the maze advances you to the next level; losing all your lives leaves the bank wide open. (GCE, 1982)

Memories: This interesting little take on Pac-Man for the Vectrex is so fun, it’s hard to put down. I’ve been somewhat merciless about Pac-clones in the past, but Clean Sweep shakes things up enough to be fun, making you go back and do things like empty your vacuum bag without really slowing the game down significantly. Continue reading

Cosmic Creeps

Cosmic CreepsThe Game: Aliens are after your kids! Fortunately, you’re armed with a resource that not everyone has: your own flying saucer. In the opening screen, you have to return to the saucer to resume command, and then you signal your kids to come up, one by one, as you try to pick off alien pursuers who are hot on their trail. If you’re See the videonot careful, you can actually zap the kids instead. If an alien manages to reach your saucer, someone else will have to give your kids a ride home from the star academy… (Telesys, 1982)

Memories: It may not have been the biggest, most obvious name in software for the 2600, but I have to give Telesys top marks for coming up with cool ideas for their games. Cosmic Creeps is a great example of what Telesys was best at, and it’s a lot of fun too. Continue reading

Commando Raid

Commando RaidThe Game: Helicopters and planes are dumping paratroopers directly over your land-locked cannon. Your job is to take out both aircraft and paratroopers before the enemy can land on and slowly destroy the rows of buildings on either side of the cannon. Once enemy paratroopers raze a building to the ground, they begin doing something even deadlier: digging tunnels toward your cannon so they can destroy it from below with a giant bomb, at which time your point defense career is over. (U.S. Games, 1982)

Memories: A clever riff on a well-known game, Commando Raid avoids being just another Missile Command clone. At first glance, the element of defending six cities/buildings by covering the entire sky from a fixed position seems familiar, but the gradual enemy occupation of territory beneath the player’s cannon adds an original twist and requires some new strategy.

Commando RaidU.S. Games didn’t exactly make stuff that looked like Activision‘s games, but the audiovisual element of Commando Raid is more than adequate to convey all the information players need. The buildings have several stages of disrepair, from undamaged down to rubble. The sheer twitch factor as multiple incoming targets have to be dealt with is impressive for a VCS cartridge, as is the fact that the barrage of approaching enemies is accomplished with virtually none of the dreaded “flicker” that has plagued countless other games on this platform.

4 stars!Seasoned Missile Commanders looking for a new posting can do a lot worse than signing up to go Commando.

Cosmic Ark

Cosmic ArkThe Game: As the commander of a spacefaring Ark, your mission is to retrieve two members of every species on every planet you visit, in case the constant ruch of asteroids and meteors renders life on those planets extinct. In the initial See the videoscreen, the large Ark spacecraft is besieged by meteors appearing from every direction, and your job is to use the ship’s weapons the destroy the space rock before they destroy your Ark. After surviving this screen, the Ark descends into low orbit of a planet, and you pilot the scout ship, avoiding planetary defenses to grab two specimens of that planet’s dominant life form with your tractor beam. (Sorry, you don’t get to make crop circles while you’re doing your alien abductions.) If the planetary defenses hit your scout ship, you launch another one, but time is running out – eventually another meteor will plummet from the sky right into the Ark, and you can only defend the Ark if the scout ship has re-docked. When the final destruction of the Cosmic Ark comes at last, the tiny scout ship escapes into deep space… (Imagic, 1982)

See the original TV adMemories: Another addictive entry, though a bit simpler than Atlantis, this game was way ahead of its time – an alien abduction game, even one which gives the player control of the aliens, would go over phenomenally with modern-day UFO enthusiasts. Continue reading

Dark Caverns

Dark CavernsThe Game: Robots, spiders and critters, oh my! You’re a lone human in a maze teeming with deadly robots, spiders and other nasties, and your trusty gun – which can dispatch any or all of the above – has only a limited amount of ammunition. You can obtain more ammo by walking over a briefly-occurring flashing gun symbol – but until then, if you’re out of ammo, you’re no longer the hunter, but the hunted. (M Network [Mattel], 1982)

Memories: This was the 2600 version of a similar game that Mattel had released for its own Intellivision console (Night Stalker), and it’s fair to say that this edition was just a wee bit simplified. Continue reading

Demon Attack

Demon AttackBuy this gameThe Game: Demons coalesce into existence in mid-air above your cannon. Send them back where they came from by force – but watch out, as demons in later levels split into two parts upon being hit, which must then be destroyed individually… (Imagic, 1982)

Memories: Ah, the storied history of Demon Attack. Back in the day when the legal game was almost as new the video game, Atari was jealously guarding its See the videoterritory. Now, never mind that Bushnell-era Atari had clearly based some of its cartridge games on arcade sleeper hits – Circus Atari borrowed heavily from Exidy’s coin-op Circus, to name just one – the company was now out for blood under the management of Warner Bros. and Ray Kassar. 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.