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Game Review #2: Alligator People (Atari 2600)

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Game: Alligator People
System: Atari 2600/VCS/Sears Video Arcade
Unreleased by 20th Century-Fox
Programmer: John Russel
Serial/Catalog Number: None
Copyright: 1983
Prototype discovered in 2002 by collector Ben Liashenko


Genre: Shooter
Controller: Joystick (Sega Game Pad compatible)
Players: 1

Game Variations: 9

This game was finished, but was cancelled before a manual could be written, so I'm going by my own playing experience and the entry for this game at AtariProtos. I bought my reproduction cartridge from Atari Age.
https://atariage.com/store/index.php?l=product_detail&p=199

This game is loosely based on the low-budget sci-fi film The Alligator People, released in 1959 by 20th Century-Fox. You play as Jane Marvin, depicted in the game as a syringe, who must inject (that is shoot) 6 people who are turning into Alligator People. Three are displayed at the top of the screen. The other three at the bottom of the screen. This includes her husband, and five of his friends.

As Jane, the syringe, you dart about the screen gathering up vials of antidote and serum. That is if you can avoid the real alligators that travel about the screen. As you go you inject (shoot) the infected people, who you can see slowly mutating from people to alligators. Or should that be Alligator People? As you inject them you can see them gradually change back into people again.

Your points are displayed at the top of the screen. At the bottom you will see your extra lives, depicted as syringes. You can have a maximum of 3 at a time. If the Left Difficulty Switch is in the B position you will have infinite lives (reportedly management at 20th Century-Fox were quite displeased when they discovered this). So the Left Difficulty Switch must be in the A position, unless you like games with zero challenge. It can be quite difficult in the A position however, so A it is (for me anyway).

The more vials of serum that you gather, the more potent the antidote. At the bottom of the screen, and to the right of the syringes, you will see S: 1 A:01 (as an example). The number beside the 'S' is how many vials of serum you have collected (they are depicted on screen by large red 'S's). The maximum that you can hold is 9, but you will continue to earn points by either shooting them or passing over them. The number to the right of the 'A' indicates how many vials of antidote the you have collected (they are depicted on screen as thin vertical lines). The maximum that you can carry is 99. You can continue to shoot or pass over the vials of antidote to gain points, but once all 6 victims have been cured you automatically move on to the next level. The vials of serum and antidote that you have collected can not be carried over from one level on to the next.

GAME VARIATIONS

Game 1: Walls are off. No serum.
Game 2: Jane can move through the walls.
Game 3: Walls on. Jane can't pass through them.
Game 4: Moving walls turned off. No serum.
Game 5: Jane can move through the walls
Game 6: Walls on. Jane can't pass through them.
Game 7: Moving walls turned off. No Serum.
Game 8: Jane can move through the walls.
Game 9: Walls on. Jane can't pass through them.



SUMMARY AND TIPS
  • Collect 9 vials of serum to get it up to maximum strength. You will need to do this at the start of each level to do well.
  • There are 6 patients to cure on each level. 3 at the top of the screen; 3 on the bottom. The patients on the far left mutate at a slower pace than the ones to their right. Shoot the patients on the left as quickly as you can. If you can collect 9 vials of serum, then it will take only one shot from your syringe to cure the first stage patients.
  • You can see the patients transform to the higher levels of mutations stage by stage. The more stages of mutations they go thru, the more shots they will need to cure them. As you shoot them, you will see them transform to a lower state of mutation with each shot.
  • Extra lives are possible. In fact, you start off with 3. Once you reach a high enough score you will begin to get an extra life at the end of each level, assuming that you don't collide with a real alligator during the level. The extra lives are depicted at the bottom of the screen as syringes.
  • You earn 5 points every time you shoot a real alligator, but as you go from the lower levels to the higher ones the more of them there are filling the screen, making collisions more likely.
  • Another way to avoid some collisions is to shoot the vials of antidote that are near the edges of the screen instead of passing over them, as an alligator (a real one) will most likely appear from off-screen as you try to collect the vials. It's not that they're rare. As soon as all of the vials are either collected or shot, a new batch of them appear.


I play all 9 Games Variations, but I play Game 1 the most. My current high score for Game 1 is 172,540 points, but I quit with 3 extra lives left.

Game Ranking: 2 (out of 2).
This was a tough call, as I really like this game, However I like Demolition Herby more. It was quite the challenge to describe and keep everything straight in my head. As I mentioned, there is no manual. My head hurts.

CURRENT RANKING OF REVIEWED ATARI 2600 GAMES:

1. Demolition Herby
2. Alligator People

My inspiration and philosophy for my reviews
I've wanted to do something along the lines of The No Swear Gamer on Youtube for quite some time, but in my own style and with my own ranking philosophy. I really like his channel (after all it is one of several gaming channels that I support through Patreon), it's just that I prefer to rank homebrews and commercial releases from back in the day together, instead of within separate ranking lists. Obviously I've elected to include prototypes, as long as reproductions are available in physical form. I also plan to include games that were exclusive to PAL territories, such as Acid Drop and Meteor Defense. Everything ranked on one list. The only requirement will be that I own a cartridge of it.

Also, I should mention the awesome community here at Atari Age, as well as my friends at http://highscore.com who continue to expose me to games that are new to me. Special thanks to Atari Age members RetroRob (also a user at High Score) and carlsson for both commenting on and liking my first game review. I greatly appreciate it.



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Did 20th Century Fox strongly believe that every video game they published, must be based on existing intellectual properties, so they digged really deep into the archives to find IP they owned the rights to and could make games based on? I understand more of their games share the same origins.

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Did 20th Century Fox strongly believe that every video game they published, must be based on existing intellectual properties, so they digged really deep into the archives to find IP they owned the rights to and could make games based on? I understand more of their games share the same origins.

Well, they did do Porky's and M.A.S.H., but the first four games they released were developed by Serius Software, which they licensed, so they released SOME games not tied to their IPs.

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Fair enough. I was thinking about titles such as Earth Dies Screaming, Flash Gordon and Spacemaster X-7. Perhaps there are more of those. M*A*S*H and Planet of the Apes seemed current enough to not raise suspicion they had digged in the archives.

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