So the Intellivision Amico Big Amazing Statement was supposed to be today, but they scuttled it at the last minute. As a consolation prize, Intellivision faithful got to see fearless leader Tommy Tallarico give a hasty plug for their mobile app, which was just updated to feature an entire playable level of Moon Patrol, not just the barely-interactive tease from six months ago.
I tried it! It wasn’t great. First up, they don’t respect screen sizes. This isn’t an obscure Android phone with a weird aspect ratio, it’s one of the 3 flagship Apple iPhones.
There’s a function for reading RFID chips, if you were foolish enough to splash out for pixel-man merchandise on their web store (there’s a link to that, too). Woe unto you if you touch it without an RFID device handy though, because there’s no UI to get you out of it. Go team amico. Seriously, go.
So I force quit the app, like you would with a poorly coded, unoptimized turd that just won’t flush. That’s not what we came for anyway.
Let’s play the game. Hmm, “Wasted Studios.” That’s true on so many levels.
And just to make you feel like you’re in the distant past, here’s a …LOADING… screen.
And a title screen with a new logo. We’re told that there could be other Moon Patrol games, that this is just the Milky Way Chronicles. Howzabout Intellivision Entertainment doesn’t get ahead of itself. Crawl before walking, walk before running, zip up fly before going out in public.
This was mildly innovative in 2010, when touch controls were new and accelerometers were awesome. Bluetooth controllers are not supported, of course.
And another LOADING message! It’s so comforting, like a hug from your grandmother while you gather around the Playstation One.
I tried both control schemes, and they were pretty similar. Gyro control was slightly less fiddly, but in either case, your thumbs will be obstructing the obstacles you’re trying to avoid. That won’t be the case with the Neo-Zune controllers should you be unfortunate enough to play the final version with Amico controls.
They carry this color scheme to the gameplay screen. Like the original Moon Patrol, you have a limited set of lives (extra chances). You can trade points for lives if you want to keep on playing after missing all your chances.
Pew pew! Your little tank (okay, buggy) has some weight and momentum to it, and is easy to control using the limited interface available. Buttons would be better, but we all know this is a demo.
More egregious is the art style. Remember the Hasbro Interactive ports of old Atari properties in the late 1990s? That’s what this resembles. It’s from the era of “ooh aah, pseudo-3D graphics” where realistic textured brown rocks and dirt are chosen for the backdrop. They’re also used for the foreground interactive elements. I wasn’t certain what was something to avoid, to say nothing of the many times my thumbs got in the way.
It’s surprisingly difficult, especially on a console that purports to be “for everyone,” not just the hardcore gamers. The subject matter is decidedly retro-game fodder, as is the 1982 arcade game design. The original cartoon aesthetic would have been much easier on the eyes and more accessible to players. Since the Intellivision Amico is by all outward appearances, an ego project for Tommy Tallarico and not a bonafide effort to reach a mass audience, this is understandable.
All in all, Moon Patrol The Milky Way Chronicles is a charmless little crap nugget of a demo. If it showed up randomly on the App Store one day, would I try it, just to see if it were a diamond in the rough? If it had nice reviews, I would consider a free download, but I wouldn’t pay to remove advertisements. As a flagship launch title for a family console that costs over $200, it’s truly embarrassing.