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Kool-Aid Man Review

Developer: Mattel Publisher: Mattel
Release Date: N/A Also On: None

In the early 1980s, companies left and right were trying to capitalize on the popularity of the Atari 2600. Even Atari’s two console competitors in the early 1980s programmed games for the Atari 2600. Enter KoolAid. Remember the old KoolAid points system where you could redeem points for stuff? I don’t know if they still do it since I don’t drink KoolAid anymore. Anyway, KoolAid evidently decided that the Atari 2600 was so popular that they should make a game starring the KoolAid man for the system and sell it through their catalog. KoolAid Man was the result. Is it a worthwhile game? Read on to find out.

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The concept of KoolAid man is quite interesting. Fruit fly around the screen. Periodically, one of them will stop and will begin to dump its juice. When a fruit does this, you must collect the fruit. Should you hit a fruit that hasn’t started dumping its juice, you will lose control of the KoolAid man and bounce around for a second or so. You can pick up icons that make the KoolAid man bigger for a few seconds, protecting him from the flying fruit, however. The objective of the game is to collect a certain amount of the fruit within a time limit at the top of the screen.

The thing is this. KoolAid Man not only takes very appropriate advantage of the KoolAid license, but it is one of the most creative concepts I have seen to date in an Atari 2600 game, easily beating out all the Pac-man clones, racing games, and space shooters in that department. For that alone it is to be commended. But the game is also fun. It is the type of game that you could play over and over for a couple hours without getting bored. Sure, it’s obviously aimed at kids, but it has entertainment value for people of all ages. I only say it’s aimed at kids because the KoolAid man only bounces around when he gets hit, whereas in most games he would probably lose a life on contact.

Graphically, KoolAid Man isn’t much to look at. The background is very barebones for a 1983 game. Still, the fruit look like fruit, although the KoolAid man doesn’t look anything like he should. Although the graphics are minimal though, they do get the job done. On the sound front, things are a little better. The sound effects aren’t anything that exciting, but the game does also boast a brief musical snippet that plays occasionally. So, overall, the aesthetics don’t add much to the game, but they don’t take anything away, and, on the Atari 2600, that’s the most important thing.

So, is this game worth purchasing? Well, yes, but you’d have to find it first. As a result of the way that this game was marketed, it is not one of the more common games on the system. That’s not to say it’s the rarest, but it’s not the most common. Still, if you look hard enough, you should be able to find a copy, and when you do, you should pick it up because this game employs a creative concept that executes well even if it doesn’t present well.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 6.5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.7
Written by Martin Review Guide