Monday, July 25, 2011

Game of the week: Basketbrawl for Atari 7800

More than a decade before hit video games like NBA Street were on the market, there was a little-known game called Basketbrawl for the Atari 7800 home gaming system.

Basketbrawl was released in 1990 for the 7800, then later in 1992 for the Atari Lynx system.

It's a shame this game was not better known, because it had a lot to offer.

First up, Basketbrawl has solid graphics for its time. The Atari 7800 home video game system, which was released in 1986, was really pushed to its graphical limits on this game. The graphics here are just as good as those of any Nintendo NES game of the same period. Colors are bright, action is not choppy, and the action on the screen lines up well with the controls.

Then there's the actual gameplay. This is where Basketbrawl truly shines.

Atari 7800 SystemAt the beginning of the game, the player gets to pick from one of six basketball players to control for the onscreen game. Each of the basketball "brawlers" has various strengths and weaknesses, and it can be fun trying out each one.

Then the games' player can choose between playing one-on-one basketball or a two-on-two game. You can play against the computer or go up against a friend.

An extra fun bonus are the power-ups in the game. These can give the player's character more punching power or extra speed.

Did I say "punching power?" Yes, I did. Why do you need punching power? Because while you can try to play Basketbrawl as a straight-up, regular basketball video game, it's really more than that. It's also a fighting game.

Yes, your character can get slugged in the middle of going up for a shot. But the fun thing is that your character can slug right back, even go for cheap shots.

So, if a basketball battle on a neighborhood court sounds like a blast of time to you, then you should probably check out this game for the Atari 7800 home gaming system. And don't forget that those classic Atari 2600 games can also be played on the 7800.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Game of the week: Boxing for Intellivision

In the early days of home video games, there unfortunately were not a lot of great, realistic boxing games. But in 1981, Intellivision came out with a game simply titled Boxing that was quite realistic.

The graphics for Boxing were only fair, but they were still better than some other boxing games of the day and at least they weren't awful graphics. The sounds, too, were decent.

Where this game truly shined was in its realism.

Boxing (Intellivision)Yes, despite sub-par graphics and sound, this was still a relatively realistic game.

First off, you had your choice of six different boxers, each with different strengths and skill specialties.

Also, you played a total of 15 rounds, each round being 90 seconds long. That's pretty real for a sports video game from 1981.

Another piece of realism here were the controls. The player used the disc on the Intellivision controls to move his or her fighter around the ring on the screen, but more importantly the number pad (with an overlay) was used to spectacular effect by offering multiple different types of attacks and defenses.

The match is won the traditional way. The player has to either knock out the opponent or win by scoring more points. The computer, of course, decides upon the points, but it always seemed pretty fair to me.

Boxing has proved popular enough over the years that it has been re-released for today's gaming audiences on the Intellivision Lives! game and in Microsoft's Game Room.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Game of the week: Atlantis for Odyssey 2

The Odyssey 2 home video game console from Magnavox, known as the Philips Videopac outside of the U.S., never was the most popular of systems. Which is probably why there were never a lot of third-party games for the Odyssey 2.

However, the company Imagic, popular for its Atari 2600 and Intellivision games, did make a few cartridges for the Odyssey 2.

One of those games was Atlantis, which had been popular on the Atari 2600 and to a lesser extent on other computers and gaming consoles.

Odyssey 2 Video GameAtlantis is sort of like the arcade classic Missile Command, but then some. Personally, I've always like Atlantis more than Missile Command because it's an easier game to play and actually more fun, at least in my opinion.

Gameplay consists of defending the city of Atlantis from attacking alien ships and missiles and bombs that zoom across the screen above. The player has control of two guns at the bottom of the screen, one in each corner, and must protect various buildings in Atlantis from being destroyed. An extra bonus is the player gets a smart bomb to use every so often, and this destroys all the enemies on the screen at once.

The game starts off pretty easy, but speeds up until the action becomes quite frantic. This is one of the better games for the Odyssey 2, and collectors should definitely seek this one out.

The screen has bright, vibrant colors, as is common for this system, and the sounds are pretty good. Unfortunately, the graphics are only fair at best, not even being as strong as those of the Atari 2600. Still, what this game on the Odyssey 2 lacks in graphic capabilities, it makes up for in actual gameplay, which is tons of fun.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Game of the week: Donkey Kong Junior for Colecovision

In 1981, Nintendo had a huge smash hit on its hand with the arcade game Donkey Kong. So it was a natural that the company would want to further benefit from that success, which it did in 1982 by released in the arcade classic Donkey Kong Junior.

There were some basic similarities in play between Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior, but the sequel game brought new ideas to video games by adding more climbing elements, brighter and more colors, etc.

Donkey Kong Junior proved popular enough on its own that home versions of it were made for many computer systems and gaming consoles in the early 1980s. Over the years many have considered the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) version of Donkey Kong Junior to be the most superior home port of the game, but the Colecovision port also has its fans.

Donkey Kong Junior (ColecoVision)Gameplay was relatively simple by today's standards. The player controls a baby Donkey Kong Junior who attempts to climb to the top of a screen to save his dad, Donkey Kong, from the clutches of Mario. Donkey Kong Junior, the character, has to climb vines, avoid traps, and keep on the move to finally reach the top of the screen. Once the main character saves his dad at the top of the screen, he advances to a new, more challenging screen with new challenges to overcome. Donkey Kong Junior can score extra points by touching hanging fruit.

The Colecovision version of this game was true to the arcade original. The colors are bright and superior in variety to the original Donkey Kong arcade game. The gameplay is solid on the Colecovision version, as are the graphics, and both are downright close to that of the arcade game Donkey Kong Junior.

As an added bonus to fans of this game, Donkey Kong Junior was made into a cartoon on the Saturday Supercade television show that aired on Saturday mornings from 1983 to 1985.