Monthly Archives: May 2015

Atari 2600 Friday’s #25 – Frogger

Everyone’s favorite road crossing toad. now if we only knew why.

The Story: Just a little frog trying to cross the road and river and get back to the swamp.

From the Manual: “Leapin’ Frogger! Home may look like it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump away, but looks can be deceiving. First, there’s a dangerous highway to hop across, full of fast-moving cars and trucks. Then there’s a swirling river to leap, full of frog-eating creatures. How’s Frogger going to get home safely? By letting you hop him on his way. Guide Frogger safely through this perilous journey, and you’ll jump for joy!”

From the Box: “It’s tough to be a frog! Life isn’t all lazy days and lil pads – it abounds with dangers. In fact, every leap Frogger takes could be his last! Can you help Frogger survive some perils, and hop Frogger home to safetly? First you have to jump Frogger across a very busy highway. Watch out for the trailer trucks! and all those cars – especially the speeding race cars! Then try to cross a fast-moving river. Keep an eye out for the “lady” frog. When you see her, get Frogger to help her home. If you do, you’ll earn bonus points! Jump Frogger carefully onto the diving turtles before they go under water! And don’t be fooled by the alligators that look like logs . . . Frogger is safe on their backs, but a free meal near their mouths! And then, at higher levels, there are frog-eating snakes! Watch out for them as they slither up and down the riverbank and logs in search of Frogger. Home at last! But look before you leap. If there’s a fly waiting, Frogger can gobble it up for extra points! But if there’s an alligator waiting, it’ll gobble Frogger! Get Frogger past all these obstacles and you’ll jump for joy!”

The Game Play: You must move Frogger from his starting position to one of the bays at the top of the screen withing 30 seconds. Time is monitored by the black bar at the bottom right of the screen. Remaining lives are the dots on the bottom left. You must hop Frogger through 5 lanes of traffic; and then 5 lanes of logs, turtles, and alligators. The alligators will eat Frogger if he gets close to the head, at higher difficulties snakes will join the fray and act the same. The circles are turtles, when blue they are underwater and unsafe to hop on. Every five frogs that make it home will increase the difficulty.

The Controls: Up/down/left/right move Frogger in their respective directions.

Post Review: It’s worth noting that even though it looks obvious that the bays you need to get Frogger to are the 4 green squares, that it the one time of the whole screen you want to hop into the water. Alligators wont show up until round two, which up to it is feasible to wait for the girl frog bonus points as she shows up every other rotation of her log set. I have been playing Frogger since I was a kid on PC, and while there are better versions of Frogger, the joystick feels nice.

The High Score: 798


Atari 2600 Friday’s #24 – Warlords

A Multi-Player Game great for Retro Parties.

The Story: Four princes banished from the kingdom for fighting with each other took a new land and set up four castles where the continued fighting with each other. Nice simple sibling rivalry.

From the Manual: “Once long ago in a distant land lived a king named Frederick. He took very good care of his subjects and pretty much let the kingdom run itself. One day King Frederick and his wife, Queen Christina, decided to start a family. To their surprise, Queen Christina soon gave birth to quadruplets. Four healthy sons, all at once. The King and Queen were overwhelmed. The years passed quickly and Frederick’s sons(Dominick, Marcus, Felipe, and Restivo) grew to be strong young men. But they were nothing like their kind and peaceful father. They were just the opposite. The four sons of King Frederick fought constantly over anything and everything. Their fighting was so fierce that even the normally unconcerned Frederick became concerned. Left to his violent and competitive sons, his peaceful kingdom could very well be destroyed after he was gone, or perhaps even sooner. The solution King Frederick decided upon was drastic, but he knew it had to be. Dominick, Marcus, Felipe, and Restivo were banished from their homeland and sent far away to a forbidden land. There they became warlords, dividing their newly acquired territory into four equal sectors, which incidentally, was the first and last thing they ever agreed upon. They then took to building their own castles, after which the battling resumed and never ended. They stopped catapulting fireballs and lightning balls at one another only long enough to rebuild their damaged and war torn castles. After repairs were made, the fighting always began again with renewed ferocity. So King Frederick’s warlords have been battling for many centuries and now it’s up to you to carry on their long-standing feud. Dominick, Marcus, Felipe, and Restivo have been locked inside this Game Program.(tm) They’ve stored enough fireballs and lightning balls so that they’ll never run out, and neither will you. They can hardly wait to do battle. So good luck, you’re in for some fierce competition.”

From the Box: Interesting the only info on the back of the box is which setting the 23 game modes are. 1-5 for Catch-Lightning Ball, 6-10 for Catch-Fireball, 11-15 for Ricochet-Lightning Ball, and 16-23 for Ricochet-Fireball. and it misspells both Lightening and Richochet as such.

The Game Play: This is basically multi-player break out. You move a shield around your base that bounces the ball back at the other warlords. Your aim is to break through their outer wall and hit the warlord hiding inside. When a warlord dies his ghost will haunt the field, also redirecting the ball at random. Games 21-23 are meant for children and everything is slowed down.

The Controls: Paddle Controllers for this game. Turn it to move the shield and bounce the fire or lightning ball back at the other Warlords. You can also use the red button to catch the ball before releasing it elsewhere (obviously only available in catch game modes).

Post Review: Definitely multi-player breakout. While it is pretty easy to break a wall, it can be hard to direct the ball to the warlord behind it. Also worth noting is that the ball can bounce off of the back of the shield as well, causing you to destroy your own wall. This game is okay single play, it tries to compensate with an ai, although I’m not sure how to tell it one player instead of two. so one shield remained motionless because the paddles are in pairs. it says 1-4, but I would upgrade that to 2 or 4.

The High Score: I played 2 games winning one and losing while.

Atari 2600 Friday’s #23 – Grand Prix

This week the fortune cookie brings us a racing game. There didn’t seem to be too many of these and it’s a nice change of pace from all the shooters the 2600 has.

The Story: It’s racing. Go and win the Grand Prix while watching out for other cars and road hazards.

From the Manual: “You’re about to enter the race of your life. Nothing stands between you and victory except the clock, the road and the other drivers out to beat you to the finish line. So take a little time with these instructions, and you may emerge as the Grand Prix world record holder!”

From the Box: “Buckle up, snap your chin strap, adjust your goggles and get ready to handle a high-powered formula racing machine. This is the Grand Prix of video racing games – the first game to give you the real feel and action of a world-class racer. You’ll need all the nerve, anticipation and reflexes of a world champion race driver to master this circuit. Feel how your steering and handling change as you pick up speed. Ease your car around and past competitors, over oil slicks and across bridges at blinding speed. And you’ll hear all the sound and fury of a true Grand Prix event. Your engine whines louder and higher as your car reaches maximum RPM; your wheels hum faster on the asphalt; your competitors zoom by. And, if you hit your brakes, your tires squeal on the pavement. It’s you against the clock, the road and the other drivers in a race to the finish line – with Grand Prix by Activision.”

The Game Play: Grand Prix is a racing game. You are trying to make it around the circuit with the best time while avoiding crashing into other cars and oil slicks. The bridges on higher ‘difficulties’ are narrow areas of the track. As you go faster the car becomes more responsive, meaning it takes less controller movement to move the car. The game mode switch tell you which course you will be on (remember, my switch is still broken).

Game 1: Watkins Glen
Game 2: Brands Hatch (1 Bridge)
Game 3: Le Mans (2 Bridges)
Game 4: Monaco (3 Bridges)

The Controls: Joystick Controller. Up moves you towards the top of the screen, down moves you towards the bottom. The Red Button starts the race, and is you accelerator. Hold it down to gain speed, release it to slow down.

Post Review: Number 1, every collision will take you down to pretty much a complete stop, and it takes time to accelerate, and the clock is always ticking. What I found was that any time I was up to any decent amount of speed, there would be a nice block of 3 cars in my way that I could not avoid hitting.  The cars will collide and slow you down, while the oil slicks will make you swerve. You can notice this best if you slow down and roll over them, your car will move up and down in a zig-zag. Which brings me to another fine point. At high speeds, everything on screen just whizzes by you, and it becomes of game of split second reaction dodging.

The High Score: 44:26 on Game 1.

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