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Journey Escape : Atari 2600 : Retro Review

Journey Escape : Atari 2600 : Retro Review Journey Escape, for the Atari 2600, was released in 1982. Andy why not? Journey’s popularity was peaking with the video game revolution, it was sure to have an audience. I can find no evidence on the actual sales, but a used cartridge seems easily available today, I have to assume quite a few copies were put into the market. As a Journey fan, I enjoyed the game as a kid and I still had fun testing the game again for this retro-review. Not an overly complex game, your object is to guide each individual band member to the “escape” vehicle after a concert performance. As the screen scrolls vertically, you maneuver the current character past the onslaught of photographers, love crazed fans, asshole record label people, etc.  You can speed up by pressing up, but that means everything comes after you faster.  You also move left and right to dodge the obstacles. The obstacles slow you down and you have a limited time to reach the vehicle.  The levels increasingly get harder as you complete guiding all members, finally ending with Steve Perry. Once complete you have a final score at the end, and the games over.  Score is done in dollars, and running into obstacles slow you down and drain your cash. The game still has appeal, I thought it was pretty entertaining to go through it again.  And I won on the first try.  Is it that easy, or am I that good? Speaking of Journey, this has me reminising about the old stand up arcade game released a year later.  This time you guide each band member through a unique, and very fun, level or mini-game. After each level is completed, you then get to the pay off stage. The arcade machine begins to jam, at a loud volume, a recording of Separate Ways. As the music starts, the band is...
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Raiders of the Lost Ark : Atari 2600 : RetroReview

Raiders of the Lost Ark : Atari 2600 : RetroReview Indiana Jones made his video game debut in Raiders of the Lost Ark for the Atari 2600,  released in 1982. Wow, what can I say. I played the hell out of this game when I was in 4th grade. And I solved it often. If you asked me 30 years ago, I would have rated this game a 10. It was my favorite game. I tried playing it again after putting it down for decades. I remembered how to do most of the necessary steps, but I did run into a road block, unlike Adventure. I have to ponder, how much time did i spend on this as a kid? The game is not intuitive nor is there anything apparent  on what to do next. We played and solved it by a large network of players sharing information.  No internet.  However, today, I did use the internet to remind me of a couple things. So we take on our favorite hero, Indiana Jones, and we start in a market. Using both joysticks (one to control Indy, on to control your inventory), you navigate Indiana Jones through many screens collecting items and trying to figure out what to do with them. There is not many things that relate to the movie at all… It’s really just a weird game of trial and error. But why was it so intriguing 30 years ago? It was the first of its kind on many levels, and that made this game very intriguing.  It was one of first role playing games (RPG), where Adventure could be a an earlier one and I believe Intellivision did have a Dungeons and Dragons game. It was the first game, that i know of, where you actually have a controllable inventory of 6 items. Ultimately, I didn’t have the time or patients to solve this again today.  The grappling hook, that you...
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The Castlevania Adventure: Game Boy: RetroReview

The Castlevania Adventure: Game Boy: RetroReview Though I like Castlevania, I haven’t played many games in the series; this would be the third I’ve finished. Like many other Game Boy games this was made to be pretty straight forward, it isn’t difficult to figure out the objective or the controls for that matter, its the execution that provides the challenge. Your main character, Christopher Belmont, is a whip-cracking, 16th century bad-ass that has a terrible habit of dragging his feet. As a result of the slow movement, the physics require a bit of getting used to; it can be quite difficult to dodge attacks and execute jumping puzzles without dropping like a stone in the proverbial pit. Yet again, this is among the wide assortment of classic platforming games that requires repetitive play in order to progress through. You need to memorize enemy attacks, locations of hidden items, jumping patterns, etc.. in order to survive to the end. Whip upgrades are a must at all times, taking damage will downgrade you making it that much more of a pain to continue on; even though there is only 4 levels, by the third is it absolutely necessary to keep it powered up, as your standard wet noodle won’t get the job done. I want to say it is a short game, but after spending so much time “practicing”, I had probably spent less time doing a second play-through of Metal Gear Rising than overall progress on just trying to beat this once. Don’t get me wrong this is a good game, I enjoyed it! However if you are the type of player that will turn the power off if you aren’t doing that well right away, this isn’t a game for you; again, requires time and patience to succeed. HippoBytes ratings: RetroReview Score: 7.5 of 10 Still fun today: Sure Rarity:...
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Dark Cavern : Atari 2600 : RetroReview

Dark Cavern : Atari 2600 : RetroReview Dark Cavern, for the Atari 2600, was released in 1982. I recently picked this up from a local retrogaming shop here in Houston. I find it tons of fun to pick up many titles for about 3 bucks – what do you have to lose? And you get to build your collection relatively cheaply. The title, Dark Cavern, intrigued me. Hoping for another Adventure type game, I was utterly disappointed. I know I have to set my expectations lower based on a lot of the Atari 2600 games that came out during the time – it was quantity to the corporations, not quality – and Atari being a main offender of this at the time. Make games quick and sell them for a lot. People caught on and it ultimately caused the home video game console crash of the mid-80’s. Dark Cavern is not a lot of fun. You are perpetually stuck on one screen, or maze, controlling a guy with a gun. Things (blobs and such) move around the maze that can stun you if you hit them, but you can also use your limited ammo to shoot them. You have the opportunity to collect more ammo. The main goal is to avoid the shooting robots  amongst the other things in the cavern. If you shoot them, they still are able to shoot you too until they disappear and another one comes. Dark cavern is quickly monotonous. It seems to be a rip-off of Wizard of Wor – which I remember being better game (though its been a lifetime) although I didn’t like it too much either. HippoBytes ratings: RetroReview Score: 4 of 10 Still fun today: No Rarity:...
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Lock ‘N’ Chase : Atari 2600 : RetroReview

Lock ‘N’ Chase : Atari 2600 : RetroReview Lock ‘N’ Chase, released in 1982, is obviously a Pac-Man rip off. You are a robber moving around a maze collecting  gold bars (or dots in Pac-Man). You even have opportunities for more points by other objects appearing, in lieu of Pac-Man’s fruit. Instead of four ghosts, you have cops coming to beat yo’ ass. Now there are no power-pills to chomp to turn the approaching enemy into an edible item, instead you are armed with the ability to slam doors to keep the police from jacking you up. The doors are only on the horizontal too, so you often don’t get intended results when you do slam the door. Other than that, Lock ‘N’ Chase is just a Pac-Man variation that gets old rather quickly. Pac-Man was novelty when it came it. It had intriguing colors, graphics, and even addicting sounds. Years later, Lock ‘N’ Chase didn’t really accomplish any of this, given it was on a limited platform. The point being, its a poor rip-off on a platform that doesn’t allow too-too much. The screens don’t chance and nothing new is ever introduced.  It’s just severely mediocre. RetroReview Score: 5 of 10 Still fun today: Not really… maybe for 2 minutes. Rarity:...
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M*A*S*H : Atari 2600 : RetroReview

M*A*S*H : Atari 2600 : RetroReview M*A*S*H, for the Atari 2600, was released in 1983. It’s a pretty cool game base off the popular TV show and released by 20th Century Fox. I am not going to go into detail about how you are Hawkeye and everything, this is purely about the game. You are a medic helicopter who’s mission is to pick up wounded soldiers and bring them back to your camp. For some reason, annoying trees get in the way of your helicopter as you traverse the map. There is also enemy fire coming from the bottom of the screen and if you are shot, you crash to the bottom and are rushed off by another medic unit to start again. This slows you down. And speed is very important because you are put in competition of an agressive AI helicopter and you have to save more than him. The first to 999 points wins. If you fall behind a little bit, don’t worry.  You will have a chance to make up some points when you go into the operating room. Like a digital version of Operation, you are tasked to remove bullets from a wounded soldier as quick as possible without risky accuracy. Touch the sides, and you toast the dude and you’re back to the copters. Well, even if you do well, you’re back to the copters after X amount of time. The more bullets you can remove, the more points you accumulate. There are a few game options too that give the game a bit more longevity.  Best, you can play two player which offers fun, fast-paced, competition.  You can also opt to play the game with out enemy fire, or just go right to the operating table. There is also a weird option where you are able to catch falling soldiers from an airplane. It’s reminiscent Kaboom but with competition and trees in the way....
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Mickey Mouse and the Castle of Illusion : Sega Genesis : RetroReview

Mickey Mouse and the Castle of Illusion : Sega Genesis : RetroReview Mickey Mouse and the Castle of Illusion. I worked at Software, Etc. in 1990 when this game first came out. I recently traded in my NES for a new 16-bit Sega Genesis. I skipped getting the Turbo Grafx 16 because I knew it was only two 8-bit processors and not a true 16-bit processor. Though Bonk was a pretty fun game. I was hesitant to try this title because I was never a big Disney fan and the theme actually portrayed the title as a bit childish.  I was a senior in high school, and Mickey Mouse? It didn’t add up. But I was a sales person for the store and I read positive reviews of the game in the trade magazines, so I decided to give it a try. To this very day, this game comes down to one of my all time favorites. I told my wife I wanted a classic Sega Genesis for Christmas and this was the first game that came to mind. Now I loved Sonic when he became the mascot for the Genesis, as Mario was for the Nintendo, but this game was special.  For the time, the graphics were impressive and the story was actually intriguing. But what made this game was the game-play itself – the usability, the playability. It was responsive, intuitive, and handled with ease. This was well ahead of anything else out at its time, and I liked the control better than the 3 Super Mario Brothers that proceeded it. Like Super Mario Brothers, this was a platform style game where you controlled the character along the ledges of each scene avoiding dangers, hunting for secrets, defeating enemies, and ultimately getting to the end – while collecting everything you could find along the way. If I had a chance to remake a game today, I would choose this...
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Dolphin by Activision : Atari 2600 : RetroReview

Dolphin by Activision : Atari 2600 : RetroReview Like previously stated by my colleague, Adam, Activision was one of the first quality developers to make video games for a popular home console. Side note: A lot of the original programers for Activision had their start at Atari, but left to form their own company after being denied individual credit for their work. Most of their games are original, colorful and definitely push the system to its limits. I first played Dolphin only a few years ago, but fell in love with it immediately! In this game you play as a dolphin (shockingly enough), which swims continuously towards the right, evading an encroaching octopus. The object is stay away from the octopus for as long as possible, ether following the currents which are the < and > symbols that pass you by pushing you closer or further away, or using your sonar; depending on the pitch of this tone your given a before-hand idea of where an opening will be on a passing wall (of shrimp?). Higher pitch openings are further up, lower pitches are closer to the bottom. After a while you begin to memorize where the openings are every time which is an important key; failure to pass through this wall will push you back and closer to the grasp of the octopus. After some time a seagull will fly by overhead, and when touched, gives you what appears to be “Star Power” like in Super Mario Bros, allowing you to swim back and pimp-slap that octopus rewarding you with a hefty score, then progression to the next level. A great simplistic game that definitely earns its place in anyone’s collection, amongst other excellent Activision 2600 games! RetroReview Score: 8 of 10 Still fun today?: For the simplistic nature of classic Atari games, Yes. Availability:...
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