Donkey Kong [Intellivision] – Review

An icon’s low.

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!

Intentional sabotage or lack of programming expertise?

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.

BurgerTime [Intellivision] – Review

Peter Pepper packed a pinch of salt to deal with probing pickles.

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.

A stage in BurgerTime.arcad

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.

Astrosmash [Intellivision] – Review

One of the more decent games on the system.

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.

Astrosmash as seen in XBLA’s Game Room.

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!

ABPA Backgammon [Intellivision] – Review

Retro box art!

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.

Enthralling!

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.

In Between Posts, September 23, 2012

A great game, but perhaps not up to the claims on the box…

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.

In Between Posts, September 16, 2012

A blast or a bust?

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.

In Between Posts, September 9, 2012

What a game!

I cut my teeth on the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and Game Boy. This trio housed my first gaming memories. As such, I grew up a Nintendo kid. Only retroactively did I get to experience the Sega Genesis. My first impressions weren’t so hot. After all, I was a Nintendo kid. Over the years I’ve grown to appreciate the platform although in the past few weeks, I’ve grown to love it!

My friend and I have reached the Genesis as the Leonard 2012 Video Game Olympics continue and currently, we’re about halfway through the fifty games I own for the platform. When another friend moved out last year, he gave me fifteen or so Genesis games, some hailed as classics. This has been my first chance to experience these games and wow!

Games like Aladdin, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, The Lost Vikings, heck, I have half a dozen Madden games for the Genesis and they’re pretty great. I remember growing up throughout the 2000s and knowing that 99% of licensed games were going to be crap. It’s such a mind-blower to play these Disney games and see that what everyone has said about them was true. Great games on a great system!