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 The Final Word game review

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Defender 2000 -- Atari/Williams/Llamasoft

Llamasoft (Jeff Minter) pushes an arcade classic to its limits in Defender 2000 for the Jaguar in three exciting ways of play. "Defender Classic" features the arcade hit of the early eighties, "Defender Plus" displays mesmerizing colors with the option of droid fighters, and "Defender 2000" presents the ultimate challenge, with more colors, power-ups, and two levels of skill. Only you can save the humanoids from the alien invaders.

The glaring problem with Defender 2000 is that it isn't Defender. Yes, the object is to save the humanoids, and yes, you can fly left and right -- however, Defender 2000 feels very wrong. D2K's backgrounds are yucky, and the blazing speed renders it almost unplayable. In fact, the only way to speed around the level without dying every millisecond is to have aquired all the power-ups, and even then your fate is questionable. As for the music, let's just say that Tempest 2000 was Imagitec's magnum opus and, most probably, a fluke -- Defender 2000's cliched techo falls somewhere between I-War and T2K (closer to I-War). Also included in the cartridge is "Classic Defender", which is awesome, and "Defender Plus", which is pretty cool. It's a shame that these two versions are the gems of the cart, and "Defender 2000" is the handicap. To access the hidden game "Plazma Pong", enter "NOLAN " (last character is left blank) in the score table. The only reason D2K scored so high is the fact that "Classic" rules and carries the cart.

There is no question in my mind that I am severely dissapointed with this title. I found the "Defender 2000" mode virtually unplayable unless you play strictly by the radar screen (I could get that kind of action on a 2600!). "Defender Plus" is a bastardized cross-breed of Defender: Stargate and the "2000" mode. The only thing that makes this cart an instant sell for me is the "Defender Classic" mode. Years ago, the arcade title Defender was one of my favorite games, I even boasted the infamous Defender callus on my left middle-finger. This translation of the original seemed pixel perfect, and I easily recalled all of the old strategies I had mastered some 15 years ago. My only complaint with the "Classic" mode here is that "reverse" and "thrust" are on the joypad unless you happen to own the 6-button controller... but hey, you can't have everything! As for playcontrol in the other modes... let's just say, you can't reverse your ship if you happen to be holding down the fire button at the same time (ICK!). If you are a die-hard Defender fan, this is the definitive home conversion... While not a system seller like Minter's past work (Tempest 2000), this game will hold appeal to a select group. Is there anything good about the non-classic modes??? Yeah... the music is pretty good... I know my numbers on this game are really screwy since one mode would bring up the numbers while another would drive them down.

>>>>> 37.5/50 <<<<< E.Phoenix R.I.P.
Graphics 3.5 4.5
Sound 4.0 4.5
Gameplay/Control 3.5 3.5
Longevity/Playability 4.0 3.0
Overall 4.0 3.0
Total 19.0 18.5