Thursday, 19 January 2017

Race / Spin-Out / Cryptogram (Philips Videopac G7000 / Magnavox Odyssey 2 review)

Developer: Magnavox
Publisher: Philips
Released: 1978
 

Race / Spin-Out / Cryptogram is a three game compilation that was released as cartridge #1 in Europe.

 
Race is a top-down driving game where you overtake cars to gain as many points as possible within two minutes. The faster you go, the more points you earn, but each collision costs around two seconds. There's two skill levels, the latter of which doubles the speed of the cars. In the first, rival cars move slowly meaning you can simply slam down the accelerator for maximum points. However, the second level is more intense with swerving cars and a blistering pace, and when you manage to get on a roll you feel like an absolute ninja! It's basic for sure, but there's a simplistic charm that keeps you wanting to beat your high score. Spin-Out pits two cars against each other in a race to complete either 3 or 15 laps. You can double your speed by holding down the Action button and part of the fun is learning when to use it; this constant gamble is very gratifying when you manage to take a series of tight corners at high speed! The best moment is when you successfully ram your opponent and spin them out of control for a few seconds! The addition of two track layouts is nice but it's a shame you can't play against the CPU. Cryptogram is a word scrambling game where one player types using the console's keyboard and the other person tries to figure out the correct sequence of letters. Once the word has been deciphered the game displays how many mistakes were made. The game plays fine but there's really not much to it and it ends up being a mild diversion that wears out its welcome after a few tries. Most of the time you won't have a problem inputting your letters, but the awful, non-raised keyboard on the Videopac console sometimes results in you having to press harder than normal in order for the game to register each tap.
 
Race / Spin-Out / Cryptogram is a primitive first step in the Videopac library, but despite some obvious longevity issues it's not without its merits. The two racing games offer plenty of high speed thrills, with Spin-Out being a particular favourite due to its exceptional controls and addictive multiplayer options.
 
 
 
Random trivia: In North America, this cartridge was a pack-in with every Magnavox Odyssey 2 console.

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