The three games in this post really don’t have anything in common besides being “action” titles on the Intellivision with their red boxes/cartridge labels. Mattel used color coding to differentiate the style of play expected for the games they had a hand in producing for the Intellivision. For example, light blue boxes and cartridge labels meant the game was part of the sports network. Purple was used for the strategy network of games, orange was used for children’s learning, green for gaming, dark blue for space action, etc. Besides being heavy on arcade style action, the games in this post also have the distinction of being some of the better titles for the Intellivision.
Currently in my collection:
Frog Bog – game, manual, box, 1 overlay
Also known as Frogs n’ Flies on the Atari 2600 (developed by Mattel’s “M Network” branch), Frog Bog is a perfect 2 player versus game. You are in control of a frog on a lily pad and your goal is to eat as many different flying insects as possible in a 3 minute time limit. If you score more points than your opponent, you win! Different insects are worth different point totals so knowing which ones you should go after and which ones you shouldn’t bother with, is important. Another important game strategy is staying on your pad. If you over or under jump your lily pad, you’ll dive into the pond with a splash. It takes precious time away from jumping and eating each time you have to swim back to the pad so avoid it if you can. Best way to avoid doing this is to choose the fixed arc option on the keypad. If selected, your frog will always jump in a fixed arc no matter how long you hold down the disc. In this mode, your frog will automatically flick its tongue out at the insects once it is close enough. Jump option two only puts you in control of the jumping aspect of the game. Hold the pad down longer in the upwards direction and you’ll jump high in the air. Hold it down towards the sides and you’ll jump far. Barely tap the pad and you’ll make a tiny leap. This option takes a bit getting used to and you’ll likely spend a lot of time in the pond while you learn how to master the art of the controlled jump. The third game option puts you in control of both jumping and tongue flicking by using the side buttons. Honestly, this version isn’t that much more difficult than option 2 in my opinion as hitting the buttons to flick out your frog’s tongue is a natural gaming movement anyway. You can play the game in the day or night and both look awesome. Frog Bog is pretty shallow and will get old after awhile but eating insects on a pond while the time passes doesn’t look better than on the Intellivision. B
Lock n’ Chase – 2 games, 2 manuals, 2 boxes, 4 overlays
Yet another maze chase game, Lock n’ Chase is based on a Data East arcade title that I honestly never played before owning my Intellivision in the early 2000s. You play as the bank robber, picking up gold coins while being chased after bumbling police officers. There are special items that show up periodically as well as bonus dollar signs in the middle of the maze that lure you into danger. You are never invincible so you’re only defense is to use the Lock n’ Chase’s unique lock mechanism to shut doors behind you preventing the police from continuing to chase you. If you’re good, you can lure them into sections of the maze away from where you need to go and lock them in a corner. As far as maze games for the Intellivision go, I prefer Pac-Man, Mouse Trap (which uses a similar but different lock out gameplay) and Ladybug to Lock n’ Chase but most of that has to do with the controls in the Intellivision version. Maze games are all about precise movements in order to get away from enemies by ducking down hallways during chases. Maze games are also about a successful balance of big risk/big rewards. Whether you’re going after fruit in the Pac-Man games, bonus items in Mouse Trap or most challenging, the fruit and vegetables in the central enemy base in Ladybug, the ability to grab a reward quickly and get away from pursuing enemies is extremely gratifying. However, I find that the Intellivision controller really fails me whenever I need to make that quick left/right or up/down to dart into a hallway to grab a reward and then make another quick turn to avoid an enemy coming at me from the opposite direction. Maybe it takes some getting used to but many times I press the disc pad in the direction I want to go only to see my guy sail right past the pathway and right into the enemy. Oh well, I have Lock n’ Chase for the Atari 2600 as well so if I want to play it with a joystick, I’ll just slip that version in even though it looks 1000 times worse. C+
Shark! Shark! – game, 2 overlays
Now Shark! Shark! is a winner of an exclusive Intellivision title and might be the best Mattel developed exclusive. Shark! Shark! is super fun and super addictive all the while looking colorful and sharp with excellent controls. You start off the game in what I have to assume is an ocean as a small fry fish swimming around looking for food. Food in this game comes in the forms of other fish & sea creatures. If your fish touches something its own size or smaller, it will devour it. If it touches something bigger than you, you in turn get eaten. The goal is to continue to grow your fish larger and larger becoming a big fish in a little pond where eventually you can touch just about everything and make it your lunch. To keep you in check, there are the titular sharks that are announced by cool Jaws music sounds. The sharks are big, their movements relatively unpredictable and deadly. Luckily for your little fish, the sharks tails are their weak points so you’ll need to nibble at their tails enough times to kill them. This has to be done all while the shark stays on the screen because if you let it leave the screen before killing it, the next shark that enters the screen will be regenerated. The smaller your fish, the more tail nibbles it takes to kill the shark. The best technique is to come at it from below or above as once you nibble the shark, it immediately flips itself in the opposite direction to get at whatever it is causing it harm. If you’re behind it while it flips, you’re going to get eaten. It’s also in your best interest to stay away from the sides of the screen to prevent from getting eaten by bigger fish and sharks before you even have a chance to see what got you. I also died a couple of times trying to figure out which non-fish (octopus, seahorses) I could eat at various stages of my fish’s life. I thought maybe I could eat an octopus at one point after I’d “leveled up” 4 times but alas, I could not. Once you die, you go back to being a tiny fish so it’s a bummer to have to start all over but that’s the way the dried seaweed crumbles. A