The evolution of the fighting game is interesting to observe, because it got its start a lot earlier than a lot of people might realise.
One very early example that is still surprisingly fun to play today despite its simplicity is Swordfight for Atari 2600, originally intended for release in the early ’80s, but which never ended up on store shelves for various reasons. We can enjoy it now, though, thanks to Atari Flashback Classics — and if you’ve got a friend willing to learn the ropes, it’s a good time!
Sports games, sports games, will I never be free of sports games? Apparently not, as we’ve got another one today. This time it’s not actually all that offensive, however — though it’s still a two player-only affair.
Super Challenge Football is, like its Baseball counterpart, an adaptation of an Intellivision game for the Atari 2600. Unlike most American Football games, this game allows you to program all your linesmen individually, making for a somewhat more understandable game for American Football newbies like myself.
And you thought we were done with sports games! Nope, there’s a few more… only a few more though, including a couple from Mattel’s “M Network” label, where they ported Intellivision classics to Atari 2600.
Super Challenge Baseball for Atari 2600 is a port of the Intellivision’s Major League Baseball, a game which paid up for the MLB license and then didn’t use any player names, likenesses or team names. You can understand why they dropped the licensing for subsequent rereleases. It’s a two-player only game, so I recruit my long-suffering wife to suffer some more with me.
Mattel’s M Network label was set up so that Mattel, makers of the Intellivision, could have a piece of the Atari pie while also working on their own console.
Star Strike, released through the programme, is a port of one of the Intellivision’s most successful games; the original version sold around 800,000 copies in a single year, which is a huge amount for the time. Sadly, the 2600 version is… well, let’s just say it’s not quite as good as the source material.
We’ve got another of Mattel’s “M Network” releases today, in which the company ported some of its successful Intellivision games to Atari 2600, usually in slightly simplified form.
Space Attack is a port of a game simply called Space Battle on the Intellivision, and it’s an interesting little game that incorporates very lightweight real-time strategy elements with arcade-style blasting action. It’s woefully limited in terms of longevity and replay value, sadly, but it’s worth a blast or two at least if you’ve never tried it!
Our exploration of Atari Flashback Classics continues with Sea Battle, a game originally intended for release on the Atari 2600 in the early ’80s, but which never saw the light of day until 2000.
Sea Battle, like many of the other M Network releases for the 2600, is a port of an Intellivision game, but by the time it was due for release the marketing people decided that a strategic game for two players only based around naval combat wasn’t the most marketable thing in the world, so they shelved it.
It’s time for another sports game! Hooray, hoorah, hooroo!
This time around, we’re looking at International Soccer for Atari 2600, which is one of Mattel’s numerous M Network cartridges. If you’ve not come across these before, these were ports of games from Mattel’s Intellivision console, often scaled down a little bit to fit the limited hardware of the Atari 2600.
International Soccer is based on the officially licensed NASL Soccer for Intellivision, and it’s a game for the very patient retro gamer. Find out more in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!
Hmm, doesn’t something seem a bit familiar about this Atari 2600 game…?
Of course! Frogs and Flies here is the game that Atari ripped off with Frog Pond. Only Frogs and Flies (or Frog Bog as it was known in its original Intellivision incarnation) is a much better game. It is still a ripoff in its own right, however — in this case of a very early Sega arcade title called, simply, Frogs.
It’s always interesting to look at a very old game and see the earliest glimmer of a subgenre that became well-established much later.
Mattel’s Dark Cavern, actually an Atari 2600 port of their Intellivision title Night Stalker, is a good example. On paper, it’s a simple maze game, but in practice, you can see just a hint of what would become stealth and survival horror gameplay in there.
We’ve got a fragile protagonist; we’ve got an emphasis on outwitting enemies; we’ve got limited resources. How long can Your Man survive in the Dark Cavern?