TI99-4A REVIEWS

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Vectrex Reviews
Bally Reviews

While the TI is a computer, it does have alot in common with the consoles. First off, it has cartridge based games. Secondly, it has many of the same great games available for it that were popular on the consoles. Considering how reliable they are and how affordable they are, it is a great alternative for someone who wants to play some great games. It also has a nice selection of original games that are only found on the TI. If you like classic games, I suggest buying a TI computer and enjoying one of the best kept secrets. Now on to those game reviews.

Alpiner (Grade A)-As close and as affordable as I will get to Crazy Climber. A great little game where you must climb up mountains and avoid all kinds of hazards like falling rocks, bears, skunks and even Yeti on skis. What really makes this game great is the speech. Without it, it would be a very good game, but with the taunting it is a great game. When the woman makes fun of you after you have fallen and says something like "Did you mean to do that?", you want to go back and show her by conquering that mountain. I have found myself yelling back at her, a sign that it is either a great game or I am in need of some serious counseling.

Ambulance (Grade C+)-You are in control of an ambulance in the rudest city in the world (I made this part up, as they never get out of your way). You have to go pick up injured people and bring them back to the hospital. While you are driving, people keep getting in your way. Are these people blind or what? Don't they know to give space to an ambulance with its lights on? And why the heck is the hospital always next to a railroad track? Talk about no peace and quiet. A very evil man planned this city. Still a fun game.

Attack (Grade C+)-A simple game that has all addictive qualities of the classic games. Simple to play, yet tough to beat. It just keeps getting harder and harder. The only downsides is the simple graphics and the repetitive gameplay (which can be said for many games of this genre). I will always remember it as my Aunt Wiggy's favorite game. She didn't get into games much, but she sure would blast those aliens. She will probably blast me for the average rating.

Bigfoot (Grade C-)-A climbing game in the same vein as Rock n Rope. You must get up the mountain while Bigfoot throws rocks down at you. Maybe it is just me, but the game is too darn hard. No matter how hard I try, I always end up like Wile E. Coyote, with a boulder in my face. Maybe you will have better luck. Another that talks, but doesn't seem to enhance the game much.

Burgertime (Grade B)-It looks great and the sound is great, but it is too easy. Unlike the Coleco version, you don't have multiple skill levels and so it gets a little too easy. Still a enjoyable game.

Centipede (Grade B+)-A very good rendition of the classic arcade game. Unlike many of the Atarisoft games, this was done well. The spider has the classic mean streak, the other bugs keep you busy and you don't have time to catch your breath until the end. The only minor flaws are the body parts of the centipede seemed a bit smaller than other versions and there are some static lines on the screen during the end of level mushroom count. Other than that, a great game.

Chicken Coop (Grade C-)-A pale version of Joust. Instead of dueling knights, you are a rooster who must send the hens back to the henhouse. Just like in joust, you must be facing and higher than your opponents to defeat them. Unlike Joust, there is no pterdactyl, no changing levels, no hand coming out of the lava, and no fun. This game gets boring faster than home movies. Not worth the time.

Donkey Kong (Grade A)-This version has something even the Nintendo version is missing, the fourth stage. Better know as the Pie Factory, I forgot how fun and frustrating this level can be. I mean every version I own of DK is missing this level. A big reason to own a TI.

Hopper (Grade C+)-This is a Pengo clone only with a Kangaroo. Like Pengo, you push blocks at your opponents, who are zookeepers and the blocks are crates. A decent game, but gets real hard, real fast. Still much better than many of the clones on this machine.

Hunt the Wumpus (Grade C+)-Don't let the bad graphics or simple gameplay fool you, this game is addictive. At first I said what a dumb game, but after a few sessions I was on a mission to slay that stinking wumpus. It is one of those quick little games that you will find yourself playing more than you would think. The basic premise is that you have to slowly navigate through a maze and find the wumpus. The signs that he is near is there will be red rooms near the one he is in. But if you go into his room, he eats you. You must also look out for slime pits that warn you that they are near because of green rooms that circle them. There is also a bat that will sometimes pick you up and drop you off randomly. When you think you have found the wumpus, you shoot an arrow and hope you are right. You only get one arrow and if you choose wrong, you are lunch.

Jawbreaker II (Grade C)-A strange version of Pacman where you go up and down trying to clear the board. You are a big pair of teeth that move around and must avoid smiley faces. Sounds more like a hallucination to me. Anyways, there are walls that move back and forth and you have to wait for breaks in them to go through. There are also the customary power dots that allows you to turn the tables on your enemies. A neat little feature is after you complete a level, a big tooth brush comes and cleans you.

Jungle Hunt (Grade B)-Even though your hero has no face, it is still a good game. All four screens have been ported over and you can swing, swim and jump to your hearts content. Is it me or isn't there supposed to be monkeys on the second level (time around)?

King of the Castle (Grade C)-A fun game for a day or two. After that, it gets quite repetitive. You are the king of a castle that is being overrun by barbarians. Your subjects must be a bunch of cowards, because they all seem to have left, as you are the only one left. You're left to defeat the hordes with nothing but the biggest shurikens you ever seen. The castle has two levels and four stairways and a secret passage. The main problem is there is only one type of enemy and you just keep killing them over and over. A little variety would have done wonders or some special treasures or weapons or anything.

Munchman (Grade C+)-This is TI's version of Pacman. Instead of eating dots, you have to connect a chain around the whole area (think of it as Pacman in reverse). You have the usual cast of ghosts out to get you. While nothing groundbreaking, it is a fun little game.

Munchmobile (Grade A)-One of those arcade games I really liked but could not find anywhere else. You drive a car around and reach out your arm to pull in food and other items on the side of the road. You must also grab gas to keep from running out. One nice little touch is that you get extra points for throwing the trash, left from the food you eat, in a trash can. There are many nice touches like you can grab fish that are jumping and some serious hard turn you have to maneuver around.

Parsec (Grade B)-The Scramble type game for the TI. Actually it is a bit more like a cross between R-Type and Scramble. You are going through the customary cavern and there are a bunch of different types of ships that want you dead. Some come from the front, others from the rear. Enough variety to keep you honest. One neat feature is that if you blast too long, your lasers overheat and you turn to space debris. Adds a little skill to the game. You also have to get gas, but this time you fly in a refuel instead of shooting it. It took the TI to put an end to the pyromaniac tendencies the other games were planting in our young minds.

Picnic Paranoia (Grade B)-Such a nice spread of food for your lovely picnic and like clockwork the ants come out. So now it is your job to swat these little bugs and keep them from stealing your food. Easier than it sounds as there are tons of ants. There is also a very pesty bee who stings you and stuns you for a few seconds.

Q*Bert (Grade B+)-A great version of a great game. Q*Bert has his eyeballs and there is both Ugh and Wrongway. The only parts missing is the little animation between levels and only one type of onionhead (my name for the guys who change the block's color). It doesn't look like an onionhead, but more like a tribble gone awry. Still a very good game and a great addition to anyone's collection.

Pole Position (Grade C-)-A washed out version of a great racing game. The graphics are terrible, on par with the 2600, and the gameplay is average at best. A real disappointment considering the power the TI has and some of the other well done arcade versions.

Rabbit Trail (Grade C+)-Think of Donkey Kong, only with a rabbit. You have to bounce around and eat carrots, yummy. But not all is peaceful in the bunny's world. No siree, he has to avoid a bunch of ornery weasels who come in different colors. There is also a nasty bird that occasionally pops out. Instead of ladders, you have burrows to go through. Most go all the way through and lead you to the next part. Some on later levels are only for hiding in until the weasels go past. The bunny looks quite nice and it is a enjoyable time waster.

Slymoids (Grade B)-A pretty decent shooter where you are a cowboy who has to shoot slimy aliens who come at you from different angles. Some from above, others from the sides and you have to keep blasting them away. You can move around through different levels that are nicely drawn. A fun little game that is a good stress reliever.

Sneggit (Grade B+)-A fun little game where you are a hen and must pick up different color eggs and drop them into nests. Different color eggs are worth different amounts. But you must beware of the snake that slithers around and eats all your eggs. You must also watch out as the snake will eat you too. While the game starts off a little slow, it soon get pretty hectic.

Speed Demon (Grade D)-I am not sure if it is me or the game, but I cannot get anywhere. I waste a few minutes getting up to fifth gear only to get up to the other cars to find the road blocked and "crash" and game over. I tried slowing up, moving around, everything short of melting the cartridge and still cannot get anywhere. Just a bad game and one to avoid.

Superfly (Grade B-)-Sorry but it has nothing to do with the movie of the same name. This game has you being a fly who must zap a bunch of other insects. The action is pretty fast and keeps you on your toes and there is even speech which doesn't add much to the game.

TI Invaders (Grade B)-Probably one of the best Space Invaders clones I have played. While it is pretty much the same game, there are some cosmetic changes that enhance it. When your ship is destroyed, it becomes a pile of rubble that is taken below and another new ship comes out the replace it. Also, after you die, all the invaders start a victory dance that is a little irritating. Makes you want to play another game and show them.

Tunnels of Doom (Grade A)-You will need either a disk drive or a cassette drive to play it, but it is worth the investment. You are a band of adventurers who have to go into a dungeon and kill the monsters and steal their gold. A great game with fountains, stores and other bonuses. There are also a variety of other versions of the game (different dungeons made by other people) that you can get including some odd ones like one where you are going through K-Mart. A well done game that I highly recommend.

VECTREX REVIEWS

All Good Things (Grade B+) - You get four games for the price of one! The third in the trilogy of new games by gamemaster John Dondazilla. This one has an updated version of Vector Vaders, a Kaboom inspired game using Spike, a tetris clone, and a asteroids clone. I personally don't see why he did a Asteroids game since the system has a superior version in Minestorm. But the other three are great additions. The new Vector Vaders makes it much more fun. The Kaboom style game is both fun and tough. You will wish the system had paddles like the 2600 after a few games. Still a very fun game. The tetris clone is true to the formula, but has nothing special. Still a good game. The final game, the asteroids clone is good and like the arcade game, but I will still take Minestorm over it. Overall, a great package for the low price and one I recommend to anyone who has this system. Here's hoping he continues to support the Vectrex.

Armor Attack (Grade B-) - A decent one player game, nothing special, but a fun two player game. This is what saves this from being a mediocre game. You are a jeep that has to drive around a maze and shoot tanks and helicopters that periodically pop up. Gets a bit repetitive, but still fun to team up on the tanks.

Berzerk (Grade B) - A near exact version, minus the voice. You have to fight the robots and that darn Evil Otto. A fun little game that will keep you busy for awhile.

Clean Sweep (Grade B-) - A Pacman clone that adds a little twist. You must go around and clean up all the money in a bank. You are a big vacuum cleaner that grows as you pick up the money. After awhile you are real big and slow, so you must go to the middle and unload. There are of course creatures that try and pop you and you can go in the corner and energize and eat them. Not a bad game for the Pacman, but it will wear out your joysticks.

Dark Tower (Grade C+) - While not a commercially released game, you can get it on the multicart. While it is the only adventure type game on the Vectrex, it isn't nothing exciting. You move around a forest and find chests. When you open them you either get a treasure or are transported to a place where creatures pop out and you shoot them. The one nice feature is that your fireball or whatever it is goes in one of three different directions depending on which joystick button you push. The one main problem with it is that the game gets very dull and repetitive real quick. While it shows the potential of the Vectrex, it isn't a great game by any stretch.

Minestorm (Grade A) - This is the best Asteroids clone I have ever played. Unlike Asteroids, the rocks keep getting tougher. First they are normal, then they shoot back, then they chase you, etc... The challenge keeps getting tougher and the game is addictive. Plus, it is built into the Vectrex, so if you own the machine you have the game.

Patriots (Grade A) - Sure this is a new game and wasn't originally released for the Vectrex, but John Dondazilla showed us all how much potential the Vectrex has. This is the best missile command clone I have ever played and keeps me coming back time and time again. With the Vectrex joystick, you get to shoot missiles from the two bases instead of the one like in the 2600 version. Sure it flickers a little when the screen fills up with incoming missiles, but this only adds to the intensity of the game. Possibly the best game ever made for the system and maybe one that even John will have a hard time topping.

Pole Position (Grade B) - Of the two racing games for the Vectrex, this is by far the better one. While it is a little strange to see Pole Position in black & white after playing the color version for so long, but you soon get used to it and realize it is a good version of the arcade hit. The action is fast and will keep your interest. Considering the sparse amount of games for this system, it is a nice change of pace.

Ripoff (Grade B+) - As a one person game, it is decent. But when you have two players, it is a riot! You have to stop endless waves of ships from stealing your crystals (whether they are fuel crystals or flavor crystals is up to you). You can shoot them or ram them with your ship. You have an unlimited number of ships. As long as you have crystals left, you keep getting new ships. This is what make this fun as you will accidentally and sometimes purposely run into your friend. After a few games, you will begin each new level by gunning for your friend. Great fun!

Scramble (Grade B) - The arcade classic where you have to go through caverns and shoot missiles and other ships while bombing the daylights out of everything. Remember to bomb the gas tanks or you will run out of fuel (I love the logic of classic games, no wonder shrinks are making so much money now). A fun arcade game that as far as I know is only available on the Vectrex. Sure you have Super Cobra, the sequel on other systems but we want the original.

Spike (Grade C+) - As close as you get to Donkey Kong on the Vectrex. You are poor spike who has to save Molly. But you must go up ladders and avoid different obstacles to save her from the clutches of the big brute. Some neat tricks where you can kick opponents and actually move the ladders. Has some of the worst voices in gaming history. It is so bad, you will actually learn to like it. One major gripe is that you have to watch the same animation after every level. Gets repetitive real fast.

Vector Vaders (Grade C+) - Not a bad version of Space Invaders done by John Dondazilla. You have all the elements of the arcade classic including the spaceship that flies over head. The game is a bit slow and may not keep your interest (the arcade game may have been like that, but I haven't played it in years). He does have a much better version on third cart "All Good Things". Still a good effort from the only person (at least that I know of) that is still making games for this great system.

Web Wars (Grade A) - A lot like Tempest, but still different. You fly around in a bird shaped ship and shoot different ships. You travel along a web and can stick out what looks like a tongue. The action gets quite intense and keeps you on your toes. One of the must have games for the Vectrex.

Bally Reviews

Incredible Wizard (Grade A) - This is the best home version of Wizard of Wor (unless you count MAME on the PC)!  It looks great and plays like a dream!  If Bally had more arcade conversions like this, it could have given Atari a serious run!  If you own a Bally, you must have this game!  The gameplay is a good one player game, but really shines as a two player game.  Teaming up to clear the maze of monsters and eventually the Wizard is a joy, even if your partner attacks you.  The sound is great and you will find yourself immersed in this game!

Space Fortress (Grade B) - One of those fun little games that didn't appear elsewhere (unless you count the game Cosmic Ark, which had it incorporated into the gameplay).  The object is very simple, shoot the oncoming meteors before they hit your ship.  You are a base that sits in the middle of the screen.  You can shoot one of four directions.  After you clear enough meteors, a ship will fly around that you have to kill.  The game starts pretty slow and you may need a bit of caffeine to stay awake in the early rounds, but once it gets going, you will see your pulse rate jump!  A wonderful game that deserves to be in your Bally collection. 

Have a good game.

 

 

 

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