I’ll be taking a look at two more Channel F Videocarts from my collection, #12 (Baseball) and #14 (Sonar Search), for this post. Both games are actually pretty fun in spite of their basic premises & primitive controls. Baseball manages to be effective in creating a super simple yet enjoyable baseball experience for two players by focusing on the hitting and pitching aspects of the game. Baseball primarily takes defense and base running out of the equation so each matchup is essentially a duel between pitcher and batter. Like other very early Baseball video games, controlling the players on defense meant you’d be controlling the entire outfield all at once. You shift them all right or left, in or out and then you pitch the ball and hope that the batter hits it to one of your defensive players. If they do, it’s an automatic out. The pitcher also has nice control over the speed and control of his pitches which means trying to trick the batter into swinging and missing is the best defensive weapon, just like in real baseball. As for batting, the timing of your swing will determine which side of the field you hit it towards. Once you make contact, your job on offense is complete. If you hit it directly to any defensive player on the screen, it’s an automatic out. If you manage to hit the ball into one of the defensive holes on the field, your player will move across the bases automatically and rest on whatever plate he earned. Home runs are achievable by simply hitting the ball perfectly timed to one of the gaps and runs are scored aplenty since there are numerous gaps in the outfield and the defense can’t move them once they are set. Because of so much of game being automated by the computer, each game goes very quickly. Combine the quick pace of each game with high run count and you have a baseball game for the Channel F that compares quite favorably to Home Run for the Atari 2600. Considering it’s the only baseball game available for the system, its probably a must own.
Sonar Search is an interesting Battleship-like game that can either be played as one or two player. In the one player version of Sonar Search, the computer has hidden 5 ships on the screen and you must use your sonar to find them. You move a little box shaped cursor around the screen pressing the button and the system will respond with a beeping noise. The length of time that the beeping noise plays indicates how far away you are from a ship as the premise is that the sonar waves bounce back to you quicker if it hits it’s target, therefore a shorter sound is heard. Once you find the ship, just like in Battleship, you must figure out if the ship’s orientation is horizontal or vertical and once its completely discovered, it will become present on the screen. Also like in Battleship, the 5 ships range in size from two screen/grid length to 5. You begin the game with a finite number of attempts to find all 5 ships with the goal of finding them all in the fewest number of turns. In the 2 player version of Sonar Search, you are battling an opponent in trying to be the first to find all 5 of your red or green colored ships. You start the game off with 8 attempts per turn. For each ship you find, that takes away one attempt per your opponents turn so it’s important to be efficient and reduce the amount of wasted turns if you want to win. Since Battleship cannot be played by only 1 player, Sonar Search one-ups the classic board game as a result.
Currently in my collection:
Videocart #12 (Baseball) – game, manual, box B-
Videocart #14 (Sonar Search) – game, manual, box B+