Publisher: Atari
Release: 1984
Controller: Joystick
Players: 1-2
Genre: Arcade
Alternate Title: N/A
Model: # CX26127
Rarity: 6
Programmer: Scott Smith

In this take on the hit movie, you are in control of the hapless teenager Billy who must protect his town from being overrun by mischievous gremlins.  While this sounds like an exciting setup, especially to those who are familiar with the film, in actuality it’s nothing more than a simple Kaboom! clone.

The game takes place in two phases, the Mogwai and Gremlin phase.  In the Mogwai phase the adorable little creatures are leaping off the roof of your house in an attempt to reach the delicious cheeseburgers below.  If they are successful in their quest for a midnight snack, they turn into a cocoon that is eerily reminiscent of the ones from the Alien franchise.  Billy can stop them simply by catching them, which is fairly easy in the first few waves as they move slowly.  This phase continues until you are overrun by eight of them, or you successfully stop them a few times.

The Gremlin phase is similar to what you just went through, except instead of catching them Billy is now packing heat.  One by one the Gremlins will hatch and slowly make their way towards the hero.  If they begin to get too close to bumping you offscreen, you have two flashcube charges at your disposal which freezes them in place momentarily, turning them into sitting ducks.  Due to the fact that are only eight hatchlings, the early levels are incredibly easy.  Later on however they can begin to multiply when they walk through the lake, making them all but impossible to stop.  Should you survive this assault, it’s back to the Mogwai level.

There are a number of problems that prevent this game from being great, the biggest of which being how the difficulty level ramps up.  Once you reach level seven or eight, the Mogwais begin descending at such a rapid pace that they are impossible to stop, especially when they drop right after appearing on screen.  Billy is simply too slow to make it from one side of the screen to the other.  Adding to the difficulty is that in the Gremlin phase, Billy is a terrible shot.  It is far too easy to misjudge your aim and graze the oncoming enemy, leaving you vulnerable to attack.

Taken as a standalone game, Gremlins isn’t very good.  When you compare it to other licensed titles for the 2600 however, it’s nowhere near as terrible as it could have been.





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Derek Slaton Derek Slaton (61 Posts)

Derek began playing video games in the early 80s, cutting his teeth on every Atari 2600 game he could get his hands on. This kickstarted a lifelong love of games, which continues to this day. No matter how advanced the systems and games become, the love for Atari remains supreme, which is why the Atari 2600 Encyclopedia project was done. With this massive project completed, Derek looks to begin work on another system encyclopedia, hoping to pay tribute to the games that shaped his childhood.