October 6, 2012
An armada of bomb-dropping aliens will wreak havoc on Earth’s defenses unless players take them out effectively. The bunkers can withstand a formidable amount of damage but they won’t last forever. The fleets are never-ending and they’ll require more skill as time flies by. This is Space Armada, a blatant clone of Space Invaders. It was released for the Mattel Intellivision in 1981 and developed by John Brooks and Chris Hawley, programmers at APh Technological Consulting.
John: Wow, this is unashamedly a clone of Space Invaders; a hard one to boot. I like that the game is very colorful and it plays well, but it’ll take a lot of practice to make progress.
Jeff: This was a clone of Space Invaders; very simple and somewhat responsive. I just didn’t like how the first stage appears to be impossible to pass. I know it is possible, but just not worth the effort. The arcade industry didn’t have much reason to worry about home consoles at this point in time and I can see why.
October 5, 2012
Snafu is a game for the Mattel Intellivision hailing straight out of Mattel, courtesy of Mike Minkoff. Released in 1981, it’s a game where players control an ever growing snake and attempt to be the last of four to survive. The game gets trickier the longer a match lasts and it’s ideal for two players.
John: One of the best games we played. It was a fun variant of the familiar snake game and it actually had a soundtrack, not just beeps and boops. This brought back memories of me draining the batteries on my dad’s Nokia cell phone; really fun game.
Jeff: This was one of the best games that I’ve played on the Intellivision, although that isn’t saying much. After all, this was just competitive snakes on a thirty year old system.
October 3, 2012
You’ve somehow managed to get stuck in a hedgerow maze and you’re not alone; bats, spiders, and robots are all around and they’re not going to play nice. Lucky for you there’s handgun somewhere in the maze. Too bad it only has six rounds. Managing the handgun’s ammunition and finding the next handgun to spawn are what it’s all about in Steve Montero’s Night Stalker, a 1982 release from Mattel for the Intellivision.
John: The man moves horrendously and the game grows tepid quickly thanks to that, plus the monotonous routine he’s on. Not every game should have a “win” criteria but damn, this game needs another objective besides just surviving. At least it gets tougher as a game progresses.
Jeff: This reminded me of E.T. at first, but the only thing that would link these two games together is how terrible they are. I was not impressed with the game and the disc pad was still horrible. The soundtrack didn’t impress me either.
October 1, 2012
The primary objective of any thief is to steal anything of value and escape without being apprehended. That’s just what players do in Lock ‘n’ Chase, a Pac-Man like game with the objective of filling a thief’s coffers while evading the police. Originally a Data East arcade game, Mike Winans programmed the Intellivision version which was published by Mattel in 1982.
John: A poor Pac-Man clone that loses a great deal of playability thanks to the Intellivision’s disc pad. Also, the soundtrack’s three sounds are grating. Not a great game.
Jeff: There isn’t much you can do with the Pac-Man formula and Lock ‘n’ Chase shows that. As a clear clone of the excellent Pac-Man you would think it wouldn’t be difficult to make a similar “run around and collect things, while avoiding capture”, but I was wrong. Thank you Data East for this horrendous game; beep, beep and a boop to you!
September 29, 2012
Donkey Kong has captured Jumpman’s current flame, Pauline, and Jumpman will go to great heights to rescue his beloved. Of course Donkey Kong isn’t a pushover. Jumpman has to avoid obstacles and enemies in four tough stages. Released in 1982 for the Intellivision, Donkey Kong was published by Coleco. A modern-day equivalent would be Microsoft publishing games for the PlayStation 3. The 80s were a weird time indeed!
John: I’ve heard rumors that Coleco made this game inferior to sabotage the rival to their Colecovision, and after playing this version, I can see why those rumors began circulating. This was a poor rendition of the arcade game, but it was playable enough to get the idea. The graphics were passable, as were the sounds, but the gameplay was poor.
Jeff: I did not like this game at all and ended up stopping after my first three lives were spent. Easily the worst game I’ve played on this ancient system. Glad Nintendo didn’t take Donkey Kong out back to shoot after this poor version was released.
September 28, 2012
All chef Peter Pepper wants to do is make hamburgers for a monstrous entity, perhaps the Green Giant. Unfortunately for Peter, man-sized hot dogs, fried eggs, and pickles are doing all they can to prevent him from doing just that. Released in 1983 for the Intellivision, BurgerTime features six stages of increasingly difficult gameplay. A competitive two-player mode remains intact in this home conversion programmed by Ray Kaestner as does the game’s vibrant characters and color palettes, albeit, just not to the fidelity of the arcade original.
John: I’ve always thought this game looked really interesting. A peculiar premise and eye-catching characters top off the excellent gameplay. Old arcade games like this have strict rule sets and require deftness from their users, but they can be quite rewarding. The two-player competitions Jeff and I had were great; I love this game!
Jeff: I really didn’t see the appeal of this game before playing it; however I can easily say this is the best game on the Intellivision (so far). I’ve only played a few games on the Intellivision so far and the disc pad has always been a nuisance, but it actually worked very well with BurgerTime.
September 26, 2012
Earth is being pelted by falling rocks, bombs, guided missiles, and UFOs and it’s up to players to protect it as best they can in Astrosmash. Released for the Mattel Intellivision in 1981, Astrosmash plays like a cross between Space Invaders and Asteroids; fittingly the game is all about getting a high score. John Sohl from Mattel Electronics developed Astrosmash. The only other game to his name on the platform was B-17 Bomber.
John: An interesting arcade style game that was relatively fast-moving game, although it seemed quite easy up to the point where we finished. Because we kept earning lives rather than losing them, we decided to award the game to whoever got the most points using one life. The falling rocks breaking apart into smaller pieces and the hyperspace features were reminiscent of Asteroids and the game in general had a lot in common with Space Invaders. It turned out to be one of the better games we played on the INTV and it was one of the best looking.
Jeff: It reminded me more of Missile Command at first because of the laser gun’s position but I’ll concede that it had more of a Space Invaders vibe. I think the INTV’s disc pad is the biggest downfall to this game. The game was functional and decent overall, but I HATE the INTV’s controller!
September 24, 2012
ABPA Backgammon takes one of the oldest board games and translates it into a video game. Developed in conjunction with the American Backgammon Players Association, players are in for an authentic experience. The game is playable against another person or the computer and was released in 1979, one of the platforms four launch titles. The game was developed by Kevin Miller of APh Technological Consulting. He developed four other INTV games.
John: I’ve actually played a lot of backgammon, but it’s been so long since I have, I’d forgotten the rules. I also didn’t have a manual or the controller overlays for the game so this turned out to be a rather tough game. It didn’t look great, nor did it sound good, but it was functional. I can’t imagine opting to play this against another person if I had an actual backgammon set, but I suppose playing against the computer is a valuable feature. Not a recommendable game though.
Jeff: I know nothing about backgammon and playing this game didn’t enlighten me on the game’s rule set. I would not recommend this game.
September 23, 2012
Another weekend, another platform or two down in the Leonard 2012 Video Game Olympics. This session we were able to complete the Sega Genesis and the Nintendo Game Boy. Jeff took the Genesis 21-17, and might I add fairly handily towards the end. We will revisit the platform at some point when we play compilations containing Genesis games so this might turn around in my favor eventually. The Game Boy was quick as there were only two games that we competed in: Super Mario Land and Tetris; I took both. Overall, the standings are 93-80 in my favor, but we have hundreds of games to go, after all, we’re only on the Super Nintendo.
Of the many realizations I’ve had during this competition, the one that is forefront in my mind at the moment is just how stellar the SNES/Genesis era generation was. Perhaps it’s because I have a smaller collection for these platforms and they’re more concentrated with quality titles, but there are so many fantastic games we’ve played. I’ll be interested to revisit these platforms in the future.
September 16, 2012
More Genesis escapades this weekend as the Leonard 2012 Video Game Olympics continue. This weekend my friend and I were reminded of just how great Sonic the Hedgehog is. The game looks and sounds fantastic, and the gameplay! It truly was something different and it’s no wonder it was such a success. Really great game. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 on the other hand… My memories of this game were… wrong.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 looks and sounds fantastic, but it doesn’t play like a Sonic game, at least from the first few acts. In my opinion, the Sonic games were so successful because of the stage design. The stages were conducive to running fast. And the scoring reflected this. Points from defeating enemies were minimal, whereas your time bonus at the end of an act could really bolster your score. Rings are also a big source of points, but even blazing through a stage, plenty are collected. Yes, Sonic isn’t about defeating every enemy and collecting every single ring, it’s about doing a little of both as you blast through a stage. That’s why Sonic the Hedgehog 3‘s first few acts are disappointing.
Rather than having a stage that is relatively flat with enough loops and obstacles to keep the game from playing itself, the first set of acts in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, feature a heavier reliance on slow-paced platforming. Lots of upward and downward platforming that only serves to bog down the pace and highlight Sonic’s poor movement at slow speeds. Not only that, but there’s tons of water! Nobody likes water stages in video games, nobody! The first few stages are almost designed to force players downward into the these pools of water. To top it off, the next set of acts are proper water stages! Because that’s what players wanted when they purchased Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the opportunity to move at a glacial pace as though Sonic had stepped in molasses. But I digress. Perhaps there is more to the game’s stage design that I haven’t noticed yet. Perhaps with more time, I’d be enlightened and realize I simply needed more skill and forethought. Anyways, the first Sonic is still mind-blowing.