Gremlins

Gremlins was one of the most heavily merchandised films of the '80s, and since Warner Brothers released the movie and owned Atari, it was an obvious candidate for a 2600 game. Though that game could have easily followed in E.T.'s footsteps straight to the landfill, game designers took a familiar and time-tested genre, threw in some sprites that loosely resembled the movie's characters, and released a game that was totally worth picking out of the bargain bin at the car wash. Just don't get it wet on your way out.

Gameplay: Mogwai like to eat, and they really like to eat after midnight, which as we all know, turns them from cute little fuzzballs into reptilian nightmares with mohawks. The player spends one phase of the game catching a steady stream of cuddly Mogwai as they drop from the top of the screen in their insatiable quest for hamburgers. Once eight Mogwai sneak past, they turn into scary Gremlins. Accompanied by spooky music and a background dripping with doom, the Gremlins descend on the player, who must shoot them all before they hit the ground and tear his face off. (This looks more like a hip check in the game, but the ultraviolence is clearly implied.)

In addition to wits and reflexes, the player has two flashbulbs that can be activated during the Gremlin phase to temporarily paralyze the little monsters, because just like in the movie, they don't like light. This is where the similarities to the film begin and end.

Could be mistaken for: Kaboom! Beat'em And Eat'em, Crackpots

Kids today might not like it because: Gremlins fails to bring anything new to the "run from side to side and catch things" genre. Also, when you get a real Mogwai wet, you end up with a ton of new Mogwai to play with, but when you get Gremlins wet, all you get is a broken game.

Kids today might like it because: It has almost as much to do with the original film as Gremlins 2: The New Batch, but doesn't have that annoying "Brain" character.

Enduring contribution to gaming history: Gremlins was released after the peak of the 2600's popularity, as the console began fading into the sunset. While it isn't Tron or Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Gremlins can take a place on the shelf next to Alien as a fun game loosely inspired by a film.

 

Wil Wheaton comes with a free frogurt.

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