Tax Avoiders

Atari 2600

Review by Rob "Dire 51"

Amer. Videogames


Graphics: 1

Sound: 1

Gameplay: 1

Overall: 1

Ever want to play a game where you deal with finances and taxes? Well, here's your chance.

This "true-to-life game" was created by American Videogame (their only game, as it turned out) and some guy who was "a Licensed Tax Consultant and former IRS Revenue Agent" - once again proving that the government should not stick their noses into gaming. You get a game that looks like (if you go by the cover) a game about filling out your taxes and being a spy (if you actually were a spy, it might have made the game interesting). The back of the box talks about earning a million dollars over the course of a year and keeping it by avoiding audits, taxes, red tape and bad investments ... boooooring.

What you really get is a game where you, John Q. (the overtaxed player), are on the run from - cue drum roll here - the Evil Tax Man™. According to the instructions, the Evil Tax Man™ is actually THREE people in one: Eggie (WTF?!?), the IRS Agent; Waggie (sounds like the name of a dog I had once), the CPA; and Toodles (Toodles?!?), the Investment Advisor... more on these three later. You run John Q. around two screens. The first screen you collect money signs and avoid "governmental red tape" signs while riding an elevator up and down ("This takes you to the various levels, slowly like normal governmental action.")

The days count up through the year along with your cash - then at random points in the game, the screen changes and the Evil Tax Man™ comes out and tries to catch you - if he does he'll take your money and send you back to the first screen. You can climb up ladders and jump from block to block to avoid him - meanwhile he's following you like some kind of ghost.

Scattered throughout this screen are abstract icons, aka "Tax Sheltered Investments". They're supposed to be (in no particular order) a Train Caboose, the Sun, an Oil Derrick and a Glass Flask, but they're so abstract that without the instructions to tell me what they were, I would have had no idea whatsoever. For chrissakes, the "Train Caboose" looks like the damn Kool-Aid Man! If you pick up the right one, your cash increases and the Evil Tax Man™ is rendered helpless for a brief period (he becomes either Waggie [pink] or Toodles [green]). Touching him when he's either Waggie or Toodles causes different things to happen; I refuse to elaborate here, so if you really want to know what they do, click here. Pick up the wrong thing and your cash starts dropping, forcing you to run around until something good appears - of course, it might be something bad that drains your money even faster! Then there's the thing that just stops your money from moving altogether. Randomly you'll get sent back to the first screen. Then the cycle repeats until the clock hits December 31.

Tax Avoiders and the 20th Century Fox game Porky's are almost identical in terms of graphics, control and sound. The main character in both games looks and controls exactly the same. The sounds - identical. The animation - identical. The question here, though, is which game ripped off the other? My money is on Tax Avoiders ripping off Porky's, but without any kind of official comment on this, it's kind of hard to tell.

The controls are horrible, especially when it comes to jumping. John Q. stops for a brief second and then jumps, so you really have to time your jumps to make him land where you want. In the first screen, if you miss the elevator, John Q. will plummet all the way to the bottom of the screen, and since the elevator is invisible (except when you're riding on it), you have no way of telling where it is. Climbing up and down ladders in screen two is also a pain. You have to line up John Q. at a specific point on the ladders to get him to climb, but due to a problem in the programming, sometimes it's hard to tell where that point is.

Without a doubt, Tax Avoiders is one of the worst games I have ever played for the VCS. From the ridiculous premise, to the horrible controls and recycled graphics and sounds, the game just screams "terrible" from the moment you hit the power switch. I honestly cannot recommend this game to anyone, aside from collectors who are trying to build a complete VCS collection. If you're not one of them, stay away from this travesty.


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Last updated: Saturday, September 25, 2004 09:10 AM