This is it! The final game in Atari Flashback Classics — and it just happens to be one of the most legendary games for the Atari 2600. It’s Howard Scott Warshaw’s all-time classic Yars’ Revenge!
This was one of the all-time best-selling games for the Atari 2600, and with good reason: it was original, it was enjoyable, it was fun and interesting to play. No, it might not look like much today — and indeed looked a bit like something was going horribly wrong with your console even back when it was current — but it’s got that special fun factor where it counts.
For the various Atari Flashback consoles over the years, Atari included a number of “hacks” of its classic games that were decent enough to be considered full sequels.
One such example is Yars’ Return, a follow-up to Howard Scott Warshaw’s classic Yars’ Revenge. This first appeared on an Atari Flashback console in 2005 and has continued to be distributed on Flashback consoles and in compilations like Atari Flashback Classics — complete with a bug that developer Dennis Debro fixed about a decade ago — ever since. You can even buy a cart copy from Atari’s “Atari XP” initiative now, too.
If you know your Atari history, you’ll recognise the name Chris Crawford. He was responsible for a number of fascinating and innovative games, including the strategy title Eastern Front and the weird-ass social ’em up Gossip.
Wizard is a prototype he worked on back in the Atari 2600 days, but it never made it to release for various reasons — chief among which was the fact that Crawford crammed it into 2K, but Atari’s marketing department decided that all games from that point on should be 4K. Silly in retrospect, yet — but at least we can enjoy Wizard today.
Sibling rivalry is a terrible thing, particularly when the siblings in question have access to a fire-breathing dragon and flame-reflecting shields. You better hope those builders you hired did a good job on the walls this time around, otherwise you’re in for a fiery evening.
Warlords is a classic four-player take on the Pong and Breakout formula that challenges players to bat a ball back and forth between four corners of a play area, knock one another’s walls down and eventually be the last one standing. It’s a beloved classic in both its arcade and 2600 incarnations — and supposedly the 2600 version was actually developed first, despite releasing later.
Several games from the early years of the Atari 2600 were based on earlier dedicated video game hardware released by Atari — and Video Pinball is a good example.
Offering a simple but surprisingly enjoyable take on pinball — albeit one that only slightly resembles the real thing — Video Pinball is a fun game with which to while away a few minutes, especially if you don’t feel like working your brain too hard.
After my woeful performance at Video Checkers, I must confess I was kind of dreading Video Chess a bit. But things ended up going rather better than I imagined.
Turns out the special “Beginner” level available in the game is perfectly attuned to a strategically challenged moron like me — and I think I might have actually learned a thing or two about how to play more effectively along the way, too.
I am bad at checkers, or draughts as we call it over here, but I’m not going to turn down a chance to play an early game by Carol “River Raid” Shaw.
In fact, legend has it that Carol Shaw’s Atari 2600 version of Checkers put Activision’s similar effort to shame by such a significant degree that she was offered a job with the company. And the rest, as they say, is history. Now in commemoration of such a heartwarming story, enjoy my terrible attempts to beat the lowest difficulty level on a 41-year old video game adaptation of a very simple board game.
One of the nice things about the Atari Flashback Classics collection is how it includes a bunch of previously unreleased prototypes — some of which are really great.
Tempest for Atari 2600 is unfortunately not exactly one of the great ones — but it’s an interesting one, nonetheless, largely because no-one seems to know who was responsible for it! Originally assumed to be the work of Carla Meninsky, it seems that it was actually produced by someone else after Meninsky left Atari — but no-one knows who! And no-one is in a hurry to come forward and take responsibility, either…
We’ve done it, everyone; we’ve made it through the SwordQuest games without killing anyone. And thankfully, the last of the three games that actually made it to release is the best by a long shot — though that’s still not saying much.
SwordQuest WaterWorld was initially only released to Atari Club members, making it a very rare cartridge for the dear ol’ 2600 today. But thanks to Atari Flashback Classics, now we can all enjoy its… whatever it offers, but without the prospect of a $25,000 jewelled crown to spur us on. I will say this, at least; this is probably the SwordQuest game you’ll be most likely to actually beat!
Just… don’t. I don’t want to talk about it. I can’t. I just… please. Help me.
SwordQuest FireWorld is one of the most miserable video games I have ever played. And, as anyone who knows me well will attest, this is not something I say lightly. Forget E.T., forget Pac-Man, this is the true festering dog turd of the Atari 2600’s library.