Save the World

by Michael Blanchet

Can you fight your way out of these life and death situations?

A good video game requires that you have the instincts of a panther, the concentration of a jet fighter pilot, and the reflexes of a home run hitter. Because a video game, by its nature, attempts to place you in progressively more difficult situations until, finally, you make a mistake, your score is actually a reflection of how well you handle crisis situations. It is the video game player with the calmest nerves and highest stress threshold who consistently gets to punch his initials into the list of “All-Time Immortals.” Here are six tough predicaments in six hot arcade games. If you had to defend these worlds, would they survive?

As you speed along the lunar landscape in Moon Patrol, you zero in on a deep crater that lies dead ahead. As you make the approach and prepare to vault over it, you also notice that a boulder sits just past the other side of the precipice. How can you safely land on the other side without ramming the boulder?

These large rocks must be shot twice to be destroyed. This requires split-second timing. Since your forward gun has a limited range, the first shot must be fired just as you begin your descent. Just after touchdown, hit it again.

You are in the fifth wave of Robotron. You are confronted with three final foes. A brain and his snaking cruise missile, an Enforcer that hurls deadly sparks and Prog, the apparition of a reprogrammed human. If all three pose an immediate threat, how can you end the round and preserve a game life in the fewest number of shots?

The Progs, like Hulks, do not have to be destroyed in order to advance to the next wave of play. The best course of action is to kill the enforcer first, since he is the fastest character present on the screen, then shoot the Brain.

Of all the diverse situations you must face in TRON, one of the toughest and most perplexing is the second time you do battle against the enemy tanks. The second time around, it’s three against one. Considering that each tank must be hit twice in order to die, and they have a quicker trigger finger than you do, the odds are stacked quite heavily against you. Is there a safe way for you to come out of this hazardous situation alive?

Did you know that the pink diamond in the center of the screen can serve you just like a hyperspace button? Just drive into it and your tank will jettison to another spot on the grid. Armed with this information, your best bet is to back your tank into the diamond and tum the gun turret left or right. Fire away until the enemy gets too close. Then, just disappear. But beware—you might reappear in a situation that is even worse!

You are on the second Tut labyrinth, where two keys must be found. After unlocking the first door, you must locate the second key. To your right is a room with Bats. To your left, Cobras are heading toward the vertical corridor that is your route to the key. You have no Flash. How do you get that key?

To head right without a Flash would be foolish. Scoot down the vertical corridor and duck into the niche to the right. Wait for the snakes to reach you before firing. When the coast is clear, move to the adjoining horizontal corridor and get the key.

You are steadily hammering away at the Galaga alien formation with dual fighters from a position midway between center screen and the left comer. Suddenly, a lone alien peels away from the main group and tosses a salvo of bombs in your direction. Standing still is certain death for both of your fighters. Next time, you’ll be sure to move right fast so you don’t get trapped in that left side comer. But right now, the world as we know it is coming to an end. What is your best course of evasive action-moving to the left or moving to the right?

Since your ship is limited strictly to horizontal movement, Galaga does not lend itself well to strategy, save for pure defensive manuevering. The key in this situation is to simply cut your losses. The safest evasive move would be toward the left corner. At the very worst, you may lose one of your fighters. If you move to the right, you will surely lose them both.

As your little Dig Dug plods along the playfield, a pair of Pookas pick up your scent and begin to make chase in close formation. If you turn to pump up the leader, the fella trailing him is sure to capture you where you stand. These two punks are very cute, but also extremely hazardous to your health. Is there a safe way to puncture both Pookas and save your own skin too?

To stun the leader and temporarily render him motionless, hold down the Pump button long enough to get a couple of puffs inside him. Now take a step back in order to give yourself some breathing room. The second Pooka will pass his frozen buddy. Pump him till he bursts. Hopefully, when this is finished, the first Pooka will come out of suspended animation.

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