ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MICROPENDIUM P.O. Box 1343 Round Rock TX 78680 Phone 512-255-1512 Internet [email protected]
MICROREVIEWS for February 1995 Micripendium by Charles Good
When was the last time you purchased shiny NEW cartridge games for your 99/4A. I don't mean the "recycled and comes in a zip lock bag" cartridges you get at TI shows and by mail from TI dealers, I mean virgin "still in their original manufacturer's shrink wrap container" cartridges containing games you and the kids have probably never played. L.L. Conner sells Romox game cartridges that meet these criteria.
Romox was a Campbell CA company that sold third party games for the 99/4A and other computers in 1983 and 1984. These games could be loaded into reprogrammable cartridges that were loaded at retail stores that had Romox's game center. Pay the clerk, insert your reusable cartridge into the machine, and load your game. Games were available for Atari game systems and Commodore computers as well as for the 99/4A.
Romox also sold stand alone (not reprogrammable) cartridges, and the rights to distribute these cartridges were licensed to Navarone Industires in February 1984. The cartridges reviewed here are original Romox products, purchased from the current L.L. Conner Enterprise catalog. These are unusual shaped and really good looking cartridges that were "made in Philippines". Each cartridge has a sloping top-front that contains a full color artist's picture illustrating part of the game action. They are certainly superfically different from the usual "official" TI cartridge, but like the TI products Romox cartridges plug into the 99/4a's cartridge port. Romox cartridges come in a shiny copper colored box with holes in the box that reveal the artwork of the cartridge itself. These are not generic boxes, since each has the name of its particular game cartridge imprinted on the box along with specific game instructions printed on the back of the box. If you lose the box you lose the only printed game docs. However, most games come with plenty of on screen help as well as an automatic demonstration mode.
All the Romox games make good use of the 99/4A's bells and whistles. Some games use speech. Each has a catchy musical tune and various additional sound effects that play throughout the game. You have the option of turning off the music. All games can use joysticks or the keyboard for control.
I gave these four cartridges to my 14 and 16 year old boys to play with. They turned off our 386 clone with CD ROM, fired up the TI system next to the 386, and played with these cartridges for a week of afternoons before they got bored. At least one of the boys had the TI system going whenever they were home during this time. This is an indication of the entertainment value of these Romox games. Even though the games were made in 1983 they were new and interesting to the boys, for a while anyway.
L.L. Conner Enterprise will sell these NEW game cartridges to you for $10 each, or all four for $30. If you want, you can order the set of four wraped up in a nice red ribbon with bow for gift giving.
ANT EATER by Romox
You are an ant (actually 3 ants) in a nest in the ground. You are supposed to tunnel up to the surface, grab some food, and bring it back to the underground nest. Once all the surface food is obtained you go on to the next level. On the surface is the deadly anteater, who will follow you on the surface and back down into your tunnels trying to eat you.
The ant is armed with 5 eggs which it will lay and leave behind in a tunnel at the push of the fire button. The egg explodes seconds later, hopefully destroying a pursuing ant eater. Also, ants can tunnel under rocks in the ground which may then fall into the tunnel squishing the pursuing ant eater. When you advance to another level you get an additional ant (life) and an additional ant eater appears. At level 2 there are two ant eaters, etc. The speed of the game increases with each of the nine levels.
HEN PECKED by Romox
Navarone's title for the exact same game is Chicken Coop. This is my least favorite of the bunch. There is no demo mode and few on screen instructions. Some aspects of the game seem hard for my little mind to figure out. In this one or two player game the rooster competes against the hens. You press the joystick button (or Q key) to flap your wings and go up, and you move the stick (or arrows) in the desired direction of movement.
Apparently the object of the game is for the rooster to get onto the back of a hen. I wonder what he does once he's there. Anyway, once contact is made in this manner the hen is captured and additional hens appear. If contact between rooster and hen is any other way (from the front or back or bottom), the rooster dies. That's because the hen pecked him, instead of visa versa. Things become tricky for the rooster because after the first hen is captured two hens appear, when one of those is caputred two more appear, etc. There may be as many as 4 hens on screen simultaneously. With all these hens floating around randomly and/or chasing the rooster it is hard for the rooster to approach the hens in exactly the right orientation. In the two player players take turns being the rooster and compete against each other for the highest score.
ROTOR RAIDERS by Romox
No, the word rotor does not refer to a helicopter. This is not a helicopter rescue game. In this game the word rotor refers to a remote control drainage pipe auger designed to clean gunk out of drains. The object is to move your rotor around in the sewer maze eating all the dropings (the docs call them footprints) left by mice. Of course you have to catch the mice too, and this isn't easy because the mice can run as fast as your rotor. You have to trap a mouse in a dead end and then roto him to mouse heaven, but meanwhile more mice appear.
This is a maze game somewhat resembling pacman. Instead of energy dots there are mice dropings, and unlike pacman new dropings are continuously deposited by the mice as they run around the sewers. Sometimes your flashlight will go out and you can't see the maze. All you can see are the mice and your rotor. You can still move under these conditions, feeling blindly for barriers. Soon the lights come on again. There are speed levels, which accelerate the speed of both the rotor and mice. Of the group of games reviewed here this is my favorite. I like the music, and the fast action just goes on forever. It is hard to lose but it is also hard to win, because you can never quite keep up with the mice. Finally time runs out and your score is displayed.
PRINCESS AND FROG by Romox
This is your typical one player "frogger" game with speech and some interesting variations. You move your frog across a field of jousting knights and into a moat filled with alligators and snakes. You jump from one moving animal to another until you get across the moat, but watch out! If you are on the back of an alligtor it may submerge taking the frog with it. In either the joust field or moat it is possible to jump both up/down and left/right to avoid obstacles. Left/right jumping over obstacles is, I believe, unusual in a "frogger" type of game.
On the other side of the moat is a castle with several open gates. Reaching any gate gives you bonus points, but in one gate is a pair of big red lips, the lips of the princess. If your frog manages to jump off of a snake into this gate and kiss the princess, then the frog turns into a prince. Neat! And then there is this little extra, as quoted from the game box: "Bonus points are gained by mating with the female frog of the moat on the journey to the castle gates."
This is my second favorite of these four games. It is easily winable, which is something an arcade game bimbo such as myself appreciates. This cartridge does not work on my 80 column AVPC system. The other cartridges do.
L.L. Conner Enterprise (sells Romox cartridges), 1521 Ferry St., Lafayette IN 47904. Phone 317-742-8146
Charles Good, P.O. Box 647, Venedocia OH 45894, Phone 419-667-3131, internet email [email protected]
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