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Coconuts - The Atari Times


This game will drive you...berzerk
by Darryl Brundage

August 16, 2005
Thought I'd use a different adjective there, right? :)

Telesys, R. I. P., I say thy name with reverence. This 2600 software company emerged at the wrong time, not long before the video game crash of 1983 - 1984, which was a shame, as they were quite a fine company...so much that I pretty much place them up there with my other favorite 2600 companies of Activision, Imagic and Starpath. They only created half a dozen games, and, aside from not spending millions in television ads to promote them, they mostly relied on word of mouth and good reviews from the press, as I still have a letter from them dated August, 1983 (which I had written to them requesting one of their catalogs, which I also still have), stating that their games cost $15.00 each, which was a good deal, as they passed the savings onto the consumer. (The letter also stated they were going to start making games for personal computers as well; argh, the thought of the POSSIBILITIES that could've happened with greater memory, resources and power than the 2600 at their disposal!)

They weren't really innovators, as most of their games were copies of others: Stargunner was Telesys' version of Defender, Demolition Herby was Amidar or Pepper II, Coconuts was their version of Kaboom! (somewhat), etc. But the games were mostly well-done, having fun, simple gameplay and usually very good graphics for the 2600. Also, at least half of the games they released (Coconuts, Ram It, and Fast Food) had a pause feature in between waves, which was good, since the 2600 didn't have a pause button itself, and only a handful of games for the system had this luxury feature (I guess you could call it).

One thing that might have hurt Telesys' sales, though -- besides the crash, I mean -- is that a lot of people probably judged their games by their covers and passed them on by, thinking they were stupid and/or kids games, which they weren't: the cross-eyed Demolition Herby (with a wrecked police car behind him in his wake; shame, shame!), the kid hanging onto his teddy bear on Cosmic Creeps (not to mention the equally silly name of that game), and the nerdy guy on the cover of Coconuts (who you would probably feel like giving a wedgie to if you saw him in real life) probably didn't help, yet none of those games were aimed at small children. (Actually, in my Telesys catalog, it *does* claim that Coconuts is for pre-schoolers and young gamers, but that's just flat-out wrong, since the game gets far too difficult far too quickly, and there's really nowhere to go from there.)

I'm not a hardcore collector, and aside from getting a (hopefully!) complete Starpath collection someday, I really don't feel a need to get every game ever made from ____ company, although I might consider it for Telesys just to be able to have it. I USED to have Demolition Herby, but an ex-friend lost it (jerk!!!), but I still have Ram It and Cosmic Creeps, which I want to get Stargunner and Fast Food...but I'm still not positively sure I want this game or not.

Why not? Well, to back up to what I said a couple of paragraphs before, where I stated their games were "MOSTLY" fun, as Coconuts is fast and furious, all right...but it's difficulty level ramps up in too much of a hurry, unfortunately.

In this game, you must control Stanley I. Presume (oh lord...and someone please smack whoever wrote that bad joke), who, on the box cover, is a more nerdy, older (which makes him scary as well) version of Harry Potter, but with bigger glasses and a hole in one shoe (yeah, bet chicks just *really* dig him), gleefully trying to dodge coconuts from "Coco, the crazed monkey" (as it says in my Telesys catalog). Actually, due to this and the gameplay, it seems like he's having TOO much fun hanging around Coco, but...no, I think I'll leave out an obvious Michael Jackson joke here.

Anyway, luckily Stanley in the game doesn't look anything like the Stanley ("I presume?") on the cover, as he isn't nerdy-looking, although he IS dressed in a blue outfit with brown shoes, so he's still a bit of a fashion misfit, at least (but oh well, he's a *guy*, we usually don't give a (*#! about having matching "outfits" [a word that isn't in a guy's vocabulary as far as describing our wardrobes anyway, so I'll let that one slide). He's also carrying an umbrella, which is also blue...hmmm, I don't know which is worse, having a guy wearing a non-matching outfit, or having an umbrella that DOES match pretty much everything else...anyway, Stanley's severely well-drawn for a "person" on a 2600 game, unlike those without faces or features (but huge noses, like the "players" on Basketball) or ones that are pint-sized (like in Montezuma's Revenge). Actually this game has great graphics, with nice shades of brown for the palm trees, the coconuts that Coco tosses have a shimmering effect as they fall down (which were probably left over from an evil experiment, which I'll get to) and you can even see the expression on Coco's face (which, as I stated in my Berzerk review, is a reason why I hate smiley faces, as you KNOW that damn monkey's gotta be up to something).

Unfortunately, even with as fast and easy it is to guide Stanley (I *think*; I played this on an emulator, so I can't really give an accurate rating on how the controls respond, although they seem to work great on a computer), the game itself isn't as fun as Kaboom!, plus it's harder and less rewarding as well.

The gameplay is like this: Coco starts tossing coconuts at you. He must have escaped from a government institution as the result of being the victim of the usual experiment gone wrong, as he (somehow) is able to teleport at lightning speed (after getting past a couple of levels) in between the two onscreen palm trees. He starts tossing nuts at you (maybe he thinks you're a nerd with the brown shoes, or a nerd because of the mostly-matching umbrella and all) and you must dodge them; if he hits you once, you lose your umbrella, another hit takes away your hat, and then getting beaned a third time means it's the end of the game for you, so go back to picking up chicks then, you stud-monster (cough, choke) you.

The game isn't as amusing as catching bombs as on Kaboom!, though, as it's more fun to catch bombs on that game rather than avoiding them on here, and it's difficult to reach a multiple of 500 points in order to earn your hat or umbrella back. Within no time at all Coco is jumping from tree to tree so blindingly fast he's probably going to cause a fissure in the space/time continuum and end up warping on board the Enterprise with Kirk and all (and tell Spock I said hi and to loosen up).

On the flip side of the nail-biting gameplay, the sounds are also decent, with Stanley's feet pattering around and Coco's noises that he makes, and then there's the (aforementioned) pause in between waves, although it's a bit of a strange one: Coco just starts bouncing up and down while making a kind of clicking noise...but he doesn't jump from tree to tree any more. A bit bizarre, but at least it's GOT a pause until you activate your controller.

The game is addicting for a while, but even though I've yet to hit even 5,000 points on Kaboom!, I can still play it from time to time, all these years later...whereas on Coconuts, I deleted the ROM in less than one day of downloading it (like I'm *supposed* to anyway [rolls eyes]). But like I said earlier, I might eventually get a copy of this game anyway, just to have a complete Telesys collection, once I acquire the other games that I'm currently missing.

Almost a nice try, guys. I would've rated the game a little higher if there weren't the better-constructed games before it of Kaboom! and Lost Luggage, but not by much. Oh well. Five out of six games being decent isn't bad! But this game is.

"Only half the fun, but just half the price of Kaboom!" the print ads for this game could've read, which might have suckered a few people into buying it just to see if it was as blah as it sounded (although it would've also attracted the attention of Activision's lawyers, so I guess Telesys was better off in that regard). Down with monkeys!


(c) Telesys

Yes, it is.
I've got my umbrella!
Now my hat...
Ack! No protection now!
System: 2600
Publisher: Telesys
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 95%
Sound & Music Score: 80%
Gameplay Score: 75%
Control Score: %

Final Score: 58%

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