When Tigervision picked up the rights to On-Line's thoroughly enchanting, maze-chase-in-a-candy-store, Jawbreaker, it was faced with a knotty problem. In the first place, the sophisticated visuals would have been virtually impossible to duplicate in 2600 form. Then, too, there was the very possibility that Atari's legal division would come down on Tigervision with both feet to protect Pac-Man's territory.
Ken Williams, founder of On-Line, faced a similar dilemma on the computer end. Atari was about to introduce a computer version of a game featuring the gadabout gobbler and it was no longer in the mood to brook such titles as Arcade Plus' Ghost Hunter and Jawbreaker.
Williams solved both Tigervision's and On-Line's problems with a single masterstroke, re-inventing the maze-chase concept in the process. He replaced the usual, twisty maze with a series of horizontally scrolling bars. Gaps in the bars permit the on-screen character - a set of chomping teeth - to switch from lane to lane as the moment demands. The teeth stay in motion constantly, unless the action button - or should that be "inaction button" - is pressed, pursued as always by the four bullies.
The new version turned out so well that Sierra On-Line has now decreed it the standard configuration for all systems. The Atari 400-800-1200 and Apple II versions are essentially reworkings of the Tigervision 2600 cartridge with one major deviation: static Jawbreakers located in each of the playfield's four corners have replaced the randomly appearing Jawbreaker of the videogame.
This difference makes a marked impact on play. By comparison with the
original, this "four corners" edition of Jawbreaker qualifies as a milk run. Even tyro arcaders can run amok over this Jawbreaker-festooned playfield. Anyone who can't roll this baby over after a week should turn in their joystick.
The centrally-reappearing Jawbreaker made the entire concept much more challenging. As bullies zipped wildly from left to right, it proved necessary to make periodic "suicide runs" back to the playfield center and gobble a bonus hard candy. In this version, the overweight bullies roll from one side to the other in a predictable manner, making clearing out anything but the center of the field child's play.
It is possible to get Jawbreaker II going at a respectable clip, but it shouldn't take so long! Please, put the Jawbreaker back in the middle where it belongs!
Even computer games can be too easy, you know.