INTV O-R

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Pac-Man - By Atari Soft

For anyone who has either been living under a rock for the past three decades or who just woke up from a three decades-old coma, Pac-Man is perhaps one of the most famous games ever made. In Pac-Man you play, who else but Pac-Man, a yellow rounded character that goes about his life eating dots in a maze while four nasty ghosts chase him in order to kill him. Pac-Man has been adapted to just about any console system under the sun and spawned a significant number of clones. The Intellivision, of course, was one of the many consoles to get its own port and, I have to say, it is quite a port. In fact, I’m sure many 2600 owners would have been quite envious of Intellivision owners given how much closer to the arcade this port is. Though simplified, the maze looks remarkably close to that of the arcade. Pac-Man looks like himself (he does not have an eye) and he eats dots (not wafers). All the bonus fruits (not vitamin pills) are present and accounted for and they are quite beautifully rendered. There is a waca-waca sound as Pac-Man eats the dots and the siren plays in the background. The ghosts, which look suspiciously like their 2600 cousins, come in four different colours and behave as they are supposed to. To add the final touch, the game even has all the intermissions from the arcade. Essentially, every element of the arcade is captured in this port. The only thing missing is a proper title screen but I will certainly excuse that given how well made the game itself is. I have to say I was even pleasantly surprised at how responsive the controller is for this game. Pac-Man is not a game where you want to have control problems. Oh, did I mention that this game also has a two-player mode? Pac-Man was originally released for the Intellivision by Atari Soft (ironic isn’t it?) and later re-released by INTV Corporation. If you like Pac-Man and you have an Intellivision, this is a game you must have in your library.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 PBA Bowling - By Mattel

Here is another great example of a sports game for the Intellivision, PBA Bowling. Allowing for up to four players, this game is pretty remarkable considering when it was released. Of course, the goal of the game is to achieve the highest score by controlling your bowler. The game screens show a monocolored but well defined player who grabs the ball to throw at the pins. On the main screen the top shows all the pins at the top so that you can properly align your player who is seen sideways as he throws the ball. Once the ball is thrown, the view changes to follow the ball as it hits the pins. Once the ball hits the pins, you’ll get to see them bounce around as you’d see them in the real thing! There are tons of options in this game as well. You can select the slickness of the floor, your bowling hand, the spin you apply, and the ball weight. Because of the multitude of options, having the game overlay is actually helpful. In order to identify each player, the ball color (rather than the player) changes color between red, light green, blue, and dark green for players one, two, three, and four respectively. In addition to the standard bowling game, there is also the option to play a second game called “Pick Up Spares” where you have a chance to practice your accuracy on 32 random leaves. This is really a fun and well written retro bowling game every Intellivision owner should have.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Pinball - By Mattel

Who doesn’t enjoy a good game of Pinball? Well, if you are looking for some pinball fun, look no further than Intellivision’s Pinball. The goal is, of course, to score the highest amount of points possible by keeping the ball going for as along as possible. Pinball on the Intellivision has a nicely detailed table that includes four flippers for the player to control. Animals at the bottom of the screen flash, indicating which player has control of the ball and there’s three colour-coded tables for the players to enjoy. You start off on the green table, the easiest of the three. To advance to the mid-level red table you must, on the same ball, send the ball through a white cup that appears at the top of the screen. Make the cup appear again on the same ball, hit it correctly, and you move up to the blue table. This version of pinball allows the player to bump the table (you do this by pushing the top portion of the disc) but you must be careful not to tilt the machine. Do so, and you lose the ball. You can also choose to move all the flippers by using the top action buttons or the right/left flippers by using the corresponding lower action button. Game sounds are also very good and I think the only thing missing would have been some sort of music to just give it the full ambiance. Regardless, this is an excellent pinball game and one every Intellivision owner will enjoy.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Pitfall - By Activision

Pitfall is one of those classic games that retains its fun factor no matter what console it got adapted to and the Intellivision version is no different. In Pitfall you play the role of Pitfall Harry, an explorer with a Tarzan complex who is looking for treasure in a land full of alligators, snakes, quicksand, and other dangers. In addition to the land above, there are caves underground that help you traverse the landscape a bit faster since many of these caves function as shortcuts. You do have to use them wisely, though, because some of these caves have dead ends. You get three lives to play the game and you have 20 minutes in which to search for treasure. So, your goal as a player is to get as much treasure as you can (up to a maximum of 32 treasure pieces) within the allotted time - assuming you can survive the 20 minutes! You can avoid most pits by jumping over them using hanging vines (this is where the Tarzan complex comes in as Harry makes a sound like Tarzan’s scream). Other pits will be full of alligators, which you must jump on only when their mouths are closed. Pitfall can be played running either to the right or the left, though running to the left tends to be easier. Visually, this version of Pitfall is not really different from the 2600 version, nor does it offer anything different in terms of sound. I was actually surprised by this since the Intellivision could have some improvement over the 2600 version. Regardless, this does not detract from the gameplay. One thing that is different is that one button is used to jump and another button is used to release. So, if you jump onto a vine you have to remember to use a different button to let go. It may not seem like a big deal but if you are used to playing the 2600 version (like I am), it seems more like a nuisance. I guess David Crane wanted to take advantage of having more buttons on the Intellivision.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Pole Position - By AtariSoft

“Prepare to qualify!” I remember when I first heard those words at the arcade and how much fun I had playing Pole Position. This excellent arcade game saw ports to many home systems of the time, including the Intellivision. The folks at Atari did something rather interesting when they ported Pole Position to the Intellivision...they seem to have ported something more like Pole Position II since this port actually has four different tracks for the player to choose from: Fuji Speedway (the original track), Madison 500, Grand National, and Monaco Grand Prix. The rules of the game are the same, however. You must first drive a qualifying lap and, if you qualify, you enter the actual race. As in the arcade, you can shift gears (there’s even a little gear on the screen so you can tell whether you are on low or high gear), accelerate, decelerate, and maneuver the car on the road to avoid other cars and other obstacles that appear. Your goal, of course, is to try to win the race. Visually, Pole Position is well done. The road and the surroundings are in different color, there’s detail in the background, and there are even road signs that you can crash against. The only I don’t like so much is how the cars are drawn. Your car is rendered in two color but it looks very different from the arcade car. Instead of wide black tires, it has narrow white tires. The other cars lack detail and are rendered in one colour only. Sound and control, however, are very good. All the arcade music is there! This is definitely a worthy port!

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Popeye - By Parker Brothers

Adapted from the arcade game, Popeye is based on the cartoon characters from King Features Syndicate. Your objective, as you control Popeye, is to collect a certain number of objects that Olive throws your way before they sink in the water. These objects differ depending on the level and include 24 hearts, 16 musical notes, or the letters in the word "help”. You must do this while avoiding the Sea Hag, Brutus, and other dangers. While you can’t jump, you can use your fists to deflect any objects or the vultures that head toward Popeye. You also have a secret weapon, spinach! If a can of spinach appears, hitting it gives you super strength for a few moments so you can briefly throw Brutus from the playing field (which can be a dock, a boat, or a building). In the dock level you can also hit a punching bag to throw a barrel over Brutus. The trick is that Brutus must be in the right place for this to work but, when it does, it disables him for a few moments. On the arcade, Brutus throws objects at Popeye but this does not happen on the Intellivision version. The game has decent graphics and sound but the music gets interrupted by sound effects in the game. I find this to be annoying since the tune keeps going even on the 2600 with minimal interruptions. Popeye and Brutus are rendered in two colours but they are very pixelated. The other characters are rendered in only one colour but are recognisable as the Sea Hag and Olive. I found that control response was not the best when I played and it hurts gameplay. Overall Popeye is a fair adaptation of the arcade.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Q*bert - By Parker Brothers

Q*bert was another arcade hit that was ported to a number of home systems with various degrees of success. I must say that this Intellivision adpatation is very well done and it brings all the elements of the arcade home. In Q*bert, you control the titular character on a pyramid in order to change the top face of the cubes to a designated color. Q*bert isn’t alone on this pyramid, however, as he must deal with red and purple balls, a snake called Coily and two crazy characters called Ugg and Slick. Ugg moves sideways on the pyramid from the bottom, while Slick changes the cubes back to their original color. There’s also a green ball that drops that, if caught by Q*bert, will freeze all the enemies in place giving Q*bert a chance to change back cubes without fear of getting killed. At first you only have to change cubes to one color but in later stages, you have to do two color changes and you’ll even have to deal with the cubes changing back if you jump on them again! Q*bert is, without a doubt, a very addicting game to play and one that appeals to everyone. The Intellivision port captures the arcade visually quite well and has all the arcade sounds as well (including Q*berts “speech” when he gets caught by an enemy). This version does play a little slower than other ports I’ve tried, likely because of the control mechanism. While the disc controller does let you click diagonally, it is a bit tricky to use and you have to adapt to how it works. Nonetheless, this is a very good port and it should not be missed.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 River Raid - By Activision

You are on the River of No Return and you must traverse the area covered by the river on your plane destroying as many enemy tankers, helicopters, fuel depots, and bridges as you can before your own plane runs out of fuel. River Raid is an original Activision title, originally created for the Atari 2600, that was ported to a multitude of systems. The goal of the game remains the same but this Intellivision version takes advantage of the system’s graphical potential to improve upon the originally idea visually. The river bends like a snake, there surrounding grounds have trees that you can easily recognize, the bridges look great, and the enemies are all here for you to hunt and destroy. You choose the level at which you start the game (1, 5, 20, or 50) for either one or two players. The disc controller works well for accelerating, decelerating, and maneuvering your plane and there’s rapid fire if you hold the action buttons down. Keep an eye on your fuel gauge and make sure to refuel on the enemy fuel depots if you want to survive for a long time. As the game advances, the river narrows, making it more difficult to maneuver within it. In some areas, however, the bridge is too narrow for your enemy to have any vessels and this is where you may find fuel depots with easy access. These “demilitarized” zones are tricky, though, and you have be careful through them. River Raid is a fun game in every system I’ve played it and this version is no exception.

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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