Thursday, 5 March 2015

ColecoVision Round-Up #1

Well, it's been quite a while since I 'Explored' the ColecoVision - over 18 months now actually (oops!) - so I guess it's time I got around to checking out a few more of its games. Here are five I chose at random because I like their names :)

Space Panic (1983)

Unknown to many, this is actually a conversion of a very important and historic game, for the arcade version of Space Panic was the first ever platform game! Despite this iconic status though, I was never very keen on it so I didn't expect to like this either, but it's actually not bad. The object is to clear each single-screen stage of enemies by digging holes in the platforms, letting them fall in, and then filling in the holes. This is fairly easy at first - the tomato enemies are a bit dim and just walk straight into your traps - but the other two types take a bit more work to outwit! The number of them per stage also gets pretty hardcore before long and while you're digging holes for advancing enemies to fall into, others are approaching from behind. There's a time-limit, too, in the form of finite oxygen for our brave tomato-planting hero, so it can be a pretty hectic game at times, but appealing graphics and sound effects and superb controls make it a very enjoyable one as well. Good fun and surprisingly engaging for the first ever game of its type... 8/10

Beamrider (1983)

The Coleco version of this one was rather a late release after originally appearing only on the Intellivision before receiving ports to loads of other systems, but was it worth the wait? It's an into-the-screen shooter which apparently takes place 'high above our atmosphere' where there is a large alien shield called the 'Restrictor'. Your job is to clear the 99 sectors that comprise the shield using your little triangular ship which can cross back and forth between five points on the grid-like shield at the foot of the screen. Approaching from the opposite end are enemy ships which you must destroy fifteen of to clear each sector. Your little ship is armed with unlimited normal shots as well as a few torpedoes but the enemies can send shots back down the grid at you too, and these must be avoided... or else. The graphics are simple and there's no music besides a fairly-non-annoying background tone, but it's definitely an addictive game. It's great for high-score chasers too, and it's even quite fair - it does get tough but extra lives turn up now and then and you don't have start from scratch when you lose one. I enjoyed this one a lot... 8/10

Strike It (1983)

Yeah, Breakout clones are always games I'm eager to try out! This one has four skill levels for one or two players (alternately) and is understandably basic, consisting of a handful of repeating stages filled with the usual bricks a few aliens. Even with six lives it can be quite a tough one as the ball is small and speeds up quickly, but you do at least get a 'helper ball' (the green one) once you've busted it out its confinement which helps a great deal in clearing the pesky bricks. This is not as easy as you might think since there is a very limited range of angles the ball can leave your bat at, and this can make placing it very tricky. It's a decent enough game of its type though. The graphics could be more colourful but there is a pleasant beepy-boopy tune playing throughout, and there's even a bonus round on the third stage where you need to catch as many balls as possible. I can't imagine many players would stick with this one for too long but it's good fun while it lasts... 6/10

Antarctic Adventure (1984)

This is one I have already reviewed on the MSX and it was decent fun there, if somewhat repetitive, but I was happy to revisit it here. It didn't take long to realise that it's near enough identical though, and that means more penguin-related tomfoolery. As plucky, flappy hero, Penta, it's your job to race around our chilly southernmost continent. For what reason I can't say, but the courses are tricky, riddled with holes and obstructive sea-lions to slow your progress. It's quite an unusual game for its type - there aren't many 'on foot' racing games after all, especially ones this old and featuring a penguin - and that's a big part of its appeal. The graphics are good, the music is nice, and it's initially great fun to play. Actually getting far into the game, though, requires a near perfect run due to the very tight time-limit. Still, it's likely to keep you playing longer than a similarly tricky racer that doesn't feature penguins, and there aren't too many alternatives on the Coleco anyway... 7/10

Q*bert (1983)

And to finish off this first selection of Coleco games, I thought I'd go for a classic that I already know well. My favourite version is on the SNES but the earliest conversions were something of a mixed bag. The VCS version in particular is a bit stinky but this effort is vastly superior. The cube pyramid is a little squashed and the characters are a bit less pronounced but apart from that it's more or less arcade perfect, and that means Q*bert himself, the heinous Coily, Ugg and Wrongway, and Slick and Sam, all look the part, and the hopping, colour-changing action is as enjoyable/frustrating (delete as appropriate) as it's always been. As usual, the controls took a little getting used to (I lost count of how many times I leaped off the edge, to my doom) but this is probably the best of all the early conversions of Gottlieb's classic, and it must've also been a great advertisement for the technical superiority of the Coleco over the VCS too. Great fun, even if I'm still not very good at it... 8/10


  1. There are a few ColecoVision games I'd recommend to anyone...

    -It's Only Rock n Roll - a surprisingly fun band management game.

    -Artillery Duel - Projectile based fun, better with two players.

    -From Out of the Jungle - Relatively complex platform adventure fun.

    -Flipper Slipper - Weird pinball/Breakout hybrid.

    -Ghosts N Zombies - Fancy Coleco version of Ghosts 'N Goblins

    -H.E.R.O. - Every bit as good as the 2600 version, but with fancier graphics.

    1. "From Out of the Jungle" is just the introductory text. I'm pretty sure the game is titled "Tarzan."

  2. Hello sir :) Thanks for your recommendations, I intend to get through them all at some point. I actually played From Out of the Jungle and Flipper Slipper as part of my 'Exploring' post. It may have even been you who recommended them! I liked the latter but not the former so much. I'll give the others a try at some point though :)

  3. If you liked Space Panic, give Mr. Do's Castle a spin. It was by the same developers, and smooths out some of the issues with the original design, making it faster and more exciting. There's a great port on the ColecoVision if you'd like to try it there!

  4. Cheers for the recommendation, I'll move this one up the list :P