Atari 2600 C-D

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 C.G.E. Adventures - By Retro Gaming Round-Up

This is a rather unique title for the 2600 as it is based on true events! At the very end of CGE 2010, a deaf thief stole a bunch of music CD’s from the RetroGamingRoundup booth while they were finalising an interview with a gaming celebrity. Why would someone deaf want to steal music CD’s is beyond anyone’s understanding, but that’s what inspired this game. In CGE Adventures you play the role of the Deaf CD Thief and your goal is to steal audio CD’s. You must run all over the Las Vegas hotel hosting CGE searching for the CD’s before escaping to The Strip. You will search through the show floor, the museum, the casino, and the VIP Lounge if you must. Unfortunately for you, the RetroGamingRoundup podcasters (the owners of the CD’s) are pissed and they will do what they can to catch you. SoCal Mike, UK Mike, and Scott are all here along with Intellivsion-The-Great and they will not make things easy for you. Why should they? You’re a thief! CGE Adventures is a very clever adventure-type game and it has some very impressive graphics. There are enough variations to choose from and there are special items that you can collect to help you through the game. One of the most important items to pick up is the hearing aid. Without it the game has no sound! There’s a NES Zapper you can use to defend yourself, a VIP pass, and “magical” Studson Musk Cologne bottle that helps you attract objects stuck in hard to reach places. This game is a very good addition to any 2600 game library!

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 California Games – By Epyx

Epyx was well known for its series of sports games for home computers. One of their best titles was California Games and they surprised many of us when they chose to port the game over to the Atari 2600. Though the game only has four of the six original events, the game is very well made and captures the magic of the events superbly. In California Games one to eight players can compete in four California sports: foot bag, half-pipe skateboarding, BMX bike racing, and surfing. The game opens with a colourful title screen and then moves the patient to a screen where the player must select one of the eight sponsors: EPYX, DELMAR, JETSI, StCRUZ, OP, CASIO, AUZZIE, or SPINJM. The event is then started and, one all the players finish, a ranking screen appears. One cool thing is that a rendition of “Louie, Louie” plays to mark the end of each event. California Games is truly an impressive bit of programming for the 2600. Not only do the sport events play well, but the games have some very impressive graphics. In foot bag you will see pine trees unlike anything you’ve seen done on the 2600 and the clouds in the sky even move as if wind were blowing. The characters in most of the games are multicolored, well animated, and have some nice touches (when the biker falls, you’ll see “circling birds” over him). If you’ve never played California Games on the 2600, you owe it to yourself to get this title. It is one of the best games ever made for the system.

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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  Candy Catcher - By Grant Thieneman

Trick or treat, Halloween! It is Halloween night and you are out looking to get some candy. Of course, your goal is to get as much candy as you possibly can because there never is enough candy. You control a character who moves horizontally at the bottom of the screen and who must use his bucket (shaped like a jack-o'-lantern) to collect the candies as they fall. Sounds simple? It’s not that simple as there is this nasty robot that keeps running from side to side trying to catch you so you can’t get candy. What happens if he touches you? The game is over! Thankfully, you can make your character jump to avoid the robot or, even better, crush him so you have freedom to move around (albeit temporarily). You earn points for picking up candy and crushing the robot but you also lose points if the robot picks up candy, candy reaches the floor, or candy hits you. Candy Catcher is a simple game but it is lots of fun to play. The graphics are rather basic but, notably, the character you control and the robot were made to look like their counterparts from another 2600 game - Berzerk. The falling candies are rendered in only one colour but you can easily tell what they are. Sound is also minimal but it does the trick. To make the game more challenging you can use the difficulty switches to make the robot reappear quicker after you’ve crushed it.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Carnival – By Coleco/CBS Electronics

In 1980, Sega released an arcade game where the player could shoot rows of rabbits, owls, ducks, and bonus items in a carnival shooting arcade. The animals are arranged into three rows that move in opposite directions. If the player fails to shoot the ducks and they reach the bottom row, they will “come alive” and move to the bottom of the screen to eat the player’s bullets. At the top of the screen there is also a spinning wheel with eight pipes that must also be shot to complete the level. Once the entire level is cleared, the player moves to a bonus stage where a bear has to be host as many times as possible to get points. During the regular game, additional bonus items appear that give the player either additional bullets or bonus points. Carnival was ported to the 2600 with mixed success. The game only has the main shooting gallery screen and lacks the bonus screen with the bear, something that is rather unfortunate. The main screen, though, is done pretty well. The animals on the shooting gallery look very close to their arcade counterparts (though they are a bit large) and they are rendered in one colour just like in the arcade (ducks are yellow, owls are red, rabbits are white). The spinning wheel with the pipes has been simplified as it has only four pipes but at least it is still here. The in-game music is absent, sadly, but the sound effects are pretty well done.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Cat Trax - By UA Ltd.

Meow! What do those dogs want?! Cat Trax is maze game that was clearly inspired by the master of mazes, Pac-Man. In Cat Trax you take the role of a brave cat who is eating catnip spread through a maze while he is chased by three (rabid?) dogs. If any of the dogs touch the cat, they eat him for lunch! The cat is not entirely defenseless, however. In the middle of the maze a potion appears which, when drunken by the cat, transforms him into a Dog Catcher truck that turns the tables around. If the truck touches a dog, it goes into the pound at the top of the screen and it stays there until the effect of the potion is gone and the trucks transforms back into a cat. Clear all the catnip in the maze and the action starts all over again. Cat Trax was originally developed for the Arcadia 2001 and was planned for release for the 2600 but it never happened commercially. The binary was discovered under the name Cat ’N’ Mouse in some European 2600 multicarts and it was released by Atari Age. The name Cat’ N’ Mouse doesn’t come as a surprise since the dogs really do look like mice (or mice heads, for that matter). The maze looks great and the catnip pieces look like dots of various colors. The games does suffer a bit in terms of collision detection and control, however. Sometimes you get killed even though nothing appears to be touching you. Sounds are pretty good and pressing game select lets you change the color of the maze. Were it not for the control issues, this would be an excellent game.

Review by TrekMD

6/10

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 Centipede – By Atari

In 1981 Atari released into the arcades a rather unique shooter where the player used a trackball to control a sort of ship that was tasked with destroying an oncoming centipede and other bugs (e.g., spiders, fleas, and scorpions). The game became a success which meant ports of the game to home systems, including the 2600. For this version, Atari came up with a back story... Elves live in the enchanted forest bit they are facing a problem. Centipedes have infested the mushroom garden along with a gang of nasty pests and the elves just can’t seem to be rid of them. One day an elf called Oliver was cutting away a poisoned mushroom (courtesy of the scorpion) when he found a gleaming stick. Suddenly a flea was going to attack Oliver when he, instinctively, waved the stick only to find out it was a magic wand that made the flea disappear. With his newfound power, Oliver has set to clear the mushroom garden of all pests. Centipede on the 2600 starts up with a beautifully rendered title screen full of multicolored mushrooms and a large centipede. Sadly, the playing field doesn’t look as nice as the mushrooms are just a bunch of small rectangles. The pests, though, look pretty good and they are nicely animated. In fact, despite the graphical limitations, the game does a good job of capturing the spirit of the arcade game. The action starts a bit slow but it does pick up quickly, making for a rather enjoyable game. The game is designed to be played with a joystick but it can also be played using Atari’s trackball controller, which adds to the fun.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Chetiry - By Chris Walton, Zach Matley & Fred Quimby

The Soviet Union is crumbling! Its most brilliant scientists have come up with a plan to dominate the world and save the republic - construction of a gigantic infernal machine. For build it, a vast number of steel beams are required. Unfortunately, the proletariat is drunk with the smell of freedom and will only make twisted steel beams, beams that you must combine as they fall if the master plan is to succeed. This is the story of Chetiry, a homebrew title for the 2600 whose name loosely translates to “four”. Why four? Because there are four types of beams that fall, tetraminoes, that the player must align correctly in order to construct full beams that can be used for building the infernal machine. Chetiry is, of course, a clone of Tetris and it is one that is masterfully executed. The game features four game styles (Marathon, Sprint 25, Sprint 40, and Ultra), a selection of game tunes, 20 levels of difficulty and even the ability to save the high scores within the cart itself! Chetiry has a beautifully rendered title screen, a high score board, and menus that allow the player to choose elements of gameplay from game style to toggling the shape preview on or off. The tetraminos themselves are rendered each in one colour and don’t have any real detail but this is to be expected from a 2600 game. Sound is really amazing as the tunes play through the game continuously. This is, of course, a key element for any Tetris clone. Chetiry is an excellent title for the 2600 and one every 2600 should own.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Chopper Command – By Activision

Given the success of Defender in the arcade, it was expected that other companies would develop games along the same lines. Though the 2600 had gotten a port of Defender by Atari, the folks from Activision decided to create a game in the same vein but with their own original twist. In Chopper Command the player controls a helicopter that is tasked with protecting caravans of trucks as they traverse the desert. Enemy jets and helicopters are out to destroy the trucks and it is up to you to ensure their safety. Each level starts with a wave of twelve enemies and twelve trucks (grouped in threes). A total of ten waves can be played and each wave brings fast and nastier enemies to deal with. Chopper Command looks and plays well. The graphics are beautifully done, with bright colours, no flicker, and nice animation. As in Defender, there is a “scanner” that lets you locate the enemies but the scanner is at the bottom of the screen. According to the manual, the scanner gives you a 5-mile (about 8-km) view so you can track both the enemies and the convoys. There are mountains in the background, a nice blue sky, and a sunset. Though you can do single fire by pushing the joystick button, holding the button down gives you a barrage of rapid fire that is quite helpful. Overall, the game is challenging and quite enjoyable. This game does look and play better than Atari’s Defender and it certainly represents one of the nicer horizontal shooter for they 2600.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Circus Atari – By Atari

In 1977 Exidy released an arcade game called Circus that could very much be considered a variant of the game Breakout. In the game, the player controls a seesaw on which there are two jumping clowns that have to destroy all the balloons at the top of the screen. The balloons are arranged in three rows and each row movies in opposite directions. In the arcade version, the seesaw as one clown on it and the other clown jumps from one of four platforms on the side of the screen onto the seesaw, which causes the other clown to jump up to the balloons. The player must then catch the falling clown on the opposite side of the seesaw and repeat this until the rows of balloons are cleared. The game was copied and released by other companies with various names and even Atari created its own version for the 2600. The 2600 version of the game retains pretty much all of the original gameplay but it does not have the platforms on the side. The two clowns start off on the seesaw and pressing the fire button on the paddle controller starts the jumping action. The fire button is also used to change the direction of the seesaw when one of the clowns is in the air. Circus Atari has very simple graphics (but fully colourized, something the arcade did not have) and sound but that does detract from the fun of this game; and, fun it certainly is. The game offers eight different variations that include the classic breakout and breakthru versions, barriers, and one or two player options.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Colony 7 - By Manuel Rotschkar

Colony 7 is a port of a rare arcade game from Taito that reminds me of both Missile Command and Atlantis for the 2600. You mission is to protect Colony 7 from the attack of the evil Jarvians. You do so by using the two defensive laser guns at either side of the colony and with a Mega Blaster. The colony is also protected by a defensive shield but that only affords a temporary protection as the Jarvian ships slowly chip away at the shields with their attacks. Once gaps form in the shields, the colony itself is in danger of being destroyed. Your guns fire automatically but you must guide their fire by moving crosshairs in the space above the city. Should things get too desperate, press the fire button to activate the Mega Blaster, a weapon capable of clearing the entire enemy force that is in the sky at that moment. Unfortunately, using the Mega Blaster drains an entire city Fuel Cell and there are only three of these available to use. The Jarvian forces do use four different ships to attach Colony 7: fighters, advisors, bombers, and scouts. Fighters are the most common ships in the Jarvian fleet, advisors guide the fighters so they are more effective in their attacks, bombers fire guided payloads capable of destroying your defensive guns, and scouts call in reinforcements! Colony 7 is a fast-paced shooter that has been expertly ported to the 2600. Having automatic fire is convenient because things do get hectic quickly. There is also a bar under the score lets you know how many more enemy ships you need to destroy before advancing to the next wave. Graphics are superb with multi-coloured enemy ships that clearly have different behaviours and sound is well executed. A superb title overall!

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Commando – By Activision

Released in 1985 to the arcades, Commando has the player taking control of a solider called Super Joe who is dropped off by helicopter into a jungle in a single-man mission to fight off an large enemy force. Joe is equipped with a machine gun and a limited supply of hand grenades. The machine gun can fire in any direction but the grenades can only be thrown forward. The grenades, however, are more powerful and can be used to kill multiple enemies or destroy barriers. As Joe travels in the jungle scrolls until he reaches the gates of a fortress at the end of each level. There he must kill all the enemy soldiers before the fortress can be breached to advance to the next level. The port to the 2600 does a good job of capturing the essence of the arcade game despite it having to make some compromises. In the arcade version, the player does get dropped off by the helicopter on screen. This does not happen on this port. In arcade the player may also save hostages or have to deal with soldiers on motorcycles but those two elements also did not make it. Nonetheless, all the shooting action, the barricades, the fortresses are here. The graphics are colourful and the characters are well animated. You can track your lives, grenades, and level at the bottom of the screen. A total of eight levels are included, which repeat once completed but with the action being tougher and faster than before. This really is a good port of the game and a welcome addition to the 2600 library.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Communist Mutants From Space – By Starpath

Your world is under attack by the forces from the planet Rooskee. The Rooskee have sent their evil Mother Creature to capture, enslave, and mutate peace loving beings from the universe. She uses these slaves, these Communist Mutants, to attack your home planet and you must do whatever it takes to protect against their attack. To do so, you are equipped with mobile anti-mutant cannons that, thankfully, have unlimited ammo. Your cannons may also have additional abilities such as a “time warp” temporarily slows the mutants to a crawl, an impenetrable shield, penetrating missiles, and or guided missiles. Communist Mutants is a vertical shooter that could be considered a clone of Galaxian. It does, however, include so many new options that it surpasses anything Galaxian ever offered. When the game starts, you are greeted with a settings menu where you can select the number of players (up to 4!), the level of difficulty (1-9), whether the shields or time warp are available or not, having penetrating fire, and/or having guided missiles. You can also alter your cannon’s motion with the difficulty switches (A for slow, B for fast). When the game starts, the Mother Creature starts laying “eggs” that hatch into the mutants who will attack you frenetically. Don’t be fooled by their simple appearance when they are up on the screen (the eggs look like simple rectangles)! The Mother Creature will continue laying eggs until you destroy it, so be sure to make it a target early on. You are awarded a new life every time a wave is completed. Communist Mutants is a fantastic game and should not be missed! You’ll need a SuperCharger to play it, however.

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Crazy Balloon - By Manuel Rotschkar

Crazy Balloon was an arcade title released in 1980 by Taito and this 2600 version was the first port of the game to ever hit a home system. The goal in Crazy Balloon is to manoeuvre a balloon with an attached box through a set of mazes by travelling from one end to the other. While the concept is simple, getting it done is not as simple as it appears. The balloon isn’t just standing still, you see. It is swinging from side to side constantly and this is where the challenge resides. If the balloon or the box touch anything, pop goes the balloon and one life is lost. You also do have a time limit to finish each maze. If you take too long a “Hurricane Man” appears that blows your balloon against a wall. This adaptation of the game captures the spirit of the arcade and brings home all of its elements. Graphics are limited compared to the arcade, but they are as nice as they can be on the 2600. All 16 levels of play from the arcade are here along with with some extras. Different from the arcade is a time bar at the bottom of the screen from which the bonus is based. Finish the maze unscathed before time runs out, and you’ll be awarded 1000 points. Two modes of play are available: Beginner and Arcade. The former being more forgiving and allowing for the balloon to get “scratched” without blowing up. Sound effects are comparable to those of the arcade (the constant tic/tock as the balloon moves is present) and a nice tune plays on the title screen. This addicting maze game will keep you coming back for more!

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Crystal Castles - By Atari

In 1983 Atari released a game about a bear who collects gems from trimetric-rendered castles, a game called Crystal Castles. This game was soon to become a classic thanks to its gameplay and thanks to its titular character, Bentley Bear. Atari chose to port this game to its 8-bit computers as well as to the 2600 and, in doing so, they achieved one remarkable port to the granddad of home video games. The goal in Crystal Castles is to guide Bentley Bear as he collects the gems in the castles before the creatures that inhabit them take them. The castles are inhabited by gem eaters, wandering trees, bee swarms, glass balls, dancing skeletons, ghosts, and a witch called Berthilda. Each of these enemies behaves differently and each represents a unique challenge for Bentley. Touching any of them can be deadly but there are some tricks Bentley can use. The bees can be delayed from appearing if Bentley grabs the honey pots that appear on the castles, the gem eaters are vulnerable while they are swallowing gems, and the trees temporarily freeze when Bentley jumps over them. If Bentley grabs a magical hat that appears in the castles he becomes invincible for a short time, which lets him defeat any enemy including Berthilda. Crystal Castles on the 2600 is truly impressive. It captures the spirit of the arcade game faithfully even with the limitations of the system. The characters are easy to recognise and some are even rendered in two colours. All the sound and music from the arcade is here and none of the enemies are missing. The game can be controlled using the 2600 trackball controller (the arcade used a trackball) but the movements are not as fast as in the arcade. This truly is a gem of a game!

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Dark Chambers – By Atari

You are trapped in a maze where zombies, wraiths, wizards and skeletons pursue you to drain you of your energy. They are not the only denizens of the maze looking for your life force, though, as the grim reaper itself walks these halls as well. You must traverse 26 different levels (identified with letters from A to Z) while collecting treasure, magical potions, keys, and weapons and avoiding your enemies. Be sure to keep an eye out for gates that serve as portals into the next level of the dungeon. Does this sound oddly familiar? Well, if you have played Atari’s Gauntlet you will find that the themes of both games are very similar. Dark Chambers, however, preceded Gauntlet and served as the inspiration for that game. The 2600 version of Dark Chambers tries to maintain all the elements of the original version of the game (which was first released to home computers) but has to deal with the limitations of the system. The dungeons are rather simple in design but the character sprites are fairly large. Your enemies are easy to distinguish from each other and you can see the more powerful adversaries transform into weaker forms until you blow them up entirely once they become zombies (zombies are the weakest while the grim reaper is the most powerful). One or two players can play, with the latter allowing for simultaneous play. Sounds are minimal and the action starts off quite slow. Thankfully, the game does allow you to choose from Low, Medium, and High skill levels so you can skip some of the very boring first levels where you see fewer enemies.

Review by TrekMD

5/10

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  Dawn of the Dead - By Scott Dayton

In 1978, writer/director George Romero released a movie about zombies and a group of people trying to survive their attacks in a mall. That movie was called Dawn of the Dead. A remake of the movie, directed by Zack Snyder was released in 2004 and this updated film inspired the creation of a game for the 2600. Using an existing game (Worm War I) as a template, a world of zombies was created for 2600 gamers to enjoy. Unlike the characters in the movie, though, you are not stuck in a mall. Instead you are driving a truck in your attempt to escape the zombie invasion. The zombies are everywhere, though, so you must shoot them and eliminate them while avoiding obstacles on the road. Be sure to keep an eye on your fuel gauge, though, because if you run out of fuel the zombies will get you! Thankfully, you can pick up gas along the way. Dawn of the Dead may have simple gameplay but it is addicting and quite enjoyable. The zombies are ever present moving side by side and offering both targets and a threat. The graphics are very colourful and the zombies are animated but they do look very boxy. Don’t let that fool you, though. Controller response is excellent and sounds are rather good. Do keep an eye out for the gas stations and be careful not to shoot them as they will explode (quite nicely) and you won’t be able to refuel your truck.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Defender – By Atari

Defender, by Williams Electronics, was released to arcades in 1980 and quickly became a major hit. It sold over 55,000 units and became Williams’ best selling game. Atari, of course, wanted to take advantage of the success of the game and obtained the license to port Defender to the 2600. Unfortunately, Atari did not do a good job with this port and they even tried to prepare the player on the opening sentence of the manual: “Atari Defender is very similar to the Williams coin-operated Defender game. However, you will find some differences in the game play as well as in the graphic images and game controls.” No kidding! Atari moved the setting of the game from an alien, rocky planet to the surface of Earth and you are tasked to protect humans in cities from an alien attack. This meant that the nice, mountainous surface of the arcade has been replaced by a blocky surface that is supposed to represent city buildings. The alien ships look very little like their arcade counterparts, and the Defender itself (now called the Universal Space Ship Defender) has been changed. The worse part is that the ship totally disappears when you fire its main weapon, making it possible to just fire like a nutcase and never be hit by enemies. The screen does have the radar screen at the top and you do have smart bombs and hyperspace, so those elements from the arcade remain but the control system is horrible. Unfortunately, the game just doesn’t cut it and it is best avoided. If you want to play a proper arcade port of Defender for the 2600, check out Bob DeCrescenzo’s Defender Arcade.

Review by TrekMD

3/10

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 Defender II/Stargate – By Atari

With the success of Defender, Williams Electronics knew they had to capitalize on their brand and they released an arcade sequel called Stargate. This game introduced new elements (like the titular stargate) into the game as well as new enemy ships (firebombers, Yllabian Space Guppies, Dynamos and Space Hums). The stargate is a new stellar gateway technology developed to assist in the defence of your home planet. Should a humanoid be captured by a lander, entering the stargate takes you immediately to their location. Otherwise, entering the stargate transports you to the opposite side of the planet. Of course, the game was ported to home systems and Atari was not left behind. This time around, however, Atari had learned much from previous mistakes and a well executed port of the game was created. Initially, the game was released with the name Stargate but it was later renamed Defender II (this became the name for all home ports), so it is possible to find the game in both versions. Defender II has got to be one of the best arcade ports ever created for the 2600. Not only does the game look like the arcade but it also sports superb sound and even a title screen. To make control of the game better, both joysticks are employed. One joystick controls the Defender and fires its main gun while the second controller is used to activate the special weapons and systems (Inviso, Smartbombs, and Hyperspace). Defender II has 100 levels of play and it truly shines on the 2600. If you don’t have this title, you owe it to yourself to find it. You won’t find a better horizontal shooter on the system.

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Defender Arcade – By Bob DeCrescenzo

So, Atari screwed up with their port of the original Defender but then revindicated themselves with the release of Defender II. Unfortunately, that means that we are still left with a crappy version of an excellent classic for our 2600 consoles. Enter Bob DeCresenzo and his excellent hacking skills. Bob took the superbly made Defender II and hacked it to create Defender Arcade, a proper port of the Williams classic shooter for the 2600. Bob modified Defender II by removing the extra elements for the new game and essentially left everything that was part of the original Defender. The game is set on an alien planet, like the arcade, and it has the same gorgeous graphics and superb sound. There’s even a proper title screen as well. There are certain visual touch ups that have been done to get closer to the arcade look. The scanner has been slightly modified in appearance, the score itself has been touched up to look close to how it looks on the arcade, and the Defender has been modified as well. In fact, the colours for the ship and the mountain has been tweaked to have more of an orange colour. The game employs the same control mechanism as in Defender II, so the two joysticks are needed. This, of course, works better than what Atari had originally implemented on their Defender port. If you are a fan of Defender, you owe it to yourself to get Defender Arcade. You will not regret it!

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Demon Attack – By Imagic

You have been marooned on the ice planet of Kyrbor where legions of strange “demons” scream overhead. They see you, they see prey and they will attack you until you are dead. Thankfully, you are not defenceless for you have your laser cannon! Aim, shoot and destroy the demons before they destroy you! This is a battle for survival! Your cannon has unlimited firepower but it is susceptible to attack, so be sure to avoid what the demons fire at you. Demon Attack is, essentially, Imagic’s version of Phoenix. The demons you fight are giant birds that attack you in waves. These demons come in different sizes and shapes. In one stage larger demons break into smaller ones when hit. The smaller demons are much harder to hit and will even do suicide runs. One cool effect Imagic added to the game is how the demons appear onscreen as you destroy those present on the screen. You see these “lines” that cross the screen to merge into a new demon for you to fight. Demon Attack has nice and colourful graphics with well animated demons. Your cannon is probably the least interesting design you’ll see on screen. As an interesting bit of trivia, when Rob Funlop worked on the game, he made it end after 84 waves because he believed no one would beat the game. Much to his surprise, two day after release a kid beat the game making it necessary to change the game code to go past 84 waves. The game does offer 10 different variations, including two that have a special cooperative mode.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Dig Dug – By Atari

In 1982 Namco released a game with a rather weird premise. You play the role of a miner named Dig Dig and your goal is to dig underground to find monsters that you destroy by inflating them until they explode or by dropping rocks on them. This game is, of course, Dig Dug and one that became an instant hit (even spawning games with similar gameplay, like Mr. Do!). In Dig Dug you face two types of enemies, Pookas and Rygars. The Pookas are red, round monsters that wear goggles and the Rygars are green dragons that can breathe fire. If any of them touch Dig Dug, he is dead, so the player must avoid their touch at all costs. The player has to be sure to blow up these enemies because a partially inflated enemy will deflate and continue hunting down Dig Dug. Bonus items (usually fruits and vegetables) appear in the middle of the screen if two rocks are dropped while digging tunnels. One thing to keep in mind is that once there is only one enemy left, that Pooka or Rygar will make topspeed above ground to escape. Catch it before that happens! Dig Dug on the 2600 may lack the graphical quality of the arcade but it certainly holds all the elements of the gameplay found on the arcade. The characters have been simplified in design but they are easy to recognize and the ground has been made using lines. Though this may not look as attractive as on the arcade, it is well executed and it is most certainly fun. The sound effects reproduce those of the arcade fairly well and the colours seen on the arcade as the levels advance are well replicated. This is a gem for the 2600.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Dodge ‘Em – By Atari

Dodge’Em is an early Atari 2600 release that many people will likely ignore because of its simple graphics. That would be a mistake, though, as this game is highly addictive and far more fun than you’d think. In Dodge’Em the player controls a car that runs in a maze with four concentric rectangles that are broken in four spots that allow for the car to be moved between “lanes.” The goal is to clear all the lines within the maze as many times as possible to rack up points. What’s the catch? There is a car (or cars on higher levels) that runs in the opposite direction and will do all it can to crash with you head on. Because Dodge’Em has both one and two player options, these opposing cars may be computer controlled (and they are not dumb) or controlled by a second player (smartness will vary). Dodge’Em require rapid thinking, good reflexes, and forward thinking in order to avoid having head on collisions. You will need to learn how to accelerate and decelerate so you can jump either one or two lanes, which is key to surviving. Being an early 2600 game, Dodge’Em lacks flashy graphics or sophisticated sound effects seen in late releases. The cars are rendered in one colour (one is blue, one is orange) and the maze and lines are all in one colour as well. There is a sound for the car engines and a sound as you clear the lines. Once the maze is cleared, the screen flashes, and things start again. Dodge’Em should not be underestimated.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Donkey Kong – By Coleco/CBS Electronics

In an attempt to make an entry into the North American market, Nintendo created a game that took inspiration from various elements in which the main character, Jumpman (now known as Mario), has to rescue his lover from a giant ape. That giant ape was Donkey Kong and that was the name of what became one highly successful game for Nintendo. So much so, that the characters of the game became icons for the company. Donkey Kong is a platform game in which the player controls Jumpman as he moves on girders, conveyor belts, elevator, and rivets while avoiding objects thrown at him by the big ape. The game was licensed by Coleco for their ColecoVision console (making that console highly successful) but Coleco was able to also port the game to other systems, including the 2600. The 2600 version of the game can be considered a mixed bag. The game only has two of the four screens (girders and rivets) and these two screens have been simplified and/or modified. Kong looks like a gingerbread man but Jumpman is recognizable. There is no in-game music which is an issue when it comes to the hammers as you have no audible cue that they are about to disappear. On the rivets screen, the fireballs are stuck on each level and do not move up or down the ladders. When the rivets are all removed, there is no animation of Kong falling. Despite all this, the game does play pretty well and the graphics are free of flicker. It just falls short of expectations if you are a fan of the arcade game.

Review by TrekMD

5/10

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 Donkey Kong: Pauline Edition - By Salem Frost Games

When Mike Mika’s daughter asked him if she could play NES Donkey Kong as Pauline and rescue Mario, he had to explain that the game was not made that way. That, however, inspired him to hack the NES version of Donkey Kong which in turn inspired others to hack versions on other systems. This is the hack done of the original Donkey Kong port for the Atari 2600. The game plays just like the original 2600 port but there are several changes that have been made to give it a more “girly” look and feel. The colour of Girders, Hammer, Ladders and Score were changed to pink. The zeroes on the score were changed to look like hearts and the player is given six lives to play with, instead of the usual three. The most important change, however, is that Donkey Kong captured Mario and Pauline must save the love of her life. Besides the colour changes and the switch in character sprites, there were no other changes done to the graphics of the game. It would have been nice if Kong himself had had some improvements made so he didn’t look like the gingerbread man. I guess, though, that the intention was to just create a version of the game for girls, leaving gameplay exactly like in the original port. If you’ve played Donkey Kong on the 2600, you’ve essentially played this version as well. As a nice touch, when the game was released in cart, the artwork on the label was changed to reflect the switch in the character roles.

Review by TrekMD

5/10

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 Donkey Kong Junior – By Coleco/CBS Electronics

With the success of Donkey Kong came its first sequel. This time the tables have been turned and Mario (Jumpman renamed) how now trapped Donkey Kong and it is up to Kong’s son to rescue him. Enter Donkey Kong Jr. in a new platformer where Jr. must cross four different screens to save papa. These screens involve jumping, climbing, and dropping fruits while crossing vines, chains, or ropes. Enemies such as snapjaws, birds, and sparks will chase after Jr. as he tries to reach Kong. Once more Coleco obtained the license for the game and created various ports. Their 2600 port showed more effort than what was done for the original Donkey Kong but the game still falls short. In this port, there are three out of the four screens from the arcade: the vines, the keys, and the building. Each of these screens has been significantly simplified from their arcade counterparts and they have fewer enemies to deal with. The vines screen lacks any of the fruits that would be used to kill the snapjaws, the keys screen only has one bird pursuing Jr. and three keys to push up the chains and the building screen has no sparks. The game does play the theme music from the arcade at the beginning and each of each level but there is no in-game music. The sound effects are horrible as the movement of Jr. going up the vines or chains is grating. Surprisingly, the game does have a 2-player option and eight skill levels to choose from.

Review by TrekMD

5/10

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