You're face to face with what could quite
possibly be the worst game system in the history of mankind, ladies
and gentlemen. The Emerson Arcadia 2001 (aka the German Hominex
HMG2650, alias the Italian Leonardo...) was released in 1982
alongside such revolutionary game systems as the ColecoVision, Atari
5200, and Vectrex, and yet is unquestionably less powerful
than consoles designed in the late 70's.
The Arcadia's games range from mediocre to utterly absymal, with
unimpressive sound effects and tiny, microbial graphics that can't
help but make you wonder whether you're playing American Football or
examining the contents of a Petri dish. And the controllers are no
picnic, either... Emerson, in its eternal wisdom, hardwired them
into the console, so if either of them break, you're forced to have
the entire system repaired or replaced.
Put simply, the only entertainment you'll get from the Emerson
Arcadia is the comedic value of its games' poorly written
instruction booklets and laughably bad box artwork. Here are some
very brief reviews and descriptions of the "best" the Arcadia has to
3D Bowling: Probably the best sports title available on
the system, which isn't saying much. More colorful (but also more
blocky) than the Intellivision adaptation of the sport.
Alien Invaders: Amusing Space Invaders knock-off with
teeny-tiny invaders which erase any backgrounds they touch and seem
to move downward at random. Plays OK but believe me, it ain't Space
American Football: Plays more like a board game than a
video game. The graphics (composed of tiny white men against a gaudy
green field) will have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief/agony.
Astro Invaders: This lends credibility to
the claim that Emerson Arcadia software was better in other
countries than it was here in the United States. I'd like to
credit Konami for this game's success, but Astro Invaders on
the Arcadia is actually faster and more fun than the
arcade version, even if the colors are hideous and the graphics are
functional at best. Sadly, "functional" is the best you can
hope for when you're talking about graphics on the Arcadia.
Breakaway: Breakout as played with the Arcadia's miserable
disc controllers. Are we having fun yet?
Capture: At least the Odyssey2 version of Gomoku had a
futuristic Buddha on the front of the cartridge... Very, very, VERY
Cat Trax: Pac-Man meets Lock 'n Chase meets Mouse Trap.
Games like this are supposed to be cute... this one's just plain
creepy. Typically microbial Arcadia graphics.
Crazy Gobbler: It's a standard Pac-Man
clone which apparently uses the same engine as Cat Trax. That
means you'll have to put up with the same simple graphics and the
enemies' constant droning noise, which makes them a little more
intimidating, but mostly just obnoxious.
Escape: It's Berzerk with microscopic graphics and a
spinner in place of (the much cooler) Evil Otto. Better than most
games on the system but it's very slow and not a lot of fun to play.
Funky Fish: Oh yeah, now that's one funky fish,
baby. I dare say that this release is actually good. Did
I just say that an Emerson Arcadia game was good? Wow, I must
really be losing it. Anyway, Funky Fish is best described as
an early precursor to Fantasy Zone. Your fish (who is, of course,
funky) blasts strange creatures produced by generators, briefly
turning them into that ever popular early video game staple,
cherries. Exhaust the generator's supply of
enemies and you can dock inside them for extra
points. Hey, nobody said it had to make sense... it plays well
and the fish is pretty detailed, and on the Arcadia that's more
than good enough.
Galaxian: A prototype that never came to fruitition.
Doesn't look too shabby for an Arcadia game, but man does it pale in
comparison to Atarisoft's ColecoVision translation.
Grand Slam Tennis: Responsive control... from one side of
the screen. The other player can never return serves because he's
just too damned slow. The Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's is more
Hobo: The Arcadia's rather tastelessly
themed answer to Freeway on the 2600. The isometric graphics
are a surprise on the system, but it's tough to say what you're
supposed to be once your homeless hero reaches the other side of the
Jump Bug: This wasn't a spectacular arcade
game, so you can't really blame the Arcadia for this unenjoyable
home conversion. Wait a minute... sure you can! The
graphics are presented in colors so bright and gaudy that your
eyeballs might not survive the experience. They sure as hell
won't find the tiny enemies hidden inside this interior decorator's
Jungler: I'll never know how Konami got mixed up
in the Emerson Arcadia debacle, but here's the proof. Avoid your
tail and rival dragons in this, one of the system's few enjoyable
Pleiades: We couldn't expect Dead or Alive quality from
this early Tecmo game, but it would have been nice to have at least
gotten Pleiades quality. This mediocre shooter is made even
crummier with the Arcadia's wimpy hardware and the world's most
poorly chosen color schemes. Good luck trying to find the
flickery green and blue aliens set against the milky white
R 2 D Tank: Mmm, copyright
infringement. Surprisingly, the game has nothing to do with
Star Wars... think of Pac-Man with wide open spaces and a demented
tank constantly chasing you, and you've got the basic idea.
Sometimes even the dots will turn against you, turning into land
mines that are deadly to the touch. Come to think of it,
everything in the game seems to be dangerous but you... how the heck
do you defend yourself?
Route 16: I liked the arcade version of
this game, and it holds up as well as you could expect on the
Arcadia. You have to wonder why they even bothered adding
sound to the map screen when it's as annoying and repetitive as it
is, but oh well... at least the gameplay is intact. In case
you're wondering, Route 16 plays a little like Rally-X, except the
items are hidden inside sixteen rooms each containing their own
Soccer: Could have been renamed Non-American Football.
It's got the same tiny graphics and everything, although the play
mechanics have been altered (somewhat).
Space Attack: Galaxian with a Megamania-style fuel gauge.
Better than most games on the system, but is that really saying
Space Chess: Sounds kinda interesting but looks pretty
ugly. I wonder if George Lucas sued Emerson for the game's
suspiciously familiar box artwork?
Space Mission: It's Defender, but crappier. Drop bombs on
bases and stuff. Even worse than Freedom Fighters for the Odyssey2.
Space Vultures: A Pheonix clone without the towering
mothership at the end of each level. Very choppy with monocolored
Super Gobbler: Well, it's better than
Crazy Gobbler... a little, anyway. Guide an enlongated Pac-Man
through a redesigned maze, munching dots, energizers, and cherries
that look like pairs of headphones. It's tough to decide
what's more annoying... the chirping, droning, and completely
aimless sound effects, or the uneven speed of your Pac- uh, Gobbler,
who races around the maze with ease after eating an energizer but
switches back to turtle speed once the power pill has run out.