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German Grab Bag

A look at 3 German Homebrews From the Double Aughts
Mini-Reviews of Pac Nestor SE, Traveler 7800, Halloween Cartridge 2007

"Pfeffernusse" - German Pepper Balls or Nuts

There is a German fellow that hangs around the Atari Age forums that goes by the handle Gambler... but I'm sure his mother still calls him Walter. His love for the Atari 7800 can not only be measured in trolling for the system and slamming Atari 5200 fans, but also in the completed games, projects, hacks and demos he has made for the Prosystem. Here we will look at some of his first from back around 2005-2007. I will score them on a scale of one to five Pfeffernusse (German pepper balls)

Pac Nestor SE

"Pac Nestor SE"
Another Pac Hack!
On the old site, we gave Pac Pollux, a Ms. Pac Man graphics hack, a favorable review, and this a "sequel" to the French cartoon- Pollux, or Nestor... or something. I'm not sure what the source material is. But I'm sure its great. Confused? Me too. I won't dive into the back story for the third time on this site, but Pac Nestor SE was a project Gambler did on his own. You play as the dog this go around (I think it's a dog... his name is Nestor), and this sequel features two different mazes. The graphics are quite a bit better than the Pac Pollux, mainly because of the color scheme. I'm sure there are a bunch of inside jokes floating around this game... but I have no idea what a Nestor, Pollux, or Dieu is. Bonus scenes feature inside humor, and it makes me feel stupid and alone because I just don't get it. Floating bonuses I'm sure have relevance to the French cartoon... but the uninitiated may mistake them for sexual innuendos and "toys".

Basically, music and all... this is a Pac Man game. The most interesting aspect of this title is actually a very clever idea. Some of the dots that need to be eaten to clear the mazes go through the Ghost Box (That sounds like a great name for a band... hmmmmmmm...). It takes a some strategy to decide when is the best time to go for the kill... and at times it can be exhilarating. This game and Pac Pollux have some issues with collision detection and simply just running though the maze. Unlike Ms. Pac Man, it is possible to get "lost in space" and be off the rails at certain points. The paths at times are not clearly defined and it can be frustrating when you get off track, but this is a minor qualm, though. If you like the Pac-Nestor cartoon, you will probably enjoy this. If not... maybe one day he'll release a Homestar Runner or better yet, an Aqua Teen Hunger Force - Ms. Pac Man hack for us Yankees. Then, we'll laugh like hell when we see the Foreigner Belt bounce around the maze.

Funkmaster V verdict: 3 Pfeffernusse

Traveler 7800 (Game Cart)

"Traveler 7800 Game Cart with the lovable Mitch"
Traveler 7800, or "Travi" is a 7800 cartridge that has been sent all around the world to the Atari 7800 community. It was more of a community building excerise, like "Flat Stanley" or having a pen pal, more than a game, really. Popping in the cartridge provided a broken English message and a picture of the world. You were supposed to look at all of the knick-knacks that the other Atarians put in the package, sign a ledger and take your picture with it at a locale you think is special. This evil thing picked up some bad habits somewhere and crapped on my floor and tried to do something naughty with a girl, but after I mailed it off, I kind of missed the little fellow. Then, just like he arrived, he disappeared off the face of the planet. No one knows where Travi is. Thankfully, Gambler felt our Post-partum-esque pain and made some fake "Travi's" with an actual game inside for the rest of us.

When you bought the mass produced Travi game, there was some random loot that came in the package like old times (I got a killer patch featuring Travi). The game's title screen features Travi bouncing back and forth to some convoluted music. The game itself is very similar to Secret Collect from Homestar Runner. Secret Collect is a terrible game that was intended as a spoof on how lame some of the Atari 2600 titles were. This little guy is better, thankfully. You are charged with the task of guiding Travi around a tight maze to reach his destination. If Travi makes contact with a wall, your turn is done. Travi scoots along at a fast clip and cannot be stopped, so you have to have good reaction time to clear a maze. Gambler made most mazes simple in the beginning, and then threw in some heinous turns near the end of the board to cause you to swear at a smiling suitcase. You have three chances to clear a maze or your game is over. I have made it to the 5th board. While the game has a certain "just one more time" vibe, I wish the game featured some points and in-game music. Maze clearing bonuses and random bonus item pop-ups that would tempt you to go back for your point lust would have made this feel like a full fledged game.

Funkmaster V verdict: 2 Pfeffernusse

Halloween Cartridge

"Halloween Cartridge"
Starring Funkmaster V
The Halloween Cartridge looks cool as hell, but to anyone else besides a handful of certain people... this might feel like a rip-off. It was expensive, but the box and cartridge look great on a shelf. The demo consists of a screaming jack-o-lantern with glowing eyes, crazy-ass Halloweenish music, and a Halloween message (complete with the European way to write a date: This is 31.10.2007!) Why do I not regret buying this 7800 cart? Because I'm not only mentioned on the box, jerk... I'm in the GAME!*** At least my name Cousin Vinnie is, fool! (That's before I went by Funkmaster V full time) Suck on that Mitch! What was that? Mitch is mentioned too? Oh man.

Funkmaster V verdict: 1 Pfeffernusse
Funkmaster V verdict if you are Funkmaster V: 5 Pfeffernusse

***Game is a loose term, here, folks.