Stern's 1982 Tazz-Mania

You control a naked frog with a machine gun. Of course, it usually goes without saying that video game frogs are naked. Frogger doesn't seem to be wearing any pants, for instance. But at least he's not showing any butt-crack.

Well, you can't say that about Tazz-Mania. Butt-crack city. (Sorry... I got sidetracked a little butt. I mean "bit".)

Anyway, Tazz-mania is pretty similar to Robotron. It's a free-form shooting gallery where you walk around a room and kill everything that moves, and everything that doesn't. Each wave has a unique type of attacking enemy, plus Little Hoppers that just sit around and wait to be gunned down. Why they're called Hoppers is anyone's guess. They don't really hop.

The graphics are pretty typical for 1982, butt with plenty of variety in the how the enemies look and attack. (That should say "but". Not "butt". Sorry again.)

I mean... why is he wearing shoes, but no pants? I don't get that.

What makes Tazz-Mania unique is a clever addition to the gameplay. The two side walls are constantly moving inward, so not only do you have a limited amount of time to clear a level, but your maneuvering space is continually being reduced. There are only two ways out of the room - so you'd better be near an exit when the walls collide.

Also, you can collect bombs during bonus levels that will kill the attacking enemies (except Hoppers) and stop the walls from moving. (Smart bombs would have sure been handy in Robotron.)

Missing Ingredient

Better controls. Tazz-Mania would have been a pretty good Robotron knock-off if they'd just swiped one more element from it - the dual joystick controls. (The joystick/spinner combo from Tron would have worked even better.) In Tazz-Mania, you stop moving whenever you fire, which makes aiming and shooting a chore. It's also dangerous since you're constantly coming to a halt, which makes you an easy target.

No butts about it.

Thanks to Jeffrey Carl at ServInt for providing the space for CinemArcade


All content © Dave Dries unless otherwise stated