An easily accessed textual archive supplying tips on beating and/or scoring high at every single classic game in existence is about due from one of the greatest gaming minds in history (I chose mine). Most of these are based on my own exploits. The ones that aren't should be obvious: Beatable games with explicit solutions come to mind. Anyone who contributes to this guide is much appreciated and of course credited where appropriate. Easter eggs aren't included; we have other articles outlining those (as does Digital Press -- check out their site for an exhaustive compilation of eggs and other secrets).
The games appear in alphabetical order according to title. This compendium will probably never be "finished," but the aim is to eventually get every classic contest in here -- even the worthwhile public domain games. Additions are made every few weeks. Anyone who would like strategies pertaining to a game that doesn't yet appear should feel free to e-mail me; I'll make that game a priority and add it to this document right away, also e-mailing you this new item. This has worked well in the past.
The company denoted after each title is the originator of the game only; the platforms on which the game can be played are then listed. Every strategy or solution pertains to all versions, unless a particular platform is specified as part of an individual tip. If anyone has anything to contribute, please e-mail me. You'll obviously get credit.
My goal is to assist the player, not draw attention to myself as some kind of superior gaming intellect; any mistakes -- or tips in need of further elaboration -- should be pointed out right away. Again, you'll have my thanks and a mention. Enjoy! -- CF
ADVENTURE (Atari: Atari 2600)
1. The bat will be utterly trapped inside any castle if he's flying in a straight-up, diagonal-up or straight-across direction. As long as he's not heading downward to any degree, he won't fly out the gates; he'll just keep wrapping around inside the place. He can never deviate from whatever route he's on, inside or outside castles, going in ANY direction, without spotting an object to head for. This obviously means that you don't want anything lying around inside the castle to which you've chosen to sentence him (I suggest the smallest -- the Gold Castle). It also means that after you've grabbed him, you don't want to travel through any rooms with objects in them (or at least objects that lie below your position) as you carry him to the castle. Just because he doesn't break free of your grip doesn't mean his up-and-coming direction can't change. If he's spotted something he wants, his "intended direction" is altered, and he'll follow that new trajectory as soon as you let go of him, even if the object he's noticed is no longer in view. You can plan to make sure that all of the items you drag him past are to his north, just to make sure that he'll keep flying upward once you let him go inside the castle. (When you finally do this, make sure he's got an item that you'll no longer need!)
2. If you keep your cursor-guy pushing downward against any surface, a dragon can't swallow him. This goes for horizontal movement along the surface as well; just make sure to keep pressing downward at the same time you move (i.e. pushing the stick diagonally).
3. Near the northwest corner of the second White Castle room (the screen just above the first orange section) is a pathway that you can only access with the bridge. Sometimes the chalice lies inside the large hidden area that you'll find if you take this path. It's the skinny little corridor that "hangs down" to the left, not quite extending through the horizontal wall you run into if you keep going up.
AIRBORNE RANGER (MicroProse: 8-bit computers)
1. Deploy your supply pods after at least half the map has scrolled by; despite the extra weight, you definitely want all of your ammo and first aid available for as much of the upcoming mission as possible. It's easy to find three clear spots near the south end of the map on which to release them. Drop your Ranger on (or very near) the lowest pod; plan your general northward route based on the others' locations. The first thing to do before you even get moving is to look at the map and make sure all of your pods have survived deployment. Re-load the program and start over if you're missing any; they're all important to your success, especially at higher difficulty levels.
2. Your route should be a series of small advancements based on short-term plans; always check the map and figure out what you're going to do next. Moving forward blindly will just cause you to miss a supply pod or stumble in front of a bunker gun. A good rule of thumb is to locate the next nest or bunker near which your path will take you, switch back to the game, approach the structure, blow it up and return to the map to plan your next advancement. Always check to see where upcoming landmarks are in relation to your next target or pod. Reference-wise, ditches make good paths to stick to.
3. Start each mission by running; you won't see much action in the southern part of the area, so it's a good idea to get past it quickly so the timer won't be much of an issue during the business ahead. Approach nests and bunkers while running as well; it's much easier to attack and then retreat when you're in running mode. You obviously want to rest until your running meter's low enough to allow you to attack a bunker without being forced into walking mode before you're out of harm's way.
4. Use grenades on nests and time-bombs on bunkers; the latter structures can't be destroyed with grenades, but you don't want to waste your rockets, as they'll most likely be needed in the northern phase of the mission, where the actual objective lies and speedy destructions are more important. Mini-tanks, for example, are most easily destroyed with rockets.
An exception is the pipeline that must be cut with an explosion; save at least one time-bomb for this structure, and of course a few grenades for clearing away the minefield surrounding it (you don't want to arrive and discover that you're out of grenades and can't get through to the pipeline without sacrificing a ranger).
5. Nests and bunkers are most easily grenaded or time-bombed from the side; they can't shoot at 90-degree angles. Alternatively, blow up nests from the north; you won't have to hold down the button as long to throw the grenade. Whatever you do, don't stand still around any nest or bunker.
6. Go easy on the carbine; always keep in mind that you have very limited ammo. Use only as many rounds as it takes to kill the bad guy you're attacking. It helps to aim first, then fire; blasting the area in a circle as you rotate into position only wastes rounds.
7. If a baddie's crawling in a nearby ditch, send a couple shots his way just in case. He'll often decide to stand up just in time to catch your bullets, the poor sucker.
ASTEROIDS (Atari: several)
1. There's really no need to thrust away from your central position; this is obviously the best place on the screen from which to aim, and you can see the largest radius of space around your ship. Hyperspace is even less necessary than thrusting, as it usually results in a fatality; if you absolutely must get out of the center because it will take too long to rotate toward whatever's threatening you, always thrust instead of using hyperspace. Use short thruster bursts only; you don't want to get too close to the border or, even worse, lose control of the ship even for a moment.
The exception to avoiding thrusting is if a small UFO -- which takes accurate shots -- is on the screen, and you can't destroy it quickly. Make avoiding the asteroids your top priority as you fly; just use peripheral vision to fire at the UFO as you detect the direction from which its shots are coming.
2. Stay away from the edges of the playfield. Asteroids, especially small ones, tend to creep out of the invisible zone off the screen as they wrap around from one border to another. Screen edges are also likely places to get destroyed by newly entering UFOs.
3. Try not to shoot large or medium asteroids from too close; new fragments often fly right at your ship. The best large or medium rock to attack is one that's floating across your firing path at a medium distance (rather than one that's moving directly away from your ship); shooting while turning to follow its initial route will ensure that a good portion of its fragments are wiped out as well. In any case, it's always best to fire a series of shots at a big rock, rather than just one. You want as few tiny pieces remaining as possible before turning your attention to other big ones.
4. If a small rock's drifting right at your ship and you just about have time to turn and shoot it, don't panic and thrust out of its way; shooting at a rock that's practically on top of your ship still works in all versions. If it's not headed right for the middle of your ship (i.e. if it's going to wipe you out by "grazing" you), you can rotate so that it will fly right across your front tip, and shoot just before it hits. Even if it's slightly to the side, it will still blow up.
5. Destroy any UFO as soon as it enters. Look for it as soon as you hear the siren-like sound. The sooner it's gone, the less chance it obviously has of drawing a bead on (or splitting an asteroid near) your ship. The only thing that takes priority over this is shooting any asteroids that are headed right for your ship.
6. Try to blast a large or medium rock in the center; in all but the 2600 version, this lessens the chance of creating the fast kind of fragment.
7. If only a couple of small asteroids remain, resist the temptation to thrust toward them to get better shots; be patient and aim from center-screen. When a new wave of asteroids appears, you'll want your ship away from the borders.
8. If you've found yourself away from the center, use your shots' screen-wrapping capabilities to your advantage. You'll gradually develop a virtually instinctive knowledge of where your shot will wind up after it leaves and re-enters the screen; don't overlook this observational skill, as it enables you to destroy seemingly distant objects (and protect your ship in case those objects are about to wrap as well).
9. Predict your future surroundings. This gets gradually easier as you play; anticipate the asteroids' imminent positions by noting their trajectories. In the 2600 version, for instance, always shooting the rock closest to your ship (or the one that's about to reach your ship most quickly) can theoretically allow you to play forever, since the playfield allows much less room for your obstacles to wander -- and therefore escape your attention -- than in any other version. By contrast, the coin-op provides the most room for your enemies, and therefore the greatest chance of a small asteroid sneaking up on you from seemingly out of nowhere.
10. After you lose a ship, be immediately prepared to rotate and fire in the most important direction upon the appearance of its replacement; predict the routes of the objects headed for the center so you'll be ready to defend your new ship.
11. In the coin-op version, it's possible to "hunt," or destroy every asteroid but the final small one and then wait in the upper-left or right corner of the playfield, about an inch from the side, ambushing enemy ships as they appear. Keep your ship pointed downward; shoot along the vertical edge of the screen. Since an entering ship can be blasted before it even starts firing (especially once you've gotten your timing down), it's easiest to dispose of it as soon as it enters if you're aimed along the edge. If it comes in from the opposite border, simply rotate toward your close border and wrap your shot around the screen. Knowing the right angle takes practice, but it's well worth it; some people have played for over two days using this "lurking" technique. Even if the player has to take short breaks and sacrifice some ships, his reserve of replacements can be adequately built up, since a new one's earned every 10,000 points.
Of course, that last asteroid must be protected at all costs. If it's destroyed by an enemy ship, thrust to the center immediately with a short burst (or a few very brief taps) before the new asteroids smash your ship. To prevent this accidental conclusion to your lurking session, you might want to leave two small rocks instead of one; the trade-off is that this makes it twice as hard to stay out of harm's way as you wait for bad guys.
The lurking technique's possible in the Atari 7800 and 8-bit versions, although the diminished room for movement brings a faster end to your hunt than on the smaller-character, vector-drawn display of the original; an entering enemy's more likely to ram the last little rock before you even get a chance to aim. Attempting the trick on the 2600 is all but useless because of the same reasons, now even more significant. If you try anyway, you definitely want to leave two small asteroids on the screen; once one's destroyed, thrust to the center and take out the lone rock to start a new wave.
12. On older models of the coin-op, placing your ship in the lower left, as far into the corner of the screen as it will go without disappearing, will cause rocks and enemy shots to pass right through it without effect.
BATTLEZONE (Atari: several)
1. A familiar assumption is that you're helpless if a tank has been neglected long enough to fire at you. You're not.
A. In any version, if you hear an enemy shot and your radar scope tells you that the offending tank sits to your left or right, back up -- WITHOUT TURNING -- until you see the shell fly in front of your own tank. If the bad guy's to the side and a bit behind you, move forward instead, so the offending shell passes behind your tank.
B. If a tank in front of you has fired, reverse and turn at the same time; you want your tank's front end rotating away from the meanie as you back up (i.e. he should appear farther and farther to the left or right of center-screen). Don't let up until his shell zips across your view.
In the Atari 2600 version, use a different technique: Back up a little (without turning), then ONLY turn (no forward or backward movement), and finally move straight ahead (again without any rotation). The purpose is to literally get out of the way and see the threatening shell fly past the left or right side of your tank graphic. Backing up just enough, turning to "move" the shell's path away from you, and finally rolling ahead takes practice, but it's an exact science that can easily be picked up just like any other strategy. It's less effective the closer the affronting tank is to your own, so if you're going to be shot at anyway, put as much distance between the enemy's tank and your own before you finally hear his shooting sound.
2. When a you hear an approaching missile (or airplane, depending on the version), concentrate solely on rotating to bring it into your crosshairs. If you've definitely got a straight shot once it's finally assumed its final straight beeline toward you, it doesn't hurt to back up as you shoot at it. On all versions but the coin-op, it's possible to get more than one shot off if you're backing up; in any case, however, do your best to aim patiently and nail it the first time.
3. If you maneuver so that one of the ground obstacles sits between your tank and the enemy's, you'll be shot at without effect until he runs into the structure, at which point he'll turn slightly and back up to the right or left; now you can blast him before he gets the chance to rotate toward you again.
BERZERK (Stern: Coin-op, Atari 2600, Atari 5200 & Atari 8-bit computers)
1. In all home versions, the gap between your guy's torso and head perfectly matches the height of a horizontal enemy bullet. If you develop the light touch necessary to line up this invisible neck with an oncoming shot, it'll pass through harmlessly. It's easier just to dodge the bullet; but on faster screens, the neck trick is your only resort if you let a robot fire from a short distance.
2. If Evil Otto appears and robots survive but can't be shot in time, stand near an exit and wait as long as necessary (although you should obviously escape before being bounced-on); he'll often wipe out your elusive targets for you, earning you the exit bonus. You can even steer his route a little by changing your position.
3. Otto's more easily evaded by horizontal running than vertical (since he bounces vertically, not to mention the display's greater length than height).
4. In the Atari 5200 rendition, placing your man almost through the left exit will cause Otto to reverse direction, thinking that you stand to his right. He'll disappear for a few seconds after bouncing off the screen, but will eventually wrap around to your border; so split while you have the chance.
5. Always keep in mind that you appear in a new room opposite the side of the playfield through which you've last exited (just like you normally would when traveling from room to room). This allows you to start firing in the right direction as soon as the action begins anew. Remember not to hang out near your point of entry for very long; this is where Otto appears.
6. In the Atari 2600 adaptation, placing your man almost through the eastern exit will allow your shots, when fired through the doorway, to wrap around to the left side of the room, at which point they'll unfortunately disappear a couple of inches in. This is good for nailing robots that remain near the left edge, especially if they're the only ones remaining; you can invoke this bug and immediately exit with your bonus intact.
7. Remember that the robots can't fire diagonally in the 2600 version; take out as many as you can with diagonal shots before engaging them at their own firing angles (especially once their shots speed up to match yours later in the game).
8. A robot will only fire from one particular spot on its body. For instance, any robot firing horizontally will shoot from about halfway up its full height. During a stand-off, knowing where to fire in order to barely miss the head-on enemy bullet will guarantee your victory. Develop a habit of shooting above/below (for horizontal enemy fire) or next to (for vertical) the robot's point of fire, even if you're not sure whether or not it's about to shoot at you. Repeatedly blasting enemy shots with yours wastes time during which another robot will nail you (or Otto will show up). After firing your sneaky shot, move out of the way of the returning fire as late as possible; dodging too early will often lure the robot out of harm's way.
9. If you're on the other side of a wall from two or more baddies, stay still for a few seconds and see if one doesn't shoot its cohort (or walk into it, in non-2600 versions). This also works when you're a safe distance from a group out in the open, especially above or below (vertical bullets are easier for you to dodge). 2600 robots can be lured into walls if you keep in mind that they only walk to get you in firing range; they don't walk toward you.
BLUE MAX (Synapse: 8-bit computers)
1. Stay as high up as possible, especially if you're not playing at the "Beginner" skill level; the lower you are, the greater your chance of being shot. Stay close to center-screen whenever you can; you'll need to quickly bear left or right upon spotting a flashing target. Once you've learned the progression of landmarks, you can anticipate where the next flashing item might be and adjust your position accordingly.
2. The enemy planes' possible movement patterns transpire in a random sequence, but each is the same every time. Learn the altitude of each particular plane; you'll come to automatically know how much to climb or dive when the plane appears. For instance, one particular pattern sees an enemy flying head-on toward your own from the upper-left corner; there seems to be a higher chance of this plane being a flashing target than the others, especially in the Commodore 64 version. Learn this rascal's altitude; it's pretty low. As soon as you see his approaching shadow in the corner, you can quickly adjust your plane to blast him before he passes by or runs into you.
3. In the Commodore 64 version, land as far to the right as possible to prevent being bombed while refueling. You can get away with hanging your wing over the edge of the runway; as long as you're not so far over that you hit a tree, you're safe.
4. If an enemy plane comes up slowly behind you, don't try to find its altitude unless you're reasonably far to the side; one of the enemy patterns is to bank sharply after approaching from the rear.
BOUNTY BOB STRIKES BACK (Big 5: Atari 5200)
1. The following list of warps is excerpted from the Atari Gaming Headquarters' 5200 FAQ (thanks to Keita Iida and John Hardie). Specified are each screen number and title, the item(s) Bob has to acquire, the keypad number to subsequently hold while pressing the Start button, and the level on which Bob will wind up.
1: Bob's Morning Calisthenics - flower pot/1/to level 4
2: Utility Hoist - aliens & paint roller/3/to level 22
3: The Suction Tubes - goblet/4/to level 15
5: Jumping 101 - coffee pot/8/to level 18
10: The Gravity Lift - pitchfork/5/to level 14
16: Advanced Suction Tubes - tube 1 (to left) & pie/9/to level 19
CENTIPEDE (Atari: several)
1. Stay away from the left or right edge of the screen whenever possible, especially if the Spider hasn't entered yet; this is where it bounces in.
2. Collision with the Spider is the main cause of death in this game; avoiding it is therefore your primary concern. As it approaches you, get beyond it by darting under it (never over), since it can't travel back in the direction from which it's come. This technique works really well when you have other concerns, such as Centipede bits in your area. If you like shooting the Spider whenever possible like I do, just make sure not to rely on guessing the duration of its leaps. Wait until it's pretty high before you move under it and shoot it. It's safer to dash underneath and fire as it's descending; if it's moving upward, it could instantly surprise-drop, colliding with your gun.
3. Don't shoot Fleas except when evasion's impossible. Remember that, as in most any game, you'll eventually score higher with longer survival; leave these particular targets alone. Let them drop their mushrooms so they stop appearing, and just clear away the lowest mushrooms they leave, since these are more in your way than those higher in your movement zone. Keeping the latter around will maintain the minimum mushroom count while keeping your area reasonably free of obstructions.
4. Shoot the Scorpion as soon as you have a shot. Always wipe out any poisoned mushrooms that are reasonably in range. If there are other mushrooms in the way, whittle through them gradually, never focusing completely on them. Poisonous mushrooms are never appealing to keep around, especially once the game has progressed to the point at which a lot of heads enter the screen individually. If it's too late to stop a linkage from hitting a tainted fungus, move your gun under the mushroom and rapid-fire the whole chain into oblivion as it dives toward you. This scores a lot of points, since a new head instantly replaces each zapped one, and heads are worth ten times more than normal segments. ("Rapid-firing" indicates holding the button down, unless you have a very fast trigger finger.)
The reason for which Scorpions should be shot quickly, besides their mushroom-poisoning, is that they advance you a full thousand points toward an extra gun in your reserve; this is the equivalent of shooting ten Centipede heads. You might not get more than one shot at it, depending on how busy you are with closer things. Always watch for possible collision with the Spider or lower Centipede parts while aiming for the Scorpion, a poisoned mushroom or any high target. Focus on evading the lowest enemies as your highest priority at all times.
5. If a chain of segments of any size is gliding right over your gun, aim first for the tail and rapid-fire as you move toward the head. Do this while as close to the creature as possible, enabling faster repeated shots -- but watch out for mushrooms in the Centipede's path, since you'll have to move away before it hits and descends. Never destroy an attached HEAD when your gun's right up near it, since the trailing segments will hit the new mushroom and drop onto your gun. Shooting TOWARD the head (i.e. starting with the tail and moving to each "new" tail in succession) prevents this.
A chain of Centipede parts should be kept intact as long as possible anyway, since it's only one big target to worry about instead of a lot of short, faster ones.
6. By creating two columns of mushrooms with a small but adequate gap between them, you can set up a tunnel that will confine the Centipede to a downward zigzag (slower than a poison-mushroom dive). This takes practice and good aim, but it's well worth it; it enables you to position the gun under the tunnel, hold down the fire button and clear away the entire entering Centipede or group. Since new heads grow in place of those shot, this also builds up your score very quickly. Although the technique's easier to achieve in home versions, it's still possible to get the ideal tunnel in place on the coin-op playfield, wiping out Centipede after Centipede as they come in. If you've heard of anyone playing for hours, this is most likely how he did it.
The only time you might have to move (besides to slide under each Spider as it passes) is to clear away a new mushroom, dropped by the Flea, that obstructs the Centipede from entering your tunnel; or if a stray head gets away and you shoot it in the middle of the screen, causing the same blockage problem.
7. If a Centipede or segment has hit bottom and more heads are coming in than you can keep up with, don't give up; stay alive as long as possible and keep shooting things, because chances are you'll get enough points to gain an extra gun before the demise of your current one; each new head's worth 100 points. If you're going to die anyway, why not increase your score as much as possible first?
8. As a general method, rapid-firing isn't good for you. It's much easier to time your shots (and shoot close targets that threaten your gun) when the fire button isn't being held down.
9. Don't instinctively move the gun as you aim for a head or linkage that's reached your movement zone. Stay low and stationary and just shoot it as it glides overhead. Move straight up or down only to avoid other dangers.
10. This game gives you the opportunity to react to more than just images. Take advantage of this. Try to spot a new bug and note its trajectory as soon as you hear its individual sound.
COUNTERMEASURE (Atari: Atari 5200)
1. Try your best not to approach pillboxes from directly below; always keep in mind that your vertical shots don't reach nearly as far as your diagonal and horizontal.
2. Halt or retreat to a position out of firing range rather than rolling ahead and hoping that a nearby enemy doesn't fire before you do. The most reliable method of survival when a lot of guns lie ahead is to back off (or stop moving forward, at the least) after taking out a target, position your turret for the next one, and then roll north again, shooting continuously in one direction (optimally at a diagonal angle) until one of your shells finds its mark. Keep an eye on the enemy gun's constant rotation as you approach; if your timing's unlucky and your route's going to bring you into the line of fire, simply halt and wait for the offending gun to revolve past your position. Watching the enemy shot's duration as the gun tries to blast your tank will allow you to discern the dangerous spot (not to mention how far your own shot will go).
3. Remember that your tank's safe as long as it doesn't sit at a direct 180-, 90- or 45-degree angle to an enemy gun, whose positions are limited to the standard eight. For instance, waiting below a pillbox and a little to the left or right, just out of the vertical line of fire, won't place you far enough to the side to be shot from a diagonal angle. The effectiveness of this strategy diminishes as you get closer to your target, due to simple geometry: Any "pie slice" of the compass narrows as the center's approached.
4. When a tank or jeep appears, keep shooting while moving toward it; remember that its firing range is half your own. You'll get it before it gets you. These enemies are time-related nuisances and nothing more. Just don't let one exist for very long.
DARK CHAMBERS (Atari: Atari 2600)
1. If you're having trouble leaving a level, shoot every Spawner (the things that bad guys come out of); exits are often found underneath. Something's always hidden under them, in fact.
2. Grab every key you spot, even if you have to walk around through another section to reach it. Extra keys will serve you in good stead.
DECATHLON (Activision: Atari 2600)
1. During the Pole Vault, hit the button a few times rapidly to release the pole instead of just once. You'll go higher.
DEFENDER (Williams: several)
1. In the Atari 2600 version, Mutants and Baiters will land on your ship from above without actually colliding. This happens mostly in later waves; early on, they don't even necessarily head for your ship once they reach its longitude; they'll often just give pause and then pass by (especially if your ship's thrusting). If the ship isn't moved upward with one of these aliens on its roof, you won't lose it. No bad guys are capable of directly vertical or horizontal shots in this adaptation.
2. Stay aware of all off-screen baddies behind your ship by checking the scanner, especially when reversing or not thrusting. Not only will this prevent an unexpected collision, but it will enable you to line up for a shot at an unsuspecting alien before you reverse.
3. Forget that your hyperspace capability even exists. It seldom keeps you alive and, in any case, very rarely improves your situation. Even during Humanoid abduction, it's more useful to glance at the scanner as soon as you hear the cry and then thrust quickly to the scene than to take your chances with hyperspace.
4. Smart bombs should be conserved for dire emergencies or absolutely packed screens, especially those containing two or more Pods; the best reason for conservation is that a bomb provides your only means of destroying a Lander that's too far away to blast before it reaches the top with its captive. The bomb will also clear out any obstacles that hinder a rescue attempt. Self-sacrifice to prevent a mutation is only advisable if you're past the easy waves and there are less than three living Humanoids (and if you have at least one back-up ship left, of course!).
5. If a Mutant or Baiter has found your longitude and is now rising or dropping toward your ship, reverse direction at least once (more might be necessary, depending on how far you've gotten in the game), fly well past the attacker (taking care to avoid collisions) and then reverse again, lining up for a shot as your ship floats toward the screen edge behind. Destroy the alien before it notices your new position and comes after you again. For some reason, ship reversals momentarily daze these two alien types. Reversing more than once confuses them even more, and you can reverse repeatedly as they float away and then stay still and blast them. This doesn't work as well in the 2600 game.
6. Shoot a Pod from a distance to avoid crashing into the sudden deployment of Swarmers. From a full screen-length away, you can usually shoot the whole batch of new pests before any reach your ship. In the 2600 version, it doesn't matter where you shoot a Pod from, as its Swarmers are deployed in random spots and can often appear behind (or on top of!) your ship. To prevent this, fire as repeatedly and as quickly as you can when destroying a Pod, in hopes of making your ship "invisible" as your laser replaces the main ship graphic. You're nearly invulnerable if you don't let up on that fire button for even an instant, and you have a fraction of a second to move up or down if a Swarmer has indeed appeared in your ship's spot. Only shoot 2600 Pods with your ship's tail to the extreme edge of the screen, so your thruster works at full power and you can immediately fly to safety if necessary.
7. It's worth using a smart bomb if two or more Pods are on the screen at the same time, since you'll not only rid yourself of all Swarmers that would have appeared (except in the Commodore 64 version), but you'll also score 1,000 points per Pod, plus the values of whatever other aliens happen to be in view; you'll get another smart bomb at the next 10,000-point mark anyway. Either way, Swarmers are tough (except on the 2600), especially with other enemies around; potentially saving your ship is much more desirable than saving a smart bomb.
8. If only one or two Humanoids survive, remain directly over one or the other and don't fly too far; guarding the last potential victims prevents planetary destruction, and entire waves of Mutants are the most difficult points in the game.
9. After the 2600 planet's exploded, shooting Mutants is easiest if your ship's facing left and you pick off the groups as they zoom up, adjusting your altitude slightly to follow the diagonal rows as you fire. The rows always slope downward to the left; it's easier to shoot constantly while moving slightly downward than while moving upward.
10. If nothing threatens your ship in an early wave and you see a Lander descending toward its victim, wait for the kidnapping instead of preventing it; then rescue and re-deploy the Humanoid, scoring 1,000 points plus 150 for the Lander.
11. When any wave begins, don't worry about Bombers or Pods (unless you spot a condensed group of the latter that you can bomb before the real action starts). Landers always take precedence. Besides, having Swarmers AND condensed groups of firing, kidnapping Landers around is just asking for frustration.
12. The tiny bullets are more of a threat than alien collision, excepting maybe Swarmers in non-2600 versions. Don't put your ship in a position to be shot at without room for evasion; maintain a distance from your targets whenever you can. Learn to stay aware of all enemy shots on the screen; avoiding collision with aliens is much easier and more instinctive than steering clear of those little white dots.
13. Line up your shots, THEN fire. This might sound ridiculous at first, but reaching the general latitude of your target before shooting saves precious time, otherwise wasted as you "home in" on a baddie while hammering the fire button. Aiming first also makes it easier to avoid crashing into something, especially if you're flying past a few other aliens in the meantime. You don't have to stop thrusting for very long to line yourself up; the "aim first" technique can be implemented at incredibly fast speeds once you get the hang of it. Blanketing the screen with lasers is fun, but it leaves more room for enemy slip-throughs (especially in the case of the average Lander, which abruptly dips and climbs as it follows the angular horizon in most versions) and makes the detection of enemy bullets more difficult.
Lining up with a target that's off the main playfield but spotted on the scanner will allow you to fill its general altitude with laser death just as it appears in your area. This works especially well with Mutants not yet onscreen.
14. If other dangers abound (or someone else is being kidnapped) and a Humanoid's falling from a reasonably low altitude, focus on the more pressing things rather than trying to catch him. If you hear him splatter, you judged wrong. Learn from experience. (This strategy should obviously be disregarded if you're past the easy waves and there are less than three living Humanoids.)
15. Unless a Humanoid's in trouble, clear the screen of all Landers before moving on, even nailing the new ones that materialize. This will give you less to worry about later, when there might be more than one abduction at distant ends of the total area if you've let too many Landers survive.
16. If only one 2600 Humanoid survives and you still have a few Landers to take care of, guard the Humanoid, let him get captured, and then rescue him and carry him around with you. Only one Humanoid can be in the sky in this version; no abduction will be attempted while you're carrying one. (Also in contrast to all other versions, if you get killed with a passenger, he's returned safely to the ground.)
There's another sneaky way to use these 2600 Humanoid limitations to your advantage. If a lot of Landers and Humanoids exist, you want to prevent any abduction from transpiring at a site that you might not be able to reach in time. Just catch a Humanoid and, again, keep him with you. The downside, especially in earlier waves during which you don't have to worry about kidnappers ascending too quickly, is that you miss out on the points you would've racked up for rescues.
17. Use the scanner ardently. It's vital for locating and even preventing kidnappings; it's also requisite while lining up your ship to anticipate approaching aliens as you traverse the planet. As stated earlier, the radar also protects you from any surprise rear attacks (except in the 2600 game, in which aliens can only move toward the front of your ship, no matter which way it's facing). If you see a Lander ascending very quickly with its victim (or even just about to reach the top), simply position your ship as high as possible and fire repeatedly while speeding ahead. Chances are you'll shoot the Lander just in time. If not, you'll be in an ideal position to destroy the new Mutant.
18. In the Atari 2600 version only, as briefly mentioned earlier, repeatedly shooting very rapidly causes your ship to practically disappear as it's constantly replaced by the laser graphic for a fraction of a second. If you don't let up on your fire-button staccatos during a possibly fatal moment, an alien brushing your ship (or an enemy shot) won't end your turn. Sometimes there's less time to move or turn around than to simply do this.
19. While creating that rendition of the game, programmer Bob Polero got around the problem of the single button on the Atari joystick by requiring that the ship be moved up or down past the boundary and into an invisible row for hyperspace or bomb access respectively. Moving your ship into the city or scanner so that it disappears provides a breather; aliens can't attack while it's hidden like this, even if they wrap around through the top or bottom. Remember, however, that Humanoids can still be captured, so if you're planning on taking a long break, don't be surprised if the planet's gone when you come back! In the lower strip, your ship remains out of harm's way even without a city there.
Unfortunately, a Humanoid can't be taken along, even into the top hiding place (hyperspace isn't allowed when the ship has a passenger, so it can't move through the top boundary). Touching the lower boundary, of course, deposits the Humanoid; however, if you can maneuver directly below him as he's falling and catch him while your ship's positioned within the cityscape, he counts as caught -- giving you those points -- but not deposited, until you pull up and away from the city. Catching a Humanoid in this manner and then sinking underground will give you a true pause in the game. Aliens will float harmlessly overhead; there's still technically a Humanoid away from home, so no abductions will occur.
20. Use smart bombs more indulgently than usual in the last outer-space wave prior to reaching a new planet, especially if you don't have many ships left. Dealing with a depleted bomb supply is worth not losing a ship to some Mutant gang-up just before you make it to the much safer planetary area.
21. After you've scored 990,000 points on the coin-op, each destroyed alien earns you an extra ship. After you pass a million, however, you have to "earn back" the lives you've attained before any further ships are awarded at the usual 10,000-point increments.
22. Aliens will often change direction if your ship turns its back on them; they're attempting to attack you head-on, oblivious to the fact that they have to orbit the entire planet to do this. If you encounter a tricky villain, try reversing as if you're planning to head away; then adjust your position and reverse again to blast the gullible creep.
DEMON STALKERS (Electronic Arts: Commodore 64)
1. Levels 65 and 66 (The Matrix I and II): In 66, look for the southern ends of three vertical corridors, bordered by an impassable wall to the east. The first corridor is longer than the middle and eastern ones, which are equal in length to each other. The first and third are empty, but the middle contains ghost vortexes. To the east of the impassable wall are corridors whose northern ends contain upward stairways. Counting from the left, take the fifth.
In 65, on the second "floor" (counting from the bottom), go to the east and exit.
Now, in 66 again, you're looking for a group of vertical corridors whose northern ends, which contain upward stairways, extend progressively more northward to the east. (A bit to the east of this whole group can be seen a backwards 7-shaped mini-hallway containing three vortexes and a downward stairway.) Locate the corridor with the one gap not big enough to get through in its western edge. Counting to the east from this corridor, which is "one," take the fourth stairway up, and then follow all "no choice" routes. For any choices you do have to make, go east.
2. Level 73: Fourth from last, bottom row.
3. Level 96: Unlock the top row. Save as many keys as possible.
4. Level 100: Destroy all four vortexes to render Calvrak vulnerable to damage from your shots. Don't take the amulet -- it will paralyze you. The chest contains a banquet. If Calvrak returns to his Pentagram, it means that one or more vortexes still haven't been destroyed.
DINO EGGS (Micro Fun: 8-bit computers)
1. Start a fire as soon as possible. The best place is always the ground at the bottom of the playfield, as it always wraps around from border to border and you won't inadvertently block your own future passage. Grab any eggs hanging from the surface that's going to support the flames; you don't want to lose points due to a wandering new hatchling cooking itself. In any case, remember that you can start a fire anywhere you please. Pick up the first piece of wood, find a platform that you won't need to access in the near future, and drop it there. Then just fetch the other timber and hurry back to the first, combining them to buy yourself a lot of time. Remember not to drop boulders that hang directly above a fire from any platform, no matter how high up, or it'll go out.
If you're still working on completing a level when the fire's timer reaches 2, set about starting another one if the wood's available. If you do find yourself without a fire and the giant mom's preparing to stomp (which she'll do even when fires exist in the endlessly repeating 9th level), hang out near the left or right border (watching for bad guys who might have to be avoided) until the leg retracts and you can scramble for whatever you need. Keep doing this until all eggs are definitely accounted for and you can leave, grabbing bonus points for leaving zero eggs behind. (Remember that after you've grabbed a power boost, you can carry twice as many eggs at a time.)
2. When you're far from the portal and eggs hang near it, drop any that you're carrying and wait until you can grab those near the safe spot. This reduces the risk of losing eggs to a villainous creature during your long hike, especially on higher levels.
3. On levels 0 through 3, send all boulders tumbling down as soon as possible. Not only will this increase the chances of point-earning hatchlings, but you won't have to delay your later exit by searching under rocks that might turn out to hide nothing at all. From level 4 onward, this isn't a good idea, since dinos hatch more frequently and the spiders suddenly become hungry.
4. Here's an excellent method for racking up an average of 90 points per level early in the game. First, make sure that level 0 starts with four pieces of wood. If this isn't the case, start the game over. Now start a fire at ground level, removing any eggs on that surface before or immediately after. These are the only eggs you want to bring back through the portal for the rest of the level; you'll score much higher for trapping three hatchlings at a time. While you're waiting for each "dino hatching" alert, you can kill time by jumping through the dropping spiders' strands of webbing. The annoying arachnids might only be worth a point apiece, but they add up to atone for any score subtractions in your future.
When the first fire's timer reaches 2, start another one, taking care to position it on an egg-free platform that you won't be accessing. Once that fire's nearly dead, collect any eggs that haven't hatched and leave the cliff. You can do this until the spiders start capturing baby dinos on level 4, at which time it's best to just grab as many eggs as possible and leave the cliff as soon as you can, waiting to kick away each boulder until no exposed eggs remain on the screen.
DONKEY KONG (Nintendo: several)
1. Although it might net a few extra points, grabbing a hammer is almost always a bad idea; just concentrate on beating the screen. As you're standing there with the hammer, unable to climb ladders or jump, the bad guys are accumulating around you and making it tougher to navigate once the hammer disappears. Also, your bonus timer's counting down while you're wasting time trying to find things to smash.
One thing to keep in mind while playing the ColecoVision version is that you can't die by running off the edge of any surface on the Ramps board. If you feel the need to grab the hammer, at least you can quickly get rid of it by simply walking off the platform.
2. Be patient on the Elevators board. Nothing's really chasing you here; the fireballs are sparse and can be avoided, provided that you wait for any upcoming baddie to climb away from your next target surface. Wait long enough prior to boarding any moving platform so that you can time your jump carefully; you don't want to fall too far before you land on it, or you'll be starting over from the beginning of the screen anyway.
3. There's a bug in the ColecoVision version: Jump when a barrel's rolling above you near the edge of its ramp, about to drop. You'll score points for the jump. You can then turn around and actually jump it after it falls, scoring more points.
4. Always climb instead of jumping if you have the choice (especially when dealing with fireballs), keeping an eye on the surface above for enemies that might choose the ladder in question instead of rolling past. There's no harm in waiting for things to pass by.
5. Mario will usually miss the platform and die if he jumps too far to grab the left hammer on the Rivets screen. In the ColecoVision version, however, he'll bounce off air and return safely to the platform, hammer in hand.
6. ColecoVision player Joe Huber recommends trying to set off a bug to see if your version of the cartridge contains it. (There are several other bugs in this adaptation, but they're excluded here because they don't help the player under any circumstances.)
"[On any Ramps board], move Mario up the first broken ladder and then bring him back down. Walk him to the left so that his back is almost touching the same broken ladder, and then move him a step or two to the right and jump. Depending on the version you have, he'll [either] fall through the bottom and land in screen 2, or after several seconds he'll appear on the top girder next to Kong."
7. As you approach the point where the springs fall on the Elevators board, wait a few seconds at a safe distance and watch the pattern. Before continuing, also note the position of the last fireball and plan out what you're going to do throughout the rest of the board, all the way to the girl.
In the Commodore 64 version, for instance, there's a point at the right edge of the gorilla's platform at which Mario can pause and wait for the spring to bounce over him. Just climb the ladder to this surface and stop. After the spring flies over harmlessly, run to the left without hesitation. If you don't stop, the next spring will bounce overhead as well. Now reverse direction (back to the right) and climb up to the girl.
8. On the Pie Factory playfield, climb up onto the first belt immediately. Wait to see which direction the first fireball likes, then climb up the other ladder to the center. Now immediately try to get to the top of the screen. Your back-up plan involves the short side platform with the least amount of fireballs near it.
9. In the Atari 2600 game, if you're headed for a rivet and a fireball's chasing you, jump. You'll usually make it over the rivet this way instead of being overtaken from behind, and removing the rivet will of course bar the burning baddie from following you any further.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (Parker Brothers: Atari 2600)
1. I achieved a high score of 23,188 in Game 1 by employing the following strategies.
First of all, in this and most any game that allows fast firing with virtually no pause between shots, get used to leaving your thumb on the fire button instead of lifting it, even when you're not pressing it hard enough to shoot. You can fire much more quickly if you just wiggle your thumb while keeping it resting on the button. (Actually holding the button down almost never allows the firing speed that multiple depressions do -- and it definitely doesn't in this game.)
Fast shooting is especially important on Hoth; keeping the button down and relying on automatic fire just won't cut it. Absolutely vibrate that fire button. Each Walker requires 48 hits before it's vanquished, and an infinite number of them, in groups of 5, will be marching with increasing speed (up to a certain maximum speed, of course) toward the far right side of the total area, where the Rebels' unseen power generator lies.
2. At any given point during your session, the foremost Walker should be yellow. The closer any Walker is to destruction, the slower it progresses; those behind it have no choice but to slow down themselves, since one can't even come close to catching up with its leader (as per the game's programming). When you start, fly up to the first intruder and pelt it until it's yellow; then fly to the last one and destroy it altogether. Now, when the next group's leader appears, turn that one yellow. Return to the second Walker and systematically destroy all four remaining in the first group (front Walker last) before turning your attention to the second group. Turn those behind the second leader yellow until another fifth Walker shows up, which should again be destroyed so the third leader appears and can be reduced to minimal speed. Use this pattern as often as possible throughout the game; in any case, the leading Walker should always be yellow and one eye should be kept on the extreme left side of the radar screen. A long gap between Walkers indicates that the one to the left is the first in a new group, so even if you've lost track, get over there and slow it down before you do anything else.
The first Walker takes priority over everything, of course, if you hear the warning signal that indicates the imminent destruction of the generators.
3. Shoot the Walkers from behind; it's easier to dodge their shells and you have more surface to aim for. Get in as many shots as you can, anticipating the Walker's next blast, and then move up or down just a little to prevent being shot yourself. The Walkers' gunners are always about a half-second slow regarding your ship's position.
4. If a Walker has just shot at you but another requires your attention, keep the shell on the screen as it "chases" you. Since only one enemy shot can be onscreen at a time, you'll get an extra second or two to rivet your new target as the old shot seeks a screen border.
5. While pummeling a yellow Walker, attempting to finish it off, keep shooting quickly as it explodes. If you get eight shots in before the monster disappears completely, another "color" will advance and it will explode again, earning you twice the normal points.
6. If your ship hasn't been pushed the usual inch or two by an enemy blast, don't touch the joystick for a second. Many hits, especially those resulting from horizontally fired shells that meet the front end of your ship, don't register at all; but they will a split-second later if you're moving.
ENCHANTER (Infocom: several)
1. Here's the solution that requires the least number of moves. Suggested saving positions follow certain sections, making it easier to remedy chance-based delays or misfortunes.
ne.n.open oven.take bread and jug.s.ne.se.ne.fill jug.drink water.fill jug.sw.se.sw.sw.s.gnusto rezrov.ne.ne.e.e.learn rezrov.rezrov chains.e.frotz book. 
s.s.e.s.open door.n.examine wall.take block.e.take scroll.gnusto exex.w.s.up.e.e.s.se.learn nitfol.nitfol turtle.turtle, follow me.nw.n.e.up.learn exex.exex turtle. [The following two commands should be included on the same line.] turtle, go se.bring me the scroll.
take scroll.down.w.drop book.w.take lighted.take candle and scroll.e.take book.gnusto ozmoo.w.w.w.n.n.n.n.e.e.e.e.e. 
learn rezrov.rezrov gate.n.take scroll.gnusto krebf.e.look under lily pad.gnusto cleesh.w.s.w.w.w.w.w.s.s.s.s.eat bread.up.enter bed.wait [until you fall asleep, unless you already have].get up.examine bedpost.push button.take scroll.gnusto vaxum.down.n.n.n.n.up.drink water.learn rezrov and krebf.take egg.rezrov egg.krebf shredded.gnusto zifmia.down.learn zifmia and vaxum.e. 
[Walk east and west along the Hall of Mirrors until you see the Adventurer.] zifmia adventurer.vaxum adventurer.show egg to adventurer.e [until you reach the Guarded Door].adventurer, open the door.n.drop egg.take map and pencil.s.w.s.
follow tracks.reach in hole.n.gnusto gondar.w.w.w.w.w.s.s.s.s.e.s. 
down.s.e.ne.se.connect f to p.wait.disconnect line from v to m.disconnect line from v to f.eat bread.sw.connect m to p.drop map and pencil.take scroll.drink water.nw.w.n.up.up. 
w.up.enter bed.get up. [Restore position 4 if anything's been stolen from you while you've slept; your inventory should contain six items.] learn ozmoo and zifmia.down.n.n.w.drop all but candle.
e.s.s.e.e.e.n.n.n.n.ozmoo me.wait [until the guards retrieve you].zifmia guard.down.open south door.s.take candle.n.w.w.s. 
cut rope with dagger.open box.take scroll.drop dagger.n.w.w.take all.e.s.s.e.e.e.n.n.melbor me.n.e.e.learn gondar and cleesh.eat bread.drink water.kulcad stairs.izyuk me. 
e.gondar dragon.cleesh being.guncho krill.
FATHOM (Parker Bros.: Atari 2600)
Here's Scott dfdhf 's excellent map, which can easily be used to beat the game (trust me!): (C)2001-03 by Scott Stilphen
GHOSTBUSTERS (Activision: 8-bit computers)
1. In the Commodore 64 version, enter Owen as your name and 41001640 as your account number to start with $802,100.
2. Also in that version, overlapping your two men before firing will freeze the ghost if he's directly above them.
3. To get by the Marshmellow Man, wait for his leg to kick up and then run under his center. Be warned that lining yourself up too close to him will get you squashed sooner than you'd think.
4. The best car to acquire is the last in the catalogue, since it's the fastest and speed is your best strategy.
5. Get the PLC system. It's basically a LOT of traps.
HAUNTED HOUSE (Atari: Atari 2600)
1. Learn the map! If you know which doorways will be locked and which won't in the particular variation you've selected, you'll have no trouble making a quick, thorough search of the house and you'll hardly ever get trapped by a nasty.
2. Don't obstruct the Urn from your one-object inventory by grabbing the key. You don't need it if you follow the above advice.
3. You don't have to use up any further matches once you've assembled the whole Urn and you're on your way out. (This tip's only relevant if you're basing your best score on minimal matches.)
KABOOM! (Activision: Atari 2600 & 5200)
1. It's possible to "beat" the game by achieving 999,999, the maximum score. The only manner in which I've heard of this being done is as follows: Trail the Mad Bomber everywhere he goes, accurately duplicating every single move he makes and therefore arriving at each latitude a split-second after he's been there (and hence catching every bomb). This takes a lot of practice and isn't as much fun as just trying to follow the trails of bombs, but for you dogged members of the Bucket Brigade: It can be done.
2. Here's my own strategy of choice -- the way I put the surprised expression on the Bomber's face upon reaching 10,000. Let your eyes dart up to the score every so often; try to anticipate your next extra life once you've reached the 900s (in whatever thousand you're on). If you have all three buckets, lose one before the extra's awarded. You'll start your next chance on the previous level, gaining that many more points at no additional difficulty and immediately getting your lost bucket back.
LASER BLAST (Activision: Atari 2600)
1. It's possible to play an endless game: Just get the pattern down. It doesn't take much practice and it's simple to execute. Immediately position your ship all the way up and directly over the left base's starting point. (A positive side-effect is that you won't experience psychological encroachment when you're forced upward a few waves into the game -- that "increasing difficulty" has been superseded.) Now fire three shots: the first straight downward as soon as each wave begins, taking out the left base, and the next two diagonally to the right, blasting the others as they move into your laser's path. You don't have to move your ship at all (in fact, this will be detrimental); remember that when the fire button's down, you're in aiming mode and your ship won't move. The only way to get killed once you've acquired the feel for this pattern is to stray from it or wait too long at any given point.