Demons to Diamonds

One of Atari’s most delightful games.

You begin the game with a gunbase which can be reborn a total of four times. Your targets are demons which shuffle overhead in horizontal paths at different levels.

The demons come in two different colors. If you shoot a demon which is the same color as your base, it turns into a scintillating diamond. If you shoot a demon which is a different color, it turns into a skull.

The skulls fire laser bullets which will destroy your base if they strike it. The diamonds flit about the screen: if you hit one with a burst of cannon fire before it reaches either wall, you win bonus points.

Skulls vanish after a while, and demons change colors when they strike the side walls.

After a wave of demons has been cleared from the screen, a new crew appears, in greater numbers and moving faster than before.

The sound effects are delicate and quite charming, the game possessing a fairytale quality which is a welcome change from the more bombastic shoot-em-ups.

Numerous variations, such as fast and slow “skull bullets” add to the appeal of Demons to Diamonds.

The Empire Strikes Back

Parker Brothers’ first Atari-compatible videogame has been available for three months. However, the three or four of you who may be holding out should get yourself a copy.

The Empire Strikes Back is similar to Defender and Chopper Command, but embellishes on both.

Your mission is to soar across the ice of the planet Hoth, using Snow-speeders to fell five Imperial Walkers, giant ambulatory tanks headed for your power generators. You can batter one Walker until it vaporizes after forty-eight strikes, or play hit-and-run; concentrating on one is the better tack, since you are less likely to fly into stray bombs.

The player has five Snow-speeders in all. Keeping any one of them airborne for two minutes empowers it with the Force, making it indestructible for twenty seconds.

In terms of the swift, backward/forward flight of your vessel, this game is as versatile as Defender and Chopper Command. But you can also land your ship for repairs — a difficult task in the glaciated valleys — and many players will find the challenge of hammering away at each Walker more cathartic than the single-blast destruction of the other games.

Frog Pond

Neither a fast-paced nor particularly innovative game — there are, as noted in this issue’s Eye on section, other frog games on the market — this Atari cartridge is nonetheless not without its appeal. Gameplay is will probably please children more than adults. You’ve got to leap your frog, extend its tongue, and snare sundry insects which pester the pond with their presence.

Two players compete for the winged cache, bugs coming in waves of thirty beginning with dragonflies and plodding beetles. Each consecutive wave contains an additional species of insect, making for eight varieties in all.

As the game progresses, it becomes more difficult to nab the little banes. Gnats, for example, must be hit twice; wasps can stun your green proxy.

The game ends when all the bugs have been caught or have fled.

Frog Pond’s greatest asset is its evocative sound effects. The croaking and soft-bellied leaping of the frogs are perfectly realized, as are the buzzing insects.


Mega Mania

This Activision cartridge is one of the most demanding shooting games ever devised. Each new wave of objects — household items such as bowties and hamburgers — comes at you in a different pattern. An exciting, inventive variation on a tired theme.


Atari’s excellent rendition of the arcade game. Similar to The Incredible Wizard in that the player must move through maze-like rooms while blasting opponents. The pace is slower, but necessarily so: if your figure touches any of the walls, he/ she perishes.



An ambitious cartridge from Apollo. The major drawback is that while the view from the back wall is true to the game, the ball does not bounce realistically in perspective. One is never certain about its arc and distance from the front wall. Similarly, the ball’s shadow is more distracting than effective. Aficionados will be disappointed, others simply confused. Better to spend the money on Apollo’s superb Space Cavern and Lost Luggage.

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