Rumble in the Jungle
I suggest that your magazine shouldn’t throw any stones at glass houses. I read John Holmstrom’s stinging Book Beat column (“The Official I-Hate-Video-Games-Books Column”) in your Oct. issue which criticized all those how-to books and showed how dumb and useless they really are. Then I glanced at “Dr. J’s Rules of the Robotron Jungle,” and all I can say is that your magazine must certainly learn how to take some of its own medicine. You’d think that since [Eugene] Jarvis himself was the game designer, he’d give us more sound gameplay advice than the elementary hints that were given. Any fool who has at least spent eight quarters on the machine already knows offhand every statement made in the Robotron article.
To prove my point, look at the general statements made in the article. First: “Learn the controls”—an inane statement since there are only two controls to speak of. If you don’t know how to learn two simple controls, you can’t play the game in the first place. So much for helpful hint #1.
Second: “Never stay in the middle of the screen”—by the time the player is experienced enough to reach the level where this information is really useful, he already knows it offhand anyway. So much for helpful hint #2.
Third: “Learn the characteristics of each type of robotron”—knowledge which can be obtained by simply watching the demo mode of the machine itself or simply watching another person play. So much for helpful hint #3.
You know, after I read the first five paragraphs of Holmstrom’s article, I thought he didn’t know what he was talking about. But when I finished the article and then I looked at Jarvis’ tips on Robotron, I realized that he made a lot of sense.
New York, N.Y.
Jarvis replies: Get off my back puerile nitpicker! Of course the “How-to-Beat Video Games” books are generally useless pulp, written by masquerading charlatans out for a fast buck. How ever, throwing my noble efforts onto this dung heap is a grave miscarriage of justice bordering on outright fraud. Mr. Banegas complains that the first two rules are too basic. Poppycock! Like any classic video game, Robotron is built upon a few elementary elements—easy to understand, yet difficult to master. The player can progress only through total mastery of these simple principles, in particular achieving independence of control between movement and firing.
Mr. Banegas’ final contention, that the Robotron’s characteristics revealed were trivial and obvious, is totally inept. If he had bothered to read this section he would have found a gold mine of useful psychological data to battle the Robotron menace. A final word to Mr. Banegas: “Have you hugged a Hulk today?
P.S.: For those interested in the real secrets to Robotron, send $20 to Dr. J., care of this magazine. Please allow 6-8 weeks for me to leave the country after cashing your check.
After reading your second issue from cover to cover twice, I would like to submit an opinion of mine. On page 33, “The Art of Video Games” article states, “…there’s a real race for the next state-of-the-art breakthrough. …” I think this breakthrough could already be here and is mentioned almost in passing on page 16 of the same issue (“Software Update: Eight’s Company”).
Arcadia Video Games announced its Supercharger unit which uses cassette tape as its program. Both plug into the game console. By deduction, isn’t this the start of program interchangeability between video game formats (i.e., a Supercharger for Atari, a Supercharger for Intellivision and the same standard cassette tape for both)? For that matter, why not use a disc drive or videodisc and, possibly in the future, bubble memory through the Supercharger? Think of the possibilities of having a home game with unlimited memory.
The Supercharger could interface the “lowly” video game with large computer programs for some really complex and mind-blowing games and graphics. Arcadia might hold the key with which we might unlock our game consoles to reveal the supergame within.
Edward J. Holbeck
For more info. on Arcadia, see page 17.—Ed.
Settling a Score
I really enjoyed your Oct. issue and am waiting anxiously for the next. I read most of the articles in the magazine, including the “TV-Games Buyer’s Guide.” In it you say the scoring goal for Astrosmash is 400,000 and I have conquered it. My two high scores are 499,950 and 487,840. Could you investigate to see what the high score is?
Sean (Kong) Arabi
P.S. I got the nickname for being a whiz at Donkey Kong.
According to Mattel, 32 million is tops as of Aug. 6.—Ed.
In your second issue it was stated in the Hard Sell article (“The $300 Question”) that the Astrocade master component goes for $299.95, but I bought mine for $240 on sale. They usually go for $260, I believe. Furthermore, the fact that the Basic cartridge comes with all Astrocade units was not mentioned. The Basic cart may be child’s play to some, but someone must be taking it seriously, because it is supported by two user’s groups (in fact, they are the first user’s groups). I find every video game other than Astrocade to be pretty much lacking in one way or another and that Astrocade is more than worth the price just for Space Fortress, Galactic Invasion and Pinball. By the way, can you give me some release dates on the new Astrocade carts?
What’s Right is Rights
We appreciate your fine article on “How to Play the 15 Most Popular Videos” (Aug. issue). Please note, however, that in this article there is a reference to King Kong. The gorilla character in the subject game is called Donkey Kong and to best preserve Nintendo’s valuable trademark rights we request that you delete any reference to this in future articles. There is no connection, authorization, sponsorship, or other association between the Donkey Kong game and the film classic King Kong or the producers (or successors) of such film.
Susan Schoenecker Customer Service Manager Nintendo of America Inc.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask
Your article on ColecoVision (“Coleco Has a Vision”) interested me. It left some questions in my mind, though. First of all, when will it be available? How much will the Conversion Modules #1 and #3 cost?
Also, you never mentioned what Expansion Module #2 is. I tried to read the box cover on Page 53. It said that it “plays advanced driving and racing games.” Could you expand on that? How much will it cost?
Finally, you mentioned that the system includes speed rollers on the controllers. What are they?
Module #2 is a steering wheel and accelerator accessory that comes with the Turbo cartridge, all for $90. There is no price yet for Module #3—the keyboard component—though Coleco’s president indicated it would go for about $150 when it’s released in mid‘83. Turbo is scheduled for October. Everything else should already be available. Finally, the speed rollers are somewhat akin to a Trak Ball. I dare you to ask me what a Trak Ball is.—Ed.
Can you please send me information on how I can get some tickets to the next Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas? Where in Vegas is it going to be held and when?
The winter CES is scheduled from Jan. 6-9. It takes place in the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Hilton and Jockey Club hotels. If you are in any way involved in consumer electronics as an occupation and can prove it, you’re welcome to attend. Admission is free. For more info, write: CES, Two Illinois Center, Suite 1607, 233 N. Michigan, Chicago, Ill. 60601.—Ed.
Mastering Book Beat
As the co-author of a video game book (The Video Wizard’s Handbook), I took exception to the Book Beat article (“The Official I-Hate-Video-Games-Books Column”) in your Oct. issue. Especially to such comments as:
I learned that after playing the game twice (So what? Aren’t the books for beginners as well? Would he object to the rules being explained?), and: All these authors are fast-buck artists (What is your magazine doing but trying to cash in on a fad?). At any rate, a fair critical review is one thing; this was not. I am confident we will not be lumped into this column.
San Francisco, Calif.
That column never pretended to be anything other than it was: unadulterated, one-sided opinion. But if “fair” is what you want, then see the previous Book Beat column (“How-to They Do,” Aug. issue). We reviewed seven of ‘em … fair and square.—Ed.
In “Ask Doctor Video” (Oct. issue), Dr. Sherman states that for visual problems see your optometrist. Poor advice—an optometrist is not an eye doctor. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in eyes.
P. Berger, RN
I came across the second issue of your magazine and am very glad that I did. The “TV-Games Buyer’s Guide” was excellent. In my initial enthusiasm after purchasing an Atari VCS, I bought some carts that I’m not too pleased with. Now I read about carts before making an expensive purchase. I hope your magazine will continue to give information and tidbits on up coming carts.
Also, I missed your first issue. Will it be possible to order back issues of it?
K. A. Clements
Los Angeles, Calif.
Yes. Send $3.25 to this magazine’s address. And thanks for the rave.—Ed.
The $300 Bargain
It was quite obvious Roger Dionne, in his article “The $300 Question: Astrocade or Intellivision?”, was personally sold on Intellivision and did not know much about Astrocade. For example, Astrocade is a 4K RAM computer—not ROM as Mr. Dionne stated. It also has three microchips and is endless in its capabilities. It has three built-in games, plus a five-function, 10-memory calculator. Also, by subscribing to the Arcadian newsletter, you are able to learn and share ideas and programs with others. On what other home computer are you able to play music such as “Stars and Stripes Forever”?
Yes, I am sold on my Astrocade and feel $300 is quite a bargain. Please tell Mr. Dionne it is the Cadillac—not the Lincoln—of small home game computers. I know he was comparing the games you can buy and play. Bet he never played Astrocades’ Wizard.
North Canton, Ohio
Gamers are a spunky lot. Below, you’ll find letters from two who had the nerve to knock Roger “Buyer’s Guide” Dionne.
I must differ with your criticism of Mattel’s NFL Football Cartridge. You accurately stated that in order to pass, the receiver is keyed to a zone towards which the ball automatically travels when “thrown.” That, you claim, makes NFL Football easier to master than other football cartridges. In fact, the opposite is true. Since the defender can easily key on a receiver and anticipate the programmed reception zone, the video quarterback must devise a way of completing his pass outside that zone. In theory this is simple, but only can be accomplished with skill and timing. As the receiver heads for the zone, release the pass quickly. To prevent the ball from reachiing the receiver before he enters the predesignated zone, move the receiver into the path of the ball. This greatly enhances the game by making possible such plays as look-ins, square-outs and buttonhooks.
You also completely neglected the running game. By establishing the run—I suggest sending a man in motion using the pass key, which draws a defender away from the play-you open up the pass. With this in mind, play selection is almost unlimited. In light of these facts, I think the cartridge deserves better than a five on your rating scale for interest.
Dionne suggests firing non-stop at the shield in Yar’s Revenge and only eating a piece of the shield to get your cannon. At slower speeds, though, it is just as easy to gobble up the whole shield rather than just one piece, and this increases your score almost three fold. Also, with a little experience you can shoot the swirl in midair for 5,000 points. Unfortunately, this makes for a slower, more boring game (although higher scoring) and will lower the interest rating by a point or two.
In Star Voyager, Dionne claims it is not easy to escape from an enemy. This is not necessarily so. If the enemy is just appearing on the radar screen, it is very easy to avoid by quickly steering your ship hard in the opposite direction. In my opinion, this flaw lowers the interest rating at least two notches.
One game that also has serious flaws which he didn’t rate is Imagic’s Cosmic Ark. I’ve found that you can stay in space forever on low levels without picking up creatures and thus gaining easy points. If you begin to lose energy, pick up only one of the creatures, then lose it the next time you visit that planet. You will end up with a quarter of a tank more fuel. This is a true shame since without this flaw Cosmic Ark would have been one of the year’s best.
Mont Clare, Pa.
Is that so? We welcome all opinions and game tips from avid gamers like Mssrs. Wallace and Perilli. Like they say, keep those cards and letters coming.—Ed.