By Atari

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  • After many months of development Atari finally unleashed its first laserdisc game, Firefox, at the Amuseument Showcase International in Chicago in the Spring of 1984. Atari released Firefox shortly thereafter, but it came at a time when there was a growing resistance to disc games in the marketplace from operators who had already sunk thousands of dollars in such games, and were still waiting to show a return on their investment.

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  • Based, as you might imagine, on the 1983 adventure film of the same name starring Clint Eastwood, the game uses actual movie footage to simulate flying the famed Firefox fighter over treacherous ice fields, through billowing clouds, and in narrow crevasses. From the high-tech cabinet designs (both upright and cockpit) to its rousing original musical score; from the smooth disc operating system to its effective meld of filmed and computer-generated graphics, Atari had created one of the more technically impressive laser games of its time.

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  • The game is operated by means of a two-handed Star Wars-type controller, equipped with cannon-firing trigger switches and missile-launching thumb buttons. What you control here is not the ship itself -- one presumes it's on automatic pilot -- but the on-screen cursor used to aim your weaponry. One nice fature here is that the cursor displays information regarding your fuel level and available missiles, eliminating the need to shift your eyes away from the action at any time. One bad feature is that at no time do you feel like you're actually in control of the Firefox ship.

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  • Unfortunately, for all the technical wizardry Atari had demonstrated in creating Firefox, and for all the creativity the company had shown in adapting the movie storyline for video game use, all they're really come up with here is an elaborate target-shooting game. The early radar blasting stage of each part of the game is nothing more than an exercise in reaction -- as soon as a target pops up on the screen, you must shoot it immediately to avoid detection. Since this is the basic premise of the game, all a really skilled Firefox player will ever do is shoot at radar targets, which is certainly not the most exciting part of the contest.

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  • The game is good looking, and offers some nice touches, such as Clint Eastwood's digitized voice, a variable game volume control, and other features. However, from a gameplay standpoint it's no better than average.

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