Disk 9, Side 2
Only you can save the universe from random brightly-colored shapes that don’t really move! Onslaught puts you in the place of the defender of all mankind. Flying inside your spaceship shaped like a barn, you must destroy as many random shapes as possible. If you miss any. . .well, you don’t get the points for shooting them. I guess that portends. . .doom for humanity?
OK, so this game really has no storyline. The point is, shapes scroll toward you on a rapidly moving starfield. You shoot them and avoid getting hit. Occasionally they shoot back with a slow-moving bullet that actually usually ends up destroying another one of them instead of you. As time goes on they get more closely-packed, until it’s nearly impossible to maneuver. That’s why, sometimes, a flying rainbow-colored diamond flies by, and if you hit it then everything on the screen gets destroyed and you get a bunch of points. There are several game modes: different combinations of flying a thin or a fat ship, shooting thin or fat bullets, the choice to have three or five “shields” (really just extra lives), and one or two alternating players.
Onslaught is an OK game which can be good for some mindless hand-eye reflex fun. Also, a unique feature of this game was the ability to keep the high score. Most of these games reset the high score as soon as you turned off the computer, but this one saved it to disk, therefore keeping it for all posterity. See that high score in the screenshot? That was actually set by my own late father in the early ’80’s. That alone raises my estimation of my copy of this game, if only for sentimental reasons. Nerdy sentimental reasons.
APPLES!!!! AAAAAAHHHH!! This game is a good game struggling to break free of a really crappy one. You’re on a network of platforms and ladders, which are also inhabited by antennaed creatures (apples, I guess?) You dig a hole for one, and if it falls in then you hammer its head until it dies. Once they all die you move onto the next level, where there are more of them.
Sounds like some simple fun, no? Well, it would be, if the controls were any good! The problem is that you can’t just dig anywhere; there are certain sections of the brick that can have holes in them, due to graphics limitations, kind of like in Dig Dug you can only turn at certain spots. These have to be pixel-perfect; otherwise, your guy just stands there and waits for an apple to kill him. Then, when you finally find a spot and hold down the trigger to dig a hole, you have to let go of the trigger in a precise instant for the hole to be complete. If you don’t hold it long enough the hole is only half-dug and an apple will just pop right out of it if it falls in, and if you hold it down too long then your hapless digger man starts filling in the hole, giving you the exact same problem. This might not be a problem if each hole didn’t take about five seconds each to make, so if you miss the timing you’ve got to wait ten seconds for the man to fill in the hole all the way and then dig again. In addition to that stupidity, the apples seem to wander aimlessly instead of pursuing you, which means you have no way to lure them into a hole, other than digging one nearby and hoping that it doesn’t take the ladder right before the hole and meander over the other half of the board. The solution to that might be to dig more holes and trap the creature, but since digging holes is a fiasco this is a less-than-ideal solution. Plus, if you spend too much time on a hole one of the apples will probably run up and kill you.
In short, Apple Panic is ruined by this extremely frustrating control system, and I recommend you skip it. I’ve heard there are versions of this game for other systems. Perhaps they have better control systems and can be fun to play, but for the love of all that’s good in this world, do not play the Atari 8-bit version of Apple Panic unless you enjoy gaming masochism.
Wizard of Wor
What do you get when you cross Ghostbusters, gladiatorial combat, Pacman, stealth technology, Dragnet, and wizards? The answer: either just the facts about Peter Venkman eating dancing fruit while Spartacus and Merlin fly F-117 Nighthawks, ma’am, or the game Wizard of Wor. You play the role of one or two “worriors” placed inside a maze. There are also several panther-like creatures (called “Burwors”) wandering around that you have to shoot with your proton-pack-looking guns. Once you have killed enough of them, other yellow creatures which look like walking cheese wedges (”Garwors”) and red creatures that resemble bell peppers (”Thorwors”) appear in the maze. However, these creatures are invisible unless they are directly in your line of sight, so you have to use your primitive radar at the bottom of the screen to locate them. Also, all of these creatures can shoot you.
Once you have dispatched all these wor-creatures, a “worluk” appears which rapidly circles corridors and is worth mondo points if shot before it escapes out one of the passages marked with an arrow in the screenshot. Sometimes, after it is dispatched, the “Wizard of Wor” himself appears, shooting at you for a few seconds, and then rapidly teleports to a different part of the maze, until you either kill it or it escapes too. Once you finish a level, the theme from Dragnet plays! Neat! Each maze is different, and some have names (like “The Arena,” or “The Pit,” which has no walls at all.)
All of this might seem like a lot, but don’t “worry,” for you can team up with a friend to help rid these mazes of this Wor Machine. You can also gain points for shooting each other if you want to be sadistic. Wizard of Wor is a very fun arcade-style game, especially if you grab a second player to join in the fun. You need all the help you can get, for as Generol Shermon once said, “Wor is Hall.”
“The evil Gorfian Robot Empire has attacked! Your assignment is to repel the invasion and launch a counterattack. You will engage various hostile spacecraft as you journey toward a dramatic confrontation with the enemy flag ship…”
So goes the introduction to Gorf a game which is essentially four simple arcade games in one package! You’re a little spaceship dude that has to defend the planet from space invaders. The first level, oddly enough, is a nearly exact clone of Space Invaders, the only difference being a minor one involving your shield! After you beat that game, um, I mean, destroy the invading Gorfian Robot Empire forces, you proceed to the “Laser Attack” level, where two enemy squadrons throw cats at you and shoot you with lasers half the width of your ship that move more slowly than you do. If you destroy the laser shooters and all of the, uh, space cats, you move to the third level, the “Space Warp.” In here random lines are drawn from the center, from which fly more space cats and other ships. In the screenshot you can see them hucking a land-line telephone at you. Once you’ve warped long enough you finally face the enemy flagship, a boss fight of sorts. The first thing you may notice is that he stole your shield from the first level! That fiend! You think robots could come up with innovative technology! But since the best they can do is throw cats at you I guess their artificial intelligence isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Anyway, you’ve got to shoot through the shield and then the outer plating of the mother ship, which flies off and can damage the player. Once you finally shoot the core of the mother ship it explodes in a colorful fireworks display! You get half a second to enjoy the fact that, once again, you’ve saved mankind, when the whole thing starts over, only faster now!
Gorf is a pretty fun shoot-’em-up. It touts itself as four different games in one, even though each game is pretty much the same thing, with just a different enemy configuration in each level. I guess it could be accurately described as Space Invaders Plus.
Fun fact: Gorf was originally supposed to be a tie-in game with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which is why the player’s ship looks kind of like the Enterprise flipped upside-down. However, after the film came out they realized that a game truly based on that movie would be composed mainly of still shots of the ship while dramatic music played in the background. So they dropped the franchise name, forcing people to wait at least ten or so more years before a pixelated William Shatner was released on the world.
That does it for Disk 9. Coming up: Disk 10, featuring Preppie, Qix, and Hard Hat Mack. See you then!