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from AEO magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9
||| Jaguar Review: Defender 2000 ||| By: Bryan C. Edewaard / | \ Internet: email@example.com -------------------------------------------------------------- Coding Guru Jeff Minter does it again - this time with an update to the classic Williams game: Defender. Created in 1980 by a team headed up by the legendary Eugene Jarvis, Defender established Williams' position as the arcade videogame leader of the early '80s. Your mission in this side-scrolling shooter is to defend a planet and the astronauts thereon from wave after wave of invading and body-snatching aliens. Defender 2000 offers three variations of the original Defender game: Classic Defender, Defender Plus, and Defender 2000. Each of the games supports a ProController mode with separate buttons for fire and thrust. Two player games can be played either with two controllers or two players sharing one controller. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Classic Defender =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Most mature gamers will immediately recognize Classic Defender in all of its sixteen color glory, and if you haven't seen the original in a while, it's quite a rush. All the original elements are here: Landers, Mutants, Humanoids, Pods, Bombers, Swarmers, and Baiters. Classic Defender closely resembles the arcade original, but purists will notice that it deviates on a few points. There are a lot of slight cosmetic variations between Minter's Classic Defender and the actual arcade machine: explosions are larger in Minter's Classic, both in the size of the particles and in the fact that they carry over into the top area of the screen; the score has rastered colors instead of the pulsating solid color of the original; the sprites are noticeably larger; and there is a volcano in the game, which is borrowed from Defender II (originally Stargate). Perhaps more seriously, I found Classic easier to play than the arcade machine. This may be somewhat due to the difference in controls, but it largely seems to be due to the fact that the landers in Classic are slightly oversized (as mentioned above) and some enemies exhibit different behavior than in the original. One good example is the Mutant, who makes quick jerky motions in the original, but jumps and jiggles around like he's going critical in Minter's Classic. I feel that both the oversized enemies and the frantic motion of the mutants makes them easier to hit. These are minor things, really, but they are somewhat disappointing. Back in the 1980s, there were valid reasons for making changes to a game when it was ported to a different platform. Frequently the hardware was different, and just couldn't do the same things as the arcade original. But the Jaguar can certainly do everything the Williams arcade machine could do, so there really isn't much of a reason for not having a perfect replica of the old game. And Minter's Classic Defender, while closer than almost any other attempt, is not quite perfect. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Defender Plus =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Defender Plus is very similar to Classic Defender except that more enemies (and elements from the Defender sequel Stargate) have been added, your fire-power is upped quite a bit, and several new visual effects have been added. Defender Plus is to Classic Defender what Tempest 2000 is to Classic Tempest - it retains the feel of the original, but increases the tempo and intensity. Visually, there is plenty of eye candy to look at. The background contains several layers of scrolling stars, and a strange "plasma" effect hovers over the mountains. The mountains themselves are filled with a psychedelic moving pattern, and all the sprites have been given a colorful overhaul. Landers now have a more metallic spaceship look, and humanoids now look like actual people. (Imagine that.) Plus also adds Stargate-like warp gates and some nasty new enemies - although I don't know what to call the new enemies because the evaluation manual doesn't have pictures of them. Starting with the fourth wave, huge ships start popping up out of the ground that take multiple hits to kill. To help keep things even, in addition to the smart bombs of Classic Defender, you have what Minter calls the "llightning laser", which will target the closest enemy, wherever it is on the screen. You only have a limited amount of this, though, so you have to use it sparingly. If you're a real wimp, you can opt to have two droid ships fly with you to help you out - they'll zip around the screen shooting at things and picking up humanoids for you. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Defender 2000 =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= In Defender 2000, the game takes on a whole new look with varying backgound (and foreground) scenery that can scroll up and down as well as left and right. As you progress from level to level in Defender 2000, the graphics change from desert to mountains to city and so on. All the game objects have new graphics as well and look very hi-tech compared to the other versions. The radar, rather than just being a box sitting above the screen, is partially transparent and allows the background to be seen through it. And all the game objects are much larger on the screen, so you can see more detail in them. Your ship can pick up bonuses that increase firepower - AI Droid, AI Droid 2, Lightning Laser, and Turbo Lightning Laser. You can also pick up a shield to protect you from attack. With it, you can be hit twice without dying, and each time you will bounce off whatever hit you. (If you're moving quickly when you bounce, it's a little disconcerting to suddenly be flying back in the other direction.) Another interesting feature of Defender 2000 is that humanoids that have been picked up can fire along with you. Each humanoid hangs below the previous one, so when you get three or four of them strung beneath your ship, you carry a solid Wall o' Death wherever you go. There are also warp tokens present. Collect enough of these and you go to the warp screens, where you must stay on a lit path while hurtling down surfaces shaped like the levels of Tempest. In fact, it is very similar to the second warp level of Tempest 2000. ("Stay on the green path.") As with Tempest 2000, Defender 2000 includes a bunch of hip new tunes (portent of a Defender 2000 Soundtrack CD?) and flashy menu graphics. Some of the other effects - like the end-wave screen where your humanoid bonus is counted - are also very nicely done. Oh, you'll undoubtedly see what happens when you let the landers steal all your humanoids; it's certainly something to make you think, "Uh, maybe I shouldn't have done that...." While playing Defender 2000, I noticed that Defender is not an equation that can be played with as easily as Tempest. While I felt that Tempest 2000 gave Tempest a new lease on life, Defender 2000 loses some balance in the conversion. Defender 2000 is very cool to watch, but there can easily be too much going on at once. Once I had picked up a few bonuses, there was so much happening on the screen that I was forced to play by watching only the radar at the top. It's also difficult to pick out the colorful enemies from the colorful background, I would often collide with them while flying. It's definitely a game for those gamers who know how to get "into the zone." =-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Comments =-=-=-=-=-=-= I know this will sound negative, but with all that's going on, the 2000 mode lacks the feel of Defender. Defender Plus gets my vote for the better update to Defender in this package. Plus has a nice, modern (if wacky) look and formidable new enemies while still preserving the Defender/Stargate atmosphere. Defender Plus and Classic were very satisfying games and well worth the price of admission. All the original game elements are here and the control was very precise. Overall, I'd recommend Defender 2000 to anyone with a Jaguar who loves classic games while I'd also recommend the Williams Arcade Classics pack for PC/Mac owners with a serious craving for the classic. (Get both, it's only money.) =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Final Ratings =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Title: Defender 2000 Jaglink: No Programmer: Jeff Minter Players: 1 Published by: Atari Cart Size: 4 Megabytes Retail: N/A Availability: 2/96 A Summary of Ratings: "*" is a whole "+" is a half 5 stars Maximum Graphics - **** Graphics are very nice, and full of Minteresque effects although some of them get in the way at times (much more than in Tempest 2000). Audio - **** Authentic sounds from the original as well as many improved effects. Great background music too! Control - ***** Dead on controls and thrust-fire option earns Defender 2000 five stars. Gameplay - *** Although Classic Defender and Plus play fairly authentically, Defender 2000 doesn't feel much like Defender and can be hard to follow. Overall - **** A nice package if you're into the classics, but Plus and 2000 versions might not have what it takes to appeal to people who don't already like Defender. Pts Stars AEO Ratings """ """"" """"""""""" 10 ***** GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good. 9 ****+ Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent. 8 **** Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this. 7 ***+ Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers. 6 *** Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time. 5 **+ Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this. 4 ** Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic. 3 *+ Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun. 2 * Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this. 1 + Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you. 0 - Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.
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