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Publisher Thoughts #2: CBS Electronics

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Well, since I knocked off another small corner of the 2600 library (or at least the portion of said corner that I happen to own), I thought I'd quickly run through my initial thoughts on another publisher. Same idea as the Coleco thread. These are my initial thoughts, and nothing received more than half an hour of play time, so take these impressions with as much salt as needed. I'd like to hear other opinions, agreements and disagreements, etc. I'm more looking to promote discussion and interest than cause controversy, and would definitely like to hear what others think about these (and other) games.

 

One note - I use "5/10" as being an absolutely average game. It kind of came up with some of my "harsh" rankings on the Coleco thread. Even a 4/10 can be an okay game in my books, and 7/10 is above average. 8+ would be great, and 3 and under would be crap. Anything in the 4-6 range are not bad, just not great. My scores on someone else's scoring system might look substantially higher, and my low scores do not necessarily mean I don't like a game or that it's not worthwhile. Unless it's a 1...then it's probably crap :P

 

Anyway, without further ado, here's CBS Electronics!

 

Blueprint: Although I didn't play a whole lot, I did manage to knock off a couple early levels. It's a neat little game, hard to describe really. A bit of memory, a bit of action, and a neat little "shooter" boss stage after collecting all the parts you need. While not perfect, I did enjoy firing it up, and am looking forward to the next time I play it...maybe with a somewhat better joystick, as the one I'm using right now is a wee bit wonky. 7/10

 

Gorf: Unfortunately, I don't own it yet.

 

Mountain King: Now, I've seen conflicting reviews on this, so I'm thinking it may be a bit controversial to some, but I really enjoy Mountain King. The controls are a bit tough to get the hang of, as I kept trying to use the button to jump, but I'm sure I'll get the hang of it eventually. The visuals aren't the greatest, but they're more than adequate, and I honestly really like the music. The bats are frustrating, especially with the iffy movement, but not enough to break the game, at least for me. 7/10

 

Omega Race: While I do own it, I don't have a Booster Grip. Even though there are other options that I could use, I feel it'd be a disservice to review it without using the controls it was designed for. As such, it's currently unplayed.

 

Solar Fox: I fired it up and was like "ooh, another dot muncher...yay..." That said, I actually really liked it. While not an original concept or anything groundbreaking, and it's not really much to look at, it's much better to play than to watch, that's for sure. Solid, but unremarkable. 5/10

 

Tunnel Runner: Unfortunately this is another in the "don't yet own" category.

 

Wizard of Wor: I was thinking this was gonna be another Pac-Clone when I fired it up and saw the maze, but man am I glad to have been wrong! The maze is the only similarity. It's like a maze-based shooter and works really well on the hardware. I've never played any other version, so I can't say how it stacks up, but man is it ever a fun game. Sadly, I didn't have anyone handy to play it co-op with, as I feel that this could really be a classic with two players simultaneously working together to beat the Wizard while also competing with each other to get the highest score. Do you kill your friend for an easy 1000 points, or let him live so you may survive the beasts longer? As it is, it's still a damn good game that I'll likely play again! 6/10 (with a potentially higher mark for multiplayer).

 

OVERALL: While only playing 4 of 7 titles doesn't really give the whole picture, when the worst I can say about one of their games is that it's horribly average, I'd say it's one of the better third party publishers on the system IMO. Based on what I've played, I definitely want to get the rest to see what else I'm missing. I wasn't expecting any of these games to be any good going in, so I'm incredibly glad to have been wrong! Overall publisher rating: 7/10

 

And now for a bit of post-thread analysis: I'm actually having a lot of fun doing these lists, both for the exploration of the 2600 library AND for the sharing of my thoughts on the games themselves. If anyone has any suggestions for good (or bad...I like bad games too for some reason) publishers for the next thread, or perhaps some ideas on breaking down the first party games (so the lists aren't insanely long when it comes time to do them), feel free to mention them along with your thread-related posts! Thanks for reading :)

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CBS was the first publisher I acquired a complete collection of, but the only games I play with any regularity are Gorf and Wizard of Wor, which are both solid ports of great arcade games. Tunnel Runner is a game a lot of people love. It's technically very impressive but I've never really gotten into it. Playing that and Gorf will only help CBS's overall score. In my eyes, Blueprint really fails to capture the essence of the arcade game. Seeing you rate it so high makes me wonder what your take on the original would be. Overall I agree with your assessment of CBS as one of the better 3rd party publishers. Some solid ports (Gorf, Solar Fox, Wizard of Wor) and a couple of unique and interesting originals.

 

I'd suggest breaking down the Atari published games chronologically. Start with the launch titles and then group the rest together in whatever size chunks you're comfortable doing. It'd be interesting to see how they progressed not only in the quality of games but how the types of games they produced changed over the life of the system.

Edited by KaeruYojimbo

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I had no idea there was an arcade version of Blueprint, although I guess I'm not surprised either. I've never been big on the arcade scene, so I just never really looked I guess. Something for me to consider next time I boot up my buddy's MAME cab though.

 

As for chronologically breaking the first party games, that would definitely be a good idea. I'm just not sure how big the chunks would be if I do that, y'know what I mean? I'd like to keep them in the under 20 range if possible, and that may simply not be possible for some years without some other arbitrary breakdown. Unless of course there's a chronological list with release months on it (because I know release dates as we know them were almost unheard of back then). Chronological is my personal leaning though, I just want to make sure that any further breakdowns I need to do are done logically, know what I mean?

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Random Terrain has release dates broken down by month, but he doesn't have any before 1980.

 

http://www.randomterrain.com/atari-2600-memories-history-1982.html

 

There are some other thematic breakdowns you could use. Launch titles, like I suggested before. The children's titles (the Sesame Street games, Pigs in Space, Snoopy and the Red Baron, Sorcerer's Apprentice).

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Well, I've already picked out all the launch titles I own (I've got 8 of 9 according to Wikipedia, only "missing" Basic Math), so that'll probably be the next batch. I know I'll definitely need to do more than a few minutes on each though...most will have enough variations to require a few separate plays to get the most out of each, so I'm not expecting it to happen all in one night or anything...although who knows with me :P

 

I've bookmarked the link you gave me so I can reference it. I'm thinking I may go with Wikipedia as far as the year goes, and break them down into chunks as needed to keep the numbers reasonable. I don't want to do all Atari in one fell swoop though...I'm thinking more like doing a publisher or two and then doing a chunk of Atari published games, just to mix things up. I may be making a mountain out of a molehill though...it doesn't look like there were terribly many first party releases in any year, so it may just be a matter of splitting the years in two at most. But we'll see...I'll start with the launch and go from there :)

 

To close this post though, I have to say that I'm thoroughly enjoying making these threads. It makes the daunting task of trying out 200+ games (of which I've played maybe 20 prior to starting) far more manageable. And being a younger dude who grew up with the NES, it's also showing me what I missed out on. Maybe I'll even manage to get my nieces playing Atari instead of Minecraft...now THAT will be a task! :P

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If you're looking for bad games, I suggest Data Age. Apollo also has a pretty high percentage of stinkers. Telesys is an underrated third party publisher. Even if you don't care for the games, there's just a higher level of quality to them than the other smaller publishers. The problem is some of their games, including their best releases, are pretty rare.

 

It's fun reading someone rating these with fresh eyes, not "tainted" by nostalgia or just out to get a few cheap laughs making fun of "crappy old games."

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Yeah, I try to be open minded when it comes to new games, and unlike many who grew up with more advanced systems, I can enjoy most games for what they are. I know the limits of the VCS, and some of the games so far have blown me away by how much they managed to accomplish with such limitations. I suppose that comes with developers figuring out tricks to coax more out of the hardware, but even some early games...in anticipation of the next thread I post, I fired up Blackjack and just spent an hour on it. Is it simple? Sure. Is there better versions out there? Definitely. But is it fair to judge it based on what another console is capable of? Hell no! I think the biggest enjoyment I have with it though is that I've played the crap out of my NES, and have at least a passing familiarity with the bulk of the library. There isn't really an unexplored corner for me to check out. With the VCS though, there's a ton of games I have yet to experience, and even though I have had people tell me what they think is good, there's so much that they haven't told me about for one reason or another, and it's almost like unless I ask about a specific title, it just doesn't get thought of often, even if it's a good game.

 

As for your publisher recommendations, I've actually been thinking of Data Age myself, although I've only got 4 games for it. Telesys might be interesting, but I only have Fast Food, so it probably wouldn't be a good one to hit right now. Apollo could be interesting...a cursory glance at the list shows that I should have at least half of them, and probably more, so that may be a near-future publisher to do. Meanwhile, I'll talk to my buddy and see if I can score some loaners to play :P

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Gorf is a must own IMO. Even though it's missing the Galaxians stage, always thought it was an excellent port for the time.

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I have a soft spot for this publisher.

 

Mountain King- I like this game, but I prefer the visuals of the other versions to the 2600. The 2600 does have a fun glitch though, where if you jump, land and immediately jump again, you will jump much much higher than humanly possible. If you do a high jump from the top of the mountain, you can see ladders and platforms above that shouldn't be there. If you time it right, you can catch a ladder and and explore this area.

 

Wizard of Wor - It's actually an arcade conversion, but a pretty good one at that.

 

Tunnel Runner - Too bad you weren't able to try this. It's a rare 3D first person maze game, and it actually plays well for a 3D First Person game on the 2600. It's one of the 2600 games I still like to play

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Well, I'm working on acquiring Gorf right now (among others)...funny how much cheaper it is compared with what I can find locally. I don't think I've seen a copy for less than $30 locally...granted that's Canadian, but even when factoring shipping and the exchange rate, that's just stupid expensive. Hopefully the deal gets hammered out soon so I can try it out within the next couple weeks :)

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Well, I'm working on acquiring Gorf right now (among others)...funny how much cheaper it is compared with what I can find locally. I don't think I've seen a copy for less than $30 locally...granted that's Canadian, but even when factoring shipping and the exchange rate, that's just stupid expensive. Hopefully the deal gets hammered out soon so I can try it out within the next couple weeks :)

 

hmm, I could swear Gorf was one of those games that was in close-out bins everywhere back in the day.

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hmm, I could swear Gorf was one of those games that was in close-out bins everywhere back in the day.

 

I think most games ended up in closeout bins back in the day. But, yeah, 30 dollars is stupid expensive for Gorf (even Canadian).

 

It seems like nowadays, the games that end up on clearance because nobody wanted them are the games that command high prices on the collector's market later because there are fewer copies of them to be had.

Edited by KaeruYojimbo
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It seems like nowadays, the games that end up on clearance because nobody wanted them are the games that command high prices on the collector's market later because there are fewer copies of them to be had.

 

So then we just need to find out which landfill the unsold copies got buried in..?

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Oh, the local market here is retarded. Some shit I've actually seen sell (not just sit for sale, they actually SELL): $50 for ET (CIB at least, but still, come on!), $20 for CIB Combat, $5/each for damn near any 50 cent and under title. Defender is a $10 cart. Same with Missile Command, Asteroids, Space Invaders, or really anything with name recognition. I've never seen a cart for under $5, but frequently see common titles at $30+. I'd hate to see what people would be charging for something legitimately rare!

 

On the plus side, I see Zellers games reasonably frequently, and they're usually in the $5-10 range. I even snagged a couple CIBs for under $20, even though I collect loose carts...when I have a buddy going CIB, it's nice to throw him a bone once in a while :P It would just be nice if deals were a bit more frequent around here though.

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I bought Gorf back in the day and I thought it was a great game. Heck, looking back I don't recall if I played the arcade game - maybe I saw a review of it in Electronic Games?

 

CBS games overall seem to be pretty good.

 

For your time, here's a picture of a donut:

 

pinkdonut.png

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I admit, Omega Race had a unique idea with the Booster Grip Adapter, but I never had one unfortunately. I still think CBS Electronics should've included an option to play with one button, having the joystick pushed upwards move you forwards, just like in Asteroids.

 

As for the other games, Wizard of Wor is pretty fun, and Mountain King is quite challenging too. I'm really impressed with how they did Tunnel Runner though. That's amazing.

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Omega Race with its controller is not all that hot. Thankfully, hacks exist that allow you to play with a Genesis controller or Up for thrust. Should have been programmed that way in the first place. I went years and years unable to play my cartridge due to the rarity of the controller. :mad:

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Ofthe ones I own, Wizard of Wor and Solar Fox are the best. Gorf and Blueprint are very, very good, and Mountain King.. I'm still trying to figure it out. I think I got the hang of the jumping, however.

BTW, great idea for a series of posts.

Edited by Inky

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Gorf is okay, but the rest of the library is great. Mountain King, Solar Fox and Wizard of Wor in particular are all games I adore, and I've enjoyed Blueprint, Omega Race and Tunnel Runner whenever I've thrown them on.

 

Solar Fox is a great example of how to port an arcade game to limited hardware - the essence of the game is there, even if it's missing the bells and whistles.

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I can't even beat the first level of Mountain King! The jump physics are so annoying.

 

Gorf, I quite like, although I hate how flickery the graphics are. (its a problem with Wizard of Wor too)

Edited by G-type

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Wiz, I think you're really underrating Solar Fox and Wizard of Wor (You're both Wizards, where's the solidarity!?), I like both of them much better than Blue Print or Mountain King.

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BTW, great idea for a series of posts.

 

Thanks! The next installment is forthcoming, I'm just debating whether to hold off for a friend on a couple of games or just skip them for the time being due to the 2-player only nature.

 

I can't even beat the first level of Mountain King! The jump physics are so annoying.

 

Wait, it has multiple levels? You're blowing my mind here! I thought it was just the one repeatedly :P

 

Wiz, I think you're really underrating Solar Fox and Wizard of Wor (You're both Wizards, where's the solidarity!?), I like both of them much better than Blue Print or Mountain King.

 

I think it comes down to two things - first is that these are first impressions. I game each game one or two plays and rated accordingly. The other thing is personal taste. Solar Fox and Wizard of Wor are styles of games that I'm not particularly keen on. With Blueprint and Mountain King, they're games I can see myself playing far more frequently. I do think though that if I were ranking two player games, Wizard of Wor would be significantly higher. It just seems like it'd be more fun playing with a friend to help clear the monsters, only to have one of you stab the other in the back for the easy 1000 points. I think as a competitive co-op game it would really shine, but solo it's not something I see myself firing up often.

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I never thought much of CBS until you stacked up all those games ...wow yes they did some good things. WizWor is a fine arcade port, MtnKing is unusual and fun, and everyone loves Gorf so I hope you get it soon

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Regarding the arcade ports.. I think Solar Fox and Wizard of Wor succeeded in bringing home the spirit of their big brothers, although to me Solar Fox desperately needs the arcade's sound flourishes between the matches.. what it has is so OFF compared to the arcade game :lol: Gorf on the other hand felt way too plain. I didn't even feel like I was playing a port.

 

I had a hard time with Mountain King until I took the next step and played the 8-bit versions. THAT allowed me to figure it out a little better and I was able to go backwards and play the 2600 version with fresh eyes.

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I never thought much of CBS until you stacked up all those games ...wow yes they did some good things. WizWor is a fine arcade port, MtnKing is unusual and fun, and everyone loves Gorf so I hope you get it soon

 

Don't worry, I have a Gorf pending in already. First transaction on AA :P

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