Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone

Archive Reviews: LaserCade

ATARI 2600


Before the Acclaims of the world made cross-platform licensing about as common as inaccurate prozine reviews, such games were rare events. I can still remember the hoopla about the first major attempt at this, Miner 2049er. This game was great and was available for every classic system, though it wasn't available for the Odyssey2 (No one who's had the misfortune of playing one considers considers the Odyssey2 a classic anyway!) Miner was a huge hit and made the creator a celebrity and a millionaire. Following the lead (or the dollars) of that revolutionary title, this game was created. The surprising thing is that despite the hype it received at it's release the game is so good, it has actually stood the test of time and become an undeniable classic. In Montezuma's revenge you are Panama Joe. Your mission is to collect all the jewels hidden in an old Aztec Temple. There are many snakes, skulls and physical traps in your way. The object is to collect all the objects and get as far into the temple as you can. This is a great game. It's a very difficult game which requires a high degree of manual dexterity to even get far into. Luckily, the levels never change, so it's basically a game of memorization. MR on the 2600 features good control and has all the challenging screens from the other 893 versions! A mind-blowing achievement when you consider that Tigervision released Miner 2049er on TWO separate carts because they couldn't squeeze it all in one. This is amazing considering that Montezuma's Revenge is a much larger game. Technically the game is quite good, featuring excellent graphics, outstanding sound and a never ending challenge that will keep your interest for many hours. This is an outstanding example of what the 2600 could accomplish when designers and programmers put their minds to it.

BEAMRIDER - Activision

Activision strikes the 2600 again with this entertaining, exciting shooter game features a cyberspace type plot in a fun shooting action title. Taking place in cyberspace, the object is too shoot as many baddies as possible. The action is fast and exciting. While Beamrider is above average in the graphics and sound departments playability is weakened somewhat by the sluggish controls and hard to understand screen layout. Beamrider is a more than adequate shooter and will entertain you somewhat. like many shooters of the era, Beamrider won't hold the interest of players used to today's thrill a second games. If you're nostalgic and can take a slower pace, Beamrider may be enjoyable for you. The game is hard to understand and gets pretty annoying quickly. Aside from this, one of the more original Activision 2600 tiles.


Sub-titled "The Power of He-Man", this M-Network release is a 2-screen action/adventure that isn't as good as you would hope. Since it's two screens long, sacrifices were made in the depth of each screen. The play is allright, but nothing extraordinary. Gamers will not be pleased by the blocky graphics, downright primitive sounds and dull play. While MOTU isn't the worst 2600 title by far, and offers some entertaining play for the first five minutes, this version pales to the Intellivision edition which was lots more fun, featured exciting graphics and sounds. The 2600 version is nothing more than a pale imitation. Masters is a real shame for gamers considering Mattel was able to capture the essence of classic games like Lock 'n Chase, Astrosmash and Dark Cavern so well on the 2600.


While this game is one of the toughest Imagic titles to find, this is a decent multi-tiered shooter. The action scrolls left and right plus up and down. It's a fairly straightforward game, there aren't many bells and whistles which doesn't help the title. The game is fun, but gets very repetitive quickly. Graphics sound and control are above average, but most players will find themselves wanting more from the game after they defeat the same boss three times.. on their first try! This reminds you of the 2600's great shooters like Laser Gates and Vanguard. While it has some nice touches here and there they are implemented without the flair the others displayed. Subterrania is a decent attempt at a shooter, but is very limited and repetitious. More fun as a collectible than as a game.

DUKES OF HAZZARD - Atari - Prototype

I was lucky enough to trade for a prototype of this game recently. Dukes reminds me of Indy 500. The cars look similar and the graphics do as well. The main difference is that t he screen scrolls and there are powerups scattered throughout the level. Unfortunately, exactly what these powerups do is a mystery. You have to drive the car around and avoid the police car that's chasing you. Its an incomplete title. This explains the games flaws, but doesn't make the game more entertaining. Once you start driving around the levels, the game gets dull since that's all you do. The graphics look incomplete as well. It's a fun trip to drive around in this unreleased game, though. It's not the greatest thing you'll ever play it does seem to be a competent title. Too bad this wasn't finished, the lack of a compelling object makes DOH grow very old and gets repetitive very quickly. If it had one, it would've been a good title. as it is, DOH is an interesting curiosity that makes you wonder what might've been.



Remember the Intellivoice classic Bomb Squad and Taito's cult classic Qix? Well, the designers of this game have taken elements of both and created one of the Colecovision's strangest titles and probably one of the most mis-guided licensees in gaming history. Loosely based on the dismal forgettable follow-up to Stanley Kubrick's seminal movie classic 2001. The object of 2010 is to fix computers throughout the starship Ponomo. This is accomplished by taking a box and placing it over the components and dropping them. there. After you do this, you have to connect the circuits together. Do this by pressing your fire button you will then connect these circuits with each other. You can also stop inside a circuit itself. But beware, there are sparks flying around the screen. If they touch your line or the circuits you have connected, you're dead meat. It's a very odd game. The difficulty is very high, to the point of frustration. It's not the most exciting concept to begin with so players may find that the game isn't much fun to play. Unfortunately, 2010 is one of those games that started with a good idea but the implementation was so bad it completely ruined any chance for a decent game. Considering the dismal source material, it's no surprise that this game isn't any fun.

SUPER CROSS FORCE - Spectravideo

Space Invaders was one of the most popular games of all time. Endless clones persist to this day (see: Warhawk) Playing this boring Spectravideo game reminds players that all releases weren't classic back then. Basically it's Space Invaders with ships at the both the top and bottom of the screen. This isn't going to much of a review since this isn't much of a game. The gimmick is that the shots cross at the center of the screen. It's a fairly boring game, the play is boring. It goes without saying that the game has almost no replay value. Spectravideo dropped the ball on this one. CV owners should look elsewhere if they want a quality game to play.



SNK's Ikari Warriors series on the NES can only be described as classic. While Iron Tank is cut from the same mold as those titles, it has some interesting departures. First instead of the annoying jump into a tank and jump out if the tank gets hit play mechanic that characterized the Ikari series, the game starts you off in a tank and goes from there. Aside from that it's fairly much the same enjoyable, solid formula that was successful for so long. You scroll up the screen and shoot soldier, throw bombs at other tanks and enemy installations, Etc. One difference this time is the addition of a radio which you can call to get directions and hints. True it's totally worthless, but so what? The graphics are fairly well done and keep your eyes busy, there is some flicker though. Iron Tank's main promising feature is the solid, addicting gameplay. It's a typically challenging and solid SNK title, one that will keep you playing for awhile. It's one of those NES games that makes you think of a dozen others as you play it. Not very original, but fun anyway!

SQOON - Irem

This quirky title has a weird name, but it is a solid shooter in the cute Japanese mold. You'll probably enjoy the shooter game since it's fun to play. While it breaks no new ground, it does make you long for the good old 8-Bit shooter days when these games played looked and sounded so much like each other, you had to really study the game o come up something interesting about the title. I think I found Sqoon's originality: It takes place underwater and you are a submarine. Aside from that , it's standard fare: shoot, collect powerups, face boss, go to the next level, etc. While it's about as original as serving Turkey and apple pie on Thanksgiving, Sqoon offers a solid game for players who want something new on their NES and paradoxically don't want anything surprising at the same time. While it's not up to Irem's other classics like MetalStorm and R-Type it's a nice little game.



We're examining a pair of Capcom follow-ups this time around. Both are sequels to classic NES games and both have become 16-Bit classics in their own right as well. We'll start with SGG which is the third installment in the legendary scary series. Once again you are King Arthur. As usual he evil wizard has kidnapped your wife and you have to fight the forces of evil that are overrunning your kingdom. You use your super sword to destroy enemies and collect many different powerups to it. The gameplay is platform gaming, you run shoot enemies and run some more. SGG doesn't differ radically from the Genesis and NES versions in gameplay. This version resembles the Genesis version, but adds much more.
Instead of doing a straight port of the Genesis game, Capcom added completely new levels, gave all the weapons new looks and added some new ones as well. This is almost a new game. The sounds are much better, especially the music, which is deeper and sounds creepier thanks to the Super NES' superior sound chips. The graphics have been enhanced, there's more detail in the animations and they have more frames. Capcom also used the Mode 7 chip in certain levels as well. It looks pretty strange. making for a game that while familiar, is very different. 

The whole GnG series is one of my favorites, going back to the original NES in the 80s and this was definitely one of the main reasons I picked up a SNES back when it first came out. I love this game, it's everything I like in a video game, it's fun, easy to get into quickly and doesn't make you frustrated unneccassarily. If you have a SNES and don't have SGG yet, the clue train left SNES station a long time ago, and it's not coming back. Sorry to sound like a "game fan" for a minute: but I can't wait for the amazing version Capcom is probably making right now on the N64! I'm getting goosebumps just imagining what it'll be like! Well like I said before, If you don't have this great, yes classic game on the SNES yet, perhaps you should get another hobby.

MEGA MAN X - Capcom

We all know Mega Man, Dr. Light's robot of a thousand sequels don't we? Mega Man's triumphant arrival onto the SNES was treated as the second coming by many, and it was to an extent. The graphics, which were excellent and detailed in the NES versions, were given a big facelift on the SNES.
The sounds were also upgraded and Mega Man never sounded better. Unfortunately, the play mechanic was left largely unchanged. This was a major disappointment to anyone familiar with these games. Players who expected a revolutionary title were severely disappointed as the game failed to add much new. Aside from that, the game is great a Mega Man adventure through a post-apocalyptic neo-Tokyo. Despite the lack of originality, It's a fun and players will never tire of the game's solid play.



Scavenger is company that has become one of the most renowned game developers in the business. Their first project that gained attention was this game developed for Sega. I regret not having reviewed this when it first came out two years ago. My reasons sounded good at the time, but seem kind of stupid now. At the time, Sega had thrown a big contest for fandom and it was extremely controversial, many felt that fandom was begin co-opted by Sega and feared the pollution of EG Fandom into a shrill corporate
cesspool. I didn't want to review this game, since I feared looking like a suck-up, especially since I liked the game a lot. Anyway, enough time has passed that I can safely review the game: This strange yet appealing brew is the result of what happens when Gravitar meets Choplifter with a little Sinistar thrown in. You're in a cavern and your ship has to collect all the hostages and powerups on the level. Your ship moves in 360 degrees and is affected by Gravity, It falls down slowly to the earth, like in the old game Gravitar. After you collect these hostages, your ship returns to base and you go to the next level where you face a giant demonic head that kind of resembles the one in Sinistar! Cool. The graphics in this game really blew me away, I liked the smooth sprite animation and the details that accompanied the excellent level design. Each stage was slightly different and had a different goal to approach. This made the game a lot of fun to play. The control was incredibly smooth, it was very easy to pick the game up. What I liked best about the game was the way that Scavenger were able to integrate elements from classic games that I loved and created a brand new, original game in the process. While I loved this game despite it's controversial marketing campaign, it was only the beginning for Scavenger's Sega Classics.


Scavenger has built quite a reputation among gamers for titles that stretch the technical limits of systems that they work on. Sub Terrania pushed the envelope of Genesis technology farther than anyone had previously thought possible, Red Zone the follow-up does the impossible and pushes that envelope even farther. Amazingly, the graphics are smoother and the game rocks even harder than Scavenger's first attempt. When you first turn on the game, something comes onscreen that blows you away: Red Zone has an actual cinema style intro complete with screaming dictators and guns being pointed to set up the edge of Armageddon urgency of the plot! This is simply Amazing! The FMV intro is quite an accomplishment considering that the game is on cartridge. The game itself is a richly designed overhead shooter much in the vein of SubTerrania. This time, instead of doing another Gravitar meets Choplifter, this takes on the rarely mined genre of the overhead shooter. You start off flying over a small island in a helicopter and must find your destination, where you'll get out of your helicopter and fight on the ground. The best part is the free flowing nature of this stage, players are not locked into a track and can wander in any direction they want, though they might want to keep an eye on their fuel.

There are loads of other enemies in the stage to take on as well. Things like air-based missile, enemy copters and more will make it difficult for you to get to the hostages. Once you have reached your destination, you jump out of the helicopter and play as one of the four characters. This is an overhead view as well, but it feels very different. The best part of the game are the graphics, I loved all the little details, like the smoke flowing from a hostage camp realistically. The animation is outstanding as well, you can see the shots explode, in a great animation. Once you get out of the helicopters, you see an overhead view of your characters, which looks almost as good as a almost like a cartoon. Kind of makes you wonder how they keep tapping so much power in the humble Genesis, doesn't it? Red Zone is an eye popping shooter when you consider the graphic limitations of the system were thought to have been reached long ago. The sound is also excellent, helicopters, gunfire and weapon loading are only enhanced by the excellent soundtrack. Most of all, though, Red Zone is a joy to play, the smooth scrolling, free form play and Just Right challenge level make for a game that shouldn't go unplayed. Genesis owners who don't have it yet should pick it up, it rocks!


RAYMAN - Ubi Soft

Ubi Soft's Rayman is an enchanting platform game, it's one of the few Jaguar games that actually impresses you with its' graphics. The colorful, cartoonish graphics are simply wonderful. You'll find yourself transported instantly into Rayman's fantasy world. The control is smoother than any other game on the Jag. Rayman runs, jumps and punches with ease. This is the best platform game on the system outclassing Bubsy and Zool 2 in every way. Rayman uses abilities of the Jaguar you never knew existed. Compared to the PlayStation version, the graphics are virtually identical, unfortunately, the sound isn't in the same class at all. It sounds tinny and empty compared to the Playstation's beautiful soundtrack. Fortunately, the gameplay itself is virtually identical. Ubi's Rayman takes the Jaguar to heights previously unimagined. Unfortunately, it's too little, too late.



Back in 1983, a man named Don Bluth revolutionized the field of video games when he created Dragon's Lair. The first video game that used LaserDiscs, the games were amazing back then, simply because Pac Man was the height of technological achievement. I remember going to arcades and standing in long lines to play or watch Dragon's Lair. At first, some arcades installed video monitors above the machines so those standing in line could watch in awe at the then amazing game Dragon's Lair. Coming from years working for Disney, Bluth took that classic style of animation and created an outstanding vision, it looked simply incredible. Unfortunately, the frequent breaks in the action for loading and limited interaction hurt the game in the long run, as it simply got old after awhile. A year later Space Ace came along and refined the format and added more interaction, What have become classic characters, These two Readysoft games are almost exact ports of the classic Don Bluth Laserdisc Interactive Cartoons. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the games, a quick summary of each follows: In Dragon's Lair, you are Dirk the Daring, a daring knight who is out to save princess Daphne from the evil dragon Singe. You have to journey into Singe's castle an avoid a whole mess of baddies in order to do this.

Space Ace has a similar yet slightly more complicated plot: Commander Borf has rescued your girlfriend Tammy. Borf has zapped you with his infanto ray. This turns you into Dexter, a small helpless kid and your mission is to go from planet to planet attacking Borf until Ace is able to confront Borf.
Both of these games have the same strengths and weaknesses: The games are gorgeous to look at, but offer limited interaction, I.e. you see Dirk or Space Ace walking and you have to move him left or right at just the right time in order to beat the level. There is a slight lag between the time you move your joystick and the time the characters perform that action, which is still annoying, especially nowadays. The other gripe I have is that you can watch the same scenes over and over until you learn the right moves, which can get really old in a hurry. After you get used to the controls, you realize that the games are basically just exercises in memorization and nothing more. This leads to a great deal of disappointment and frustration on the part of the player . Still you can't knock these titles, they are pure nostalgia. When you look back though, these games probably led the way for FMV so maybe they aren't such golden oldies. I enjoyed playing them again, especially if you consider that only now with the advent of home CDs are you able to enjoy these games in their original forms. I have a data pack for the Adam of Dragon's Lair, this isn't anything like the arcade version, so it's nice to finally be able to play them again. The Jaguar versions feature the exact animation and music that the originals did, though I found the video to be a bit blurry in spots. Aside from that these are just like playing the arcade versions of the games, frustrating glitches and all.

> Originally appeared in "The Laser" #15 - May 1996

All reviews by Michael Palisano