Bermuda Triangle (Data Age)
I feel it’s time to finish this up, the final Data Age game, the only one I have yet to review, Bermuda Triangle. Judging from the model number Bermuda Triangle is the second to last game Data Age produced before going belly up, which is a pity since around this time is when Data Age was beginning to get good. Journey Escape, Bermuda Triangle, and Frankenstein’s Monster are all decent games in most respects, which is quite a shift from previous games like Sssnake and Bugs which are viewed as some of the worst games on the system. Even though this is only wishful thinking it would be nice if Data Age started with these three games, they would have set themselves apart from most other companies for their advanced gameplay and originality. But by the time these games were released larger companies like Activision, Coleco, and Imagic were dominating the industry and poor money management with Advertising Journey: Escape led Data Age to quietly die pre to mid crash leaving only a small catalog of games as their legacy. At least they died with a bang and not with a whimper as their final game Frankenstein’s Monster is seen as one of the best games on the 2600, and even though Bermuda Triangle isn’t quite as good as that it still holds up.
Upon starting the game you’ll see probably the best looking submarine that the 2600 has ever rendered, it’s large, detailed, and multicolored. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see a submerged skyline zooming past at high speed which is somewhat impressive since the 2600 didn’t like going horizontal. The enemies on display are varied and actually somewhat interesting, sure there are the clichés like the giant squid and man-eating shark, but the original enemies are actually rather interesting. You’ll be battling against ancient drones still defending their lost civilization, mines that will explode on impact and ancient bombs that will destroy your sub if you try to pick them up. Amazingly enough, the pictures in the manual look exactly like what they look like in-game, there is no embellishment whatsoever, which is rather unusual for a game of this time period. Overall the game looks great, especially when you consider that it was released in 1982, but since it’s Data Age I’m sure they’ll find a way to screw something up.
This game will hurt your ears, quite badly in fact. Upon turning on the game your ears will be graced with a terrible buzzing noise that never really goes away, you can minimize it by firing constantly but the firing noise is only somewhat more tolerable. There are actually very few sounds to speak of; the only other two that immediately come to mind are the explosion noise, which is oddly violent sounding, and the sound that plays when you have cargo which is also a fairly terrible series of noises. Actually the cargo sound may have been on purpose so you don’t forget that you have something, in fact the sound is so very annoying you’ll be making a beeline for the research ship as fast as you possibly can.
The gameplay is a mix of Seaquest and Defender; you must collect ancient devices from the bottom of the sea and take them to the research vessel on the surface whilst avoiding rabid wildlife and the city’s automated defense system. Bermuda Triangle is unique in that you can play it multiple different ways, you can go on a no shooting run where you simply transport the technology without shooting he enemies, or you can shoot the enemies while ignoring the technology though I find the most fun option to be a mix of the two as it was meant to be played. To collect the ancient unknown technology you must first make your way to the bottom of the screen where you’ll see several objects scrolling by, with the exception of the kelp you can collect them all, but you must be wary if you collect the red Bermudan Bomb your sub will go poof and you’ll lose a life. To collect points for the treasures you collect you must make your way to the top of the screen and make contact with the research ship that’s floating above, if you touch any of the wildlife or the drones you’ll drop the tech and lose 100 points. It’s not all smooth sailing however since an unidentified enemy vessel is prowling the waters above hoping you mistake it for the research vessel, they’ll steal the tech and blow up your sub for good measure. Since gameplay like this can get stale after a while, especially for skilled players, at 10,000 points a laser beam will randomly shoot from at one of the ships every so often vaporizing it, if you are caught in the crossfire you’ll be destroyed as well, also it looks pretty.
All in all Bermuda Triangle is a fairly fun game, I won’t go out of my way to play it but if I’m in the mood and don’t feel like playing Seaquest there’s nothing better. Sure the sounds are annoying but that’s what the mute button is for, and besides you won’t be noticing them once you get into the game. Despite its slight rarity this is not an expensive game, you can get loose copies for $8 or less and boxed copies range from $20 to $40 dollars, though if you’re patient I’m sure you’ll find one for cheaper than that. No Collector’s Zone today, the game is too cheap and too good to get thrown there.