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Time Warp (Zellers)

DoctorSpuds

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Alright kiddos, sit down and SHUT UP, because papa Spuds is gonna go real obscure on you today. To those collectors who live in the U.S. and Canada Zellers cartridges aren't too rare, they are far less common in the U.S. but they still show up once in a while. A little context is probably necessary, Zellers is a budget store that currently operates in Canada, back in the 80's instead of paying Atari or the other third party companies who published games for it's console, Zellers simply stole the code and sold it under their own branding. Games were usually sold in bright red boxes with some rather poorly drawn art on the front and the back, occasionally there was also an instruction slip that had the basic scoring information in English and French. I don't know why though, but Zellers got it into their twisted little heads that they should release some original games, as far to my knowledge they released two original games, one being Inca Gold, and the other being Time Warp. I got very lucky I was on vacation in Toronto with family and I happened upon a stor called A&C Games, most of their stuff was rather pricey, even accounting for the fact it was in Canadian cash, but they had a few Zellers carts which were probably the cheapest games on the shelf, one of them was Time Warp (the other two were Freeway and Pinball, and now that I've checked prices on Ebay I severely regret not buying those two as well). I bought it, despite the extensive label damage, for $6.99 Canadian not realizing what I had bought until I booted up Stella and realized what this game was, it was one of the two original games Zellers released, and believe me, I'm ecstatic. So enough about how I got this game, how's the game?

 

This game has very basic graphics, but are still impressive in their own way. You fly a fairly hi-res ship, through a decent approximation of a cavern, you will face several different enemies on your journey through monotony. You will face: Submarine Helicopters, Flying Starfish, and the Weird Triangle Things... Of Death. All of these enemies are fairly large, multicolored, and have more than one frame of animation (They have two frames of animation). There are also small versions of these enemies but I'll get to that in the gameplay section. The horizontal scrolling is a bit choppy but still serviceable. This game has something that many Atari 2600 games don't have though, and that's a second screen, which you can access in a rather complicated fashion if you read the instructions, which I will include at the bottom of the review. This game has one more thing that I find to be noteworthy, when you shoot the final enemy in each wave, it will split into five new enemies, it will actually break apart into the next wave and I find that to be very cool, whoever programmed this game deserves a pat on the back and probably a bigger paycheck.

 

Sounds are rather awful. Most of what you'll be hearing in this game is the extremely chunky explosion sound which plays five seconds longer than it has to leading to sessions of pure "CRSHCRSHCRSHCRSHCRSHCRSHCRSHCRSHCRSH!!!" in your poor earholes. If anything the sounds are the main detractor in this game, the rest of it is decent to good, but this just sucks. There is also a secret musical piece that plays when you complete the 'Maze section' but it's rather unlikely that you will get there since this game is all kinds of hard.

 

This game will kick your ass to the moon and back. This game is a horizontal shooter, in that you fly from left to right and shoot oncoming enemies. that's really it. You can mess with the difficulty switches to get smaller or larger enemies so your short playthrough will be either short or shorter. Enemies move in a predictable fashion, up until they hit either each other or a wall then they go down, firing all the way. Thankfully you aren't stuck simply moving vertically, you can move forward and backward, but only about a quarter of the screen though, you cant go all the way to the other side. Your ship is extremely maneuverable, and because of it's size you can fairly easily weave your way around enemies and incoming projectiles whilst firing off your own, the thing is, your not going to be hitting too much, since your shots are tiny and the enemies are fairly quick as well. But if you're good enough you will enter the Maze Section. The Maze Section is a completely different from the first part, in the Maze Section your main goal is avoidance, you will slowly move yourself through gaps the exact height of your ship, you can speed up and slow down by pulling the joystick left or right, you can't stop, contact with a wall is death. The goal of the Maze Section is to make it to the Weird Glowy Thing on the other side, getting there will award the player with an extra life.

 

This is actually a very good, well programmed game, it is a real shame that it came from Zellers. I would not advise you to buy any of the overpriced crap that is currently on Ebay. These games, like Panda, have their prices jacked up considerably due to their obscurity factor, also many of them are shipping from Canada so shipping is usually astronomical. I unfortunately have to put this game (albeit gingerly) into the Collector's Zone, due simply to the fact that it's too expensive for anyone in their right mind to buy, at least off of Ebay.

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I was lucky... I bought this game boxed, with manual slip, at a record store for something like 20 bucks. This was a long time ago, if one is referencing life phases... About 16 years or so. But this was at a time when collecting Atari games was less geek-shiek. 20 bucks also was the most I'd paid for an Atari game up to that time. The record store guy said "Nah, Im not coming down in price... This one is really rare from what I can tell." He was right... And your review was spot on. It's a lot of fun actually. Therefore this game was responsible for me taking the collection in the direction I've gone since then... Obscure, fun and weird being qualities valued highest.

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