Videocart-2 for the VES is perplexing.
It contains two games: Desert Fox and Shooting Gallery.
But wait, didn't Videocart-1 also contain Shooting Gallery? Is this a sequel?
No, it's the same damn Shooting Gallery. Yesterday, I rated it a "Good". Today I'm going to rate it a "Good, WTF?"
The other game is Desert Fox.
I consider Desert Fox a lame attempt at imitating the Tank arcade games which had opened up new possibilities in the arcade market by stepping away from the sea of Pong clones and offering something original.
Each player controls a Tank with which s/he must shoot at the other player's Tank. The person who scores the most hits during the alloted time period wins the game. Oh, and since the name is Desert Fox, let's assume it take place in the Desert, a desert with green plus-shaped mines. Each Tank has a "bunker" behind which you can be killed, or just hide, if your opponent isn't smart enough to realize that they can simply move to the other side of the screen and kill you. Pictured above: The blue tank loses a point to the green tank by walking stupidly into a mine for purposes of an action-filled screenshot.
Actually, for you historians, "Desert Fox" is an obvious reference to Erwin Rommel, who would probably have a good laugh over such a simple tank game being named in tribute to him. If you're at all curious, check out this essay about Erwin Rommel.
This game uses the tri-functionality of the VES's control stick. You move the tank around the field of play using the joystick function. You rotate the tank using the twist function. You fire by pushing down on the plunger. Again, let me state, I do like these controllers, they're the best thing about this system!
Despite the controllers, there are deficiencies within the design. There is no feeling of the Tanks having any sort of inertia, any sort of "there"-ness. They move in whatever direction you want to move them, regardless of their orientation. This was an early example of "strafing", I guess. The tanks produce a "clicking" noise as they move. This isn't the least bit unannoying nor is it not uneffective at giving one the sense that they are moving about a huge machine of metal and death.
That last sentence was deliberately written so that you'd have to think hard to make it through the knot of double negatives.
I found a way to cheat. If your enemy is hiding behind their bunker, fire at the horizontal line (of their bunker) just next to the point at which it intersects the vertical line (of their bunker). The shot goes right through and hits them. Yowza! Try that on your really groovy friends to take them down a notch!
("I got you!", "You couldn't have, I was behind my shield!", "Doesn't matter, I have 'shield piercing' bullets!", "You're a cheater!", "I CAN'T cheat! It's computer controlled!" . . . )
Well, now I'm all worn out. Must've been the desert setting.
I'll rate "Desert Fox" a Minus Neutral. The only reason it doesn't get a Double Minus, or an Ungood is because it actually IS a tank game! It is arguably the first game of its kind for the home.
The whole beauty of playing a game in which you use your imagination to kill your friends is a long standing tradition. Here, YOU are trying to iconically DESTROY the close friend or relative that you have convinced to play this game with you. They, in turn, are trying to do the same to you, probably because you persuaded them to play this game.
Desert Fox finally lets you pretend to kill your friend without needing wasteful descriptive dialogue or all that fitness-inducing running-around-outside.
Next entry: the last of the 1976 batch. Videocart-3!