It’s time for the original deathmatch! Outlaw was one of the first games available for the Atari 2600, and it remains a beloved competitive multiplayer game today.
Unlike its stablemate Combat, Outlaw actually also offers a single-player mode. Okay, it’s not a particularly good single-player mode, but at least you can get in a bit of target practice by yourself — something which you definitely couldn’t do in Combat. And, of course, the two-player funtimes still hold up brilliantly today.
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One cannot talk about the Atari 2600 — or the Atari Video Computer System, as it was originally known — without mentioning Combat.
The original deathmatch, one of the original competitive multiplayer titles and a game that is still an absolute ton of fun to play today — Combat really is an all-time classic, with the only sticking point for a lot of people being the fact that it’s a two-player only affair, so you need another person readily available to get the most out of it.
Fortunately, I have a very understanding, supportive and helpful wife, so let’s get right to the blasting!
It’s Pong! The grandaddy of them all. Well, okay, not the absolute first ever computer game ever EVER, but it was certainly the first widely successful one.
If you have the slightest familiarity with gaming, surely Pong needs little to no introduction, but you might be surprised to know that it actually still holds up rather well today. It’s gaming stripped down to its bare essentials, both in terms of graphics and mechanics — and it still works wonderfully as a competitive game.
Fortunately, with how well-known it is and how easy it is to program a convincing clone (even I could probably do it if I tried hard enough!) there’s no shortage of ways to play it these days… but if you really want the true experience, you gotta go Atari.
Dandy is another early Atari release that would go on to be extremely influential… even though relatively few people seem to know its name today.
Released through the Atari Program Exchange (or APX), an initiative by Atari that allowed amateur and professional programmers alike the opportunity to get their projects distributed commercially, Dandy by John Howard Palevich turned out to be rather important.
Originally intended as a multiplayer networked adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons before being simplified and refined into the four-player action dungeon crawler it ultimately became, Dandy would be a defining influence on Atari’s later arcade hit Gauntlet… and it’s not hard to see why.