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Jawbreaker II (Apple II) artwork

Jawbreaker II (Apple II) review


"Jawbreaker 2 left me wondering: how small can a maze game be before it's not really a maze game any more? It lowers the bar further than I thought possible, as you run a clacking pair of teeth through five rows of dots with roving trap-doors between them. For all the cheery graphics, there isn't much to do, and yet it's more sophisticated than Jawbreaker, that silly clone of Gobbler, with enemies who actually get faster and smarter. Still, it's one of those games you can't b..."



Jawbreaker 2 left me wondering: how small can a maze game be before it's not really a maze game any more? It lowers the bar further than I thought possible, as you run a clacking pair of teeth through five rows of dots with roving trap-doors between them. For all the cheery graphics, there isn't much to do, and yet it's more sophisticated than Jawbreaker, that silly clone of Gobbler, with enemies who actually get faster and smarter. Still, it's one of those games you can't believe cost $30 back THEN.

Your clacking teeth start in the center row, as four smiley faces, presumably jawbreakers, roll into sight in the others. Getting to the power pills in the corner is no big deal, and you can chain a few pills together for the big bonus. The usual Pac-Man rip-off stuff happens. Enemies run once you eat power pills, power pills last less long, enemies get faster, and you get new treats in the center, too. Win, and you get your teeth brushed. Levels go quickly, and the main worry is getting trapped against the edge. No two monsters can appear in one row, and so they need the advantage of being able to go off the edge when you can't. All very cute, and there's a cut scene every four levels. Unfortunately, it's barely animated and doesn't change. Your teeth bounce into a dentist chair, and a scary machine lowers and cleans them.

Soon, Jawbreaker 2 becomes a game of waiting for holes to zoom past, often in corners. Enemies start to sense you and turn around at later levels, so you can't just trail them. Around level five, the borders don't change colors to warn you when a power pill is wearing off. If you get in a rhythm, you can clear levels until they stop changing, because the game keeps priming you with extra lives to make up for when your teeth go splattering to the ground, or when you forget you pushed up, which trumps horizontal movements.

Jawbreaker 2 might be just another game you'd make dumb mistakes on and say you could've figured if you wanted. Its introduction screens stand out, though. Chuck Bueche, AKA Chuckles of Origin, ported Jawbreaker 2 from the Atari personal computer, and all he could really add was your teeth chasing a jawbreaker to reveal first the title screen and then how points were scored. It even let you choose keys to move and stay still. He tried to make it not-suck, but the effort didn't show until later. Chuckles contributed to Ultima and later wrote a game of his own, a delightfully nonsensical dystopian sci-fi RPG called 2400 AD. You know, you should probably play that instead, enjoy his twisted sense of humor, and be glad he didn't play it safe with Jawbreaker 3. It would likely have been something horrendous like a text-adventure maze-gobbler game.

Rating: 2/10

aschultz's avatar
Community review by aschultz (July 12, 2009)

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