Pigs in Space
Pigs in Space, a collection of 3 games was the last game to be released in Atari's children's line. It's based on the skits of the same characters from the old television show, The Muppet Show.
I was never a fan of the Muppet Show, but I do remember watching it growing up and I remember some of the Pigs in Space skits. The three games on the cartridge are variations of other well known games released around the same time. Each game features a different Muppet character.
The first game is called Chicken Invaders and as you can guess is a take on Space Invaders. The game has you take control of Captain Link Hogthrob. Chickens are invading planet Cluck and it's your job to stop them. Moving left and right on the bottom of the screen, you shoot (or throw) sausages at the chickens. You have to dodge the chickens eggs that they drop at you. If they hit you, you turn into a chicken yourself. At times during the game, Gonzo will cross the top of the screen in his spaceship. Shoot him for an extra bonus.
Gameplay here is no different than Space Invaders, except that perhaps the movement here is a little more sluggish than I remember last time I placed Space Invaders on the Atari.
The next game is called Pastaroids and you take control of First Mate Piggy. Your objective is to get her back to the Swinetrek ship. To do this you must enter the pastaroid field and dodge oncoming pastaroids (i.e. meatballs) and noodles. If you've never played this game, just think of this as another version of Frogger. Pretty much the same thing, only less fun. This is the weakest of the 3 games in my opinion.
The last game as part of the Pigs in Space package is Escape from the Gonzoids. You take control of Dr. Julius Strangepork inside the Swinetrek and your objective is to navigate the ship through each level (which is an abandoned pizza mine?), shooting (or avoiding) the attacking Gonzoids. Your ship is equipped with a Boomeray, a shot that goes vertical and then curves off to the left or right depending on the direction you press on the joystick. Your ship's movement is sluggish and it takes a bit of time to get used to the controls. Plus if you touch any part of the red walls you instantly lose a life and have to start all the way at the beginning of the level. As you advance your way through the mine, your score will constantly roll and get larger. Shooting the enemy robots grants you additional points added to your overall score.
This isn't the best Atari 2600 game I've played, but at least it does offer some variety. Escape from the Gonzoids is my favorite of the three games, followed by Chicken Invaders and then finally Pastaroids. The first and last games offer a bit of a challenge, but I've always thought Pastaroids was rather easy and I would grow tired of the game very quickly.
If you're looking to purchase this game for your collection, beware that the purple label on the cartridge is hard to find in really good condition. At lot of times you'll find the label to appear oily looking. The game isn't common, but it's not rare either. Prepare to pay anywhere between $8 and $12 on the secondary market for a loose cartridge.