Congo Bongo Review (1983 Game)

Based on the Sega arcade game, Congo Bongo for the Intellivision is a lousy port in every conceivable way. Not only is it missing two of the original game’s four levels (Rhino Ridge and Lazy Lagoon), it has poor collision detection, unresponsive controls, and flickering, feeble graphics making it difficult to determine where you are jumping in relation to the hazards.

The Lone Ranger Review (1991 NES)

Based on the popular 1949 to 1957-TV series, The Lone Ranger is a one-of-a-kind RPG that successfully combines levels of exploration, side-scrolling action, and first-person shooting (with or without the Zapper light gun). The President has been kidnapped by Butch Cavendish’s gang, and it’s up to the Masked Man to save him. From the opening notes of the William Tell Overture to the dusty, Old West-themed graphics, the game does a great job of integrating the source material into an appropriate gameplay experience. Each of The Lone Ranger’s elements is surprisingly well executed, showing none of the mediocrity that tends to plague games attempting to cross genres. Fans of the franchise should find it especially enjoyable.

Popeye Review (1986 Game)

Though Popeye never came close to reaching the status of Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and other bona fide arcade classics, Nintendo nonetheless included Popeye for their NES as part of their ³arcade classics series. Whether or not Popeye is indeed a classic or just another old game could make for an interesting debate, but I can tell you that it is a cute, entertaining, and sometimes amusing game.

Popeye is a faithfully created port so fans of the semi-classic (how’s that for a compromise?) arcade game will enjoy it. The characters and objects move in similar patterns as the arcade game, and the level design is basically the same. Popeye even retains the strange way he walks (bobs?) up and down the stairs.

There are a few nitpicky problems such as when Popeye jumps up to catch Sweet Pea for extra points, he doesn’t actually grab the platform Sweet Pea is on and bring him down like he does in the arcade game. Popeye just sort of makes contact with the platform and gets the points. Like I said, this is nitpicking, but this example helps illustrate how minor the differences are between the two games.

One thing some gamers may not like about Popeye is its lack of fighting. If Popeye is not pumped up on spinach, he can only run from Brutus. When he does eat his spinach, one hit sends Brutus flying. There are no head-to-head slug fests in this game. On the other hand, some gamers will appreciate Popeye’s lack of violence as there are plenty of other games on the market where all the characters do is beat the snot of each other.

Popeye’s biggest weakness is redundancy. Each level requires you to do basically the same thing: gather floating objects. Even so, it is a fun game that can be enjoyed by the entire family.

P.S. I do have one question about this game: Since Popeye doesn’t have his pipe (thank you, political correctness), where do the toot! toot! sounds come from?

Graphics

The Popeye characters from the famous cartoon are easily recognizable if a bit fuzzy. The platforms and the boat are very simplistic.

Sound

The music is a delightful version of the familiar theme from the cartoon series, and the sound effects are nice as well.

Enjoyment

Those looking for a pleasant, non-violent gaming experience will enjoy Popeye.

Replay Value

The levels are a bit too similar in terms of the goals you are trying to achieve, but it is fun to try and beat your high score.

Documentation

The manual tells you everything you need to know.

Galaga Review (Video Game)

The sequel to Galaxian, Galaga is a timeless classic, showing up regularly on fans’ and magazines’ lists of greatest games ever. As with most slide-and-shoot games, players control an upward-firing ship that moves horizontally along the bottom of the screen. Bug-like alien invaders fly in looping, twirling maneuvers around the screen, settling temporarily into formations at the top of the playfield, only to swoop down again. What sets Galaga apart from most blast-a-thons, in addition to its perfectly balanced shooting action, is the strategic maneuver of letting your ship get captured, then rescuing it for double firepower. Also nifty are the challenge stages, which let players blast away unmolested for extra points.

BRAINACHE 1987 – AMSTRAD, ZX SPECTRUM

Terrible is the best way to sum up Brainache. The graphics will make
you want to tear out your eyes; the awful sound effects will convince you
to perforate your eardrums; while the gameplay is so stodgy and glitchy
that you’ll soon wish you had a time machine to stop yourself from ever
playing this. Exploring a gigantic cave might sound like an interesting
premise, but the actual execution is awful. Budget in every way.

GHOST HUNTERS 1987 – AMSTRAD, C64, SPECTRUM

Ambitious is the best way to
sum up the Oliver Twins’ followup
to Super Robin Hood. It
runs on a modified version of
the same engine and features
similar platform mechanics. The
difference however is that pressing
fire moves control over to an
onscreen cursor, which you use to
shoot enemies. It’s a neat idea but
too clunky in practice.

SUPER ROBIN HOOD 1986 – AMSTRAD, C64, SPECTRUM

Super Robin Hood is notable as it
makes the first of many Codemasters
collaborations with the Oliver twins.
Originally created for the Amstrad, it
features digitised speech, a sprawling
castle to explore and plenty of
enemies to kill. Robin takes enemies
out with arrows and must run around
searching for hearts to restore his
health. It became the Oliver twins’
first number one game and was soon
ported to other systems, including
an eventual NES port. It’s a little
basic nowadays, but still proves to
be entertaining.

BMX SIMULATOR 1986

This gem of a game was coded by Richard Darling and would be the first of many simulator titles  that Codemasters would churn out in the following years. It’s essentially a clone of Super Sprint, but  with a BMX theme and a thumping good tune from David Whittaker. The lack of power-ups is a pity, but it features a fun two-player mode and a neat slomo option.