Dateline : 7th & 8th November 2011


Time constraints ahoy so Retrobear condenses 2 games reviews into one entry. First up the ice flow hopping antics of Frostbite on the wooden wonder Atari 2600, and then slipping on a pair of red shorts and some big mouse ears as he tackles Castle of Illusion on the Sega Mega Drive….


Building igloos has never been so much fun.


Man or mouse ? Only your gaming skills can determine which you are.

The best games are the simplest and most straightforward to pick up and play. Take the ancient arcade game Tapper where your aim is to keep firing pints of beer at your customers whilst collecting the empties and the tips. What about Operation Wolf where all you have to do is blast anything that moves ? These were games that required little thinking, not like some games now where you feel the need for an extra pair of hands or perhaps hands with an extra couple of fingers each.


That is why so many games on the early systems such as ColecoVision, Intellivision, Odyssey and the Atari 2600 stand the test of time. Not all of them mind because a lot of them were shit 30 years ago and are beyond comprehension now. As we get further on from the late 1970’s and 1980’s so it seems we leave this fledgling era of video games behind. The newer generation of gamers now view the original Sonic game as I myself would look back to Pitfall. Years from now the latest Call Of`Duty game will be viewed with the same pair of glasses.


Sir David Attenborough's quest for the Frozen Planet continues


One game I shall always look back on and regard as a classic is Frostbite on the 2600. It’s premise is simple : jump on the ice flow to collect bricks to make your igloo. Once it is built, hop inside and its on to the next screen. Along the way avoid seabirds, crabs, clams and a polar bear while picking up fish for bonus points. Keep going until your reflexes have had enough, as the game speeds up the further in you get, or your wrists begin to ache.


I loved Frostbite as a kid and I still love it. It can be incredibly frantic and annoying as you put in extra jumps by mistake and cause yourself another unnecessary death. The core game though is what appeals so much. Back in the day if you scored 40,000 points you could send off for a badge. Try scoring that number of points because I guarantee that is one heck of a challenge. For a 2600 game the graphics are fab and the sound sparse but effective.


Moving from that to Mickey Mouse Castle of Illusion on the Mega Drive might be moving from the simple to the superlative. At the time of release, and this was one of the original games to come out in Europe when the console came out, this was a quite stunning game to look at. In true Disney fashion it was gorgeous to look at with the colourful cartoon graphics throughout. The music was nothing special but felt as if it had come from a cartoon.


When this was first released the cartoon graphics caused jaws to drop - they are still impressive today


In terms of gameplay it’s the classic side scrolling, jumping, squashing enemies, collect the tokens and the power ups and avoid death at all cost kind of game. So often in cases like this too much attention can be paid to how the actual game looks and sounds to how it plays. In this case every effort has been made to ensure that the title is a success. Yes, like all platform games it has it’s moments of frustration, but it keeps bringing you back allowing you to see the next colourful level that an otherwise fit of temper would not have allowed you to see.


VERDICT : Frostbite – fun, frantic and flippin’ good nearly 30 years after it came out. It’s gaming at its most simple and basic but has an amazing charm that will keep you coming back to it again and again.


VERDICT : Castle of Illusion – beautiful to look at and a real charm to play. Some moments will frustrate you but the positives far outweigh the smallest negatives.


NOTES : Frostbite – Carts only on Amazon from £2.49. No loose ones on eBay but a couple for sale with the original packaging. Be warned as they’ll set you back at least £15.00


NOTES : Castle Of Illusion : Most of the copies for sale on Amazon are complete with box and manual and start at £8.99. Over on eBay plenty of complete copies knocking about at around £5.00


UP NEXT : No idea ! I’ll think of something though…..