Random fun. That’s what this particular batch of Odyssey² games is all about. There’s really no common thread that ties these games together. They don’t all take place in outer space or involve sports or learning. They are just a hodgepodge of games in my Odyssey² collection that each have their own unique gameplay. Some for better or worse, that’s for sure.
Atlantis is one of the few third party games available for the Odyssey² and is the only 3rd party title in my collection. Atlantis was always one of my favorite Imagic games for the Atari VCS so I had high hopes for this version when I picked it up. Your job is to defend the underwater city of Atlantis from enemy alien forces trying to blast it to kingdom come. You have two cannons on either side of the screen and pressing the direction on the joystick while hitting the action/fire button will determine which cannon shoots at the enemies above. If enough enemies make their way to the bottom level closest to the city and evaporate the various parts of Atlantis (pyraminds, generators, bubble dome), your game is over. Gameplay is exactly what you’d expect and the Odyssey² version of Atlantis is certainly a winner even though it’s not quite the definitive version.
Killer Bees is an excellent and addictively unique offering for the Odyssey². You control a swarm of bees (cool!) that must stun and kill robots….definitely robots and not humans of course as we all know how susceptible robots are to bee stings. Anyway, your bee swarm has to kill all the robots on screen, turning them into gravestones (as we also know how dead robots are given formal & proper burials and not recycled in any way). Some robots are faster and harder to catch than others so that adds strategy elements to the game to get at the fast ones first before the enemy swarms become overpowering. The enemy bee swarms are out to stop you by touching you and whittling your own swarm down until it’s gone and your game is over. Killer Bees gameplay is frantic as you zip around the screen attempting to catch the robots to slow them down with bee stings so you can finally take them out once for all. You’ll notice the robots tend to have movement patterns which you’ll need to take advantage of learning since they are often faster than your swarm can move in later levels. Adding another interesting element is your ability to zap the enemy swarms when they are in your horizontal sight line. This is easier said than done but still useful when you find yourself cornered or if a robot just keeps moving in the same pattern around a bunch of swarms and you can’t get to it without taking damage. Killer Bees is one of the best for the Odyssey² and a must own.
Monkeyshines is another extremely unique title but this one doesn’t hold my interest the same way as Killer Bees. In Monkeyshines, which is an essentially a 2 player co-op game, you have to catch/touch one of the 4 monkeys swinging around the monkey bars located on the screen and then throw him out of the way. Once you touch a monkey, it turns angry red and if it touches you right back while in this state, your player is incapacitated for the remainder of the game. That’s why the key is to toss the monkey then run like hell and wait for it to cool down. I find jumping up the various odd-shaped monkey bar platforms to be a chore since the jumping controls leave much to be desired. As a result I usually end up staying on the lower third of the screen, which isn’t really the point of the game. I’m not sure why Magnavox couldn’t just make Monkeyshines either a 1 or 2 player game since you never get to take on a human opponent in any of the variations. Making it a 2 player co-op only game really dampens my enjoyment as I usually just play as one player until I get touched then I’ll grab the other controller and start throwing monkeys with him, essentially giving me two lives in a single player mode. However, I applaud Magnavox for offering multiple game variations including disappearing and rotating monkey bars, a version called chess and a mode that warns you it’s for professionals only (which I’m not), but the basic gameplay mode is the winner. Monkeyshines has potential as a 2 player game but as a 1 player game, I find it relatively dull despite it’s energetic ideas.
Showdown in 2100 A.D. is the most primitive and basic game of this bunch being that it was one of the earliest Odyssey² releases. Showdown plays much like Outlaw on Atari, where you can either take on another human opponent or the computer in a game of wild west duel. Except this wild west duel takes place with robots (naturally) in the future!!!! If only that were the case in real life (no humans harmed/shot, not robots battling each other in a wild, west setting). The goal is to be the first to hit your opponent 10 times but you can only shoot when you’re not moving and only straight ahead. Also, there are tiny little trees or cactuses all over the screen that can act as either shields or bullet reflectors. When playing against the computer, one way to win is to just let them shoot themselves by hitting a tree and watching the bullet bounce right back at them. This is also an easy way to accidentally kill yourself too. Despite the game having nice graphics for a 1979 game as well as an elaborate death animation, there’s not a whole lot of fun left in this extremely dated game.
Currently in my collection:
Atlantis – game only A-
Killer Bees – game only A
Monkeyshines – game, manual, box C+ (1 player game), B (2 player game)
Showdown in 2100 A.D. – game only D+