Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The 10 Best ColecoVision Games

My favorite classic video game system of all time is the ColecoVision, due in part to sheer nostalgia, but also in part to the console's wonderful array of games, most notably its stellar arcade ports. Without further adieu, here are my picks for the best 10 games in the ColecoVision library. (As you might know from some of my previous writing and interviews, my favorites tend to change from time to time--sometimes Lady Bug is my favorite, sometimes Pepper II or Mr. Do!, sometimes something else, but this list is how I felt when I wrote it.)

1. Miner 2049er

Miner 2049er was the first and best third-party game for the ColecoVision. Unlike its computer and Atari 5200 counterparts, the ColecoVision rendition offers gamers an 11th level of play (the Uranium stage). The brilliance of Miner 2049er is the way it infuses elements of Pac-Man into the climbing game genre: players, guiding Bounty Bob, must walk over all the girders to complete each level, but grabbing certain items lets gamers turn the tables on the pursuing bad guys, making for some intricate strategies.

Buy Miner 2049er on Amazon or .  

2. Lady Bug

Much more than a simple Pac-Man clone, Lady Bug features revolving doors, the ability to spell out EXTRA (ala Mr. Do!), and the ability to spell out SPECIAL, the latter of which lets players maneuver around a vegetable garden gobbling up fresh produce. The game is a wonderful port of Universal’s 1981 coin-op semi-classic, despite the fact that the creatures roaming the maze tend to flicker.

Buy Lady Bug on Amazon or 

3. Mr. Do!’s Castle

This sequel to Mr. Do! drops the maze game format of its predecessor in favor of climbing action. Players guide Mr. Do! the clown around the screen, up and down ladders and across castle floors, using a hammer to knock floor blocks on top of unicorns. The premise sounds unimpressive, but gameplay is anything but. Mr. Do!’s Castle does an excellent job borrowing ideas from Donkey Kong and placing them within the wacky world of Mr. Do!

Buy Mr. Do!'s Castle on .

4. Centipede

The best shooter for the ColecoVision is also the one of the best games in the system’s entire library. Based on Atari’s 1980 arcade game (which was the first shooter to amass a large female following), Centipede works extremely well with Coleco’s Roller Controller trackball peripheral, which helps make the game fast, fun, and furious. Graphics that closely mimic the coin-op classic cement the deal.

Buy Centipede on Amazon or .

5. Donkey Kong

The pack-in game with the ColecoVision system, Donkey Kong helped move nearly 1,000,000 consoles in its first year, thanks in part to a TV commercial showing the game’s incredible, arcade-like graphics. With the release of Donkey Kong, games for previous systems, such as the Atari 2600 and the Intellivision, looked downright primitive. The port only has three of the arcade original’s four screens, but it’s a blast to play.

Buy Donkey Kong on Amazon or .

6. Frogger

With its cute visuals, charming folk tunes, and simple four-way controls, the arcade version of Frogger (1981) was a huge hit for Sega. Parker Brothers capitalized on this brilliantly, bringing the game to a number of different consoles, including the ColecoVision. Only The Official Frogger for the Atari 2600 Starpath Supercharger tops this sparkling rendition.

Buy Frogger on Amazon or .

7. Frenzy

Despite the lack of voice effects, Frenzy is a fantastic port of Stern’s 1982 arcade game. Frenzy is the sequel to Berzerk and features the same type of robot-shooting action, but contains more colorful, more detailed graphics. Berzerk never made it to the ColecoVision (though it was released for the Atari 2600, 5200, and Vectrex), but Frenzy more than makes up for this shortcoming in the CV library.

Buy Frenzy on Amazon or .

8. Mouse Trap

A near arcade-perfect port of Exidy’s 1981 arcade game, Mouse Trap is a Pac-Man-inspired maze title that makes excellent use of the number keypad on the ColecoVision controllers. Pressing color-coded buttons opens and closes red, yellow, and blue doors, making the game a bit more complex (and more fun) than Pac-Man. The player-controlled mouse mainly eats cheese, but gobbling up bones turns the mouse into a vengeful, cat-chasing dog.

Buy Mouse Trap on Amazon or .

9. Slither

Like Centipede, this port of GDI’s coin-op arcade game makes excellent use of the ColecoVision’s Roller Controller trackball. Players guide a laser firing ship around a desert, shooting upward and downward at snakes (which get smaller with each hit), brush, and dinosaurs. Slither is fast and challenging, and blinking is kept to a minimum, adding to the game’s arcade-like look and feel.

Buy Slither on Amazon or .

10. Turbo

Based on Sega’s 1982 coin-op classic, Turbo comes packaged with Coleco’s steering wheel/gas pedal peripheral, which the company dubbed “Expansion Module #2.” The driving mechanism works well with game, giving it an advantage over Pole Position for the Atari 5200. Even more impressive are the colorful, richly illustrated visuals, which include icy mountain roads and city streets lined with large buildings.

Buy Turbo on Amazon or .

Honorable mentions: 
, River Raid, Spy Hunter, Tutankham, Zaxxon, Boulder Dash, Jumpman Jr., Mr. Do!, Space Panic, Tapper, Donkey Kong Jr., and Venture.

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