Good Luck, Charlie Brown (Atari)
I think we’ll start out pretty mellow with Good Luck, Charlie Brown. This game was slated to be released in the summer of 1983, but as you can guess, that never happened. Many licensed games were claimed by the Video Game Crash and this one is no different. Due to how simple the game is I’ll condense the review a bit, there is no soundtrack so I’ll just omit that paragraph entirely (get used to that).
Graphically speaking GLCB looks fantastic, the screen is colorful and there is plenty of movement to keep your eyes occupied. The sprite for Charlie Brown is rendered in four colors, and actually looks like him, with the exception of his face, since he doesn’t have one, so I just drew one on. The one thing that will really draw your attention is the fluid movement of the kite string; it’s eerily realistic and is on par with the lightning in Mr. Postman for fluidity of movement. There are several objects whizzing past at high speeds trying to down your kite, you’ll have to contend with ducks, arrows, balloons, and according to the manual rockets. The sprite scaling for the kite itself is quite good as well; it does wonders for imparting the illusion of distance. All around the graphics are top notch, so let’s move onto the gameplay itself since, as mentioned earlier, there are no sounds.
Unfortunately this game was abandoned before the gameplay could be fully completed, or at least I hope that’s what happened since this game is super easy to cheese. The goal of the game is to fly your kite as long as possible without hitting any of the obstacles, it seems fairly standard but then I was s little but surprised. I never noticed that the trees had faces and colliding with them will play a little animation where ‘ol Chucks kite gets eaten and he gets strung upside down by his kite string, that is cool and I like it. Unfortunately the game has almost no point to it since it runs off of a timing system which doesn’t quite impart the satisfaction of a point system. There is a wind gauge at the bottom of the screen that tells you where the wind is blowing so you can correct the kite’s movement to keep it from hitting oncoming obstacles. Here’s where the game falls flat though, it is entirely possible to hold the kite at the bottom of the screen and run the time out without ever actually playing the game. You can also just move the kite to the top of the screen and just hold up forever, there are no obstacles at either the very top or the very bottom of the screen so you can just hold the kite there indefinitely and win the game.
I like the concept for this game its creative and I think kids in the 80’s probably would have had a good time with it, if it was finished of course. I have a few ideas for finishing/improving the game, I know that they won’t happen but it’s just food for thought.
• Have the timer stop when the kite is at the very bottom of the screen.
• Make the clouds at the top of the screen obstacles that will either end the game if you touch them, or force the kite downwards into the more obstacle heavy part of the screen.
• Add power-ups that make the kite briefly invincible, perhaps collecting Snoopy flying his dog house at the top of the screen, or something along those lines.
• Lives or extra kites.
• For the love of god, give Chuck a face.
• Sounds of some sort would be appreciated.
Food for thought. I don't expect anybody to actually go back and add/fix anything, it's just cool to imagine what the game would have been like if it was actually finished