It has been a long time coming but here it is – the review for Orange 4 Game In One for Atari 2600. I recommend reading the review of Black 4 In One first as it contains a little detail about the manufacturer. The review for Black 4 In One can be found HERE. Like Black 4 Game In One the games are selected via the switches. These are the games that are on Orange 4 In One :
- Jumble Block (right/right)
- Highway (right/left)
- Flight Path (left/right)
- Rodeo Champ (left/left)
Lets start with the label… boy does it look cheap! The Black one looked really cool with artworks for each game but this just has a screen shot from each game. I could almost review this based on the cartridge pictures alone. What happened to the cool looking italic font? Its like they aren’t even trying. The black cartridge looked very professional and above a standard of cheap knock-off games where this one tells you exactly what you are getting. Reviewing these games is going to get rough…
I think I played this cartridge only once or twice. I picked it up in a bulk lot I found at a pawn shop when I was about 17 and I don’t remember a lot about it. My guess is the games probably didn’t grab my attention the way Black 4 In One did.
This game reminds me of Dig Dug. You dig holes and kill monsters with blocks. Instead of dropping them onto them however you press the button to push them and they slide across the screen until they hit a wall or another block. You hit them with blocks and while they are down you can grab their stunned form and I’m guessing eat them and they respawn. The enemies look like your guy, a weird blobby thing with one eye – think along the lines of Berzerk robots but kind of penguin or seal shaped. Every now and then a grey block appears on the far left or right. It’s a power pill that stuns all the enemies. If you eat all 3 in time a new game screen starts. You win by cannibalism!
It isn’t a bad game but it doesn’t really pull you in like good games on Atari do. I made it to the second screen (which is exactly the same as the first) and I don’t feel compelled to play the game further. On another note, it has the initials ‘R.J.P.G.’ at the bottom of the screen. On Black 4 In One it said ‘Bit Corp.’. My guess is that is the original company who made the game and they were too lazy to change it.
This reminds me a lot of Activision’s Grand Prix, although it doesn’t look quite as good. But the gameplay in some ways is a little more detailed. There are cards going each way on the road for a start. Every now and then a traffic island pops up that you have to avoid. Grey blocks act as oil slicks and make your car veer up or down.
Unlike Grand Prix when you crash you explode in a shower of slow-moving debris and the standard crash and burn’ish Atari sounds. The most annoying part of these explosions is they take forever to animate. Just blow the damn car up and get me moving again already!
Also you have limited lives so once you crash too many times the game ends. It’s a road rage survival horror where you try to last as long as you can as the traffic and scenery tries to kill you. If you drive too slow a car will shoot out from nowhere and blow you up, too fast you risk crashing. Finding that happy cruising speed medium is a little too tricky.
Grand Prix is certainly better. Short races, fantastic crashes that make the whole screen go nuts and great looking game. Highway shows how excessive details can be a bad thing when not done well. And those long bloody crash animations! Again, this one has ‘R.J.G.P’ at the bottom of the screen. What happened to Bit Corp?
What the hell is that at the bottom of the screen? ACTIVISION!?!?!?! Okay so they are quite obviously stealing games from Activision now – a third party company so tightly woven in with with the success of the Atari 2600 that I mistakenly said Pitfall was an ‘original Atari game’ (in this review) because Activision was the biggest third party company and known for good quality games.
Okay lets play this thing. You are in a plane going around marker poles, avoiding trees and balloons and when you go around enough marker poles the game ends. Yep it’s Sky Jinks – take Barnstorming and instead of going up and down and in barns you are going left and right around poles. Its like a reverse skiing game as you head up instead of down on the screen. Not Activision’s finest game but it’s ok, nothing groundbreaking here.
There is one infuriating part of this game though. If you lose track of the poles (you are supposed to go around the outside of them and some poles are in the middle of the screen) you don’t know which side to pass them on. At least you can’t completely miss the barns in Barnstorming – you go through them or you don’t.
Going by the pic on the cartridge its pretty obvious this game is going to be Activision’s Stampede. Fence at the top of the screen, ‘Activision’ at the bottom of the screen, cowboy on horseback roping cows – yep its Stampede. Collect cows for points and if you let too many pass the game ends. It is what it is.
The Plot Thickens…
So there are 2 companies’ names on the games and ‘Bit’ on the label. Something is definitely not right here so I did a little research. This is the gist of what I found regarding the games :
- Jumble Block = Peter Penguin
- Highway = Racing Car
- Flight Path = Sky Jinks
- Rodeo Champ = Stampede
It turns out both Jumble Block and Highway are rip offs. Jumble Block is a rip off of a rip off as Peter Penguin is a rip off of Frisco… at least thats how it looks.
And the rabbit hole gets even deeper!
In a link where I found a company that made Frisco and Racing Car guess what else I found out?
Games from Black 4 In One :
- Space Tunnel = Cosmic War
- Bobby Is Going home = Jacky Jump
- Phantom Tank = Tank Battle
All this under the company name “Home Vision / Gem International Corp. / VDI”. I guess they should add Bit Corp to that list too (Information gathered from atarimania.com).
For even more laughs check out some of the alternative names for Highway/Racing Car…
- Car Racing
- Hell Driver
- Grand Prize
- Free Way (not to be confused with Freeway the Activision game with the chicken)
I also found on another site that Peter Penguin is also known as ‘Brick Kick‘. Why not have a version called ‘Brick Shit’ because that what you will do trying to follow this convoluted trail.
It’s a massive and chaotic situation of companies ripping off other companies and games with multiple names. Is there a master company at the top who is re-distributing rights for their games to local publishers who in turn choose to rip off other games from other companies? We will probably never know. I can’t even see how anyone could pick out which publisher is the bigger one from them as they tend to share much of the same game catalog with some differences. The only thing I can say for sure is they aren’t Activision or Atari. No wonder the video game crash happened – no one can tell who is who and they are all copying each other’s games!
*takes deep breaths and calms down*
I suppose you want a conclusion to this? Fine. If I had to rate the games out of ten (although I really don’t want to after wading through so much bullshit in the backstory) here it is. Click each tab for my thoughts:
I guess if you don’t have Stampede, High Jinks, Racing Car and Peter Penguin then this cartridge would be a great addition to your Atari 2600 collection. Hell its probably worth getting for the backstory and twisting intrigues alone. Don’t expect a well built cartridge though. Look at what my copy looks like now…
Yep, just like Black 4 In One. These two cartridges are the only two I have ever had anything like this happen with. Cheap ripoff games, cheap plastic, cheap shit!