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2010: The Graphic Action Game (Colecovision) artwork

2010: The Graphic Action Game (Colecovision) review


"Even by the humble standards of 1984, 2010: The Graphic Action Game is light on action, none of it particularly graphic, unless you consider circuit board stills especially rousing or obscene. Worse, the misnomer does not end there. If you were to create a game based on the film 2010: The Year We Made Contact audiences today might suppose you dim, but in the early 1980s the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey was anticipated enough to get a Colecovision project bearing its nam..."



Even by the humble standards of 1984, 2010: The Graphic Action Game is light on action, none of it particularly graphic, unless you consider circuit board stills especially rousing or obscene. Worse, the misnomer does not end there. If you were to create a game based on the film 2010: The Year We Made Contact audiences today might suppose you dim, but in the early 1980s the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey was anticipated enough to get a Colecovision project bearing its name greenlighted. The result, striking out in the categories of both film-faithfulness and graphic action, will certainly touch most as quaint. Excuse its good-natured deceit. It's not half bad.

Perhaps the biggest complaint with 2010 is that age has made it appear primitive and esoteric. It might be neither, but it's tough to call this wrong. "Graphic" depictions are limited to a space station presented in blueprinted skeleton form, whose length requires scrolling to fully see, and up close circuit views when a damaged area of the station's body is cursor selected. There, a single screen "action" sequence ensues, where you must replace damaged equipment with the corresponding component, then guide electricity through the refinished hardware, avoiding both bounding solar flares and shortcircuiting feedback loops while powering each element.

This makes it sounds a bit more technical and complicated than it is. There are only three components (each vaguely representative of the familiar RLC triad) that need cycling through, and in any case its quite obvious which component was blown. Electricity flows through the circuit by holding a button press and lifting the press to slowly ebb. At nodes (junctions in the hardware) current will pause and await a direction unable to recede (feedback loops will blow the circuit, so plan carefully). Especially during these pauses, but at any other point, the 'head' of the electrical current is susceptible to solar flare contact, causing re-damaged circuitry and starting the process anew. What the flare adds is comparable to its application in Qix, deceptively frustrating but only a nuisance part of the time. Upping the difficulty level realizes two spastic, unforgiving flares at 2010's worst.

All of this is done in an attempt to keep the space station elevated, fixing circuitry in different schematic areas to keep it afloat. Each section of the station requires a certain percentage of circuitry functioning, and dipping below that mark in an area may leave you feeling grounded on a game over screen. Care must then be taken to selectively fix the station, distributing work efforts throughout. Without documentation, it'll be hard to get a feel for how this works aside from trial and error, hence the understanding of any esoteric complaint.

It'd be hard to go into greater detail than this -- the space station is dubbed Discovery, the moon it hurtles toward Io. Who is there to save the day but a trusted, nameless engineer to rewire and reboot, exactly like in 2010: The Year We Made Contact, if such events had actually occurred in the film (likely cut because, as the title implies, the action noteworthily graphic). But none of it changes the fact that 2010: The Graphic Action game is, against instinctual judgments, actually rather entertaining despite its simplicity, incorporates niche subject matter, and happens to me to be even more enjoyable because of that niche. That may not ring as the sincerest endorsement, but if you've got nothing against Qix and its careful timed avoidance of spasmodic objects, this is certainly a clever and recommended twist on the formula.

Rating: 6/10

LowerStreetBlues's avatar
Community review by LowerStreetBlues (March 11, 2010)

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bloomer posted March 13, 2010:

Funny, I didn't realise anyone made a game of the film, let alone for the Colecovision! Looks and sounds a little bit like Short Circuit for the Apple II.

I watched the film again the other day on bluray, and it's still quite good, but its US-Russian politics are specific enough that people will say it has dated a bunch.
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zigfried posted March 13, 2010:

When I saw 2010 in theatres at the tender age of 8, I considered it quite wretched, and I've remembered it ever since as one of my worst film experiences. I must admit my motive for requesting this review was pure morbid curiosity. As soon as I saw the screenshots, I knew this was nothing like what I had expected. It sounds like the developers realized they were stuck with an un-gameable license and came up with something else. Although simple by any reasonable comparison, this looks more sophisticated than most games I recall playing on the 2600 way back in the day. Then again, Qix was too sophisticated for the 2600, too.

//Zig
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Suskie posted March 13, 2010:

2010 is probably my favorite book and it always bugged me that they took all of the coolest parts out of the movie. I'd accept the excuse of the story being too outlandish if I hadn't seen what they'd already done to 2001's ending.
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zippdementia posted March 13, 2010:

This is ironic, because I think it was Bloomer who once yelled at me for starting a feedback thread that didn't actually give feedback.

Getting back to the review in question, I think it's a pretty good review but it needs some tightening up. The following line is just one example:

"(likely cut because, as the title implies, the action noteworthily graphic)"

I don't know what that means and I think the fault lies with sloppy grammar. I've reworded the opening to be a bit easier to read as well:

"Even by the humble standards of 1984, 2010: The Graphic Action Game is light on action unless you consider circuit board stills especially rousing or obscene. If you were, today, to propose a game based on the film 2010: The Year We Made Contact audiences the world over might suppose you dim. However, in the early 1980s the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey was anticipated enough to get a Colecovision project bearing its name greenlighted before the film was even released. The result, while not offering much in the way of excitement, will certainly touch most as quaint."

As an aside, I really like this line:

"Excuse its good-natured deceit. It's not half bad."

But it just doesn't make sense where you've put it. Otherwise I enjoy your brief touching on this quaint little jaunt.

Note, the point of the rewording isn't to tell you how to write, but to give you a counter example as to how some of your phrasing can be confusing or ponderous at times during the review.
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zigfried posted March 13, 2010:

It's not ironic, because Bloomer read the review before posting. That's what he yelled at you about -- making a thread without reading the review.

Re 2010 the book, I never read it. I always had trouble making it through Arthur C Clarke's stuff for some reason, but he's certainly written quite a few things that are still very, very highly considered. So I will assume that the book is indeed better than the film.

//Zig
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Suskie posted March 13, 2010:

It would be ironic if Bloomer had started this thread merely as an excuse to tell LSB how wrong his opinion is. But he didn't, so it's not.
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LowerStreetBlues posted March 13, 2010:

Preferring more conventional sentence structure and idea flow -- your central point, I think Zipp -- is just fine and good general advice. I'll counter your suggested rewording, however, to give you an idea why I didn't do it like that:

"Even by the humble standards of 1984, 2010: The Graphic Action Game is light on action unless you consider circuit board stills especially rousing or obscene. If you were, today, to propose a game based on the film 2010: The Year We Made Contact audiences the world over might suppose you dim. However, in the early 1980s the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey was anticipated enough to get a Colecovision project bearing its name greenlighted before the film was even released. The result, while not offering much in the way of excitement, will certainly touch most as quaint."

You're introducing subtle inaccuracies with fast and loose language. Saying audiences "the world over" would think something is always wrong. Saying this was released before the film is possibly wrong (I admittedly didn't check -- did you?). I think it will touch people as quaint, but I can't say that certainly.

Additionally, I don't like how plain the above reads, the fact that you edited my plays on the "graphic" nature of the game entirely (making the "rousing" and "obscene" remarks meaningless, yet still there...), the awkward way the second sentence reads like a second attempt at an introductory line and the isolated and unnecessary 'today' offset in it, on top of the introduced inaccuracies.

So we are going to disagree here.
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bloomer posted March 13, 2010:

Reading the review was how I learned about the game's existence on Colecovision, that it was tied to the film (I never guessed that from the title) and how I assessed, based on how LSB described it and the screenshots he supplied, that it looked and sounded like Short Circuit. Thus what I said was all in response to reading this review, and evinced it. I don't wanna start sounding paranoid about this but seriously, this is what that other argument was about. All I ask of the first post is to show evidence of reading the review and responding to it. The furthest path from this one is to not read the review and also post one's own argument which runs counter to the argument contained in the unread review. That's why I got so het up.
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zippdementia posted March 13, 2010:

The point, as I said, wasn't to give you THE DEFINITIVE VERSION of how a rewrite should look, but maybe I wasn't clear enough. So I'll go into more detail. Here's your original:

"Even by the humble standards of 1984, 2010: The Graphic Action Game is light on action, none of it particularly graphic, unless you consider circuit board stills especially rousing or obscene. Worse, the misnomer does not end there. If you were to create a game based on the film 2010: The Year We Made Contact audiences today might suppose you dim, but in the early 1980s the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey was anticipated enough to get a Colecovision project bearing its name greenlighted. The result, striking out in the categories of both film-faithfulness and graphic action, will certainly touch most as quaint. Excuse its good-natured deceit. It's not half bad."

First sentence. Putting two years right next to each other is confusing. It's not critical, but there are so many ways around it that it seems you could find another way to say this.

Also first sentence. You say the game is light on action, none of it particularly graphic. Do you mean none of it is graphically represented? Because that's not what it reads as. Graphic, as you use it, seems to be depicting more of a violence thing. But that doesn't make sense. Why would we care if the game was particularly violent?

Then you say that it's worse that the misnomer does not end there. But you never really say what's worse about it. It sounds like you're going to make a point about how it's based on a film that's no longer popular, but your next sentence excuses this by saying that it was popular for its time.

Then you say the game is quaint, which is a "neither-here-nor-there" thing to say. Quaint carries connotations of something that is charmingly odd. It's kind've a positive thing to say about something. But right after this, you ask the reader to excuse the game. Why should we excuse it for a compliment, even if it's a weak compliment?

I tried to address some of these issues in the rewrite. Hopefully this is more helpful.
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zigfried posted March 13, 2010:

The name of the game is "2010: The Graphic Action Game", so if the game lacks action, and if the action included is not particularly graphic, then that's an interesting point to make. He's not assuming we care about violence. He's assuming we noticed the title of the game and formed some preconceptions based on said title. It's about as far from graphic (in the action/violence sense) as possible, but it's marketed as a "Graphic Action Game".

The above ties into the statement about quaintness. He says it's quaint that a game named "2010: The Graphic Action Game" would have little to do with 2010, and little to do with graphic action. He asks us to excuse the game its deceit, not to excuse the game entirely. He's made no claims that the game as a whole would require any excusing.

I'm not sure how else to put this but... it's an intellectual observation that you didn't get. Please don't be offended, as such things go over my head all the time. I happened to have the preconceptions LSB is poking fun at.

I agree that the "worse" statement could be clearer. The conclusion to that thought arrives at the end of the paragraph (it's a misnomer because the game is not faithful to the film). I don't think it's a big deal, but it's true that it's usually best to conclude a thought immediately after it begins, rather than to insert an extra sentence in between, especially if the extra sentence's connection to the thought is tenuous.

//Zig
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LowerStreetBlues posted March 13, 2010:

I tried to be polite in defending myself and show how carefully thought I am. It should immediately say something that I can read a simple restructuring and see exactly how it contorts and misrepresents deliberate language. The truth is you can take anything and nitpick it to hell (I demonstrated). It's not the most sultry graph I ever wrote but it wasn't an attempt either (then you take offense when I nitpick your non-definitive attempt (making another reference to irony in this topic!)).

I'm not playing the rebuttal game, not for reviews about 1984 Colecovision games, not when half the problem stems from trying to make a dead subject moderately interesting. More has now been written about my first graph than I wrote about the game itself. That's a shame. I considered and addressed your feedback. As stated, we disagree.

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zippdementia posted March 13, 2010:

Well, the graphic thing I'm slapping myself in the face about. Somehow it just missed me. I really can't explain it. I think it has something to do with reading online, sometimes things that should be obvious just get lost. My bad on that one.

The other points are still valid, though, especially the quaint line. It is a real throw off at the start of the review. If it seems like I've taken a lot of time to critique your opening paragraph, LSB, it's because the opening is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of a review. If someone doesn't like your opening, chances are they'll jump to the end of the review, check the score, and move on with their day. It has to grab people and not be confusing if you want people to keep reading. It may seem nitpicky, but if there was ever a 'graph to be nitpicky about, that's the one to do it with.

I'm not the voice of final authority, nor do I think of myself in that way. But if I can at least get you to think critically about your opening here, it might help you in future reviews. And that would be good.

Bloomer: touche on your response by the way! I knew you'd probably rip me a new one after I said that, but I couldn't help ribbing you a little bit. I'm only human and I'm on the internet, which makes me bolder than I probably should be.
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LowerStreetBlues posted March 14, 2010:

Please stop. We disagree, as stated. I'd argue more important parts of a review include detailing the game accurately, having a clearly expressed opinion and showing why that opinion is held to the reader. A few lines in a supposedly wonky introduction -- that Zigfried grasped exactly, by the way -- will at worst have an interested audience skimming ahead.

Please show the respect to let the author have the last word and stop posturing as an authority (then saying you're not doing the same), telling me what the most important part of a review is IN ALL CAPS as if it were a science. We disagree there, again. I already demonstrated I am thinking critically (more critically than you, even) in dissecting where even simple changes alter my intended meaning (which, again, Zigfried grasped exactly). Please leave me alone.
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aschultz posted March 14, 2010:

Man...this thread kind of gave me a headache.

I know I'm constantly wondering if I should bring to mind something small I saw in a review I overall liked, or if internet friends here do the same for my review. It can get in the way of genuine progress. I also find there are a lot of reviews I just like and can't bring myself to say mutual admiration society sorts of things about.

I wish there was some way we could flag our own reviews for if we wanted an in-depth critique, because reviews like this are just fun to read beyond the interesting "Wow! They made a game out of THIS?" reaction, and the realization there's some odd retro stuff I certainly haven't seen. & I'd hate to see a bad experience or two discourage a writer from turning out more stuff like this.
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Felix_Arabia posted March 14, 2010:

This topic goes to show that not all feedback is worthwhile. The writer -- and the reader -- must know this. It's simply a matter of separating the wheat from the chaff, as the saying goes.
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zippdementia posted March 14, 2010:

Oh, well, I wasn't aware you felt so strongly about my feedback. I guess I'll just go away, then.
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randxian posted March 14, 2010:

Wow. How in the world do you come up with enough material from that movie to make a video game?

I agree that having the world "Graphic" in the title is simultaneously both misleading and weird. After reading that, I would expect to see more than a bunch of circuit boards.

I also believe Zipp is only trying to help, but I think the problem is he just launched into everything that's wrong with the review. This is EXACTLY why I always make sure to include at least a couple of positive aspects in every critique.

Besides, he submitted a review of a game most of us probably never heard of. Hell, I didn't even think a game about this movie was possible. It's not like he's getting paid. He took the time and effort to research and report on a really obscure game. Yes, he - and most of us - could improve as writers, but would it really kill anybody to say "thank you" or show some sort of gratitude toward people giving info on obscure/unusual games?

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zippdementia posted March 14, 2010:

I don't know if that's what happened, but if it wasn't clear before everyone should know that I don't just take the time to critique random reviews. I critique reviews that I think have merit and writers that I think have real potential to improve. I think I also said early on in this thread that I thought this was a good review that needed tightening.

Honestly, what I think happened here was that I posted a rewrite trying to demonstrate some things and that the focus became centered on that rewrite, when really I didn't want it to be. I was trying to illustrate a couple key things that throw me off in the opening and it was interpreted as a battle of styles, which it shouldn't have been.

At the same time, though, I am willing to respect when someone says they aren't getting anything out of the criticism, so I won't go any further. And no hard feelings or bridges burned, either. I still think LSB has great talent and I'll continue to provide feedback for his reviews.
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randxian posted March 14, 2010:

I think I also said early on in this thread that I thought this was a good review that needed tightening

Yeah, you kinda did. But the "this is a pretty good review" line felt empty because you then launched into what was wrong with it. There was no depth as far as the strengths are concerned.

By the way, my rant above wasn't aimed at you specifically; I've confided in some people privately about how I feel sometimes writers' efforts aren't really appreciated.

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zippdementia posted March 15, 2010:

Well, like I said, I'm done talking about this. It isn't fair at this point, because now there's been more posts about what I've said about LSB's review than about his review itself. That kinda sucks and wasn't my intention. Sorry, LSB.

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