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M.A.D. (U.S. Games)

DoctorSpuds

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What is there to say about M.A.D., well first off it’s really obnoxious to type, and second of all it is a surprisingly unique take on the Missile Command/Atlantis genre. M.A.D. bears a resemblance to all games of its genre, Missile Command, Atlantis, Commando Raid, Sabotage, etc, but if you ask me it trumps them all from a visual standpoint. The graphics are stunningly colorful and imbue the game with a vibrancy rarely seen on the 2600. The gun emplacement is made up of the cooler end of the rainbow, purples, blues, and turquoise, with the turret itself being an earthy umber, while the cities go all out pride by consisting of the whole-ass rainbow.  The overall designs of the gun emplacement and cities are fairly complex as well, though the cities are bordering on abstract. The enemies are your fairly standard mix of cruise missiles and helicopters and are designed well enough; the enemies are also where the game differs from the others of the Missile Command genre. Instead of shooting down projectiles like in Missile Command, or shooting down quickly descending ships like in Atlantis, or even shooting down soldiers dropped by enemy craft like in both Sabotage and Commando Raid, M.A.D. has the enemy ships themselves kamikaze right into your cities. Thankfully the game has mercy on you and will show you which ship will dive bomb by changing their color to white. There is also a vague wave system where the enemies will attack in different formations, either all coming from one side of the screen or the other, or even both. Sometimes all the enemies will start off white, which is when you panic. The sounds are perfect for this sort of game, the shooting sound is very much like the one from Asteroids and the explosions are chunky and fantastic. The sounds and graphics actually complement each other since when an enemy successfully destroys a city the screen will flash yellow and red and the chunkiest of the chunkies plays, and it is incredible. The shooting is rather stiff unfortunately, and it really feels like minute adjustments are just not possible which can lead to frustration when things get heated and you just can’t hit that last helicopter and you game over. The movement speed of the turret is also a bit too sluggish for my liking. Overall M.A.D. is a unique take on a tired concept and just winds up being ‘meh’, you might play it a few times but it will always be back on the shelf in a few minutes. The real deal breakers are the prices though, the cheapest currently listed is at six dollars but they are frequently listed at ten plus, and boxed prices are just stupid with the cheapest being 45 dollars, which is about 25 dollars too many. If you can find it for 5 dollars then it would be worth picking up, otherwise it goes to the Collector’s Zone.

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