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Showing content with the highest reputation on 08/07/2018 in Blog Entries

  1. 3 points
    20th Century Fox was, admittedly, one of the strangest publishers on the 2600. This was, in the most part, due to their partnership with Sirius Software Inc., the TCF classics Fast Eddie, Deadly Duck, Beany Bopper, and Worm War 1, were from Red Sirius, and they are all undeniably weird. And because Fox also owned the rights to many films they were also the “Movie Tie-In game” publisher as well, and as such they released several games based on their films and various IP’s. Somehow despite their vast library of IP’s Fox grabbed some of the weirdest ones and made games out of them. Movies like the ill-fated Megaforce, Porky’s, Flash Gordon (debatably), M*A*S*H* (not a movie but okay), Alien, and the subject of today’s review… Fantastic Voyage, based on the movie of the same name, which came out in 1966, 16 years before this game came out (yeah I’d say that was timely). On a side note, today’s review is the first one I’m writing in Microsoft Word… before this I was using Notepad, which was dreadful. Admittedly this is the 2007 version of Word, which in my opinion is still one of the best versions, no adds or online connectivity, it feels so liberating. This game’s graphics are rather clever, since there is more than initially meets the eye. You have a very basic Heads Up Display, it has a timer clock, a heartbeat monitor, and a number indicating the number of patients saved. There is the score, of course, at the top of the screen, and in the center is where all the interesting bits lie. You fly a goofy little submarine between two parallel lines, which indicate the walls of an artery; these walls have a very pleasant gradient to them, in fact this whole game is very easy on the eyes. The enemies you encounter are also very basic in design; perhaps they are too basic, since despite having the manual on hand, I still can’t figure out what is what. Okay so I’ve managed to glean a few things from the manual… Those needle-shaped things are Defense Cells, the little star thingies are Antibodies, the key shaped things are Enzymes, the large bulbous things are Blood Cells (I think), and the bacteria shaped things are Bacteria. The enemy design is admittedly rather garbage, but the game redeems itself, somewhat, with a rather clever trick, to imitate the contraction of a clogged artery one of the walls will actually move nearer to its parallel, narrowing the artery. In other games this may not be to mind blowing, but this it Atari, and just about anything is mind blowing on this hardware. This game’s sounds are absolutely annoying, and I can credit it to one thing: the heart monitor. It’s just a constant beeping, and every time you miss something it beeps faster and faster, getting incredibly annoying very quickly. The other sounds don’t fare much better, there is a little jingle that plays to indicate a change in phases, and it’s also very awful to listen to, and the ‘music’ (?) that plays when you clear a blood clot actually made me cover my ears the first time I heard it. The only sounds I actually like are the sounds you make when you shoot and the sound an enemy makes when it’s destroyed, both are very chunky and gratifying. I would recommend muting this game’s sounds if only to be spared that awful heart monitor noise, you can see the heart rate just fine on the HUD, you don’t need to hear it. This game is a very basic top down shooter, but with a lemony twist, killing some enemies will make you lose the game faster. Allow me to explain… Unlike in your classic shooter, where you can miss as many enemies as you like, In Fantastic Voyage you NEED to kill all the enemies otherwise the patient who you are currently trying to save will die. But… Not everything you see floating around in the artery is an enemy, Enzymes when shot actually benefit the patient by lowering their heart rate, Defense Cells can be shot and they won’t affect the patient or can be left alone completely and they still won’t affect the patient. Other’s will harm the patient if destroyed, mainly the Blood Cells, they act moreso as obstacles than actual enemies, since destroying them will actually make the patient die faster, they’re also annoying because they’re the largest object in the game and you HAVE to avoid them. Then there are the indestructible Clotlets that guard The Clot, The Clot requires 15 shots to be destroyed all the while avoiding the, again, indestructible Clotlets, destroy The Clot and the patient is saved and on to the next level. Fantastic Voyage is better than it has any right to be, I won’t call this a great game or anything, its hovering right around average. If you can find this game out there for cheaper than 10$ then go for it, it really can’t hurt, and you may just enjoy yourself. Also I’d like to give kudos to one of the previous owners of my particular cartridge and manual, since you actually used the high score thing that was in the backs of many manuals at the time, and you did way better than I could ever hope to. So, to Amy L. Cooper from Madison Wisconsin, or thereabouts, who got to Level 5 with a score of 432,202, I have your copy of Fantastic Voyage, and why did you get that good?
  2. 1 point
    Now this is a special review... Not only is this my 50th review, this is also my first Homebrew review. I actually only own one Homebrew game, and I think I have one of the best, that being Spiceware's Draconian. I love Namco's Bosconian, even though I'm not very good at it, so when I saw Draconian on the AA store I was immediately smitten. I bought it almost as soon as I saw what it was, Bosconian on the 2600, and when it arrived I was not disappointed. This has got to be one of the most advanced and polished 2600 games I've ever had the honor of playing, (and no I'm not saying this because I know Mr. Spice. Jr, reads my reviews on occasion). This definitely is a contender for the title of "Best Game" on the 2600, I beseech all who read this to go out now and buy this game from the AA store, and please try to avoid the scalpers on Ebay and Etsy. But without further ado lets play this thing! Never before have I had the actual arcade cabinet with me to do a comparison, but today... I still don't, but I have the next best thing, a plug 'n play console, which just so happens to have Bosconian on it. Now that I have the actual arcade game here to compare with I can safely say that Draconian is as perfect a conversion can be when it comes to the 2600. Every ship, every asteroid, mine, enemy base, enemy formation, is recreated excellently. Everything in the arcade is represented in the game, and the game has a few nice little tweaks, the menu screen being chief among them, not only does it look better than the arcade's, it also lets you set your TV color palette between NTSC, PAL, and SECAM, (that's a nice touch). The one main detractor Is have is that almost all of the sprites are monochrome, the second is the flicker, even though it's quite minimal, and only when there is a lot of things on the screen at once. When compared to everything this cartridge holds however, the excellent minimap, the best starfield I've ever seen, and the ridiculous amount of stuff they managed to cram onto the screen, the good crushes the bad, especially when compared to the only other game of this type on the system, which is Bit Corp.'s Mission 3000 A.D., which I just so happen to have written a review about, It's like a kindergartner's clay bowl compared to Michelangelo's 'David', there is no comparison, Draconian will always win, except in obscurity. But could there anything that could top the graphics? In any other game I'd say no, but today... This game can speak, no not like in Quadrun, this game says words which you actually understand with your ears. I know speech on the 2600 is nothing new, especially with the emergence of the AtariVox, but Draconian doesn't need an expensive attachment to speak, it can do it right out of the box. The game can say five phrases, and yes they are the same as the arcade, and play in the same situations as the arcade. It can say "Blast off" when you start a new round,"Alert! Alert!" when an enemy is on screen, "Battle Stations" when a formation of enemies is comin' for you, "Spy ship sighted!" well that one is pretty self explanatory, and "CONDITION RED" that's when all hell breaks loose. All the other sounds of the arcade are recreated in glorious low-def sound and as such are not as 'good' as the arcade's, but I must say I like the shoot sound effect of Draconian a bit more that Bosconian, it's just a bit grittier, and I like that. Now lets get into the meat of things, the gameplay... I you like Bosconian you're gonna love this, it is the same formula: Either shoot all six weapon pods of the enemy bases, or shoot their cores to destroy them, destroy all the enemy bases in the sector, while avoiding and shooting enemies, asteroids, and mines. Once all the bases in the sector are destroyed you move on to the next sector, rinse and repeat with steadily increasing difficulty. Bosconain and Draconian share a very unique gameplay element, you can shoot in front of and behind yourself at the same time, some people might think this makes the game too easy but trust me it is quite necessary. Instead of being a simple conversion Spiceware went above and beyond, they added: diagonal movement, which was sorely lacking in the original, a difficulty select on the main menu for kids to pros, and 48 unique stages, which you can select on the menu screen. But what is a game without baddies to blast? I can safely say they nailed this aspect as well. There are four types of enemies: The P-Type patrol ship, it's not very aggressive and tends to fly into asteroids and mines when not halfheartedly chasing you. There are the I-Type Interceptors, these guys will chase you to the ends of the universe, if you don't blast them from a distance they will try to ram you. There are the E-Type exterminators, they usually are ejected straight from the cores of enemy stations in a desperate bid to block your shot, they will also fly in formations and hunt down. Then there is the elusive spy ship, it's yellow very stealthy, when you see these guys destroy them immediately, if they manage to get off screen Condition Red will be initiated and you will die, while having a lot of fun. Unfortunately, like the arcade, enemy ships have considerable difficulty avoiding obstacles, many times you will see a spy ship or an Interceptor fly headlong into an asteroid, which is very funny, I like how in the manual it says you'll still get points "even if the enemies accidentally take themselves out." Needles to say I love this game, it's a great time no matter what mood I'm in, good or bad, it'll brighten my day either way. If you get the opportunity to buy this game please get it with the box, the manual is one of the best (and funniest) I've ever seen. It is worth the 50-55$, even the scalpers aren't asking too much for it. BUY IT!!! BUY IT I SAY!! Now this is unusuall... a sixth paragraph? what is this madness!?! well this is something a little special, it's a thank you... to those who made this masterpiece... Thank you... Darrell Spice. Jr., Chris Walton, Fred Quimby, Mike Haas, and Nathan Strum. Another thank you to the folks who designed the games sectors: Anders Carlsson, Alessandro Ciceri, Chris Derrig, German Gonzalez-Morris, James Earl O'Brien, and Steve Damon. You guys are the best... and don't worry it's unlikely I'll ever get this sentimental again so live it up while you can.
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