Before I write about the games, I think I should mention the actual cartridge. If you've never seen a S.I.M.I.S. cart then you've never truly lived. OK, that could be a slight exaggeration but it is really cool looking. The cart is a green circuit board with a large exposed EPROM chip just slightly above center and a smaller chip in the corner. If I'm correct, and that's a big if, the smaller chip saves the high scores of certain games such as Invaders. And least I forget, S.I.M.I.S. also comes with a very functional clear orange carrying case (similar to the old Gameboy cart cases) that will hold about 3-4 cartridges. This carrying case shoulda been standard fair for Lynx games. But then again, I think Atari can fill a book with "shoulda's."
The object of Snakebyte is simple. You control a snake that must eat ten apples in a certain amount of time without touching the sides of the board or yourself. The difficult part is that every time the snake eats an apple his tail grows longer. In addition to that, later levels have varying shapes that you must also maneuver around. Graphics on Snakebyte are bright and colorful and have a nice cartoon feel. Control is a little tricky. Turning the snake requires precise timing, especially when the apples appear near the edge of the board. Turn too soon and you miss the apple, turn too late and you smash into a wall. Sound could have used a little work. The sound effects are fine but just too sparse. I would have loved to seen an option for some music on this game.
Invaders is possibly one of the best Space Invaders clones ever. The movement and control is crisp, the graphics large and bright and the sound effects are incredible. The concept is refreshingly old-school. Aliens move horizontally across the screen all the while moving down closer to you. You control a cannon-like device that moves horizontally on the bottom of the screen. To clear a level you must avoid shots from the aliens and their spacecraft while gunning down all the extraterrestrial intruders before they reach the bottom of the screen. If there is one fault with Invaders it is the difficulty. There is a pretty steep learning curve. Fortunately, Invaders is probably the game you'll probably invest most of your time in.
Mines is a nice update on a classic virtually every puzzle-gamer has enjoyed. The graphics aren't very flashy but that's not really expected on a game of this type. The sound is nice as the bombs and explosions are distinct but, again, just too skimpy. The concept is simple. You must move through a minefield without stepping on any mines. Your only line of defense is a mine detector and some mine detonators. The only problem is that the mine detector has a range of one square in each direction and you have a limited supply of mine detonators. Waste any detonators and you'll have to take a very risky blind romp through a minefield. But don't let the description fool you. Mines is not an action-adventure game. This is right up a puzzle-gamers alley.
Isolation is an original concept game by Schick. This strategy game involves you against the computer or a buddy. The object of the game is to move your colored square one space and then to remove a square near your opponent. The winner is the one who has isolated their opponent so they cannot move in any direction. Isolation has colorful graphics but considering that it is just a game of squares the graphics aren't the highlight of the game. This might be one game that you struggle with. It is a little hard to develop a pattern and before you know it, your opponent has trapped you.
Specials are a collection of demos that showcase the Lynx's graphical prowess. There is a 3-D texture-mapping maze, a Marble Madness style demo-level, a comlynxable "Dungeon Master's" demo and a distortion/polygon graphics screen. The graphics are nice on each level, although the frame rate is pretty slow on the 3-D maze and the Dungeon Master's level. Oh, and don't get your hopes up. The Dungeon Master's level might be comlynxable but all you can do is walk around some corridors together.
No review of S.I.M.I.S. would be complete without a mention of T-tris, which is rumored to be hidden on the cart. Unfortunately a mention is all I can give because I haven't been able to find it. If anyone knows how to unlock it please pass along the info. Enquiring minds want to know.
Most people will consider S.I.M.I.S. well worth the money based just on it's rarity but its selling point for me is the fun factor. So if you're looking for a conversation piece or just a great game, pick up S.I.M.I.S. No Lynx collection is truly complete without it.