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Shark Attack/Lochjaw (Apollo)

DoctorSpuds

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This is a game that needs no introduction, which is good since I’m running out of things to fill the first paragraph with, especially when it comes to Apollo. But seeing as how this game in particular is somewhat legendary I’ll strive to give it an introduction of sorts. Shark Attack had a difficult birth, originally it was marketed as Lochjaw, which is a horrible name probably on par with Spectravision’s Tape Worm. Lockjaw is a symptom of a Tetanus infection where the infected person’s mouth will firmly remain closed against their will, leading to… well you know. There was threatened legal action against Apollo from MCA Universal Studios, the people who made Jaws, so the early carts that bear the name Lochjaw have now skyrocketed in value since very few carts were made before MCA threatened legal action. If you want a Lockjaw cartridge you can find them on Ebay for about 1000$ loose, they don’t come up very often so you’d better get it while you can.

 

Shark Attack is a surprisingly detailed and colorful game, at a glance you can see that it’s an obvious Pac-Man clone, but I’d argue that it looks better than the version of Pac-Man Atari put out. The top of the screen shows a tropical island with palm trees flowing in the nonexistent wind, some clouds in the sky, and a boat sailing absolutely no where. There is also a nice gradient in the sky injecting a bit of pruple into the color palette, it really does look rather nice, but this is only the top fifth of the screen, and since none of the game actually takes place here it’s simply window-dressing on an otherwise bland looking game. The main color palette is lime green and a deep purplish blue, in actuality a very good color scheme, the scuba dude is rather small and rather indefinable, I can only tell which direction he’s facing based on his little legs flailing around. The shark in Shark Attack looks terrible; it’s a big grey blob in only the vague shape of a fish, the shark in Name This Game would have been far better in this game.

 

There are very few sounds in Shark Attack; mainly all you’ll be hearing is a weird crunchy growl whenever the shark is on-screen. There are little beeps when you collect and cash your pellets, and there is a weird sort of shriek whenever you get caught by the shark, that brings to mind the screams of the damned. But the sound that plays when the sea monster/ serpent are on screen are absolutely ear bleeding, it’s just a constant high pitched chirruping noise until it goes away, which won’t be for a while.

 

This is your standard Pac-Man clone game, but with a few detractions. Since the maze isn’t made up of straight passageways and is full of jagged corners you’ll be getting stuck quite often, especially since the collision detection with the walls is absolutely atrocious, it’s so bad you cannot move through some spots on the maze, it is explained away in the manual as the kelp making up the maze being sticky. The shark will appear randomly from either side of the maze and move in a horizontal fashion across the screen, d it’s pretty hard to get outta his way since you keep getting stuck on everything. Unlike most Pac-Man games where you simply have to collect all the dots, in Shark Attack you have to collect all the dots and then make your way to the center of the screen to deposit them in the shark cage, if you get caught by the shark while you’re carrying the dots you will lose all of them as well as a life. Sporadically Nessie the sea monster will appear and assail your eardrums will that vile noise, Nessie can move freely around the maze unhindered by the walls in place; this is the only time that the tunnels come of any use. To get rid of Nessie you have to lure it into one of the tunnels located at the four corners of the maze, it would be nice of those were labeled in some fashion but that ain’t happening. I really wouldn’t have much of an issue with this game if the collision detection on the walls was fixed, if that were the case this game would be one of the better Pac-Man clones on the system.

 

As it stands Shark Attack is a mediocre game with flaws that really hold it back from greatness, I’ll still pop it in once in a while but it’s a pick up and put down game for sure. If you want a copy they’re pretty cheap on Ebay, I’ve seen loose copies as low as 5$ free shipping, boxed copies are more expensive in the 25-35 dollar range. It’s Collector’s Zone for this one, it’s just filler to make your shelf look more impressive.

 

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