Tag Archives: Atari 2600

Black Jack

I’ve never been especially good at gambling. Largely because I don’t do it a lot.

Experimenting with simulated gambling doesn’t fill me with a ton of confidence, you see, because games like this are an excellent way to see that, inevitably, if you keep going you’ll end up with nothing more often than not.

Here’s Black Jack, a launch title for the Atari 2600, and a game which Video Magazine gave a perfect 10 out of 10 rating in 1979.

Basketball

Sports games have always been a staple of video gaming. In fact, in the earliest days of the medium, they were a good source of basic rules and mechanics for designers to rely on.

Basketball for Atari 2600 was a noteworthy example of one of these early sports games for being an early title that didn’t require two human players. In fact, the single-player mode even claimed to offer an adaptive difficulty of sorts, with the computer player supposedly playing “better” if the scores were closer.

In practice, this mostly equates to the computer player running the wrong direction if he’s winning too much, but it was 1978… give them a bit of credit!

Basic Math

You know how much people judge a new gaming system by its launch lineup these days? Well, the Atari 2600 had a game called Basic Math among its initial titles. It is exactly what it sounds like.

To be fair, we’re talking about the late ’70s here, where interactive entertainment you could connect to your TV was still new, exciting and a little scary to some people — so the prospect of having something educational to use on the system was probably quite appealing to concerned parents of the era.

It’s just a shame they really took that “Basic” part of the title to heart perhaps a little too much…

Astroblast

Mattel’s “M Network” label brought over a variety of classic Intellivision titles to Atari’s 2600 platform.

One of these games that seems to have always proven quite popular is Astroblast, originally known as Astrosmash on its original host platform.

It’s a fairly simple fixed shooter in which you blast space rocks into smithereens while attempting to protect your planet… but hoo boy, is it ever addictive!

Asteroids

It’s that time again: the time when we strap ourselves into a small triangle and blast some space rocks into increasingly smaller space rocks until they disappear.

Yes, it’s Asteroids again, this time in its Atari 2600 incarnation. This was a well-regarded port at the time of original release, and noteworthy from a historical perspective for being one of the first games to make use of “bank-switching”, allowing for higher-capacity cartridges that made use of more data. Asteroids for 2600 is twice the size of earlier 2600 games at a mighty 8K!

It also offers “66 video games”. Can’t say better value than that, can you? Even if there’s actually only 33 video games, and they’re all very similar to one another…

Armor Ambush

With a few exceptions, Mattel’s “M Network” label was established to port a number of well-received Intellivision titles to Atari’s 2600 platform.

Due to the disparity in capabilities between the two platforms, however, this porting process wasn’t necessarily completely straightforward. The Atari controller had considerably fewer buttons than the Intellivision’s weird monstrosity, for one thing — and the system itself was much less powerful.

Still, while technically inferior to its Intellivision counterpart, Armor Ambush for Atari 2600 (known as Armor Battle in its original incarnation) is an enjoyable take on the two-player tank battle genre — and offers a few interesting twists not seen in Atari’s classic Combat.

Aquaventure

One of the most interesting things about retro platforms like the Atari 2600 is that they still play host to tons of undiscovered treasures just waiting to be explored, decades later.

Many of these treasures — usually in the form of unreleased or prototype games — have been unearthed and shared with the world through the Atari Flashback Classics collection. And a great example of just that is Aquaventure, a game about diving beneath the waves in search of hidden booty.

This game was seemingly complete and ready to release, so one can only guess at why it never ended up on store shelves!

Fantastic Voyage

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE–

Better get used to that sound! It’s Fantastic Voyage, an extremely timely 1982 release from Sirius Software that adapts the 1966 movie (or possibly Isaac Asimov’s novelisation) about injecting tiny submarines into scientists to blast health problems from within.

It’s actually a very enjoyable shooter — albeit one that isn’t going to blow your mind with its visuals, being barely distinct from its Atari 2600 counterpart. It plays well, though… and you’ll be hearing that beep-beep-beep in your sleep!

Air Raiders

Let’s check out what is regarded by some as one of the best flight simulators on the Atari 2600!

To be fair, this isn’t a particularly high bar to clear or anything, but Air Raiders is a solid, enjoyable enough game, so long as you pay attention to its unusual structure and mechanics. It’s also historically noteworthy as one of the only “M Network” Atari 2600 releases from Mattel that wasn’t a port of an Intellivision title.

It’s also nowhere near as well-known as some of the more established classics of the Atari 2600 canon, so that’s as good a reason as any to give it a bit of time and attention, hmm?

3D Tic-Tac-Toe

One of my favourite things about working on this series is how I come across interesting bits of trivia during my research.

Did you know, for example, that today’s game, 3D Tic-Tac-Toe, was the work of Carol Shaw, an immensely talented programmer perhaps best known for one of my favourite games of all time: River Raid?

It’s not really all that surprising that someone who is good at programming worked on more than one thing in their career, I guess, but, hey, found it interesting. And 3D Tic-Tac-Toe is a lot harder than it looks!