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Article #75 (79 is last):
From: aa778@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Fred Horvat)
Subject: LYNX Battlezone 2000 and Super Asteroids / Missle Command
Posted-By: xx004 (aa778 - Fred Horvat)
Date: Sat Nov 18 08:19:54 1995

From: (Robert A. Jung)
Date: Sun Nov 12 14:54:32 1995

  Yeah, I know, I'm a bit late with these.  Sorry about that, but things have
been pretty busy lately...

1-4 players, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
Stereo? No

    Taking a page from their Jaguar game development plan, Atari introduces
BATTLEZONE 2000 for the Lynx portable video game system.  As the name implies,
this is an updated version of the classic arcade game BATTLEZONE.  The player
is placed behind the steering yolk of an armored tank, and dropped into a
number of war zones.  In each, he must destroy runaway tanks, flying saucers,
and cruise missiles, while evading on-field obstacles and snatching various
powerups.  Customization options allow players to tune their tanks for each
battle, and up to four players can be ComLynxed together for cooperative or
competitive play.

    Like most other early video games, the strength of the original BATTLEZONE
was in providing a challenging, strategic conflict in an uncomplicated
environment. BATTLEZONE 2000 preserves this tradition well; New weapons and
limits to fuel and ammunition add to the player's responsibilities and
strategy options, but are offset by the luxuries of a protective shield and
rapid-fire capability.  The end result is a game that adds new details to the
original, without overburdening the player or sacrificing the uncomplicated

    Each level of BATTLEZONE 2000 has a goal that must be completed, such as
destroying a number of tanks or scoring a number of points.  Some levels give
bonuses for rapid completion, while others can't be completed without finding
the extra ammunition hidden in the battlezone.  While there are no difficulty
levels, the layout of each stage varies from game to game, preventing players
from memorizing patterns and improving the card's replay value.

    The enemy tanks in BATTLEZONE 2000 are not especially intelligent; they
have a few simple evasive maneuvers, whose patterns are easy to learn. But
greater numbers and fast speed are used well, keeping things challenging.
Adding extra players increases the fun further; the game can be played with
or without computer tanks, allowing friends to gang up against the computer
or blow each other apart. The biggest gripe against the game is its
repetitive nature. since each level consists of simply destroying enemy
tanks. Fans of classic games won't mind at all, but others may lament the
lack of variety in objectives.

    The graphics and sound on BATTLEZONE 2000 are very close to those of the
original arcade title; veteran gamers will enjoy the nostalgic tribute, but
younger players are sure to find them on the bland side.  Visuals consist
mostly of transparent wireframe graphics, done in various shades of green.
Animation and scrolling is fast and smooth, and enemies, power-ups, and
obstacles are nicely distinctive.  Sounds consist mainly of tank engines,
cannon fire, and explosions, with a few chimes for various events.  Finally,
the only music in the game comes from an elaborate and haunting title theme.

    Whether with one player or four, BATTLEZONE 2000 is a fast-paced and
challenging upgrade of the original arcade game.  There's enough variety and
excitement to keep most players entertained, though some might find it a
little repetitive.  The traditional graphics and sound don't have the flash
and sizzle of modern titles, but the pure and uncomplicated action will keep
gaming purists glued to their Lynxes for hours.

                GAMEPLAY:        8.5
                GRAPHICS:        7
                SOUND:           7
                OVERALL:         8

  Rating values  10 - 8   Great! This game can't get much better.
                  7 - 5   Good. Average game, could be improved.
                  4 - 2   Poor. For devotees only.
                      1   Ick. Shoot it.

1 player, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
Stereo? No

    "Buy one, get one free"?  Maybe that was the principle behind Atari's SUPER
ASTEROIDS/MISSILE COMMAND for the Lynx, a card that contains "super" versions of
two early arcade classics.  Super Asteroids pits the player against an endless
stream of rocks and hostile UFOs, which he must destroy while snatching power-ups. 
Super Missile Command has the player defend various alien cities from incoming
missiles, MIRVs, bombers, and satellites, while periodic intermissions allow
him to buy better missiles and special defense systems.

    Upgrading a classic game is, like writing a sequel, a delicate art: the
programmer has to find what made the original game appealing, then enhance
that draw without losing the original magic in the first place.  Sequels and
enhancements run the gamut from the destroy-the-charm-of-the-original of
SUPER MARIO BROS. 2 to the pump-the-thrills-to-the-Nth-degree of TEMPEST
2000.  Because the component games in SUPER ASTEROIDS/MISSILE COMMAND are
fairly different, each title will be covered separately.

    Super Asteroids, to put it politely, stinks.  The original ASTEROIDS was a
suspenseful, delicate shooter, where deft maneuvering and good planning was
just as important as a fast trigger finger.  Super Asteroids take away all of
that: the player's ship is equipped with an automatic shield, and shot range
is generously far.  This combination means the player can clear out most
stages by staying in the middle of the screen and shooting whatever passes
by. The opposition is laughable; early stages start with only one(!)
asteroid, while UFOs are big, inept, and far between. A ship is lost if the
shield takes too many hits, but only the truly inept will let that happen. 
Most players will quit this game before it starts being difficult.

    Super Missile Command, thankfully, is better.  The difficulty is higher
and builds at a reasonable pace, which keeps the player busy.  Early levels
offer a fair amount of challenge, and later levels add a plethora of missiles,
bombers, and near-invulnerable UFOs to increase the chaos.  On the player's
side is a wide range of defensive weapons systems to be bought between waves,
which lets players customize the game to fit their own style. Arcade veterans
will be thrown at first by subtle changes to the game's rules, but after a
trip to the weapons shop, they'll be able to wreak arcade-level havoc in
style.  The inability to choose difficulty settings is a drawback, but Super
Missile Command is clearly the draw on this card.

    While there is some sharing of the graphics SUPER ASTEROIDS/MISSILE
COMMAND, the overall effects parallel the individual games.  Super Asteroids'
visuals are largely done in shades of grey and white, with only minor touches
of color in a few places.  Sprites are detailed but animation is all but
nonexistent, making for a lukewarm effect. Super Missile Command fares
better, with a mmore captivating display: rocket contrails, blossoming
fireballs, and mushroom clouds contribute to the game's edge.

    Sounds, on the other hand, are uniformly simple on both titles.  Simple
explosions and weapons fire are the prominent effects, with a few minimal
chimes on occassion.  Super Missile Command offers a few more effects, but
both titles could have benefitted from extra touches like sirens or more
sophisticated sounds.  A pair of themes on each game's title page provide the
only music on the card.

    SUPER ASTEROIDS/MISSILE COMMAND is, in the end, a mixed bag.  Super
Asteroids is dull and pointless, but Super Missile Command is an enjoyable
game in its own right.  Neither game is a replacement for the arcade
originals, but for starving Lynx owners, this card -- specifically, Super 
Missile Command -- should provide some momentary relief.

          Super Asteroids:                  Super Missile Command:

          GAMEPLAY:        3                GAMEPLAY:        8
          GRAPHICS:        6                GRAPHICS:        7.5
          SOUND:           5                SOUND:           5.5
          OVERALL:         4                OVERALL:         7.5


                GAMEPLAY:        5.5
                GRAPHICS:        7
                SOUND:           5
                OVERALL:         5.5

  Rating values  10 - 8   Great! This game can't get much better.
                  7 - 5   Good. Average game, could be improved.
                  4 - 2   Poor. For devotees only.
                      1   Ick. Shoot it.



  Send whatevers to  |      If it has pixels, I'm for it.
--------------------------------------+------------------------------Lynx up!
"You weren't chosen because you are the best pilot in the Air Force. You were
    chosen because you are the class clown and frankly, you're expendable."

Novell DOS 7.0 and IBM OS/2 user              Fred Horvat
Atari TT030 / MultiTOS                        Free-Net Atari Portfolio Sigop
                                              Atari Classic/LYNX/Jaguar gamer

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