RadioPoultry Posted February 3, 2015 Report Share Posted February 3, 2015 (edited) Groundhog Day is here, and I can't think of a more appropriate way to observe that revered occasion than to take a look at one of the many games involving hogs on the Atari 2600: "Pigs in Space". By remarkable coincidence, I just happened to win a copy in the trivia contest two weeks ago. Since I do not have a way of capturing quality images from my television, I'll be taking them via emulation. "Pigs in Space" is based on the sci-fi parody sketch that was featured frequently on the Muppet Show. To summarize, three pigs voyage through the stars aboard the spaceship Swinetrek, boldly doing nothing of particular importance. The game itself is somewhat unusual in that it's effectively three very different games in one, and each game had a different programmer. After switching on the console, the player is greeted with this screen: To quote the announcer on the show.... "PIGS... IN... SPAAaace!". I would have been delighted if the Atari generated tones mimicking that introduction, but I guess it was not to be. A copyright of 1983 is given, two years after the show had aired its final episode. Like a number of later Atari games, you don't have to lean over and pull the reset switch to start, you can can just press the joystick button. Being lazy, I appreciate this. Setting the left difficulty switch to 'B' gives the player an extra life every 10,000 points, but I personally find this makes the game too easy, so I leave the switch on 'A'. On the next screen we are reminded once again that this is PIGS IN SPACE, and are presented with a set of three disembodied pig heads in profile from which to choose. Each represents a different member of the crew and a different mini-game. They may be played in any order, even the same game multiple times in a row, but each becomes more difficult the more it is played (until a maximum difficulty is achieved, that is). Selecting the left pig (Captain Link Hogthrob) starts our first game, "Chickenvaders". This game is the most derivative of the three, but nevertheless probably the most fun. It would be easy to say it's Space Invaders with chickens (a variation I can appreciate), but there are a few subtle differences. According to the manual, which I found on AtariAge, the chickens are dropping eggs at Link, and Link is throwing link sausages at them. (Oh, "Link" Hogthrob, I get the joke now! Only took me, what, 25 years? Also, I'd rather not know why a pig is carrying sausages around.) All the projectiles look like lines. When struck by an egg, Link is transmogrified into a chicken and flaps away off the screen. When one of the chickens is hit, it is sent to the "bird dimension", a less disturbing fate to be sure. Leading the chicken armada is Gonzo (or at least his head) on a flying saucer. (Gonzo, in fact, had appeared as an antagonist in Pigs in Space a couple times. Known as "Dearth Nadir", he once commanded chicken storm troopers.) Pelting him with pork products provides points aplenty. Sorry. Unlike Space Invaders, there are no shields to take cover from enemy fire, the enemy only fires one shot at you at a time, and only the horizontally nearest enemy fires at you. One detail I like is that, true to the show (with a few exceptions), you don't see the captain's legs. As the hostile hens come closer, he becomes more and more submerged, giving the player a little more room to work with, though eventually you'll lose a life if their approach is not stopped. Destroying... I mean, banishing all the chickens completes the level and sends you back to the menu. Each time this game is chosen, the chickens move faster (though Gonzo always seems to plod along at the same speed). Chickenvaders has some of the best character graphics and animation I've seen on the 2600. Gonzo's spinning head (3 colors!) and the transformation into a chicken are particularly well done. It's reasonably fun to play, though Space Invaders is certainly better in that regard, with faster enemies that fire more unpredictably, and the presence of shields to complicate things. But wait, there's more! Next up: The health concerns of Italian food. Edited September 10, 2015 by RadioPoultry StormSurge, Yo-Yo, RickR and 8 others 11 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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