Monthly Archives: December 2015

Atari 2600 Friday’s #47 – Word Zapper

I think I missed last week, I’ve been a little busy with Christmas and trying to get presents for people. but here we are with a new game.

The Story: Apparently, An “evil” sentient scroll is challenging you to a spelling bee, taunting you to duplicate the words it shows, with a time limit.

From the Manual: “Word Zapper is a one or two-player, full color, action game with 24 variations, designed to be played on the ATARI (R) Video Computer System (TM) or Sears Video Arcade. The Joystick Controller links you with a most profound vehicle of amusement, the rotary wing Word Zapper. It is armed with vertical and horizontal firing lasers and capable of incredible maneuverability. Opposing you is the Scroll — a diabolic device designed to wear out the wrist an boggle the mind. The Scroll parades the alphabet across the screen, taunting you to duplicate a word or scrambled letters flashed at the bottom of the screen. You must shoot each letter in perfect order, and you must match three words or letter combinations within 99 seconds. Sounds easy? Wait until you meet the Scroll’s friend, the Asteroids.”

From the Box: Unfortunately this is one where they cheaped out and used the same text for the manual and box. “Word Zapper is a one or two-player, full color, action game with 24 variations, designed to be played on the ATARI (R) Video Computer System (TM) or Sears Video Arcade. The Joystick Controller links you with a most profound vehicle of amusement, the rotary wing Word Zapper. It is armed with vertical and horizontal firing lasers and capable of incredible maneuverability. Opposing you is the Scroll — a diabolic device designed to wear out the wrist an boggle the mind. The Scroll parades the alphabet across the screen, taunting you to duplicate a word or scrambled letters flashed at the bottom of the screen. You must shoot each letter in perfect order, and you must match three words or letter combinations within 99 seconds. Sounds easy? Wait until you meet the Scroll’s friend, the Asteroids.”

The Game Play: When you start the game depending on what difficulty you choose, a word or random letters will appear at the bottom of the screen. You have to remember this, it will appear for about four seconds and then disappear, this is the word you must spell. When they disappear the letters will start scrolling at the top of the screen, you have to shoot them in order of what was shown. You have 99 seconds to shoot down three words. The game ends when you shoot down three words, get struck by a doomsday asteroid or run out of time. There are four types of asteroids: Doomsday ends the game (these make a very distinctive noise when they show up), scroller mixes up the scrolling letters, bonker bonks the zapper to the side, and zonker zonks the zapper to the side. Of course you can shoot the asteroids just as well as the letters, nad you get a freebie letter substitute for every five asteroids shot.

The Controls: Joystick Left/Right plus red button fires to the side. Red button fires up.

Post Review: Okay, there is no real scoring system here except how many of the three words you manage to get in 99 seconds, so feel free to shoot as many letters and asteroids as you feel like or just dodge them all.  It took me a few tried to figure out how everything worked. First of all, I thought you had to restart every word when you messed up a letter, this is not true, just keep looking for whatever letter you are on, for example in alien, if you have I and and mess up E by shooting any other letter, just keep looking for E. The letters move pretty fast and there are a lot of asteroids to dodge so watch out.

High Score: Zapper, I beat whatever mode I was playing on.

Atari 2600 Friday’s #46 – Alien

Better than a facehugger escort.

The Story: Aliens are invading the Nostromo, crush their eggs and kill the Aliens to defend your ship.

From the Manual: “Your job is to run through the hallways of your space ship and crush all the Alien Eggs which have been placed there. You must also avoid or destroy the adult Aliens and snatch up as many prizes as possible.”

From the Box: “Ever since you left that last planet, you’ve been bothered by eerie sounds coming from somewhere in the hull of Nostromo, your giant transport cruiser. After setting the ship’s controls on autopilot, you descend to have a look. Yow! Every hallway i the entire maze-like hull has been lined with the grotesque eggs of some gruesome space creature. Quickly you sprint down the corridor crushing the eggs as you go. Then you see it! A hideous being with jaws like a beartrap. You run away from this brutal beast, not wishing to end up as an intergalactic snack. You turn a corner and stare unbelievingly. Another Alien is just ahead. Don’t bother calling for help. Remember, in space o one can hear you scream.”

The Game Play: Okay, I’m going to level with you, Alien is basically Pac-Man. You work through the mazes stomping on eggs (eating pellets), avoiding the Aliens (ghosts), and trying to clear each board to move on to the next. Every other level is a bonus stage where all you do is get 8 seconds to reach a bonus point prize at the top of the screen, it works like frogger, just ove forward and avoid the Aliens crossing back and forth. If you get hit by an Alien you lose a life, you gain a new life after the first or second screen depending on difficulty level. You can warp between the sides of the screen like Pac-Man. There are pulsars in the corners of the screen, which weaken Aliens and let you run them over (power pellets and eating the ghosts in pac-man). Alien however equips each Human with a flamethrower, which has four second of flame and can either immobilize or make Aliens run away. It really is basically pac-Man with a small twist.

The Controls: Joystick Up/Down/Left/Right to move up/down/left/right. Red button fires the flamethrower.

Post Review: I originally played this when I picked it up, which I did because I love Alien. It’s a fun pac-man spinoff type game. I should note that the flamethrower did not work for me and only shoots horizontally anyways, so don’t try to move up and down and shoot that way, it won’t work. I also did not notice the pulsars working, so maybe mine console is stuck on a higher difficulty level. Not much to say here, It’s pac-man Alien themed.

High Score: 1731, My cart/console decided to die in the middle of my best play.

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