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Jawbreaker (Tigervision)

DoctorSpuds

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Anybody who grew up in the 1990’s remembers Tiger Electronics, the creators of numerous LCD games of varying quality, and of the Game Com. Tiger had a video game division that went by the name of Tigervision who ported many different games from different publishers onto the 2600 and the more popular home computers of the time, they are also responsible for the game I’m reviewing today. Jawbreaker was originally programmed by Sierra On-Line, but the job of porting it to the 2600 fell to Tigervision and I must say that they did an amazing job of it. This is a Pac-Man clone, plain and simple, but the simple fact that they managed to make Pac-Man original again is frankly incredible. You are a pair of green chompers chopping your way around nine horizontal rows of dots, the titular jawbreakers, that take the place of ghosts, will emerge from either side of the screen and move horizontally through the rows, as is standard in any Pac-Man game it is your job to collect all the dots. You may be asking however “where’s the maze? How do you avoid the jawbreakers?” Well the answer to that is simple; there are openings in every wall –with the exception of the topmost and bottommost walls- that constantly move back and forth allowing you to slip through the wall to evade pursuing ‘breakers or even slip behind one (Unlike in Pac-Man these guys will turn around). Of course there is a power pellet that appears every once in a while that makes you briefly invincible as is standard in all of these Pac-Man type games. Once you clear the screen a cutscene plays of your chompers gettin’ cleaned with a giant toothbrush because remember kids’ dental hygiene is important. Overall this is a fast fun game with fluid controls and gives you a perfect ‘one more time’ feeling right at the bottom of your soul. Sadly, Since this IS a Tigervision game the prices aren’t going to be very fair, I was lucky enough to find one of these in the wild for 20$, but on Ebay you’re looking at 30$ for the cheapest copy(they do come up for sale fairly often so you’ll probably find a good deal eventually) which is far too much, somebody is actually asking 99.95$ + shipping for loose copy, that’s just silly. This game is on the cusp of the Collector’s Zone, if you can find one for twenty bucks or less then I’d encourage you to get it, but any more is too much.

 

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Was it really developed by Tigervision or just published by them? Mobygames suggests that Sierra On-Line developed all the games, though that they didn't publish all versions themselves. While the Apple II and Atari 8-bit computer versions are full blown Pac-Man games, the Atari 2600 and subsequently the Commodore 64 versions are simplified - or if you prefer original - versions where the maze is replaced by these horizontal levels with holes to pass through.

 

While the 2600 version is understandable they had to simplify it, one wonders why they didn't port the Atari 8-bit computer version to the C64. Perhaps Atari/Namco's threats of suing unlicensed Pac-Man clones gave Sierra On-Line cold feet and they decided to port the 2600 version which is less similar to Pac-Man?

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Jawbreaker was programmed by John Harris at Sierra specifically for Tigervision, he also programmed the Atari 8-bit version as well. I've played the Atari 8-bit version, the C64, and the Vic-20 version (Jawbreaker II) but still find myself preferring the 2600 version because the Commodore versions are frightfull, and the *-Bit version is basically Pac-Man but with more unpredictable ghosts and a different maze layout.

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One of my favorite games! I picked up my copy back in '08 and didn't realize they were going for so much now. Fun game with simple but nice graphics. This game deserves to be in everyone's collection.

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