Atari 2600

Review by Clint Dyer



Graphics: 5

Sound: 2

Gameplay: 5

Overall: 4

Prototype!This ultra-rare prototype seems finished, though after playing it, it’s easy to see why it never reached the store shelves. There’s just simply not enough here to make this game a competitor on the 2600 market. Ahhh, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The premise to the game is simple. You play an underwater explorer that must reach the depths of the ocean and pick up something (heck, how am I supposed to know what it is, it looks like a little city or something). Each screen of the ocean is filled with fish that swim back and forth at random and each level has more ocean "scenes" downward, narrower corridors and faster fish. After getting the "whatever it is", taking it back to the top of the ocean will cause a mermaid to appear. Touch the mermaid, and you will escort her to the top of the screen (above the water!?) and onto the next level. Throughout each ocean scene, your air meter (a turtle, actually – yeah, you heard me right. It’s a turtle!) is crawling towards the "air" sign and if you don’t make it back to the top before the turtle reaches it, you die. Putting aside the little stupid things, like going to the bottom of the ocean to pick up something that has nothing to do with a mermaid, the air meter being a turtle, etc., this game still doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Gameplay is extremely repetitive. Each ocean scene contains one sort of fish or another that you must avoid or shoot to get to the bottom of that scene. If you shoot a fish, another faster fish replaces it, but you have a few seconds to get out of the way and continue on your mission. The problem, however, is exactly that. There is NOTHING more to this game! After 3 levels, I had no desire to play anymore and was actually starting to fall asleep. Though, falling asleep isn’t an option you’d expect with sounds as annoying as ones in this game are!

By far, the worst thing about this game are the sounds. There is this constant sonar ping "bing bing bing bing", "bing bing bing bing", "bing bing bing bing" that would probably drive you to act like Sean Kelly if you listened to it long enough (yes, it’s that torturous). Above and beyond that, there aren’t very many sounds in the game - maybe two or three - one for dying, one for picking up the "whatever it is" and touching the mermaid and one for shooting a fish. Certainly, the 2600 could have handled twice as much as this game tries to give it, and sound wise, there are hundreds of games that are better.

Graphics in the game are plain. The fish are brightly colored, and at least I could tell that it was a mermaid and turtle, but that’s where the positives end. The main character looks like he’s running through the water, not swimming (though, in fairness, I guess it would have been hard to make it look like he was swimming). The graphics on the sides of the screen (the boundary, which you have to avoid touching or die also) are lines that don’t look like anything that you’d see underwater. Straight lines with bends in them would have been a better choice for ocean walls, but I guess those wouldn’t have been as scary as the jagged lines that poke out at you. The background colors are standard 2600 colors, nothing to get excited about, although certainly not the worst I’ve seen. Overall, graphically, the game is a disappointment to say the least.

With a few changes, this game could have been a lot better. Change some (ok, most) of the graphics, add a sideways ocean scene where the fish came up and down (ala Vanguard) and add a few more gameplay elements and this wouldn’t be half bad! In short, having an original of this prototype would be a rare treat, unfortunately, playing it isn’t.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:15 PM