Back to the venerable 2600, and two games that have some of the best label art ever!
K.O. Cruiser is a boxing game that harkens back to the arcade classic Punch-Out!! You control the transparent outline of a boxer, throwing punches and dodging blows from your opponents. You win by either knocking them out or going the distance and getting the judges' decision. If you get knocked down, you have only seconds to get back up before you're counted out.
K.O. Cruiser is a game that I never expected to see attempted on the 2600. The transparent boxer works extremely well, especially considering the 2600's graphics limitations. All of the opponents look terrific, with excellent detail and funny expressions when they get hit, and they all exhibit distinct personalities and fighting styles. The controls work well, although all you can do is essentially punch, block and dodge (you can't choose between a body blow or uppercut, for example), but for this game nothing else seems really necessary. The sound is good throughout the game, with each opponent having their own musical theme when introduced. I wish that AtariVox support could have been added for the ring announcer, and to have opponents taunt you or respond when hit. There are only six opponents in the game, and while you'll probably get through the first few on the easy setting pretty quickly, in the higher difficulties you're going to find yourself on the canvas quite a lot.
K.O. Cruiser is an excellent game, well-worth buying whether you're into boxing or not. The game is a blast to play, the characters are a lot of fun, and there are difficulty levels suitable for any player. There are already sequels in the works, so we will get the chance to see more characters. With any luck, maybe we'll get AtariVox support at some point, too. Or at least some ring girls.
In the original Adventure for the 2600, the dragons that were attacking you looked more like giant ducks. Well there's no ambiguity in Duck Attack!, because now you actually are being attacked by giant ducks. And not just any ducks - but fire-breathing, radioactive, mutated, evil ducks that lay plutonium eggs. Fortunately, you have a trusty robot minion at your disposal to enter the mad scientist's labyrinthine lair to retrieve all of their eggs, and put a stop to his evil plans.
Duck Attack! plays much like Adventure, in that you explore a maze, pick up objects to use (or to gain bonus points), unlock new areas to explore, and battle giant ducks. The world of Duck Attack! is huge, and mapping it out is essential if you're going to find your way around. There are many obstacles to overcome, items to collect, ducks (and other enemies) to battle, areas to unlock, and a lot of guest appearances by familiar video game icons. Your goal is to collect radioactive eggs left throughout the maze, and use them to unlock doors to other areas. Collect all 25 eggs, and you will have successfully completed your mission. If all of your robots get eaten by ducks (or are otherwise killed) then it's game over. Along the way, you can also pick up speed-boosts, extra lives, shields, flashlights (to illuminate otherwise dark rooms), a rechargeable zapper to fend off enemies, and more.
The graphics in Duck Attack! are outstanding. All of the sprites are large and multi-colored, and the ducks are especially impressive. To be sure, there's a lot of Adventure-like flicker, but it isn't too bad, and doesn't detract any from the enjoyment of the game. The sound is very good, with some helpful audio cues warning you of nearby enemies. If you have a SaveKey or AtariVox hooked up, it will save your top five high scores, but more impressively - you can save your progress mid-game. This means you can save your game, switch off your Atari, and resume right where you left off. How many times have you wished for that in other 2600 games?
Duck Attack! isn't just an homage to Adventure, it's a complete re-imagining of it. With impressive graphics, a huge world to explore, and a terrifically fun concept, you can't go wrong with it. Even if you're not a fan of the original Adventure, Duck Attack! stands on its own as one of the best, and certainly most unique, homebrew titles.
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