Game of the Week (2/25/18) – Pick Axe Pete

“Thrills, chills and spills as Pick Axe Pete strikes it rich in the Misty Mountain Mine!”

Pick Axe Pete is another tough as nails 1982 Odyssey² offering from the Challenger Series that tries and is mostly successful at creating an experience reminiscent of one the biggest arcade hits of the era, Donkey Kong.

Pete is a nimble and rugged miner trying to strike gold in the Misty Mountains. With only his trusty pick axe to aid in his efforts, he must thwack rolling boulders coming at him from all sides on the various platforms. Pete can fall down platforms unharmed and can climb both up and down levels when ladders appear. Unfortunately, after a brief time of use, Pete’s pick axe will break and then he’s left with nothing to defend himself against the boulders. At this point in the game, Pete can only evade them by either running away, ascending or descending ladders to escape them or by jumping over or ducking under the boulders. This is the point in the game that makes Pick Axe Pete extremely challenging as it’s very tough to judge which evasion technique is going to be most effective depending on the bounce of the boulders and which direction they are headed.

Thankfully the boulders will break apart on their own, sometimes revealing either a new pick axe or a key. If you are quick enough (and you have to be pretty quick as they don’t stay on the screen for long) to grab a new pick axe, then you can continue smashing the boulders for points. If you grab a key, then you can access one of the three doors spread across the various platforms. Accessing a door not only gives you big points but you’re also taken to a new mine screen via a trippy full screen visual of Pete standing in the middle of a brightly colored door while he lifts his axe in triumph. The most annoying aspect of Pick Axe Pete, with the exception of when you lose your pick axe, is when you touch one of the three doors without a key in your posession. Pete somehow gets caught in the doorway like it’s made of glue for some reason and you must move him around frantically to get yourself free. Being stuck in a doorway is dangerous as this is where the boulders enter the screen from so stay away from the doors as much as you can unless you have a key on you.

Pick Axe Pete is one of the better games for the Odyssey² but it doesn’t have the same appeal for me as some of the other games in the Challenger Series like K.C. Munchkin, UFO or Smithereens. Personally, I would like Pick Axe Pete a bit more if either your pick axe stayed with you longer or when one showed up on screen, it didn’t disappear after only a few seconds. If a pick axe appears a couple of levels above or below you, you have very little chance of getting to it in time which is extremely frustrating. All in all, Pick Axe Pete is worth owning and playing but it probably won’t be too many gamers favorite Odyssey² title.

Rating: B

Currently in my collection: game, manual, box

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