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DoctorSpuds Reviews Things - Death Trap (Avalon Hill)


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Due to some unforeseen and extremely annoying computer troubles my upload schedule is probably going to be even more erratic than usual. I think I just need a new laptop.

We’re back with Avalon Hill today, and my goodness we have quite a stinker! Death Trap is one of the most lackluster shooters I’ve ever played, and I will savor every minute I spend tearing it apart. In my opinion this is my least favorite of the five games Avalon Hill released on the 2600, actually it may fall on my list of most disliked Atari 2600 games in general. I don’t have anything to pad out the first paragraph with so I’ll just move on to the meat of the review.

This game got my hopes up; one look at the title screen makes me think of greater things than what I wound up being presented with. The title screen is quite nice, the title itself is rendered quite nicely in blue and the font really looks very good for the 2600, but it’s soon after that where the flaws begin to show. This game has the worst flickering of any game I’ve seen to date. There are three colored lines separating the player’s ship from the large blue space station, and another line beneath the player’s ship. The lines quickly flicker through several different colors causing a disorienting strobe effect on your TV, and it just looks plain disgusting on an emulator. The player ship also flickers something fierce, seriously this game just looks nasty. You’ll find that the flickering worsens as you get further into the game, as more and more little blocks begin filling up the lines the flickering just get’s horrendous. The overall design for the player’s ship is fine, it would be decently animated if not for the flickering, and the enemy space station is impressively large. In summation… this game get’s an OW out of ten for the looks, how about the sounds?

Well… they ain’t good, actually they’re pretty terrible. I can deal with minimalist soundtracks if the sounds are at least implemented well, Death Trap does not do this. All you’ll be hearing while playing this game is the wonderful generic Atari engine sound, nothing but a constant grating noise as you battle the forces of monotony. You’ll also have several annoying beeps as your erstwhile companions but you’ll likely never notice them since they’re drowned out by all the noise, noise, noise!

Death Trap is not a very fun game, I’ll admit that the idea that this game puts forth is interesting to say the least, but in no way does it constitute fun. All you have to do is shoot two gun turrets on the bottom of the space station, then one more, and the game is over, but it’s not that simple. Every hit you land on a gun turret will place a little grey block on one of the lines that separates the turret from the ship, these little blocks are impenetrable and will stop your shot dead in its tracks when hit. The turrets will also fire seeking plasma balls that follow you to a tee and can only be evaded by moving quickly to the side as the ball’s horizontal speed isn’t as fast as yours, but it’s close. Speaking of speed, let me tell you about something this game lacks in abundance, speed. Everything apart from the plasma balls seems to move in slow motion, your shots crawl up the screen, and the moving blocks seem to move at a snail’s pace. By the end of the game you will be nodding off from everything that’s not going on, and this is where Death Trap really annoyed me, you can guide your shots by holding down the action button and moving with the joystick, I didn’t know this and therefore beat the game on the easiest difficulty without guiding my shots. I deserve a medal, oh look that’s exactly what you get when you beat the game, a picture of a medal.

Ugh… I don’t really like this game, if that hasn’t become quite apparent. It’s slow it’s monotonous, and despite having a good premise it’s just plain boring. Death Trap is easily my least favorite shooter on the 2600 only being trumped by the one and only Skeet Shoot. I got my copy for 25 dollars, and for a game of this rarity that seems a fair enough price, but please… Just don’t. Collector’s Zone for sure, I can think of no better place to put this game.

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