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Mezrabad

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Everything posted by Mezrabad

  1. FYI: Yogi's little friend there is named "Boo-Boo" and their relationship was never explained nor satisfactorily explored in this early, Hanna- Barberra-n, environmentally conscious commentary on US National Parks and their effect on our society and culture. (Not really) Basically, think, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble as unmarried and as bears with a Park Ranger involved to vainly attempt to keep them out of trouble. It centered around the whole "Don't Feed the Bears" warning seen at most national parks. Yogi Bear's passion was stealing and devouring the picnic baskets of Jellystone Park tourists. Boo-Boo was the side kick and Ranger Smith was the "law" and there to lose his temper and get out-smarted most of the time.
  2. He's tracking views-per-entry Correct! I usually put it at the end of every entry so that when I start the next entry I can say to myself: "Okay, it looks like the last entry got 337 views and only about 289 of those were me! That's almost 50 views! So, if I wrote a book version of this, I could probably sell the book to at least 10% of those people and I could make $6.87! I just need 75,000 more readers and I'll be able to bank a cool 10-11 grand and be set for about five months!" Alright, I'm not actually doing anything with the numbers, but the webmaster I keep locked up deep inside (next to the collector) thinks it might be useful/interesting information someday. He hasn't really given me a good example of "useful" yet, so that's why he's still chained up.
  3. Got 'em both. I have a video on you tube that gets a lot of views (relative to my other videos) because people think it's going to be about Motocross when it's really Sears Motocross and all I'm doing is revving the engine on the unit. Sears Motocross Sound Demo the other video is an awful one too, just to give idea what the sound was like during actual game play. Though the game play is not visible here. Okay, I'm all about the sound. Quickie Demo And this is just to show the tragedy of a head slide. (Warning: Horrific Graphic Content) Motocross Head Slide Muuuch better video here by someone else: Stunt Cycle High Score If I can find where my Atari Video Pinball movies are, I'll post them up on YouTube, too, so that random strangers can mock them.
  4. Math Fun (Intellivision, 1980) Wow, it was hard to find the instructions for this from internet sources! The Intellivision Lives site only has instructions for the Learning Fun I cartridge, which has instructions for two different games. As far as I can tell there's only one game on this cart and it's called Math Master. The Math Master, surprisingly, must be the ape that runs down the screen towards other animals. It's up to you, the player to solve problems so that the animals move out of our primate cousin's way. (Yes, the principle of "common descent" means that every living thing on Earth is related to every other living thing on Earth, so it's our cousin, but I digress...) So the math problem pops up and you enter the answer using the Intelly keypad. The cool and interesting thing about the input, is that as you put the numbers in they show up as if you were doing the problem on paper. The problems are displayed in vertical manner. There's probably a "math" term for that, but I don't recall what it is. Anyway, the problems are setup the way you'd see them in grade school, and you'd have to work them out like you would on paper. So if you were to see 12 (on the top) x 6 (on the bottom) you'd have to type the 2 first and then the 7. It actually makes sense and makes it easier to do the addition, subtraction and multiplication problems. It also makes sense because they reverse the input direction it for the division problems. With division, you'd write the answer starting with the larger columns first, so with 128 divided by 2, you'd type in 6 and then 4. Though if the problem were 64 times 2 you'd type the number in 8, then 2, then 1. Am I describing this well enough? Sorry, I don't have time for a second draft. Anyway, there are multiple difficulty levels, though I wasn't able to figure them out completely. The Learning Fun documentation says there are 18 levels. But I could only get different colors of the numbers 1, 2 or 3 to show up. I got different colors to show up by proceeding the entry with a press to either 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. This would change the color of the cursor and make it possible to type in that color of 3, 2, or 1. Since there were five different colors for 1 and 2 and four different colors for 3, that makes, what, 14 numbers? I don't know if it was like that in the original game or not. I was playing a "rev. input" ROM on my Cuttle Cart 3 (awesome piece of hardware. Love it) because my original Math Fun cart was either broken or just plain won't play on my Intellivision II. Anyway, if "rev. input" means "revised input" then I'll probably never know what the original cart was like. Some of the problems (particularly reached by setting problem level to "5-red" and then either 2 or 1) could get tough. You can have up to 99 problems in a game. The first few would start out with simple division or multiplication but then it would start throwing out 79 x 78 or 27 x 39. I'm sorry, I can't do those in my head anymore (basically, I do the math for the 9 times 27 and then do the 3 times 27x10 and then plan to add it to the first product I got for 9 times 27, but then I forget what I got for that. That's just an example, but there were a bunch like that). I guess I just need more practice, or an abacus. The "game play" is really more of a "dramatization". The gorilla, with no control exerted by you, comes down the screen on one side of the river. (player two is on the other side) He runs into an animal and stops. A problem pops up. You get it right, the animal gets out of the way. You get it wrong and the ape jumps into the river, where he encounters more animals and math. The math gets easier in the river, but if you get it right you're back on the land again encountering tougher problems. The graphics for the animals are recognizable. I saw bears and kangaroos on land, as well as cat- and antelope-like beasts. In the water, I only saw hippos and crocs. Maybe they were trying to encourage me to stay out of the water by reducing the variety of life available in that environment. All in all, as a math program a teacher might give a good student to play as a reward (in the early 80s), it was mildly amusing and did give me problems I had to concentrate (harder than I'd care to admit) to solve. As a videogame given to a child by her well-meaning parents, oh god, no. This would be one of those "play your Math Fun before you watch TV" games parents could use to discourage children from watching TV. Anyway, I'll inflict Backgammon on myself next time. 30443
  5. Yesterday, we played "Hammer the nails into the Messiah," it's kind of like "Pin the tail on the Donkey" but with a different poster. Tomorrow we traditionally play "House of the Dead" on the Saturn. I've got two Saturn guns and found that this is a real party pleaser when we have family over because everyone can have a turn. We also have easter egg hunts. On the TV that's not playing House of the Dead, we go through old games and try to find the easter eggs in them. Adventure is the reigning favorite. What's always special, about any holiday really, is spending time with the family while teaching the kids about family traditions that they can someday pass down to their children.
  6. I think that if you're not satisfied with how the seller handled the transaction, then you don't have to say it was a positive experience. Period.
  7. Las Vegas Roulette (Intellivision, 1980) The first step to getting people to stop bothering your about your gambling problem is to admit that you have a gambling problem, even if you don't really believe you have one. This might get those well meaning, but annoying, dis-enablers off your back for a little while. This is actually a fairly useful step in most forms of addiction, but if you use it too often people will eventually realize you're just as full of excrement as you've ever been and may even cause them to stop lending you money. Despite my lack of enjoyment for any gambling game where you don't get to lose or win real money, Las Vegas Roulette is well-done, provided you like to play Roulette for its intrinsic "gamey" qualities. The betting table dominates the screen and allows for all the bets one can normally place in roulette. The type of bet is determined by where you position your chip on the board using the controller disc. For example, if you want to split your bet between two adjacent numbers, you place your chip right on the line between the two numbers. The manual describes 11 different categories of bets that can be placed (though, I could only come up with nine): Straight, Street, 5 Number, Line, Square, Split, Column, Dozens and Halves. I suppose you could split the halves up into Red/Black, Odd/Even Bets, but that still only brings it up to ten. To generate a random number from a spin, Las Vegas Roulette displays a slotted, numbered strip across the top of the play field containing numbers from an American roulette wheel. When a spin is started, the strip of numbers cycles from left to right and the ball moves in the opposite direction just below the numbered strip. Eventually, both slow down and the ball comes to rest in one of the numbered slots. It's a nice solution to the design problem of wanting to show the process by which the random number is generated without taking up the screen real estate that a big roulette wheel might require. My problem with Roulette, as a game, is that I fail to see any way to cleverly manipulate your bets so that you have a better chance of winning more money than the odds against your bet. For instance, a straight bet pays 35 to 1 but the odds against are 37 to 1 against. I guess that's where the thrill is supposed to come in, the thrill of "beating the odds". To me, it just seems like bad math. Anyway, bottom line is: Las Vegas Roulette is well designed and allows for all of the betting mechanics of regular Roulette.If you like Roulette as a game, with or without the betting, then this is a good substitute for what would be a really long drive to Vegas for most of us. Speaking of Math. Next entry we'll look at Math Fun. 29961
  8. I heard of this! I think I first saw it on Home of the Underdogs (which implies a PC port, but I wouldn't swear to it). It's my understanding that on some of the harder levels you have to think about 20-30 moves a head to move the boxes correctly. Freaky. Enjoying your "Playing..." series, by the way.
  9. US Ski Team Skiing (Intellivision, 1980) Okay, prior to Skiing on the Intellivision we've thrice seen videogame versions of the real life, not-so-cheap thrill of strapping wood to one's feet and sliding down a mountain while standing up. The first came with the Magnavox Odyssey, called Ski, and I think I compared it to a lava lamp in its ability to provide a nice quiet Zen trance if you were open to relaxing and enjoying it. The second version came bundled as a variation in an Atari VCS game called Street Racer. In this case instead of paddling your car to the right and left to avoid obstacles, you moved a skier right and left to get through gates. The big plus on that game was four people could play it. The last and most recent if I'm not mistaken was Alpine Skiing on the Odyssey^2, which I'd have to actually get out and play to remember it, unfortunately. I seem to remember a mountain involved and trees shaped like mushrooms but that's all I got. Crap, maybe I should go read whatever the heck I wrote about it... (goes and reads) Wow, I played that 1979 game in November of 2006! Cripes, I'm crawling through 1980 at a snail's pace. Full time jobs suck. Anyway, cool things about Alpine Skiing was two player, split screen simultaneous. Which is a cool idea if the game is fun, but I don't remember the game being terribly fun. Multiplayer and ambitious, but about as much fun as eating snow. Don't get me wrong, eating snow is always fun, in concept, but after you eat some, you're kinda like, "ew, I'm still thirsty and my tongue is frozen". Intellivision US Ski Team Skiing, on the other hand, is fun. You can play with up to six players, each taking turns skiing a downhill or slalom slope. There's only two slopes but you can change the degree of steepness depending on just how much you want to challenge yourself. The shallowest slope can be set to 1. If your skis aren't pointing almost directly downhill, you're not going to go very fast or very far. The manual (read the manual to conquer the slopes!) advises the rankest of beginners start at slope setting 4. 4 is indeed a good start, but it wasn't long before I found myself trying 10, 13 and finally 15. Event the best time I was able to achieve on any of them put me squarely in the category of "Hot Dogger" but I easily spent a good 40 to 60 minutes trying to improve. So, what sets this apart from Alpine Skiing? How has simulated skiing evolved since last year? (1979?) Well, the cheapest answer is to say the trees look better. A better, more thoughtful answer would be to say this game, in addition to letting you jump over moguls (don't remember if Alpine Skiing did that) let's you "edge". "Edging" is for making sharp quick turns while continuing in the direction you'd been going before your momentum catches up with the direction you've just turned your skis. I think it could be best compared to "drifting" in a racing game. It really adds a lot to the challenge and it requires some practicing to use it effectively. Initially, when I first played Skiing, I wasn't edging at all (hadn't read the manual) and thought the only thing I could do was jump. Edging added a certain degree of depth to the game which, before I knew to edge, was just a prettier version of Alpine Skiing. This game also has four versions of run speed. If you want to really be in pain, set slope to 1 and play it on the slowest setting. Normal speed and slope 10 was nice and comfortable for me. Maybe I'll take a youtube video, not to show my mad skillz (which aren't really anything to show off), but to get the concept of edging across better. Anyway, that's all for now. Dang, I've still got five games left for the Intellivision's debut year. At this rate I'll be done 1980 Intellivision, sometime in August. To think I was hoping to be in 1984 by now! Ooo, I think I'll do Roulette next. I think it's the first version of Roulette out since the version that appeared on the original Odyssey in 1972. Cool. 29,694
  10. I remembered Dr. Zee, but I completely missed that there even was a Revenge of the Nerds TV series. Must've come out during the era I had no TV, from between 1987 to about 1994.
  11. Cousin Oliver reference took me a few seconds to get. But then I remembered that was the kid who later went on to such stardom as "Big John, Little John"!
  12. yeah really, count me in among those waiting with baited breath -- whatever the hell that means..
  13. NBA Basketball (Intellivision, 1980) Wow, I've started and stopped writing this entry about five times. I'm just not sure what to say about this game. Like the era in which this game was born, I find it difficult to resist the temptation to compare it to the Atari Basketball title that proceeded it. As George Plimpton might've said, NBA basketball is clearly more sophisticated and lifelike than its Atari counterpart. There are three players on each team, instead of one, and you can pass the ball to your artificially intelligent team members. You can block shots, and you can choose to shoot either with a set shot or a jump shot. At first glance, when comparing the feature set of Intellivision's B-ball offering to Atari's, you'd think that Intellivision's game is the superior. In fact, I'm not going to argue that NBA Basketball isn't the superior version. However, I will say it was a lot easier to sit down and start having fun with Atari Basketball than it was with this title. Like all Intellivision sports titles, the manual is terrific, (and if you want to win, read that booklet! ) There are four speeds, "play ground", "high school", "college" and "pro". While the learning curve isn't what I would call "steep", it's still a little curvy so we started out in "play ground" mode to get our heads in the game. "Play ground" mode is pretty damn slow. So slow, in fact, that we started referring to the defending teams player as "zombies" because they put their arms up and sort of shamble around moaning "braaaiiinnss". Actually, we were the ones moaning as we made our way through an entire game on this setting. It felt long enough that by the time we finished the first game on "play ground", we were totally spent and had to go play Fallout 3 for a little while to get our second wind. During the second session (and what I had to promise to my son would be our last session) we cranked it up to "Pro". "Pro" is the speed at which one says "that's more like it!". However, like Hockey, if we hadn't put ourselves through the painful lessons of the "play ground" speeds we would have had a tougher time jumping in as pros. As an aside: Something I've noticed, which I should have noticed before, is that designers of sports videogames in this era made a conscious choice to have players run out to their positions on the field. This strictly theatrical decision creates an illusion very reminiscent of its real-life counter part. Players don't just appear in place ready for tip-off, they have to run there, while the crowd roars. While completely besides the point, it should be noted that the crowd in NBA Basketball roars with the exact same roar as used in every other Intellivision sports title that has a crowd thus far. Because team members have been added to this incarnation of basketball, passing is now implemented. For passing purposes, the control pad is a model of a basketball court. When your player has the ball, you can pass the ball to a spot on the court by pressing the corresponding location on your keypad's court. Your on-screen player throws the ball to the spot on the court you've chosen, not to another player. It's up to one of the other players on your team to anticipate the throw and get there when the ball does. Fortunately they are controlled by the computer, so often this works. When it doesn't, the other team will either intercept the pass or your ball will soar out of bounds. True to the presentation of basketball, if it goes out of bounds, the ball must then be thrown in by the opposing team to bring it back into play. Other offensive features are jump shot and set shot. The basic rule is, the closer you are to the net the better chance your shot will go in. There's even a nice diagram in the manual with the percentage zones. You have a much better chance of making a shot with a set shot, but it's also more likely to be blocked by a player on the other team. Any shot that makes it to the net, but not through it, will rebound with a resounding "boing" and the ball goes to the team that catches it. As for stealing: we weren't able to steal the ball from each other, but the artificial team members seamed to be able to steal it from us. Maybe we just sucked, but there it is. Oh, and we weren't able to foul each other, either, it just isn't a feature. Since they were able to put penalties in NHL Hockey, I'd been looking forward to fouls in NBA Basketball, but you can't have everything, right? (Where would you keep it?) The short story of how we feel about this game: It's a well done simulation of basketball and it's very interesting, but for pure fun we still prefer to play Atari's Basketball. This isn't exactly fair or objective, I'm sure if we were true sports game fans, we'd have loved this title for all the aspects of the real game it models. While we respected it, we just don't laugh as often while playing it as we do when playing Atari's version. Next we'll look at US Ski Team Skiing on the Intellivision. 28705
  14. Hey, cool. I've actually go the arcade cabinet (minus all the innards) of the release of this game in the states when it was called "ALCON" in the arcades. It's in a converted Centipede cab. Must remember to post picture of cab someday. Anyway, cool to know there's a port of it for Genny.
  15. Yes! My son killed many of my slower moving ships with the strong, very long range torpedos from his sub.
  16. 4-port with RF, but I would prefer it to be S-Video just haven't gotten to having it modified yet.
  17. Sea Battle (Intellivision, 1980) Sea Battle is a console title that does much more than one would expect a console title to be able to do in 1980. Each player has a harbor and a limited number of naval units. The object of the game is to get your troop transport ship into your enemy's harbor by negotiating your fleets through the archipelago between the two harbors. Like Space Battle (Intellivision, 1980) this game has a strategy phase and a combat phase. The strategy phase is played out on an overview map of the island region. Each player builds up to four fleets at a time, each comprised of up to three ships--from a total of 13, and sends them on their way towards the enemy harbor. The game takes full advantage of the Intellivision controller's keypad. Instead of creating your fleets using an on-screen, easy-to-see-by-your-enemy interface, you create fleets by hitting the keypad icons of the ships you want in that particular fleet before deploying it into your harbor. When you or your enemy deploys a fleet, all that either of you can tell about if from the strategy phase view is how many ships are in it. When the fleet starts to move, your enemy may be given a slight clue as to the fleet's composition because a fleet may only move as fast as its slowest ship. Safety tip: it's up to you to remember what you put in each fleet. You do NOT want to think you're going into a combat with a submarine and a destroyer and not finding out until you get there that you deployed a mine sweeper and a troop transport! To help you with this, each of your fleets is a different color. It does help. Some. Controlling the ships in the strategy phase is interesting because you can only control one fleet at a time. Basically, you send a fleet sailing in a particular direction, and cycle around to each fleet providing course correction as needed. You don't have to worry about smashing into an island in this phase because your captains know to stop before hitting a landmass. There's an Exxon Valdez joke here somewhere, but I'll leave it up to the reader. Ship captains cannot avoid what they cannot see, and they cannot see mines. You can use a mine layer unit to put little floating magnets of death in spots which you know your enemy must pass through. However, sharp-eyed admirals may notice if a fleet seems to moving slower than normal through a narrow straight. This is the invitation for him to send sweepers in to clear things up before proceeding. When two opposing ships get close, all movement stops and the players get to make an interesting choice. If neither player decides to fight the enemy fleet, movement resumes and the fleets go on their merry way. If either player decides to engage, then combat phase is entered. Combat phase zooms the camera into the fight, kind of like Google Earth can zoom in on your old high school (hey, they made the parking lot bigger!). In this view, you and your enemy can see what each is up against, as each ship type has a unique icon. In combat mode, ship types have actual "stats" beyond just speed! The actual stats are in the manual, not on the screen, but you can look them up if you want (don't expect your enemy to wait while you do.) Weapon power, armor rating, momentum, firing ranges and damage all play a role in these combats. Most importantly in the combat phase a ship has a targeting reticule. Hold down the "aim" button and you can move the targeting "X" out from the ship you currently control. Try to move your ship into position (which moves the "X" too) so it can fire at another ship. So, you prepare to fire by aiming your "X" directly north, for example. Move your ship so the "X" moves over the enemy ship, or where you think the ship will be, and fire. You can't fire while holding down the aim button, so it's aim, move, fire when in range, rinse, lather, repeat. This is hard to do while your enemy is doing the same thing to you, but I imagine people using real ships in real navies feel the same way. Some ships sink after one hit, others can take a few, it depends on the weapons of the hitter and the resilience of that which is hit. Oh, and don't let one of your ships ram a landmass. In combat phase, landmasses ram back! Different ships have different ammo. The submarine or PT boat sends torpedos. Battleships and others fire salvos. Salvos require better aim, as salvos can pass over a ship and miss. Torpedoes aren't as finicky, they'll hit ship on the way to their "X" spot but as shot from the PT boats, their range is very short. Conversely, when shot from the submarine, torpedo range is very long--but you only get one sub. Like the strategy phase, you can only control one unit at a time, so while you're bravely maneuvering your speedy little PT boat into range, your enemy can be using the longer ranged guns on his battleship to take out your sitting duck of an aircraft carrier. Can't take the heat? Retreat! If you hit the retreat button you have to out-dance your opponent's ammo for another 15 seconds before returning to the strategy phase view again. Of course, if your enemy has a relatively fast fleet of ships, they can always catch up and re-engage. Overall, this game is brilliant. It is the type of game that would become more enjoyable the better you and your opponent get at it and the better you know each other's style of play. It's kind of like chess, except on an ocean, in real time and each piece is actually a fleet made up of smaller sub-pieces constructed of floating steel that can propel tons of metal several miles through the air to sink each other. EDIT: Since writing this originally, my son and I have gotten to play again. I was able to win a game quickly by sending all of my ships at once (leaving behind a mine layer) and overwhelming my son's defenses on our first game. However, my son is a quick learner. He found he did better with a single ship strategy. He mined his harbor entrance points and sent out one ship at a time to attack my incoming fleets. He was usually able to do a lot of damage to each of the ships in my fleet while only losing one ship himself. This was especially effective if he found my mine sweepers. He would take the sweeper out first (as it was never the ship with which I was primarily defending) and damage the other ships before I could kill his lone attacker. My survivors would continue on, only to sink to a watery grave when we hit his mine fields. He enjoyed it a little more during our second session of play, probably because he understood it better and winning did nothing but improve his enthusiasm. Next Entry: NBA Basketball. 27958
  18. You guys are great! Thanks!
  19. Montalban rocks as Senor Senior on Kim Possible. He was also pretty funny in the Spy Kids movies. Of course, he'll always be Kahn and Mr. Rourke to me. Two empty islands. Hehe. I didn't get that at first.
  20. I keep hearing about this game out of the corner of my ear. I didn't know it was on the C64, I thought it was always just an Atari title. Cool.
  21. How long has it been? 9 days CLAIMED! I'm glad someone finally wants it. Please remove Steeplechase from the list from Mezrabad.
  22. Ah, yeah, playing it with the sound off would have the same relative effect in an audio sense that playing it on a black and white TV with low contrast on a bright day would have in a visual sense. It's as much of an audiogame as it is a videogame. Put the headphones on, turn the lights off and activate the rumble. It takes place underwater, you should let yourself feel immersed. Plus, with the sound off you miss the funny period propaganda pieces that frequently broadcast over the PA system as well as some nice old tunes. Not that there's anything wrong with Jimi, but sometimes when you mix your mediums you risk diluting your experience.
  23. NHL Hockey (Intellivision, 1980) Okay, I'm really behind in this blog thing. According to Wired, the blog is dead and now everyone is all a-Twitter. Personally, I can't imagine myself being limited to a certain number of characters, but I can certainly understand how a reader might want to limit themselves to such. I mean, there's a lot to read out there. Anyway, the latest game in the chronology was NHL Hockey for the Intellivision. Say anything you want about the controllers for this system and I'll probably agree with you. Not because I think you're necessarily right, but because I'm really lazy and don't feel like arguing. My general peeve comes with the fact that when using the controllers on the Intellly II, which is what I have, it that it is hard to know when I've actually depressed one of the side buttons. That's a really difficult drawback to work around in a not-as-slowly-paced sports title like hockey. That being said, once again, I think it's amazing how much information the makers of NHL Hockey manage to put in the manual and how many features they manage to implement in the actual game. For instance, what would a hockey game be without penalties? Knocking the crap out of your opponent and hoping to get away with it in hockey is as legitimate a tactic as pretending to get tripped by an opponent and hoping they get a card for it in soccer. NHL Hockey implements a penalty system by allowing you to swing your stick at any opponent. If they have the puck, that's alright--the ref's okay with that, but you can also swing your stick at an opponent who does not have the puck. This will knock his legs out from under him and you have a two out of three chance of getting away with it. If you don't get away with it, one of your players goes to the penalty box for an amount of "simulated" time. If you do get away with it, then hey, getting to knock someone on their butt is its own reward. I think that it is interesting to note that playfield vs. atmosphere space in games is changing. By playfield, I mean the actual space in which your action and game takes place. By atmosphere space, I mean the part of the game that is largely decorative and unaffected directly by anything you do as a player. Hockey, for instance, mostly takes place on the ice; you don't throw the puck in the air, so there isn't the need for air space like a basketball game might need. So, if you look at a screenshot of NHL Hockey... what? No, I don't have one, go find your own, sheesh... the ice only takes up the bottom half of the screen while the the top half contains scoring elements. Keeping score and track of penalty time is an important part of the game, yes, but half of it? I guess it's the price of this 3D-look for games (pioneered by Basketball for the Atari VCS) that make you feel like you're in the stands rather than in the eyes of a bird nailed to the ceiling directly over the ice. Something I don't know if I mentioned about most Intellivision games we've seen, is that there always seems to be at least four speeds to every game. If you turn the game on and activate the disk, for the most part, you get the fast version of whatever game you're playing. If you press "1" on the keypad you get the slowest version of the game; "2" and "3" get you faster versions. Hockey also implements this feature. The irony of this type of system for we modern gamers is that the slowest speed might be easy enough to play, but, invariably it is fairly dull. The faster speeds are much more interesting to play but require some time to master and the controllers are so awkward to use that "more interesting" doesn't help. The goalies in this game were very difficult to get a puck past. First, my son and I played against each other and neither of us could score against the other. Then I played against his un-manned controller and I still couldn't score against the brick wall of a goalie. It took the combined might of my team, with one member in the penalty box, and his team to actually get the puck past my own goalie. The trick was to knock the goalie down and shoot him while he was down. I think we managed to do it by having one of my players hang on to the puck while my son knocked the goalie down. While the goalie sat on the ice, counting his teeth, I let my son steal the puck and shoot at the vacant goal. This was not easy to do. I don't even think we were playing on one of the faster modes. Eventually our game devolved into trying to get away with beating up each other's players and goalies. Can we blame this on the game or on our own appetites for violence? If we blame our appetites, must we not also blame society? I continue to have a really hard time slogging through the sports titles for the Intellivision. I'm just not into them. I also recently discovered that I should have started the year off with Space Invaders for the Atari VCS, because that was released sometime in January of 1980. See, that would've been a kick ass start to 1980, I mean, that would've given me some momentum. Oh well, it's not like this is a science. Here's to more chronogaming in 2009, for 1980. Next entry: I don't even know! Basketball? Didn't I already do that? Did I take my meds today? Damn I feel old.
  24. Word Fun (Intellivision, 1980) Hey, did anyone else notice the complete revamping of intellivisiongames.com? They've had the same site up for years and its always looked circa 1999-2001 design style, but now they've got something that looks like it's database driven. Well, good for them. I actually have a Word Fun cart, purchased in Tulsa, Oklahoma for $5 in 2006. It wasn't until I plugged it into my Intellivision II in August of 2008 that I found this sucker doesn't work with Intellivision II. For my purposes, I was suddenly happy I had purchased Intellivision Lives! for the Playstation 2. This marks the first Chronogaming title that I had to resort to playing on modern hardware! Word Fun is one of two education titles that used the Electric Company name. If you remember The Electric Company, you'll remember that it was the quirky, off-the-wall, directed-at-a-slightly-older-audience, half-sibling of Sesame Street. It only ran new episodes from 1971 to 1977 and thereafter was in reruns until going off the air in 1985. (according to Wikipedia) So, in an odd way, Word Fun and its companion cart, Math Fun were like the very, very last episodes of The Electric Company, and done entirely without Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman or Rita ("Heeey yoooou guyyyyys!") Moreno. Word Fun epitomizes a tradition of education games on home console systems: instead of having one, really good game that's fun and educational, it has multiple games that are educational. Word Fun is: Crosswords, Word Hunt and Word Rockets. Crosswords is an electronic Scrabble. Each player is given a rack of letters from which they assemble words. The object is to earn the most number of points while taking turns putting words in a grid so that they intersect with the words already placed. If you've played Scrabble or ever filled in a crossword puzzle you know what I'm talking about. The interesting feature of this is that you can't end your turn until your opponent approves the word! This encourages kids to come up with fake words and bullshit their opponent into believing they're legitimate. This is a valuable skill and I approve of it being cultivated. However, Crosswords is one of those games I like better in the real world as Scrabble. Also, Scrabble has those word trays that are handy to use as iPod Touch stands. Word Hunt puts each player in control of a monkey that they each send out to capture letters. A player uses the letters to build up to three words in a time-limited round. There's also the option of sabotage. A player lacking in ruth (ruthless) can send his monkey out to simply deprive the enemy of much needed letters. "Ha ha ha! You wish to spell the word 'fish'? Try doing it with out this 'h', you fool, as I deprive you of it to spell 'hate'!" There is even the option of tossing a letter away if you aren't going to use it yourself, but still wish to deprive your bitter, word-building, jungle rival! The longer your words, the better your score and, like the game Crosswords your opponent has final say on what constitutes a legitimate word. ("Hayt" is a real word, it's the name of Duncan Idaho's ghola in Dune Messiah! What do you mean you've never read it? You're already 10 years old!) Aside: Word Hunt seems to have the uncanny ability to actively anticipate and attempt to prevent the players from spelling naughty words. No matter how hard we tried we were unable to find the necessary letters to spell something offensive. This was disappointing and we don't know if it was a feature in the game or a failure of ourselves. Word Rockets was fun in a "this reminds me of playing Space Invaders in the arcade only without the sheilds, aliens or cannon" way. A word with a missing letter in it sails across the screen and you must fire at it with one of the letters available from your arsenal to complete it. F*g can become fog, or fig! This is about as much fun as it sounds but it is the only single player game on the cart, so it was the only one I was able to play without having to pay my son in gil. (yes, now he accepts imaginary, online currency as payment for playing old games with me.) Anyway, it added some much needed videogame action to the cart, and was probably what the average four or five years old of the era would've enjoyed most. Next time, we play NHL Hockey, continuing my slow but inevitable grind through the well documented sports titles of Intellivision's debut year. 25092
  25. PGA Golf (Intellivision, 1980) This is another game where many of the details of the real world sport are taken and compressed into an extremely realistic simulation. Now, I'm not able to say they've managed to simulate everything, but what they did consider in the design of PGA Golf and how they chose to display it, works pretty well for a golf videogame in 1980. The screen is dominated by an overhead view of the current hole. Conventional golf course elements are used: the fairway, the green, the hole (duh), bunkers, the rough, water hazards and trees. The screen is considered to be 580 yards wide and the each hole is layed out to fit within that area. So you base your choice of club and swing on your estimation of the distances you need to propel the ball down the path you've chosen to get through, around or over the hazards presented by the hole. You're given a bag of 9 clubs: a driver, 3 and 5 wood, 3, 5, 7 and 9 irons, a wedge and a putter. You may only use your driver on the first hole and only use the putter on the green, everything else you pick as the situation demands it. That is where the game is. There's a chart in the manual that explains the distances each club will send a ball based on the short, medium or long swing you choose. The driver can send the ball 260 yards with a long swing to a minimum of 234 yards with a short swing. Going down through the clubs is not a regular sequence of distance decrements, but there's no overlap. A 3 wood club swung long does not send the ball further than a driver swung short. So, sorting the clubs in terms of distance, you go from driver to 3 wood, 5 wood, 3 iron, 5 iron, 7 iron, 9 iron, wedge and putter, just as they are listed on your controller keypad and just how I listed them at the start of this paragraph. The distinction amongst clubs is not limited to distance, as height must also be taken into consideration. The shorter distancing clubs tend to send the ball into a higher arc, so if you have to clear one of the conveniently uniform 18.7 yards-tall trees, you would do well to check the manual to see which clubs will be most likely to get your ball over them. I guess my main point here is that there's more to consider than just how you aim. Your golf course is three dimensional. When you hit a ball high, from your bird's eye perspective it appears to get closer. If it doesn't go high enough over trees, then it hits them...annoyingly, just like real golf. Speaking of aim, per usual, I played this game on its original platform, but I also decided to try the Playstation 2 Intellivision Lives! version. It's important and interesting to note that the original Intellivision game had 16 different directions in which you could aim your shot; the PS2 version only has eight, even though you use one of the analog thumbsticks to address the ball. I would think an analog thumbstick to have at least as many directions as the original Intellivision disc controller, but I guess I'd be wrong. Of course, if you're hitting a little round ball, it won't always go straight. PGA Golf simulates the hook/straight/slice dynamics of a golf ball when you choose the direction of the trajectory deviation by pressing the swing button again at a certain point in the swing. If you choose not to choose, the game will randomly choose for you, and it won't take your feelings into consideration. Sidenote: it's important to note that "hook" is a specific term indicating a curve to the left, while "slice" means a curve to the right. If you mis-use these terms on a real golf course, the other golfers will probably laugh at you. The upside to this is that it gives you a justification for making fun of their stupid looking pants, which you wanted to do anyway. The rest of the game plays as you would expect: sand traps are best avoided, water swallows your ball and the crowd cheers if you shoot under par. Which brings me to a non-videogame related point... I've often heard people use the expression "under par" to convey disappointment in another's performance. For example "your last entry was under par" or "your videogame commentary is sub-par"...no really, I'm pretty sure I've heard people use it that way when they were trying to say "your writing is crap". If you think something isn't as good as it should be, and you are so into golf that you wish to borrow its jargon, then you need to say, "that last entry was over par" or "your metaphors exceed par!" Also un-videogame related: according to Wikipedia, the below-par nomenclature in golf is all named after flying creatures. One below par is a birdie, two below par is an eagle, three an albatross, four a condor (requiring a hole-in-one on a par 5), five below par is called an ostrich and six below par (which is a hole-in-one on a par 7) is a pterodactyl. Apparently, pterodactyls have only happened 3 times in the history of the golf world and only on a par 7 hole at a golf course in Japan. In PGA Golf, on any given hole I usually scored an eight, regardless of par. This is known as a "dogball". I'm not certain if it is named after a dog because of the fact that dogs don't fly, or if it is simply named after something a dog often licks. There are only nine holes and they seemed to be the same set of holes each time I played. At first I thought this was a limitation. Then I realized that if everyone plays the standard course, it's easier to compare scores. This allows for individuals to exclaim ownership over one another and is why many people play sports to begin with. Well, that's it for Golf. Not sure what I'll play next. I was trying to get Word Fun to work on an Intellivision II until I found out that Word Fun doesn't even work on an Intellivision II. Ever. Maybe I'll just use the trifurcated version as portrayed on the Intellivision Lives! disc. However, I loathe the thought of depriving myself of eight directions, even for a game that would probably not use them anyway. 24088
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