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DVD of the Week
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Phoenix - October 11, '99 by Dorsola
Game:PhoenixCompany:Amstar Electronics
Type:ShooterPlayers:1/2

Just a note about me: I have a special place in my heart for Phoenix - I consider it to be one of the most beautiful classic games I ever played - dating all the way back to 1980. I'm not even really sure why - just its simplicity and the fact that its sound effects resonated so nicely in its cabinet must have been the thing that stuck out in my mind.
Phoenix is yet another in a long line of Space-Invaders/Galaxian clones, but with a few interesting twists. First off, your ship is equipped with a limited on-demand shield, which can be used once in about every 10 seconds or so. There are three principle stages: Battling it out with a bunch of small fighter jet-birds, which emit an interesting cascading sound as they fly; Bringing down a bunch of Super-Birds that grow out of eggs and can regenerate their wings if hit; and fighting the alien mothership. I'm not entirely sure how to describe these three stages any more than that - it's just better that I recommend you play them first.
Gameplay consists simply of a left-right joystick, a fire button, and a shield button. Therefore, emulating the controls is a no-brainer for MAME and Retrocade. :) Emulation is also perfect in both emulators, and performance isn't at all a problem, so it gets a 10 in that category. It gets a 7 in Challenge mainly because it's a surprisingly difficult game to play - sometimes, those little birds are gosh dang hard to hit! But its excessive difficulty and inconsistency in scoring have a tendency to bring its Replay Value down a bit, so that's only a 6 in this case.
Graphics: Well... unfortunately, it's just too old a game. It has some really nice one- and two-color backdropped starfields, but the rest of the game is pretty much no more than 5 or 6 colors on the screen at any one time. Objects are simplistic, but functional. The text looks kinda funny sometimes, but that's a minor issue.
Sound: Phoenix scores some good points for sound effects, and unlike most shooters of this type, this game actually has some music - a really simple little melody at the beginning of the first stage helps to set the mood. The combination of this short tune and the sweeping sounds of the birds flying around still brings tears to my eyes. :) But there's one thing that really hurts the sound in this game: In the first and third stages, you'll notice that most of the sound effects are governed by the same "sweep", which can go from really neat to really irritating in a matter of seconds.
Overall: Phoenix is an excellent game for when the video game industry was still in its infancy. While it suffers from the classic "Let's milk this hardware for all it's worth," the gameplay didn't suffer too badly, and if you can live with the simple graphics and sometimes annoying sound effects, you'll have a blast. :)
Graphics
5
6
Sound
Play Control
7
6
Challenge
Replay Value
6
10
Performance

Screen Shots

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1999 EmuViews