Table of Contents
from the Editor
Area Show Gets Confirmed Date!
Game Songs - The Reader's Choices
*Robotron - More Human than Human by Rob Zombie
The first difference is the different options. You can play as a single ship or a joined ship. In two player mode, you can have separate ships or one that is connected. While the connected or joined ship is tough to control, it makes for a fun game. In the two player mode, you will learn to cooperate real quick or die even quicker. This is actually a really neat feature and one that you should try out with a friend or loved one.
The graphics are better than the original Asteroids and about on par with Asteroids Deluxe. The two ships are interesting looking, sorta like little ketchup and mustard bottles that you would find at a restaurant. Too bad the designers didn't capitalize on this. We could have had names like "Cosmic Condiments" or "Ketchup/Mustard Massacre". Guess people wouldn't take the game very serious. But it is hard to with a game called Space Duel and you are fighting in ketchup and mustard bottles. Oh well, they missed out on the sponsorship deals with Heinz and French's.
While your ships are a bit silly looking, the enemies are a different breed. You start off with what looks like cosmic wagon wheels. Every time I see them, the old Journey song, "Wheel in the sky, keeps on turning" plays in my head, which is not a good thing. Later on you are greeted by cubes and little ships that are a nuisance. Then there is this block that just comes at you and you have to shoot many times. While I cannot confirm it, I think it may be a guest appearance by Billy the Block, but there is no mention in the credits anywhere (a common problem in his career). Billy could not be reached for comment.
Anyways, the game is fun. As a one player game it is decent. But as a two player it is loads of fun, especially with the joined ships. Try it out with a friend and keep those condiments firing!
In an attempt to cover every job profession, this classic game put you in the role of the lumberjack. It is your job to cut down all the trees and turn lush forests into barren wastelands. OK, maybe I am being melodramatic, but you really are supposed to cut down every tree in sight. No selective cutting here, if it is a tree, chop it down. You have a timer that counts down and a set number of trees to lay waste to in the allotted time. When the whistle blows, you better hurry as time is running out. It is quite simple to chop the trees and then you can either watch them fall or push them in the direction you want. Then as you reach your allotted time, the foreman comes out and congratulates you. This guy is a brute and will beat you up something fierce, and that is if you do a good job. Fail at your task and boy does he get mad! Think of him as Bobby Knight and you are the poor player who just blew the game.
As I said, it is a decent one player game, but gets tedious after awhile. But add a second player and the game really takes off! Now you are in competition! Whoever gets the most trees, wins the round! So you want to hurry up. But the fun part is that you can be sneaky. First, you can push your tree down onto your opponent or run over and push that tree he just cut down onto him. This will slow him up for a few seconds. You can also push trees so they land in his path and he trips over them. Or run over and get the last cut in that tree he is working on and get credit for it. That is really sneaky.
There are little extras that add to the game. There is a random bird that falls out of a freshly cut tree and runs around like crazy. Grab him for bonus points. I personally think the lumberjack kills him and he goes on the menu the next day, but they never say what happens to him. There is also a bear who throws a beehive at you. Avoid it as bees may make tasty honey, but they will hurt you something awful. You can swing the axe and get rid of the beehive with careful aim. You cannot hurt the bear though. Trust me, I have tried with no luck.
While this game will not get a ton of play, it is a fun little game. Like Space Duel, the one player mode is decent, but nothing special. The two player mode on the other hand is a blast! It is a good way to turn friends into enemies. Just kidding! It is good fun and while they may get a little ticked at you when you drop a tree on their head (can you blame them), they will most likely just do the same to you.
Many Faces of . . . Is Back
By popular request, we're bringing back "Many Faces of . . .".
Original author Doug Saxon went to Europe last Summer and then began his Senior year of college. At that time, Doug did not mind if I did a few while he was gone, but I never got around to it, and Tom suggested that we wait. After a year, hopefully Doug does not mind me picking up where he left off, and will give me his blessing to continue.
One significant enhancement I'll add is a review selected 8 bit home computer platforms of each game.
These ARE classic gaming platforms, and I know some of you collect and play them - even if they exist on a floppy disk format. Many good ports can be found on the Commodore 64 & Atari 8 bit computers. There are also many ports on the Vic 20, but don't expect too many medals there. Due to a lack of cartridges for the Apple home computers, and not much fan base for the TI, I will not cover these platforms. Well, mostly because I do not have these platforms, and probably never will.
I'm adding a scoring system, 1 through 10 points, added up for each of 5 categories. The categories will be: Gameplay, Addictiveness, Graphics, Sound and Controls; as used by our fearless leader in RT issue 30 "Video Game Challenge". A score of "1" is for a complete dud, and a "10" makes it as good as the arcade (when applicable). I plan to include only the final score for each platform. I currently have listed 100+ potential "Many Faces" candidates, the platforms and a place for each score setup on a spreadsheet, which if Tom likes can be at home on the Tomorrow's Heroes site.
I'm also adding a self explanatory line called "Have Nots".
Bah Humbug. Intellivision fans will not rejoice at this column, since most games in that library are unique, to that platform or hard to find. Likewise the Vectrex, Odyssey 2 and Bally Astrocade will get almost no coverage.
Finally, unless I find/trade for several R or ER carts that I do not have, I'll be holding back on some reviews. I'm also hoping to get a CV multi-cart, and see also below for my desire to find more Atari 8 bit games. I hope that you still enjoy this series, and if successful, we have enough games to review for another 8-10 years. Now, on with the show . . .
The Many Faces of . . . Q*bert
After trading with original author Doug Saxon for the Odyssey 2 version, I am now able to review all but the Atari 8 bit version - which despite finding over 70 8-bit Atari carts, this one has eluded me.
Platforms: Atari 8bit, 2600, 5200, Bally Astrocade, CV, C64, O2 and Vic 20.
Categories: Gameplay, Addictiveness, Graphics, Sound & Controls
Q*bert, is definitely a well loved game, with versions (or clones) on nearly every gaming platform know to man. My wife's favorites are the NES and SNES. The Gameplay is really varied on this home classic - from the Atari 2600 version where the red balls are only there when set to "A" difficulty, to the C64 and CV versions which have most of the features covered. One of the strengths of Q*bert is the way the Gameplay progresses and becomes more and challenging, with levels and rounds. After avoiding Coily and just about to stomp the final block to the target color, out pops one of those green guys and the madness starts all over again. Then there are the rounds where every jump changes the color and you are lucky to survive.
Fortunately, all of the home versions are Addictive, have decent Gameplay, and gradually get harder and harder, to keep you coming back for more. The Graphics varied significantly from the O2, which were very poor, but functional, to the very crisp and clear C64. A couple versions even provide the between-levels tune and demo. The Sound took a backseat on the home platforms. I know that I really do want to hear every jump that Q*bert, and the bad guys chasing him, make. Since you cannot look everywhere to see UGH and THUGH (sic) coming (out from the bottom corners), hearing is believing.
Have Nots: Odyssey 2(19), Intellivision(26), Vic 20(31), Atari 5200(31), Atari 8-bit(34)
All of these are acceptable games, and are very playable relative to their systems. The Odyssey 2 Q*bert is probably one of the best 5 games on that platform, but not here. In fact, a good "Why is it that" only the good games for the Odyssey have more than one life.
I was depressed that the O2 version did not have more responsive Controls. Not surprisingly, the Controls for the Intellivision and 5200 are a problem. I even used 2 different Intellivision joystick inserts, and a 5200 Wico controller. The 5200 version requires you to push the button for every jump - yech! Maybe there is a 5200 keypad button for each jump direction, and I missed it. A perfect Controls score could have earned the 5200 a medal but not anyone else. What - No Gold for the 5200 version? Those who know Doug will doubt that he'll like my review.
Bronze Medal: Atari 2600 (34)
This version lacks some of the bad guys, so it gets a low Gameplay score. Actually, switching it to "A" difficulty will add in the red balls, but not UGH and THUGH. Overall a very playable port, and adequate in every way. Without having the cart, I am assuming that the superior Atari 8-bit (having no controller problems) would have easily outscored the 2600 for the Bronze, but not too much higher.
Silver Medal: Colecovision (40)
Coming in a close 2nd, this version has nothing to be ashamed of. Someone else could give the CV platform the gold medal. It has the most bells and whistles, and the best Gameplay, but the Graphics and Controls were better for the C64.
Gold Medal: Commodore 64 (43)
This port is outstanding. The controls are perfect, not surprising for such a simple game like Q*bert. The Gameplay is close enough to the arcade, and the Sound and Graphics are great. It is also the most challenging platform to play on.
Come back next time when I plan to review Commando.
Alan Hewston is hoping to start collecting Atari 8 bit floppy disk games, which should help in this column.
He has plenty of backup Commodore 64 game disks to trade, for your Atari games. Despite lacking a huge collection, this column will be helped by the existence of multi-carts. Gotta get me a CV one soon.
Alan can be reached at Hewston95@stratos.net.
Game Myths, the Classic Edition
Myth #1-The Tramiels destroyed
Did the Tramiels do a good job of running Atari? Not really. Could they have done a better job? Absolutely! Did they do the worst job? I doubt it. At least they kept it afloat where Warner Bros would have just dumped it. The video game industry was dying, just look at how Mattel dumped the Intellivision and how no one kept the Colecovision going. So it wasn't like the industry was doing well and only Atari was doing bad.
A lot of people lay blame on the Tramiels because they let Nintendo come in and take over the video game market. They say if the Atari 7800 was released first, then Atari would be the big one and not Nintendo. The truth is that the Atari name was not very strong at the time and the Atari 7800 would most likely have been a bomb. Nintendo helped to revive a dying market.
I think the Tramiels should be applauded for keeping a dying franchise alive for as long as they did. The Atari 2600 kept coming out until 1988, where it would have been dead years earlier. Games like Road Runner and Secret Quest would never have existed had they not kept it alive. While the Atari 7800 had it flaws, it probably would never have existed without the Tramiels. Later on they tried to revive the Atari name with the Lynx and the Jaguar. While neither was a hit, at least they tried.
If there is one area where you can blame the Tramiels, it is that they were terrible at promoting their products. The Atari ST was a great computer, but no one in the USA heard of it. If they had advertised some, perhaps it would have done better here. Where the Warner Bros would advertise on television and did a good job of promoting the Atari, the Tramiels were the opposite. Whether it was poor decision making or a lack of funds, I am unsure. But some good television ads could have done a lot for their struggling systems, both consoles and computers.
So while they are not without fault, the Tramiels didn't kill Atari. They were not the ones who made ET and lost millions on it. They didn't delay the release of the Atari 5200 and give it those unreliable joysticks. No they merely took over a dying company and kept it on life support. So while they may have not have saved Atari, they surely didn't kill it.
Myth #2-Classic Games are Better
than Modern Games
Two areas where today's games beat out the classic games are in role playing games and sports games. If you look in the classic era, you have games like Adventure, Quest for the Rings and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Good games, but I personally would take newer games like Dungeon Master or Final Fantasy or Phantasy Star. These games offer a lot more in terms of creatures to fight, spells to learn and places to go. They also incorporate better graphics, more realistic sound and deeper gameplay.
Another area where games have greatly improved is in sports games. Classic sports games usually involved two teams, with no choice and unknown players. You couldn't play a whole season and there was no stats keeping (unless you used paper and pencil). There was only one stadium to play in and once a game was done, that was it. Today's sports games allow you to build a team and play it over many seasons. You can trade and draft players. You can track the stats over the year and some even have inclusion into the Hall of Fame. You get to see different stadiums, have different weather conditions and even commentary. You can hear the crowds, vendors and even the other players. Some like Gameday and High Heat Baseball also have great controls.
So while there are great games in the classic era, great games didn't stop there. There will always be great games and terrible games from every era. It is more a matter of opinion than a matter of fact.
Myth #3-eBay has destroyed the
hobby and dried up the thrift stores
Systems being thrown out is not the only place where they get ruined. Every year, fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, mud slides and other disasters claim systems and carts. And this will continue to happen.
The last thing that helps to bring down the world's supply of classic games is that many just quit working. When these systems were made decades ago, they were mot designed to last forever. While they have outlasted many people's expectations, they do still wear out. So every year there are people replacing old systems, joysticks and carts.
Myth #4-Games are cheaper at the
thrift stores and flea markets than buying online.
I am not saying to avoid flea markets and thrift stores. They are still the place where you can be lucky enough to land an ER cart for next to nothing, but just be aware that there is more involved than just the price tag. It all depends on how much you value your time and how flexible your schedule is.
Myth #5-Prototypes are
Worth a Fortune
1.)Was the game released or not?-If a game was not released and only exists in prototype form, then it is worth a lot more than of a commercially released game. The exception is if the prototype is greatly different than the released version.
2.) How many copies exist-If the prototype is a one of a kind, then it is worth a lot more than if there are a hundred copies out there. The fewer the copies, the greater the demand.
3.) How desirable the game is-There is more demand for the Revenge of the Jedi prototype than there would be for some unknown game. So the more interested collectors have in a certain title, the more they are willing to pay for it.
4.)What system is it for-While there would be considerable demand in an Odyssey 2 prototype, there would be more in an Atari 2600 prototype. There are more Atari collectors, so there would be more demand.
to the Editor
Question #1-I am a big Nintendo fan and wondered if you thought that the demand for Nintendo carts would be bigger or smaller than they are for the classic carts? Signed BigNFan
Editor-While I am far from an expert, I do feel that the interest in Nintendo 8-Bit carts as a collectible will be far greater than any of the classic systems, including the Atari 2600. I believe this for a few reasons:
1. There were more Nintendo game players. The system is one of the biggest of all time and it sold about twice as many systems than any classic system and offered more games.
2. While Atari and Intellivision and the others are part of history, the Nintendo name is still out there and they are still making video games and systems. For this reason, there will be more people who will want to go back and collect all the systems.
3. A fair amount of games made during the 8-bit era are still coming out in the form of sequels and new versions and have been for years. Final Fantasy, Castlevania, Super Mario, Zelda, Megaman and others have continued to have new games come out and will continue to in the future. This builds interest in the old games as more and more people will want to have all the Final Fantasies or Castlevanias.
4. Many pop culture icons emerged from this era. While Mario first appeared in Donkey Kong, he really became huge in the Super Mario series. The Zelda series gave us Link and many other characters like Megaman, Kirby, Yoshi and others became part of the popular culture both in video games and outside of it.
Hope this shows you why I feel that the Nintendo will one day be a more collected system than even the Atari 2600. When this day will be, I am unsure. But I do know that the Nintendo is at an all-time low as far as what they are selling for at garage sales and flea markets, so it is a good time to build your collection.
Question #2-Do you think that shrinkwrap greatly affects the price of a video game cart? Signed Curious in Colorado
Editor-While some people feel that it does indeed increase the value, mainly because the perception that the inside contents are all perfectly mint, I do not feel that it adds much to the value. I would say 10% more is the case, especially since some people have been known to reshrinkwrap the carts. The only time I think it may add more to the value is when the shrinkwrap has something on it that proves it is original. If there was a sticker for a rebate or a mail in offer (like some of the Imagic games had) or if it has a price sticker from a defunct store (like a Children's Palace or Kiddie City), then it may add more. But keep in mind that the condition of the box under the shrinkwrap is important.
Question #3-How does one go about getting their games appraised and if so, how much does it cost? Signed Clueless Collector
Editor-I have not heard of any professional cart appraisors. If anyone out there knows of someone who offers this service, let me know and I will give you a free plug here. The best thing I can tell you is to get a copy of the Digital Press Price Guide (can be found at http://www.digitpress.com) and see what your carts are worth. Keep in mind the completeness of them and the overall condition. Like anything that is collected, the better the shape and the more complete it is, the more value it has.
You would think a greater frequency would send the prices down, like it did to the Scooby Doos and Jetsons a few months back, but it really hasn't. The Diners still bring in $25.00 and the others can pull in $30.00-$40.00 at any give time and depending on completeness and condition, even more. I know as I tried to find a few bargains for my own collection, games like Dig Dug and Stadium Mud Buggies, only to be outbid, time and time again. Guess I will just have to be persistent.
On the Coleco front, things have been a bit different. Some of the biggies like Q*Bert's Qubes and Mr. Do's Castle can sometimes be found at bargains. Not always, but I have seen them sell for half of what their going rate is. This is for loose ones, as boxed ones still command a premium.