Atari 5200 Review: GREMLINS

by Atari

Gremlins Pic 1
1) Don't expose them to bright lights, they don't like it. Sunlight will kill them.

2) Don't get them wet or they'll multiply.

3) Don't feed them after midnight, or they'll turn into Gremlins!!

Watching Mogwai is such a chore!

If you were into the 5200 when it wasn't an antique, then you probably remember Gremlins. In what other movie do ugly muppets drink, smoke, and disembowel Santa Claus? Even if you didn't like the movie, you should enjoy this game. It has plenty of little "extras" to keep it interesting and fun for a very long time.

Your aim is the same as that of the main character in the movie: you must prevent the mogwai from getting wet and multiplying, and above all else, don't let them eat anything, because it's after 11PM!! Simply collect one mogwai at a time and lock it up in the cage. Unfortunately however, a few mogwai have already turned into gremlins, so you must kill them with your trusty sword (I can't explain why he has a sword; perhaps one of those fads from the 80's like friendship pins and parachute pants? Any cultural historians out there?). If you become surrounded, you can stun the gremlins with flash cubes. Sounds easy until you recall another character from the movie - no, not the sexy Phoebe Cates but the dipstick father whose bright idea it was to smuggle a strange creature into the country to give to his son as an X-mas present. What idiot risks imprisonment and military cavity searches (can you imagine a less severe consequence if customs agents found it?) to give his son a gift that already has some pretty hefty strings attached (see 3 rules above), not to mention any unspecified risks like rabies or fleas or worse.

Gremlins Pic 2
The father's idiocy doesn't stop there. He apparently makes a living building 6th grade science projects (useless AND malfunctioning), and unfortunately, some of them greatly complicate your attempt to keep the mogwai out of trouble. Good ol' dad's got the fridge randomly spitting out ice cubes intervals. The ice cubes melt into puddles, and we know that water and mogwai or gremlins don't mix. Even worse is dad's lidless popcorn popper, which dutifully fills the room with popcorn when turned on. Since it's after 11PM already, I don't need to tell you why this is bad.

Besides your father, the gremlins and mogwai themselves are your greatest impediments. They both love to turn on the popcorn maker, and neither can resist the urge for a midnight snack. A gremlin might even open up the fridge and start tossing out food to his compatriots! And don't stray too far from the mogwai cage, lest a gremlin break them out for a bite to eat.

You're hopelessly outnumbered, and you have a limited supply of flash cubes, so what else can you do? Do what any parent who can't (or doesn't want to) keep an eye on his/her kids does - turn on the TV. Any mogwai or gremlins near it are frozen in their tracks, staring vacantly at the screen. I can't tell what's on the TV that's so interesting, so check your local listings (from the early 80's) to make an educated guess.

Gremlins Pic 5
There are many little extras to make this game extremely entertaining (the fridge, the popcorn machine, the TV, the flash cubes, the behavior of the gremlins and mogwai - I find myself actually saying, "no, little mogwai, don't turn on that popcorn machine!" or, "hey, you, get away from that fridge!") Regarding control, I'm happy to report it's no problem at all with the 5200 controllers. With good graphics, sound effects and music as well, it's extremely difficult to find a downside to this game.

Gremlins demonstrated that the 5200 was more than just a system on which to release good (and sometimes bad) versions of classic games from either the arcade or the 2600. While certainly a "dated" game (who will remember this movie in a few years? Who remembers it now?!) it was a fresh idea and is incredibly addictive. This is a game worth looking for, and luckily, it's not TOO difficult to find at a reasonable price.

Title Gremlins
Publisher Atari
System Atari 5200 SuperSystem
Graphics 8
Sound 8
Gameplay 9
Overall 9
Reviewer Karlis Povisils

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