Archive for January 2014

Pelé’s Soccer / Championship Soccer – Atari 2600   Leave a comment

2600PelesSoccerFirst released in 1980 as Championship Soccer, and then again in 1981 as Pelé’s Soccer, this was probably a pretty fun game back in the early 1980’s.  I missed out on this game back then, and playing it for the first time now, I have to say that it’s not bad.

The game doesn’t resemble real soccer much, and plays more like hockey.  In fact, they should have taken this game, changed some graphics, sped it up, and released it as a hockey game.  The game is played in two halves that you can set from three to five minutes long.  You control three players, and a goaltender.  Your goaltender moves from side to side, and your other three players move all together in a triangle formation.  The button on the Atari 2600 controller is used to kick the ball.  You can kick the ball towards the net, pass it to a teammate, or just kick it and run after it.  The team on defense always has a speed advantage to make the game more interesting.  As with most early Atari games, this one has a lot of options to customize your game.  You can play with small, medium, or large nets.  You can play with a fast team, slow team, or medium speed team.  You can turn the boundaries of the soccer field on or off in a two player game.  Finally you can customize the difficulty of the computer opponent in a one player game.  The difficulty settings work very well, as I defeated the CPU on easy very easily.  I had a tougher time on medium, and the most difficult level gave me a good challenge.  For a two player game, one player can have a larger, or smaller net than the other.

The graphics are pretty poor technically speaking.  Everything is a block, and your player’s legs are lines coming out from those blocks.  You can tell what is going on at least.  Sound effects are mostly crunching sounds for when your players are moving, and a cell phone sound effect for a whistle.  The fireworks that go off after a goal are pretty neat for an old Atari game like this.  Overall this game is playable, and can be fun on occasion, but it’s not one that I’ll be revisiting very often.

Rating – 6 / 10

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Posted January 31, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Atari 2600

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Alleyway – Nintendo Game Boy   Leave a comment

The Nintendo Game Boy was a huge leap in hand held gaming when it was released back in 1989.  It had the gameplay of the big consoles, along with great sound, graphics, and controls.  The best type of games for a portable system are ones you can pick up and play a quick game while on the go.  A game like this could be Breakout, or a clone of it.  Alleyway, released by Nintendo in 1989, is a Breakout clone, but somehow the almighty Nintendo screwed it all up.

Two of the many devices you can use to play Alleyway.

Two of the many devices you can use to play Alleyway.

Alleyway, like Breakout, is a game where you control a paddle on the bottom of the screen.  You move the paddle to not only save the ball from getting past you, but also to deflect it into the bricks on the top of the screen.  Clear all of the bricks, and you move on to the next stage, where there is a different pattern of bricks.  These different patterns of bricks is an improvement on Atari’s Breakout games, but Alleyway still has some major flaws.  The major flaws of this game is that the gameplay is slow, therefore too easy, and therefore very boring.  I played for about about an hour off and on, made it to level 11 with 5 lives remaining, but the game wasn’t getting any harder.  The other flaw is that a game like this plays a lot better with a paddle controller.

The graphics get the job done on the Game Boy, but they could have done a better job with the sounds.  They could have replaced the generic beeping when you hit a block with some explosions, metallic sounds, crunching sounds, or anything else.  Bottom line is that if you want to play a good Breakout style game, then get either Breakout, or Super Breakout for the Atari 2600.  Those games move much faster, are more challenging, and control a lot better with the paddle controller.

Posted January 30, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Game Boy

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Galaga – Atari 7800   Leave a comment

7800GalagaThe original Galaga from Namco was released in the arcades in 1981, and is the sequel to Galaxian, which was an evolution of Space Invaders.  Like those previously mentioned games, you move a spaceship from left to right on the bottom of the screen, and shoot down aliens which are at the top of the screen.  The aliens move a bit from side to side in a formation, and random aliens will swoop down and shoot at you.  If you shoot them all, you move on to the next stage, which is the same as the last, but has faster moving aliens.  The Atari 7800 version has a copyright of 1984 on the title screen, but it wasn’t released until 1986, because the Atari 7800 console was delayed until then.

What makes Galaga stand out from earlier games is it’s fast game play.  Your spaceship fires very quickly, and it’s a lot of fun to blast the aliens.  A neat feature of the game is that the aliens will try to steal your spaceship with a tractor beam.  If they are successful, your spaceship joins the alien formation, and you lose a life.  If you manage to shoot the alien holding your ship, it will descend to the bottom of the screen, and join up with your current spaceship, and you will then have twice the firepower.  The downside is that you will be a larger target for the aliens to hit.  It is still recommended that you let the aliens steal your spaceship, as the double firepower really comes in handy.

Every few stages is a bonus stage.  All that happens here is that the aliens will fly in a certain pattern as you try to shoot them all.  They don’t attack, so your only goal is to rack up points.  I found these bonus stages a lot harder on this Atari 7800 port compared to the arcade, and NES versions.  The Atari 7800 port is a bit different than the arcade version in other areas too.  The screen is a lot wider, it’s harder to hit the aliens for some reason, and the game is a bit slower all around.  The graphics, and sounds are not arcade perfect either, but they’re still good for a 7800 game.  Overall I prefer the arcade, and NES versions of this game, but I still recommend picking up the Atari 7800 version, because you’ll get a slightly different, but still fun version of Galaga.

Rating – 7 / 10

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Posted January 29, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Atari 7800

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Space Invaders – Atari 2600   Leave a comment

2600SpaceInvadersGames like Space Invaders are the reason I picked up an Atari 2600 (actually mine is a 7800, but it is backwards compatible.)  It was originally developed for the arcades in 1978 by Taito, and it was the first really big arcade hit since the original Pong.  Atari got the license to develop a version for their Atari 2600, and released it in 1980.

If you don’t know what Space Invaders is, it’s a shooter where you defend Earth for an alien invasion.  It seems to me that a lot of stories for games back then focused on defending, whereas today’s games you are often on the offense.  In Space Invaders you control your cannon by moving it left or right on the bottom of the screen, and shoot the aliens on the top of the screen.  The aliens are in a lined up neatly in a box formation, and march side to side, descending down a row when they reach one side of the screen.  Shooting all of the aliens moves you on to the next stage, and you do it all over again, only the aliens start a bit closer to the bottom.  You will lose a life if you get hit by the aliens missiles.  If the aliens reach the bottom of the screen it’s game over regardless of how many lives you have left.  A bonus UFO will sometimes appear at the top of the screen, but you only get bonus points if you hit it, and it’s not essential for completing the stage.  There are also three shields that are positioned slightly above your cannon, and they can block enemy fire, and your own fire as well.  They get damaged by shots after a while.

I actually prefer the Atari 2600 of this game over the arcade version.  I find the graphics are better, animations better, sounds, and colours are also improved.  I also find that the game simply plays better.  You can hold in the fire button to continuously fire.  Like the arcade game you can only have one shot on screen at once, so you’ll have to make it count.  Atari also gave us many options to customize the game play.  Among the options are playing with a smaller or larger cannon, faster shooting aliens, aliens with shots that move on a slight diagonal, moving shields, two player simultaneous game play, and invisible aliens.  You can also mix and match all options.  I like playing the version where the aliens shoot faster, and also sometimes play the invisible alien mode.  I imagine the invisible alien mode is what Jedi’s would play if they had an Atari 2600.

As you can tell, I love this game.  It’s always fun to play.  The alien designs are great, the explosion animations are cool, and I really love the marching sound effects for the aliens.  This is one of my favourite Atari 2600 games of all time, and a must have for everyone.

Rating – 9 / 10

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Posted January 28, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Atari 2600

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Dodge ’em – Atari 2600   Leave a comment

2600DodgeEmDodge ’em for the Atari 2600 was always a game that I wanted to try when I was a kid.  I had no access to game reviews back then, nor did I see the game in stores, or for rent, and none of my friends had it.  All I had to go on was some screenshots, and the very cool artwork.  Years later I finally have this game, and it’s a bit disappointing.

The artwork of many Atari games portray excitement that the games just can’t live up to.  I genuinely like old games, and I’m not here to bash them, because I know there were hardware limitations back in 1978.  Still though, when the so-called cars are simply X’s, then I have no choice but to call the graphics crap.  They could have at least tried to make it look somewhat like a car.  My graphical gripes aside, this isn’t too bad of a game once you get into it.  You drive your X around a maze collecting hyphens.  Another car, or two, for some reason are trying to cause a head-on collision with you.  Clear all the hyphens, and you move onto the next stage where the cars are faster.  You have extremely limited control of your car.  You press the button to go fast, release it to go slow.  There are no brakes, and your car is only capable of changing lanes.

Overall the game can be fun, but I found the difficulty to be a bit too high.  I’ve played it many times, and I’ve only made it past stage three one time, and that takes under two minutes.  If you really want a challenging game to play, then check out Dodge ’em for the Atari 2600.

Rating – 6 / 10

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Posted January 27, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Atari 2600

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Bowling – Atari 2600   Leave a comment

2600BowlingYou know what I like about bowling for the Atari 2600?  I keep getting older, but the fun gameplay stays the same.  Released way back in 1978, this is a fun version of bowling.  With my still broken thumb, my selection of games is limited, but bowling games always have a laid back pace, and it should be fun to review each one in my collection.

Unlike a lot of 1970’s sports titles, Bowling for the Atari 2600 keeps all of the rules of real bowling.  The controls are simple enough as you line up your bowler on the bowling lane, press the button to have them start their windup, and the ball rolls down the lane.  There are three variations of the game to choose from.  The first lets you curve the ball left or right once with the controller while the ball is rolling down the lane.  Another mode lets you steer the ball while it’s rolling.  The last mode has the ball going straight without any additional control from you.  You can also adjust the difficulty to make the pins easier, or harder to knock over.  So if you find yourself rolling 300’s all the time, you can change the difficulty to make the game more interesting.  I prefer the difficult version of the “curve ball” mode.  With most early Atari games, the multiplayer mode is great, because you can handicap one of the players if the skill level between the two players is too great.

Graphically it’s a simple looking game, but it gets the job done, and surprisingly the ball isn’t a square!  Although the pins are.  The sound of the ball rolling down the lane is a bit strange, and the pins make beeping sounds when knocked over.  There isn’t much you can say about Bowling, but it is a solid game of bowling, and I still enjoy playing this version to this day.

Rating – 7 / 10

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Posted January 26, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Atari 2600

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Superman – Atari 2600   Leave a comment

2600SupermanSuperman is a rare example of an adventure game done right on the Atari 2600.  It was released in 1979 to take advantage of the popularity of the recently released Superman movie from the year before.  You play the role of Clark Kent/Superman, and your job is to capture Lex Luthor, and his cronies.

You start the game off as Clark Kent, and you walk him to his job at the Daily Planet.  While walking there you witness a bridge being blown to pieces by Lex Luther and his gang.  You then walk to the nearest phone booth to change into your Superman outfit.  After that you fly around Metropolis searching for the bad guys, capturing them, and transporting them directly to jail.  Your other objective is to find the pieces of the destroyed bridge, and return them to the river, so they can be reassembled.  In your way are flying satellites containing Kryptonite, and they will disable your ability to fly.  The only way to regain your flying ability is to kiss Lois Lane.  Superman has no offensive moves, but only the ability to pick up people and objects.  Pressing the button along with a direction on your Atari 2600 controller activates your x-ray vision, and you will see what is on the next screen.  You will need this, because the layout of Metropolis really takes some getting used to.  To help you, or further confuse you, you can take a shortcut through the subway system.  After your objectives are complete, you go to the phone booth once again, change into your Clark Kent clothes, and carry on your business of walking to the Daily Planet.  All in a day’s work for Superman.

As you can tell, Superman is quite sophisticated for a 1979 Atari game.  The graphics are the typical blocky late 1970’s Atari style, but everything more or less looks like it is supposed to.  You can hear the rush of the wind as you are flying, accompanied by the usual Atari beeping sound effects for everything else.  Everything looks and sounds classic.  It controls well, and I had fun playing it, and trying to beat my best time.  If you find it too difficult, you can adjust settings to make the crooks move slower, or to find Lois Lane quicker.  If you take a little time to adjust to the confusing city layout, you’ll have some fun playing Superman.

Rating – 7 / 10

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Posted January 25, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Atari 2600

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