Atari 5200 Review: POPEYE

by Parker Brothers

Popeye Pic 1
Besides the lame graphics (when compared to the coin-op version), the 5200 version of Popeye is loyal to the arcade version. For those of you unfamiliar with the original, you are Popeye, and on all 3 screens Olive Oil throws out hearts, musical notes or the letters H-E-L-P. As Popeye, you must catch all of these things (perhaps to prove your love), while also avoiding Brutus and the Sea Hag. You progress to the next screen when you catch all of the items (about 20 or so). You can only attack Brutus in two ways. First, on each level you can eat your spinach, which enables you to knock Brutus off the screen for a little while. Second, on level one (and level one only) you can incapacitate Brutus by dropping a barrel on his head.

This sounds like a neat idea for a game, and I did enjoy playing this game for the first week I had it. However, Popeye suffers from a fatal flaw: it is so BORING that I fear some gamers may fall into coma while playing it. Why is this game boring?

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First off, there just isn't enough interaction with the screen and the other characters in the game. You are confined to one screen for each level. After dropping the barrel on Brutus' head and eating the spinach, you spend the rest of the game simply running from Brutus and punching or running away from the Sea Hag's bottles. Furthermore, the hearts/notes/letters come down so slow, you are running away for a very long time. It's just not fun.

Secondly, it is just too easy! It is very simple to avoid Brutus and the Sea Hag's bottles. As such, the gameplay is not challenging. However, this leads to a bewildering paradox: the game gets so dull that you take wild, unnecessary risks while playing and this makes it difficult to finish the game. The paradox doesn't end there. Although it takes forever to complete the game because the game is so dull you die frequently while taking silly chances, once you HAVE managed to finish all 3 levels, there is absolutely no reason to continue playing this game, ever. So basically, the game is so easy that it's dull and therefore quite difficult, but once you've beaten the game it's no longer difficult because it's simply to dull to continue. It's complete lack of challenge is the greatest challenge of all. There are four or five more levels to this paradox; however, you must have a graduate degree in philosophy to figure it out completely so I won't expound here.

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While Popeye may be of interest to Popeye zealots, as well as logicians and philosophers (I think the Popeye paradox confounds most ancient Greek philosophy) trying to defuse the paradox, for the sane among us this game is simply a dud. Borrow it from someone to listen to the cool music and to experience the mysterious Popeye paradox for yourself!

Title Popeye
Publisher Parker Brothers
System Atari 5200 SuperSystem
Graphics 6
Sound 8
Gameplay 4
Overall 4
Reviewer Karlis Povisils

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