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Everything posted by DoctorSpuds

  1. I got a Bumper Bash too! Following that is probably: Chase the Chuck Wagon Guardian Death Trap Quest for Quintana Roo Robin Hood/Sir Lancelot Double Ender
  2. DoctorSpuds

    Wabbit (Apollo)

    From the album: My Collection

  3. DoctorSpuds

    My Collection

    Pics of games that are currently in my collection, I'm boring like that. If you see A game you like or played back in the 80's leave a comment. approximately 90% of these games were found in the wild. These are the results of a year or two searching. Most of the games are fairly common but there's a few rarities in there. Everybody should do this for insurance reasons.
  4. DoctorSpuds

    Jungle Hunt (Atari)

    From the album: My Collection

  5. Good news! The rough draft is finished! Now for the hard and long part. I have to do final editing and proofreading which will take a very long time as I have to reread everything, likely multiple times. The rough draft is a whopping 196,795 words coming in at a length of 686 pages including images, probably 400 without. I'm also working on a side project, another book but this time science fiction. I don't even have a working title for it, but if anybody is interested in hearing more about it let me know and I'm post updates on it too! I will try to post a few more reviews here and there but it will be sporadic at best. That's all for now!
  6. Alright ladies and gentlemen, the word of the day is satisfaction. What is the most satisfying game you’ve ever played? I think that I may have just inadvertently stumbled upon one of the most satisfying games in the 2600 library, and it’s from our good friends at Fox. Not at all based on the 1964 movie of the same name, The Earth Dies Screaming is a fun little space shooter and is an excellent example of excellent sounds and graphics overpowering subpar/standard gameplay to make something truly magical. So without further ado, let me elaborate. The graphics pretty much do everything right. Starfield? Check. Explosions that make your room light up like a Christmas tree? Check. Cool scrolling planet with bonus atmosphere? Check. Score that rolls up when you get points? Check. This is seriously a very advanced looking game, the fluidity of the planet scrolling is amazing, seriously, I can’t name a single game that does it better. The turret is also surprisingly well done the smoothness of its scrolling is rather hypnotizing. Apart from that it’s the little touches that make this game so cool. The rolling score is fantastic, the radar screen with a horizontal bar going down it, the flashing of the turret heads, the gentle strobe effects when you get damages or when an enemy slips past, it all compounds to make a very lively screen that isn’t at all boring to look at. So you take these fantastic graphics and then you couple them with the sounds and what do you get? Well let me tell you all about it. There is never a quiet moment in this game, you’re constantly getting bombarded with the sounds of engines the sounds of gunfire, explosions, alarms, the game is never silent. This is what I want in a space shooter like this; frantic, fast paced, energetic action and the sounds play a huge role in that. A big reason why I’m not too fond of Star Ship is because it was too soft and too quiet, though I probably didn’t say that in my review of it. In The Earth Dies Screaming it is a constant barrage of action that gets you pumped and hyped up even if you’re looking at an empty screen, atmosphere, that’s it, the game has atmosphere and I feel that the combination of the sounds and graphics totally make up for its rather standard lackluster gameplay. This is you’re fairly average space shooter with a few twists to help it stand out from the rest. Your turret will automatically track the vertical position of any enemy on screen, you still have to move and aim vertically but that could perhaps be seen as hand holding. I can understand why they did this because the game would be impossibly difficult otherwise because this game, even on the lowest settings, is pretty darn fast. You are attacked by three enemies at a time, they are trying to get down to the planet and sometimes back up again, your goal is to not let them get to the planet’s surface/breach the atmosphere. The enemy ships also move in three dimensions, another reason why your turret is automated somewhat, you need the up and down movements to move you forwards and backwards. Yes, this is one of the few games in the Atari library where the enemies can be behind you and you wouldn’t know it. It all sort of boils down to you just shooting anything that moves as the enemies move and shoot to quickly for you to do anything particularly strategic and you’ll get shot by just about every enemy you run into. Thankfully you can get hit plenty of times, I don’t really know what the game over criteria are as I usually button mash the whole time and have a crap ton of fun doing it. Who knows perhaps this game relies heavily on strategy and I’ve barely experienced any of it, I really need to read the manual, but still it’s a great time even if you have no clue what’s going on. Unfortunately this is where I come to prices, and due to this being one of TCF’s more obscure titles it will cost a pretty penny. I paid 20$ for my loose copy and checking on Ebay that seems to be about the norm, boxed copies are just ludicrously expensive at 250-330 dollars, but these are from a known scalper so they’re probably only worth half that new. Speaking of new, there’s a NOS box sitting at 65$ free shipping, so of you must own this game boxed then just get that one while it’s still here. Yeah, if you can get a loose copy for around 15$ then I’d say pick it up, otherwise just stay away or emulate it.
  7. Okay so I just played this and really feel the need to talk about it. Great Escape by Bomb Software is one of the worst things I’ve played in a long time. If you’ve never heard of Bomb I wouldn’t blame you since they’re one of the most obscure companies to release games, in the US. They had a slightly larger presence in Europe, but their American releases are almost nonexistent. They seem to have been just another ‘me too’ company, jumping on the 2600 bandwagon way too late. After looking at some of their international adverts they may have expanded into other games machines, the Atari 400/800 computers were mentioned and so was the Intellivision, but the 2600 games are all I know for sure about them. Back to Great Escape though, and no, I will not dignify this game with a full review, it’s not worth it. The graphics are subpar, even by 2600 standards, everything is just a vague lump, or was stolen from Asteroids. It’s probably one of the most empty games I’ve played, there is no starfield in the background to liven things up so sometimes you’re just stuck flying through the void with only the basic mini map to tell you that there are actually things in this game. I will give credit for how colorful the enemies and asteroids are, but that doesn’t excuse the rest of the game. Sounds? Where, all I can hear is the generic engine/rocket noise that’s used in every other 2600 game and not much else. From what I can ascertain from reading the horribly written instructions all you do is fly around and shoot asteroids and aliens while avoiding the super alien that will instantly kill you if it appears on the screen. When the super alien gets you, you are forced to sit through a ‘cutscene’ of a large flying saucer moving slowly up/down the side of the screen and then you die. A game like this wouldn’t be that bad on an idea if they didn’t somehow manage to ruin moving, yes they made controlling the game next to impossible. You are stuck on a grid, a large grid, if you want to turn or reverse you have to wait until you get to that invisible point and then you turn around. This means that if there is an asteroid in your way you might just fly into it without being able to turn around because the game is programmed so terribly. You can also accelerate if you want to die quicker, I don’t really know how it’s done, it’s explained in the manual but as I said before, it’s terrible. Sometimes you’ll just accelerate out of nowhere and hit something and die. The entirety of this game is frantically confusing, from the manual, to the gameplay, to simply watching it play out. Perhaps it is possible to learn this game and perhaps derive some enjoyment from it but as it stands it’s just bad. Don’t even bother trying to track down and NTSC copy of this game, you’d have better luck finding a Pepsi Invaders, in that I’ve seen more Pepsi Invaders on Ebay, 3, than NTSC Great Escapes, 0. You can buy loose copies from Germany from 40-70 dollars, but seriously, don’t, just emulate it and realize you have better things to do with your time.
  8. Okay so I know I usually do write-ups on games, not companies, but Panda was just so batshit insane that I feel they are deserving. The guys at Panda were the OG bootleggers, for a short time in 1983 they slithered onto the scene and vomited their wares, but before they could finish they vanished quite suddenly. Now, Panda was the supreme budget brand, they made their games out of the cheapest materials they could get, and cut as many corners as possible, i'm not sure what they sold for originally but I'm sure they gave even Zellers a run for their money. Panda's game lineup consists mainly of games made by the European game company Sancho, though there are a few from different companies. Not all of the games advertised by Panda were actually released, I don't know why perhaps they actually got sued, or they just game up halfway through, either way they came to a sudden, sticky, end. Early Panda releases had a wraparound label, even though the cartridge had a partition for a top and end label, and the label continued to the bottom of the cartridge for some inexplicable reason. These early labels use an ink roll printing method, perhaps it was even done by hand, the second style of labels have only an end label that appears to be properly/'professionally' printed. I’ve never seen the PCB of one of these Panda games, since the cartridges snap shut with no screws, but I’m pretty sure all I’ll find on the PCB is a giant blob of solder. The cartridge shell may be a bit familiar to collectors several obscure and sought after games like Quest for Quintana Roo, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and even Spy Hunter from Sega share the same or extremely similar cartridge design. In fact they just seem to be slightly modified, cheapened, Apollo cartridges with the branding removed. The artwork used for the boxes was stolen from the stolen games which isn’t hard to believe considering just about every bootlegger did the same thing. The art style is really all over the place, from cartoonish and kinda bad with Space Canyon and Harbor Escape, to professional painting with Excocet and Seahawk, to slightly amateurish airbrush work with Dice Puzzle and Stuntman. All of the games that were stolen from Sancho simply use Sancho’s artwork, apart from Stuntman. Tank Brigade, Space Canyon, and Harbor Escape have ‘original’ artwork, since they weren’t from Sancho they had to steal somebody else’s artwork. I don’t know where they stole it from, or maybe considering the cartoonish nature of them they were done by Panda themselves, or at least commissioned by them. Also if you’re wondering the manuals are just standard printer paper with the bare basic information printed on them, nowhere near as bad as Zellers’ instructions but still very lacking. Luckily for us Panda decided to issue some sales flyers back in the day, detailing which games they were selling, they didn’t release all of them which is unfortunate as there were a few unique titles that weren’t seen anywhere else. Here’s a list of them: Tank Brigade – Phantom Tank from Bit Corporation AKA Tanks but No Tanks from ZiMAG. Galactic Invaders – Unreleased, if you know of a space shooter with 24 game variations specifically, that’s what it was going to be. Space Canyon – Space Cavern by Apollo, they really butchered the graphics with this one. Baseball – Unreleased, I have no idea what game they were stealing with this one. Excocet – Excocet by Sancho, they really didn’t try with these. Seahawk – Seahawk by Sancho. Harbor Escape – River Raid by Activision, that’s lawsuit worthy. Dice Puzzle – Dice Puzzle by Sancho. Forest – Unreleased, same name same game from Sancho. Stunt Man – Actually Nightmare by Sancho, for some reason Panda changed the name and artwork despite advertising it as Nightmare originally with Sancho’s artwork. Skindiver – Unreleased, yep Sancho again, also better known as Sea Hunt from Froggo. For all anyone knows Panda was just a frontage company set up by Sancho to sell their games in the US, and I kinda wish they managed to release all of the games, if only to get a somewhat officially released version of Forest in the US. At this point these games are just novelties with the only one that would be worth searching for being Stunt Man as it is the only NTSC version of Nightmare, from what I can tell not even South America touched that one. Just buy the official or Froggo releases, the only game where it might be cheaper to own the Panda version is with Tank Brigade, but that’s only if people list the game at what it’s worth. Yeah, due to their weirdness factor these games are sought after and are highly scalped, so don’t trust any of the prices on Ebay, they’re worth twenty bucks not a hundred and twenty. Here are the original sales flyers, they're from Atarimania if you're wondering
  9. Very true! Kool-Aid Man and Air Raiders are also fantastic despite them not being on Intellivision.
  10. So I’m gone for over a week and what do I come back with? Space Attack, a very bad idea from Mattel. Mattel’s MO was to make, slightly inferior perhaps, ports of their Intellivision games and release them on the 2600 to entice people over to the Intellivision, whether it worked or not is anyone’s guess. Most of the games Mattel ported were simple shooters that didn’t require much use of the Intellivision’s keypad controller, Space Attack, or Space Battle as the INTV port was called, is the major exception. Space battle used eleven of the twelve keypad button, and somehow that all had to be condensed into a single button controller. The graphics are unimpressive to say the least, there are two different screens in this game and they’re both fairly boring. First of all there is the radar screen, it is green and has squares arranged in rectangles around a center point, the only movements you’ll see are the icons of the friendly and enemy squadrons which are just colored dots. The play screen is also fairly lackluster, I will give credit for the colorful starfield, but at some point it gets a bit too colorful, I’m pretty sure there aren’t teal, green, and brown stars anywhere in the universe. The enemy ships are just a bunch of blue waffles that zip around the screen, I noticed that there are only ever a maximum of three at once, likely to cut down on flicker, but they move fast enough for it not the effect the gameplay. The sounds are just terrible, even for the 2600 these are just bad. A cavalcade of beeps awaits you, and one of the most disappointing booms I’ve ever received from a 2600 game. The 2600 was capable of far better than this. In order to condense so many commands into a single button and joystick Mattel made the direction you moved the joystick in conjunction with whether or not the button was held down command each individual squadron. In order to dispatch a squadron you hold the button down and move the stick up, left, or right, and when a squadron meets and enemy you simply move the joystick in the squadron’s designated direction. When described like that it seems fairly simple but I only know this because I have the manual, when I first played this on my Atari Flashback I couldn’t understand the game at all and never made it to the action screen despite many attempts to understand the game. The action is also a bit of a letdown. You move a cursor/crosshair around the screen and shoot at enemies that fly around and be a general nuisance. The cursor moves fast enough but your shots take a little while to get to where they’re going which means you have to lead the enemy by a bit, and since they love hanging around on the edges of the screen there is a bit of waiting involved. A few thiongs I do have to give this game credit for are the explosions destroying other enemies, if you get a pack you can knock out three to four at once, and the real-time mode where the enemies still advance and computer will fight for you while you’re battle an enemy squadron. It really is a pity this game is so boring to play though. I understand that Mattel was trying to entice gamers over to their console but this just wasn’t the game to do it with. Space Attack was released in 1982, Space Battle was released on the Intellivision in 1980, technically 1979, by the time Space Attack was released Star Raiders, Star Master, and Phaser Patrol were on the market or coming soon. All three of these games knock Space Attack out of the park with their complexity, action, and superior graphics. Mattel just couldn’t hold a candle to the competition. If you want to get a copy of Space Attack then you’re in luck, it’s dirt cheap. Currently you can buy a copy new in the box for six dollars with free shipping, but I honestly don’t know why you would. Space Attack goes to the Collector’s Zone, it’s just boring, and thank goodness Mattel didn’t release their 2600 port of Sea Battle!
  11. I have a rant for you, I’m very tired and it’s very rambly but I think I may have made a few good points. Here’s something odd that many people have a hard time coming to terms with, rarity does not equal value. When the topic of old games comes up in conversation I usually have to reiterate this multiple times, and almost every time I do this the person I’m talking to gets that greedy little gleam in their eye. “Oh, I have a Nintendo/Atari/Sega in the basement, and I have a bunch of games, I bet I could sell them and get a bunch of money.” That’s usually the gist of what they wind up saying every time, I get the feeling that they search on Ebay what their stuff is worth and wind up getting disappointed because their copy of Jack Niclaus Gold on NES isn’t worth 500 dollars. Because chances are, they don’t have anything worth anything. I feel that ‘The Media’ might have something to do with this overinflating of value, especially when it comes to old games. Most articles you see are about the .0001% of games, the ultra rare/valuable/famous, and they come out with outrageous numbers that may or may not be real, sure Air Raid sold for 33K in the box, but that doesn’t mean your copy of Defender is worth anything, or any of your games for that matter. You know what drives the value of a game up? Notoriety, or perhaps a good story, perhaps some mystery, something for people to dig their teeth into. A good story can turn an item from a curiosity into a collectible. The Air Raid cartridges are rare and have a good story to them, the same with Pepsi Invaders, or any of the ultra rare games in most game system’s libraries. NTSC Stadium Events has a good story and is rare, same with NWC carts or that sealed test market SMB that sold for 100k, that has a story, it has history. People care about those games, and it helps that they’re on popular systems. Word of mouth drove the prices of Earthbound up from the bargain bin to hundreds of dollars on Ebay, and the rarity did help give the game an air of value and exclusivity. I’m gonna quickly switch over to the absolute epitome of a good story increasing the desirability of an item. The Mona Lisa, despite being one of Da Vinci’s works was no more than another painting in the Louvre with a small following of art professionals, until it was stolen and became public knowledge and was soon hailed as a masterwork and is know the most famous work of art in history. But back to games. Some games are just valuable because they’re rare; yes I admit that wholeheartedly, some games are just rare, if I may fall back into my comfort zone of the 2600 for a moment. Games like Asterix, Eli’s Ladder, and Red Sea Crossing are just rare, they don’t have a particularly compelling story and in the case of some weren’t even known to exist until they were just found and released online. They’re rare and people will pay large sums for the exclusivity of owning it that’s just a given. Then you have the rarities that nobody cares about, I have several, in my experience much of this falls into the realm of the PC, though I have a few console games that would fall into this category. I am one of the tiny few who are even aware that Classic Pinball for Windows 3.1 by Impressions Software exists, I am currently the only person on the internet who has admitted to owning it, that being said, I’d be lucky to break even when selling it and I paid next to nothing for it. I own Windows Arcade Pack by WizardWorks, of which only a grainy image of the CD has ever been seen online, and yet I know that nobody is interested. The same thing goes for Championship Pool, also by WizardWorks, also for Windows, nobody cares. These could be the only complete copies on earth and nobody would care. I own a review cartridge of Choplifter for the SMS and the guy who sold it to me won’t even take it back. I have a review copy of Flight Simulator II on C64 with a letter of apology from the VP of Marketing at SUBLogic about the lateness of said review copy; the guy who sold it to me couldn’t even sell it on Ebay for ten bucks. Why is Custer’s Revenge more valuable than Bumper Bash despite it being far more common? Bumper Bash might just be the rarest pinball videogame to have ever been released and yet you can get a copy for less than 100 dollars while people pay similar to higher prices for something like Chase the Chuck Wagon which is more common. People have paid more for Devil’s Crush on Turbografx-16 than people have for Bumper Bash on Atari. Why do people still spend in excess of sixty dollars, as much as a brand new game, for Conker’s Bad Fur Day? The game isn’t even rare, if you cut the crap there are probably three full Ebay pages of nothing but Conker’s, the game isn’t rare. And you know what, I have the answer as to why some of these rare games are so worthless, people don’t care. People would rather play Devil’s Crush over Bumper Bash. People would rather own conversation starters like Custer’s Revenge or Chuck Wagon over Bumper Bash. People spend sixty dollars on Conker’s Bad Fur Day because it’s a good game, nobody cares about a pinball game for Windows from a company that nobody’s ever heard of, and nobody cares about a review copy of a flight sim game on C64. An item is only worth what its purchaser will pay for it, demand drives the market, and there is just no demand, and possibly no market, for these near worthless rarities.
  12. Those of you who’ve been around for a bit, or have gone back to my earlier reviews will know that Wizard of Wor was the first review I ever wrote. In all the time since I wrote that review my opinions of the game have not changed, it’s still a fantastic game. But that was with the 2600 version, I’ve recently acquired the 5200 version and I wonder how it holds up to its predecessor. I also wonder how the controller will affect the gameplay, but we’ll get to that when it comes. The graphics are alright though everything seems really basic. Enemies are now sporting multiple colors, though only for their eyes and tails, and are very much lacking in any animation apart from their legs moving. It is much the same for the player controlled character, he’s all yellow apart from his arm which is red, and only his legs have any animation. The mazes themselves feel very off, and after playing the 2600 version I’ve figured out why. They’re tiny, the mazes, although the main focus of the game, are tiny compared to the 2600 version or any other version for that matter, even the Astrocade version had a larger maze. Due to the shrunk down maze size everything had to be made smaller to accommodate it leading to how basic everything looks, heck this looks more basic than an Intellivision game, apart from the multicolored sprites I’m sure the Intellivision could do as good a job if not better. The sounds oddly enough don’t sound as good as the chunky bass heavy 2600, and while the sounds are no doubt more complex they don’t seem to fit the game as well and overall feel very staticky. In what I feel is a bit of a missed opportunity there are no voice samples in the game, I know they would take up quite a bit of storage but I get the feeling it was entirely possible especially when taking Berzerk into consideration, it had them, not many but it still had some. I’ve been dreading this, how does the 5200 controller affect the gameplay? Well it renders the game virtually unplayable, in my opinion, especially when coupled with the tweaked enemy behavior. The movement is slow and imprecise and the joystick has too much travel and too large a deadzone for accurate and fine movement. It feels like I’m pushing the stick through molasses, and the slow movement makes me feel like the in game character is wading through it as well. The enemies behave extremely erratically, whenever they reach an intersection there is a very good chance that they will just turn around and juggle themselves in small pockets of the maze. The enemies in the arcade also did this but it had either microswitched or standard contact point joysticks which allowed for quick and responsive control. The enemy behavior is not conducive to this joystick, if they had behaved like in the 2600 version, never turning around and simply steamrolling ahead, it would be far more playable. The contents of the game appear to be complete, you have all the standard mazes and enemies, and if it wasn’t for the controllers this might be the penultimate Wizard of Wor experience, second only to the arcade, or perhaps the C64 version, but I haven’t tried that one out yet. Unfortunately the controller really kills this one and the Trak-Ball doesn’t work so this might actually wind up being the worst home port of this classic arcade game. Unfortunately copies of this game are relatively scarce, with most coming to around 15-20 dollars loose, and I don’t even know what they’d go for boxed, if its anything near the 2600 boxed price then it really isn’t worth it. Wizard of Wor on the 5200 goes to the Collector’s Zone, just play the 2600 version, or wait for Wizard of Wor Arcade from Champ Games, also for the 2600, basically anything but this one.
  13. So today I did something that I've never done before. I took a broken, non-working system, specifically an Atari 2600, and fixed it. I bought the system and box together (matching serial numbers), with no inserts, paperwork, or controllers, at a highly reduced price. The last time I snagged a matching SN console and box it was a Vader with the box only and working for 90$, this time I got lucky and got this non working four switch Woody for 50$, and considering this guy sells working 2600's at 40$ a pop I'd say I got a bargain. He told me that he'd tested it and it was not working, so I'd initially resigned to just buying one of his working consoles and switching the boards but this time I though that I might try to see what was wrong. Due to this being a four switch Woody to chips are socketed, which means I'd be able to just swap the bad chips out if that was indeed the problem, I have two complete sets of chips for occasions like this. At first glance everything seemed to point to the chips being the issue, there was no corrosion on the board, no bad caps, it's probably the cleanest system I've ever seen. The RF shielding was still on, and there was a repair/QA slip dating to 1982 which I'm guessing means this thing hasn't been opened since then and since the RF shielding shows no sign of being opened I assume that is the case. So I open this thing up and... It all looks pretty good, the chips are clean and there's no sign of wear, upon powering up the system none of the chips got hot which means there isn't a short anywhere, what a mystery. Perhaps this system just decided to die, but I'm not going to let it, it's time to re-seat some chips, I try the TIA chip, nothing, I try the 6502, nothing, then I try the RAM, and wouldn't you know it, one of the pins has folded in and in not actually fitting in the socket, bingo. I put in one of my spare RAM chips and there we go we're playing some Basic Math, I decided to just use the spare instead of trying to unfold the errant pin, I've tried that before and the pin usually winds up falling off, at least in my experience. Oh man, the guy at the game store is going to be so pissed! Especially when i tell him what was wrong with the thing. That brings up the question though, how long has this console been like this, it came in with a stack of games with the latest one being from 1983. Hmmm, clearly someone put the chip in badly and never bothered to check the system again and so it languished in a basement for the past 30 or so years. Perhaps this was Atari's fault, or perhaps somebody got in there and screwed around and messed the thing up, then perfectly put the console back together, but lost a single screw in the process. What a weird thing, well anyway I think that deducts one from my 2600 body count, now it's down to three.
  14. DoctorSpuds

    Dig Dug (Atari)

    From the album: My Collection

  15. DoctorSpuds

    Defender (Atari)

    From the album: My Collection

  16. DoctorSpuds

    Mario Bros. (Atari)

    From the album: My Collection

  17. DoctorSpuds

    Berzerk (Atari)

    From the album: My Collection

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