By Trace 9 Comments
"Sshhh...not sure we're allowed to reveal this, but Night Stalker is scheduled to join Microsoft's Game Room Thursday, April 29."
This all but confirms that Game Room releases are indeed (finally) going to start up again in a few weeks, along with establishing the official release day of Thursdays for Game Room stuff. Unless something comes up, it looks like the absolute latest the waves of games will pick up again will be the 29th. Oh, and Night Stalker. There's that.
I know there's a lot of complaints about Intellivision games beyond the usual Game Room complaints, and many of them have merit, with relatively cheap Intellivision consoles and cartridges still out in the wild. Regardless, give me a few moments to try and argue on Night Stalker's behalf, and why it's definitely worth consideration of your money.
Intellivision doesn't exactly have the most suitable games for a modern controller, considering that it had a full number pad that was often completely utilized. Furthermore, many of the games chosen just aren't a good fit for Game Room to begin with. Since there's no actual online multiplayer (and challenges most certainly don't count), games like Armor Battle and Sea Battle become lonely affairs unless you can scrounge up a few retro-loving friends. Nothing in the Game Room makes this clear, either, as we've seen with so many people struggling to hike the ball in Football without realizing that Player 2 needs to input a play, even if he or she doesn't exist. The relative long play times for a single round of the other games can be a deterrent, too, with Space Hawk being the most serious offender by far, and Astrosmash a distant-but-still-lengthy game that can easily last over an hour with practice.
I know I'll sound like a horrible driver that's cause a dozen serious accidents trying to convince you to join their carpool, but I'm here to tell you: Dude, this time's different. Trust me.
Intellivision fans who have played Night Stalker before won't need much convincing. It's a frantic run-and-gun shooter within a maze full of bats, a spider, and a laser-firing robot. There's two constantly-repeating phases to the game: rushing for a gun while completely vulnerable, and then using that gun's bullets up on robots or anything that threatens you. Eventually, the beginning will be easy enough that you'll be able to corner robots as they spawn and spawn-camp them for easy points. That won't last forever as you run out of bullets, have to run for a new gun, and the robots make headway on you.
Yes, robots. You'll want to avoid shooting bats, but eventually, the lone robot will shoot them, and that threat will turn plural right quick. This makes the whole spawn-camping strategy a little harder. So will the robot whose blasts absorb your bullets, meaning you can't just pop out and fire easy kill shots at any time. Not anymore. You might have better luck using the one safe place in the maze, your bunker, to pop out and quickly decimate the tougher robots.
Then he'll gain the ability to destroy your bunker. Things get really unpleasant at that point.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is that Night Stalker is not a game that will last forever, and with both score and survival needs, it'll have decent medal and challenge potential. You'll probably be able to camp in your bunker for that easily survival medal, but for survival challenges, just find a high score replay and fast forward to just beyond the 50,000 point mark. That'll make things interesting, as will attempting to earn high scores amidst the chaos of laser fire and robots. This is easily one of the best Intellivision games for the Game Room besides Tron: Deadly Discs and the Intellivision version of BurgerTime.
If you don't think an Intellivision game is worth $3, much less a Game Room game, this won't change your mind. For the rest of you, definitely give the demo its full ten minutes. I hope you won't regret it.
That said, I'm also interested in what anybody else is hoping for in the upcoming wave for the Game Room, though I know Jeff's already weighed in on that matter.