System...:
Publisher...:
Programmer...:
Year...:
Reviewer...:
Gremlins
Atari 5200
Atari
(Unknown)
1984
Jay
Horror/comedy. Now, there's a strange combination. But, it's a strange combination Steven Spielberg decided would make a box-office hit in the early eighties. And knock me down with a feather, he was right. Actually, don't. Thanks.

For those unfamiliar with the storyline (ie - those that don't know what Farrah trousers are, have no idea who Ferris Bueller is, and have never thought bodypopping was cool) - it involves a small town being taken over by evil, lizard-like creatures after a father gives his son an ill-chosen present brought back from the Far East - a strange creature called a Mogwai. Although cute and friendly in nature, the Mogwai hides a dark secret. At point-of-purchase, instead of being told to 'have a nice day' and offered a gift-wrap service, the boy's father was given three strict instructions: never expose the Mogwai to daylight, never allow it near water and never feed it after midnight. Of course if the boy had followed these guidelines, Gremlins wouldn't be much of a film (or a game for that matter) and before you know it, the Mogwai - who by now has been christened Gizmo - is exposed to water. Much to the boy's dismay, this causes the Mogwai to multiply rapidly and unfortunately, Gizmo's new siblings turn out to be a rather devious bunch. It doesn't take long for the new creatures to sneakily organise a midnight feast which has the disastrous effect of turning them into evil, mischievous, demon-like creatures. A bit like kids and Skittles really. In typical B-movie style, the devilish gremlins over-run the town, and it's up to the hero (the boy with the stupid father in this case) to save the day.

Set in the house where the trouble starts, the player is put in charge of the terrorised teenager - armed with a sword (!!) - whose aim is to destroy as many of the vicious gremlins as possible while collecting Mogwai and putting them in a pen out of harm's way.

"Not entirely like the film then?"
"Er...no."

Each level is set in a square room populated by gremlins and Mogwai. The top right corner of the screen houses a pen used to keep the Mogwai safe, but beware - the gremlins often open the pen and let the Mogwai run amok. Destroying every gremlin on the screen - and hopefully saving a few Mogwai on the way - allows the player to progress to the next, more challenging level. Food is often found lying around which will transform a Mogwai into a gremlin if eaten. Pools of water make a regular appearance and any creature that passes over the liquid is split into two. Watch out also for electrical appliances gone haywire. The popcorn machine throws out a steady barrage of cinema snack-food and the refrigerator flings ice across the room, which soon turns to water. Not all is bad on the electrical-consumer-goods-gone-berzerk front though. Should you find yourself in a room equipped with a TV, switch it on as it keeps the gremlins amused while you hack' em to bits. Lovely, eh?




Woo - scary eh?





If you turn on the TV, the beasties just sit there while you chop'em to bits ...





DON'T LET THEM NEAR THE WATER!! AARRGGHH!
- oops sorry ...




Any Mogwai that eats popcorn chucked out by the machine on the left will turn into a Gremlin


Now this is the sort of game I like. Nothing to set the world alight graphically or sonically, but playable in a nice, 10p-a-go-arcade-game kind of way. Am I making sense? Probably not. The perspective takes some getting used to, and the first time I lost a life because my character's head 'touched' a Gremlin's foot I was a bit peeved to say the least. However, once that's sorted out it's hack'n'slash fun all the way - though I can't work out why he's been armed with a sword. Overall, while it wouldn't win any awards for depth of play, Gremlins is a nice little slash'em-up worth a few rounds every now and then.



Graphics: 67%

Sound: 49%

Gameplay: 72%

Overall: 71%
Good animation on the main sprite, the Mogwai have kept their cutesy look and the gremlins look like...well, gremlins. The environment is a bit sparse though. Some nice jingles and mediocre effects. Nothing outstanding, but good fun nonetheless. Nice level variations including large Robotronesque gremlin swarms. Gremlins won't keep anybody hooked for days, but is always good for a few quick sessions. A solid game in an old school arcade sort of way. Not too taxing, and lacking any sort of depth, but playable regardless.
R E C O M M E N D E D   A L T E R N A T I V E S

O T H E R   F O R M A T S
Smash TV (SNES/Arcade) • Robotron 2084 (Arcade)


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