Atari 2600 Games Reviews
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Pole Position - Atari 2600
Pole Position for the Atari 2600 isn't much, really, but entertains. If only for short period. It sees you in a F1 trying to beat the other cars and the time. You have 3 minutes to reach a certain "invisible" checkpoint and then the time will restore back to its former place. Basically, it's just race till you drop, racking the highest score possible.
The sounds are as loud as an old CPU running at full speed. The other cars curiously resemble miniature versions of the yellow castle that appears in Adventure. The road and, er, "off-track" terrain are a simple one color: elephant gray. The rumble strips in the version I had was a chocolate wafer brown/white. The background is nice, though, with MS Paint level mountains and 8-bit clouds. I agree, graphics-wise there isn't much to go on, and that there are much better Pole Position ports out there; it's that this one is enjoyable, too. Pick it up and play if you still haven't, though I can't guarantee if you'd have fun or not.
Happy Vader's rating:
Frogger - Atari 2600
Frogs, at best, make the best animals to dissect. At worst, painful pop-culture characters. I never really cared much for Kermit, Slippy, and Crazy Frog. Only Battletoads were bearable, and they aren't even frogs; they're, *gasp*, toads. Anyway, Frogger, although a favorite game of mine when I was a young kid, hasn't aged well on me. The concept is OK, transport a minimum of 5 frogs to the slots in the other side while avoiding traffic and other dangers.
As one of the iconic video games, Frogger is also very repetitive. Two or three levels in and you know you've transported frogs enough. Though the game is responsive, you can also play with your mouse if you're using the emulator, it has, to me, very minimal gameplay and offers zero reasons to come back for more.
Happy Vader's rating:
Pitfall! - Atari 2600
I was introduced to this game through Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. There's a level in Murderworld where your chosen character gets sucked in an arcade machine. He/she has to go through 15 levels in order to free Jean Gray from mind control. I must say, the controls in that mini-game were abysmal, horrendous. Not a very good first impression. Years later, I saw a trailer for this game that featured a teenage Jack Black. That, and G4TV's enthusiastic review, sparked my interest and I decided to try it. To sum my feelings in three words: I loved it!
Considered as the first true platformer, Pitfall has had a tremendous impact on games that fall under that genre and more. Released at a time when video games were mere minutes long, Pitfall runs for full 20 minutes, an unprecedented feat back in '81, provided you don't lose all 3 of your lives though. Whether you're inexperienced or not, Pitfall offers great gameplay and awesome moments. Who can forget the swinging? or jumping from crocodile to crocodile to crocodile to land - only to land inches away from a snake.
The levels run in scripted manner and offer nice little distinctions from each other, though the frame you passed, let's say, 15 or 16 levels ago, will be repeated time and again. There are a few number of frames, with the odd distinction here and there, and they cycle back and forth till either the time runs out or you lose all your life.
Barrels are the recurring 'enemy' of the game. They either appear in twos or threes or stationary. Other obstacles are cool looking scorpions and snakes, the titular danger, water, crocodiles and fire. The variations done with these few dangers are so great and engaging that you start thinking less about when did you last passed that frame and more about when will you be passing them again.
In conclusion, Pitfall is so far the best and longest game I've played on the Atari. It is definitely going in my greatest games list. See you there!
Happy Vader's rating:
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial - Atari 2600
Since its inception, E.T. is repeatedly called as the worst video game ever made. Sometimes it is pushed to number two to make way for Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing, which is the same as E.T. but with zero collision detection. E.T., alongside another 2600 game, Pac-Man, contributed to the video game crash of '83. Overnight, Atari went from the top rung to the bottom of the barrel.
You know a game is some serious shit when a company has to close down. The story sees the titular alien crash landing on earth. He must now collect all pieces of the telephone and, guess what, phone back home. Needless to say, he never gets to make it, because no-one either a) wants to continue after a few seconds of gameplay or b) seems to understand where to go next.
Every last bit of the game looks like some thing chewed and spat out by a giant. It plays as smoothly as a rumbling belly, and sounds as wonderfully as a series of flatulence. I personally don't know (and don't want to) about what happens after when E.T. collects all pieces (if he does). Hell, I don't even know what exactly occurs after a few screens to the left, because within mere minutes into the game I fell in a pit, and everytime I extended his neck as to make him "fly", he would surface and fall back in again.
After 10 minutes of of this, er, glitch (or is it the real game?), I finally gave up and gave an imaginary punch to the effin' bastard! That played out much better than the whole game combined!
Combat - Atari 2600
As one of the handful of titles that defines the Atari 2600, Combat is a prime example of quality over quantity. It's loud, clunky, obnoxious at times; but Combat is excellent at what most games strive to be- engaging and fun multiplayer gameplay.
With a handful of levels with mostly eye-sore color palettes, Combat sees two tanks engaging in the titular action. The primary objective is to gain the highest score. Though you can blitz the other tank - slowly and painfully, that is - you can also use strategy and sneak up on him and blast him off to oblivion.
With the camera being top down and the whole game being one frame, it's easy to maneuver and plan your attack. In some levels when you shoot, the bullet hits a wall or obstacle and disappears. However, in other levels the bullet hits a wall and ricochets around for several seconds, giving more edge to strategic planning and precise aiming of the turret. The only downside is once you fire a shot you can't fire another until the previous bullet has disappeared.
Apart from these options, Combat offers virtually nothing else. Not surprising since it was released back in 1977, when video games were just starting to climb out of the box. Though it does get repetitive after just a couple of minutes, those few minutes of entertainment will be some of the best you'll have playing a video game.
Combat is a memorable shooter that should be reason enough to play Atari 2600 games all over again; even if on an emulator. I highly recommend it!
Happy Vader's rating:
Room of Doom - Atari 2600
Rating: 6.0/10 Stars
The title of this pretty decent Atari 2600 game refers not to the impending nature of the room; but rather the character you control. That's right, your character is named Doom. And he's in a rectangular room occupied by at least one animal. Sometimes Godzilla, sometimes Charlotte.
The gist of Room of Doom is to evade the animal by either actually evading him or stunning him with your bullet. If you notice you'll see several 8-bit pixels standing outside Doom's Room. Every now and then a gap opens up in front of them and stays open just long enough for them to fire a single shot. In those few seconds you have to eliminate them.
Surprisingly enough, their bullets don't seem to affect the animal or other outsiders, or in short anything apart from you. But when a bullet hits Doom, he so magnificently distorts and disappears - if that sound effect sounds familiar, it's only because it appears in Robotron 2084. I don't know whether it was due to plain laziness or was a tribute to that game. Either way, it sounds cool, and makes me wanna play that game everytime I die. Which is often.
The more the level progresses the more limited Doom's moves in the Room becomes. Static-like shapes appear in the middle of the room, crocodiles start attacking you, the pixels outside the Room increase in number. Ahh, 99 problems for Doom, and a story ain't one. Seriously, why, or for whom, am I doing all this for? Also, why the hell am I called Doom?
In conclusion, the game is decent; I had more fun writing the review than actually playing it. I guess that should say something!
Happy Vader's rating:
Tennis - Atari 2600
Rating: 9.5/10 Stars
Let's for a moment pretend this game is Eames and I'm Arthur - from Inception. Having a simple title that could be mistaken for any other game but with gameplay that is both surprisingly addictive and engaging, Tennis left me as impressed as how Eames left Arthur when he told him of his plan. The latter comments on the said plan, "I am impressed" - my thoughts exactly on this game!
Tennis sees you as the pink deformed character with a hole in his racket competing against a blue deformed character with a hole in his racket. The white pixel that gets tossed back and forth is not even a ball; it's a turtle pellet. Set against an olive green background, Tennis is as simple a game can come. When it's your turn to serve, you have to press a button - in this case Ctrl - but after that all you pretty much have to do is move him around while he hits the pellet automatically.
Though the main fun lies in the multi-player, the single-player is not bad either; for it being the perfect recipe for those who want a challenging computer player but need the overall gameplay to be entertaining and fun! Playing with my sister in multi-player usually meant that I won but in single-player mode, I only won once - while the blue bastard won 5 times.
Other than the positive points mentioned above, the other great factor is the responsiveness of the controls. They surprisingly don't move like the block-like characters from Atari's another game, Basketball. Ah, back then when simple titles ruled, not like today where we get bombarded with titles like Shaq Fu and Touch Dic. Both the titles are letters away from sounding obscene!
Anyway, Tennis, physics-wise, is actually pretty solid. Now that may sound strange for a game this old, but it actually handles more fluidly than Basketball or Combat. Upon contact with the pel.. oh well, ball, the racket extends a little. Every time that happened, I chuckled. Every time I chuckled, I lost a point.
In conclusion, Tennis is easily one of the greatest of all Atari 2600 games. With no objective, upgrades or even graphics of any kind, expect to spend hours and hours on this game because it delivers solid gameplay and responsive controls and multi-player!
Happy Vader's rating:
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