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5.0 Perfect
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Funkmaster V Reviews


7800 Rank: Not Ranked

Genre: Action & Adventure/ Multi Directional Shooter

Awards: None
The Lovely Town of Hudiksvalluukenberg Has Seen Better Days Pros: A Deliberate, Paced Adventure

Cons: Basic Graphics/ Limited Audio/ Gameplay May Be Too Slow For Some
This is Your Friendly Eye in the Sky for Channel 8 News... Best Stay of Euclid Avenue This Afternoon.


Overview: The last game that I reviewed for the site was the horizontal space shooter Scramble. I mentioned early on in that review that famed Atari 7800 hobby programmer Bob Decrescenzo (Pac Man Plus) made a few games that I always wanted on the 7800 and I loved him for it. Scramble was
one, and the Atari 5200's Countermeasure was another. When it was announced that Bob was working on the spiritual successor to Countermeasure, and it was called Fail Safe, a little pee came out. Countermeasure (one word, grammar Nazis) was always in those game catalogs that featured loads of games for all of the Atari systems, and I always wanted to trade some game from the 7800 library like Jinks or Barnyard Blaster for it... like this was the NFL or something. Countermeasure and Fail Safe are thinking man shooter games, with a little action/ adventure and memorization thrown in for good measure. Can we make it to the end, enter the nuclear code to the big ole scary war contraption and keep Country X from blowing us up in Biblical flamboyance? I pray to Tom Cruise we can.

Graphics: Fail Safe may win some awards somewhere in a land that gives out awards for great games on really old systems, but the graphics here probably won't take home any trophies. Although it looks better than the 5200's Countermeasure, she still ain't no looker. The terrains are nicely varied: hillside villages, highways, mazes inside a base, ocean side terrain, mine fields and beyond. Some panoramas look better than others, but I think the little villages in the first level are the coolest looking. That screen shot of the war torn mountain hamlet in the 5200 portion of the catalogs is what attracted me to the original in the first place. The information part of the screen looks good, and the main tank is simple but okay. Some enemy entities are very rudimentary, especially the armored cars and the foot soldiers. There are many power ups in the game, all represented by a single letter. While the letter is easy to discern, the meaning behind it can be difficult to interpret correctly. I originally assumed the "F" power up was for fuel, but was confused why my energy bar never increased. It's because "F" means FREEZE. The tank turns white during the FREEZE power up, but being a product of public schools, expected that to be the "I" power up the next time for ICE, but "I" means INVINCIBLE. See how this can get confusing? Thank god for manuals and the internet for us dum dums!

Sound: After the energetic title screen ditty, there's not much sound to this game at all, and with the slow movement of the tank, it would be really cool to have some Reverend Al Green or Curtis Mayfield in the tape deck. Fighter Jets and quick firing enemies can be heard off screen, and the auditory heads up is appreciated.

Gameplay: The main gripe that most people have with the game is the pacing. The main tank does creep. Considering that almost everything on the screen we run over slows us down even more and there is BOTH a time limit and a rapidly depleting fuel situation, ulcers may form. This isn't Scramble, this is a thinking man's shooter. I actually put Scramble in after playing this one and it felt like my afro was blown back in comparison. So... patience, young Skywalker. The trick of this game is pacing yourself and figuring out the best way to take out the abundance of spinning cannons littered throughout this evil landscape. Your tank and the enemies can shoot in eight directions. The enemies shoot in traditional lines (N, NE, E, SE, S, etc.). But WE are extra sneaky and we shoot our diagonal shots at an unorthodox, shallow angle. This is almost a must, because the tank cannot move fast enough to do any acrobatic moves to destroy these turrets, so we gotta be sly. Along the way, we will run into dangerous fast moving opponents, such as armored cars, motorcycles, foot soldiers, and jets (Joe Namath and Joe Klecko not included). These can be difficult to deal with, and you gotta prepare early on to take them out.

Originality: This game is an unofficial sequel to Countermeasure and its easy to see after playing both that this one is superior. Bob took what Countermeasure laid out and improved upon it. What more do ya want?

Value: This one player game has novice, intermediate and advance modes, and the difficulty switches on the console alternate between 3 lives and 30 seconds to guess the Fail Safe code and 5 lives and a minute. And do you like power ups? Boy, we gotz 'em. When you destroy an enemy, a random power up may or may not drop. (P) Extra Tanks, (L) Random passcode number, (T) Time limit increased for the level, (I) Invincibility, (S) Faster movement, (F) Freeze Enemies, (E) Energy, and (D) for long shots... yeah.... Deep shots? Dope shots? Damn... look at how far that bullet went-shots? I dunno... but there ya go. You must endure several levels before you get to the end. Once you are there, you have to guess the code correctly to keep us all from glowing in the dark. When you escape a level, you are randomly given one of four numbers to the Fail Safe passcode. That's super cool! But wait! Sometimes the game keeps giving you the same number over and over... I guess just to see the dumb look on your face. If you get the end and you didn't receive all four numbers, or you are baked while you play this game and you forget the numbers and their positions, you CAN keep guessing without penalty. Country X was nice enough to understand that some Americans need to manage their stress with the reefer.

Overall: This game is not one of those Atari "just one more time" titles, this is a "hunker down, get serious, and get the job done" game. And doesn't it sound like a cold war hoot? Tanks? Secret Codes? Spinning Gun Turrets? Invincibility? Well... I dig it. But I get it. This game is not the hare, she is the tortoise, and yes... that sometimes can get annoying. Bob made some winding mazes near the end on some levels and when you are running low on energy you can get salty about it. But shiz bro... war is hell. Smoke up. Country X expects your freedom loving ass to be a little stoned when you get to the end, anyways.

Other Reviews:
Video Game Critic: C+


Additional Info: I would like to take this time to thank Atari Age for allowing the use of his screenshots for this review.

Funk Tip: You will be tempted to zip through the level when you pick up the (S) Speed Power Up, but more often than not, you will get blown to bits. Be careful with that one!