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Posted on Jan 24th 2011 at 01:55:32 PM by (singlebanana)
Posted under Atari, Entombed, 2600, game review, Classic Gaming



Specs:

Game:  Entombed
Year:  1982
Publisher:  U.S. Games
Developer: Western Technologies
Designer(s): Jeff Corsiglia & Tom Sloper
Rarity (according to AtariAge): 4 = scarce+
Controls: Joystick
Number of Players: 1 - 2
Average Cost: approx $3 - $8 loose
Also Available On: 2600 only

Tagline/Description: "You and your team of archeologists have fallen into the "catacombs of the zombies."  There's no time to look around; these guys are after you, and they mean business!  Your only salvation is that you have discovered the secret to the "make-break."  Grab them, and you can break through walls when you get stuck, or create a wall  behind you - if you are being chased.  The longer you survive, the faster you have to move.  Explore alone, or two archeologists can work together or compete in a frenzied trek through the catacombs."

There was probably no more diverse or stranger catalog of games than the fourteen (14) titles released by U.S. Games, a subsidiary of Quaker Oats (uhhhh....yeah), for the Atari 2600.  Like several other companies (i.e. Purina, Johnson & Johnson, etc.), but with a larger volume than most, the Quaker Oats Company tried to cash in on the video gaming craze of the early 80's.  Titles released by U.S. Games include:

Entombed;
Sneak n' Peek (a game of hide and seek);
Space Jockey (a horizontal, UFO shooter);
Word Zapper (a spelling shooter);
Commando Raid (a parachuting android shooter);
Eggomania (a Kaboom clone where you can fire back);
Piece o' Cake (a cake decorating game);
Picnic (a fly shooter);
Raft Rider (a river rafting game);
Gopher (a vegetable protecting game, similar to Activision's Oink!);
Squeeze Box (a prisoner trying to escape a constantly closing Tron MCP Cone);
Towering Inferno (a firefighting/rescue game);
M.A.D. (an improved version of Atlantis); and
Name This Game (an octopus shooter).



While some believe that a few of these games are among the worst titles for the 2600, I'd have to say that the overall catalog is pretty creative and solid (and fairly cheap).  Where else can you fend off an octopus and fill your diving tank with air from a guy with long, flowing hair in a speed boat?

Entombed is another of these strange games in which you control an archeologist trying to escape a zombie-filled catacomb.  While navigating a random, vertically scrolling maze, your only defense from zombies and dead end walls is an item referred to as a "make-break."  A make-break allows you to knock down a square section of wall or place a similar section of wall in an open area to fend off zombies (similar to Lock n' Chase).  However, make-breaks are not abundant and are collected 3 at-a-time in the form of side-to-side moving rectangles, throughout the maze.  Scoring in Entombed, for the 1-player game, is determined by how deep into the maze your archeologist goes.  You are awarded one point for making it through an undefined section of the maze; there are no treasures to collect or points for killing zombies.  As you might have noticed, scoring is not one of the stronger features of this game.

Another poor feature of the game is it's graphics.  Zombies, which should be very cool, instead look like arachnids, your archeologist is merely a semi-mobile stick figure, and the make-breaks are, well, just blocks (a hammer, or some sort of device would have been cooler).  There is no music and the only sound effects are a series of extremely monotone beeps (only when zombies are near) and an electronic gurgle when you pick up a make-break.

With all of its faults, Entombed is a pretty good game (yeah, stick with me here).  I remember loving this game as a kid and playing it every time I went to my neighbor's house.  When I saw it in a pawn shop several months ago I grabbed it up quickly, even though it had a bit of label damage.  So what is it that I liked so much about this game?  Well for one, I enjoyed the pace of the game (how it continues to get faster as you complete every level) and the frantic dodging/escaping from zombies while collecting make-breaks to ensure mobility; you lose lives by either running into a zombie or by being forced into the top of the scrolling screen when you are out of make-breaks and are unable to escape a dead end.  The controls are adequate for a 2600 game, since your only movements through the maze are vertical and horizontal; however, setting make-breaks correctly in open areas to avoid zombies can sometimes present a challenge.

While the originality of the game is great, the best feature of Entombed has to be its 2-player option.  In two player mode, both participants play at the same time, instead of the Atari turn-based style that is typical with most 2600 games.  Two player mode can be played in two different ways (as determined by the participants): (1) you can battle against each other to see who can make it deeper into the maze (whoever dies first loses), or (2) you can work with each other, hoarding and best using make-breaks, to see how far you both can go.  Being somewhat of an a%$, and torturer of my wife and friends, I tend to prefer the former.

Though there is nothing particularly exceptional in terms of graphics and sound in Entombed, the gameplay is fairly solid and the cost of the game is typically low.  For a few bucks, Entombed should be worth heavy consideration if found in the wild.



**video courtesy of Highretrogamelord89**

RATINGS (on a scale of 1-4: 4 being the highest):

Controls: 3
Graphics:  2
Sound Effects/Music: 1
Concept:  3
Replay Value: 2
Cart/Box Art:  3
Overall Score: 2.34




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
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