Review by Tony Bueno
Upon learning that Wacko was
available on MAME, I looked forward to playing this all but forgotten arcade title from my
youth. I remembered reading in Video Games
and Computer Entertainment that many had actually been recalled due to the games
asymmetrical cabinet. Maybe thats why
you (or at least I) never see any of these even in the retro section of the arcade. Given the overall quality of Wackos
gameplay, however, this is really no great loss.
your disposal is a little androgynous green alien who merrily flies around the screen in
his/her single seat saucer. You must blast a
variety of presumably unfriendly aliens resembling dragons, vampires, werewolves, and
hunchbacks, among others. The twist here is
that there are always two of each enemy on screen, and these two must be shot in sequence
to dispose of them. After level two, if the
monsters are not shot in order, they become mutants, which are monsters with
mismatching half sections. Mutant pairs can
be shot for extra points or unmixed by firing on them again. Get rid of all the monsters to go on to a level
with more monsters at a faster rate.
really all there is to it. Unfortunately,
nobody seemed to realize that this would inevitably get real old, real fast. But the vices of Wacko dont end here,
however. Graphics are below average all
around, but uneven in that the creatures have an almost passable appearance (eerily
reminiscent of, although inferior to, Tapper,
Timber, and Domino Mans sprites) and the backgrounds are
just pathetic. Done in unattractive colors
and taking place in very, very unimaginative settings, its like they just
didnt care about this aspect of the game. Despite
the varied appearance of your adversaries, not one of them has any special characteristics
to distinguish themselves from any of the others. As
the game progresses, they all split into mini versions of themselves, which may only be
killed once the large ones are all disposed of first.
The game then quickly digresses into dodging and destroying all the lil
monsters and sometimes their eggs as quickly as possible.
On paper it actually sounds like fun, but even the best premise can be ruined by
now like to take this opportunity to offer a few ideas that could have made this one
halfway decent. To be fair, I didnt
play very far into Wacko, so I may or may not have seen everything it has to offer, but
bear with me. First and foremost, give the
enemies their own personalities and powers. Shouldnt
dragons be able to breathe fire? And
shouldnt vampires only be susceptible to certain attacks? Rock men (a la The Thing) should definitely be
tougher than most other beasts. And why not
have them attack at different speeds and in less predictable patterns? A few power up items to your ship would be nice. Maybe a bonus treat for points? Say, why not a special item which could be used to
temporarily freeze all bad guys? Oh wait! Ive got it!
A special indestructible adversary who pops up at inopportune times and
threatens everything in its path! Not too
original, granted, but hell, why not? The
ship itself could contain a special cannon with limited ammo to eliminate monsters with
one hit and could be used to free up space on the screen.
How about a bonus stage between levels? Intermissions
wouldnt hurt. Making all characters
smaller would eliminate the overcrowding of the screen.
Simple interactive background items, like rocks, mountains, or trees could offer
cover. An attract mode naming some of these
characters would give the game more appeal. Any
one of these suggestions could have easily been implemented to make this a better title. Wacko shows a striking lack of innovation and
imagination on behalf of the programmers. I
mean, Timber may be a bad game, but at least its playable.
the main character in Wacko also appeared in another game, Kozmik Kroozr. Why anyone would want to further the adventures of
this uninteresting, unimaginative, uncharismatic, and otherwise uninspired character
unclear. Games like this
support the notion that we have indeed come a long way in electronic entertainment, and
Wacko deserves to rank with such losers as 10-Yard
Fight, Sonson, Mikie, The
Wiz, Leprechaun, and Section Z as an arcade game best left forgotten.
note: Dave G. and his brother Tony B. are usually seen terrorizing arcades together with
their wonder-twin-like powers. However, Dave disagrees with Tony on the issue of Wacko,
stating that to him, Wacko is a 9 and is in his personal top ten favorite game list.
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