Valadon Automation's 1983 Pickin'

Move colored blocks around, then break the joystick off of the machine and slam your fist through the monitor.

Okay, maybe not those last two.

The idea behind Pickin' is to pick up colored blocks, and move them into dead-end sections of the maze that are the same color. Sounds simple enough.

The problem is, those areas are already filled with blocks of the wrong color, and you have to move them out - one at a time - before you can put the correct ones in.

Making life even more miserable for you is the Disturber which will run around the maze, moving blocks around, often undoing what you just did. If you run into it, you're dead. After your bonus timer runs down, the aptly named Killer will come out after you too. Then there's the Transposer. This little jerk will come out and send you flying across the maze. Often into the path of one of the other two pests.

As you move all of the correct blocks into a section, you're given a trap, which you can move around the maze and block the path of the Disturber. It will also trap the Killer for awhile.

Oh, and there are also these crushing jaw-things at various locations in the maze that you should probably steer clear of.

Missing Ingredient

Having a number of traps to use when you want, instead of just when you fill up a colored section, would have helped a lot. This game is ridiculously hard. I had to set the number of lives to 5 just to get to the second level. Supposedly, there are bonus levels, but I have yet to see one.

There's actually a list of improvements about a mile long that would help this game: being able to carry blocks over the top of other blocks, not letting the Disturber undo finished sections, better joystick control, a hyperspace-like escape button, and so on. As it is, the game is just frustrating.

Pickin' could have been a great blend of puzzle and maze games. It's too bad that a concept this good, fell so far short in execution.

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


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