Atari 2600 E-G

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Elevator Amiss – By Bob Montgomery

Maids have an easy life, right? No! Particularly not if you are the maid who is stuck working at the hotels in Elevator Amiss! You see, these hotels all have a major problem with their elevators - they’ve all gone crazy and it is impossible to use them! The only way to reach the top of the buildings, is to take the stairs but to reach them, the crazy elevators must be avoided. If the any of the elevators touch even a hair on the maid, that maid is dead. Elevators Amiss is a homebrew title for the Atari 2600 that is rather original. The game has several levels of challenge to choose from (from child to expert) that alter the maid’s movement as well as how fast and how many elevators must be avoided. In the child and novice levels the maid stops when the joystick is let go and there are fewer elevators to deal with. There are also gaps in between them that let you wait for an elevator to pass so you move forward. On the normal level and higher, forget about such niceties! Elevator Amiss has colorful graphics and the maid is well designed and she’s even rendered in three colors. The elevator design is simple, however. The game does have a nice in-game tune and even a different tune if the maid is killed. You can alter the speed at which the maid moves by pressing the fire button, something that is useful and adds an strategy element to the game. Despite having simple gameplay, Elevator Amiss is a fun and addicting game.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Enduro– By Activision

Are you ready for the race of your life? Welcome to Enduro, a race of endurance! Inspired by racing games like Pole Position, Enduro takes the racing game formula and introduces new and unique elements not seen on any other 2600 game. You take control of your car with the goal to pass a required minimum number of cars every day (200 on day one and 300 each day that follows). As the day progresses you will drive through different times of day and weather conditions. You start off at dawn and race until the next morning. This means that you’ll drive through the black of night where the only thing visible is the rear lights of the other cars on the road. As if that weren’t enough, you’ll have to deal with both snow and fog just to make things a bit more dicey. An odometer at the lower part of the screen lets you know how many kilometres you’ve raced and how many days you’ve raced. Once you’ve gone past the required number of cars for a given day, green flags replace the car counter. Failing to pass the minimum number of cars, ends the race. Enduro is ,easily, the best racing game for the 2600. It has nice graphics, good animation, good sound effects, and excellent gameplay. This is a game that never gets boring because when you think things have settled, the weather changes and you have to pay close attention to what you are doing. The fog effect is pretty remarkable and you must really be careful if you want to finish the day. Mind you, fog may appear also at night, making the driving conditions rather precarious. Enduro is a must-have for every 2600 owner.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Evil Magician Returns - By Byte Knight

Years ago, you went in an Adventure to recover the Golden Chalice and return it to the Golden Castle. Though you slayed the Evil Magician (EM)’s three dragons, you never faced the Magician himself. That only granted him the time he needed to find an apprentice of the dark arts and steal the Golden Chalice once more to drive the kingdom into darkness and despair. You have, once again, been tasked to recover the Golden Chalice and it will not be easy for the EM has used his powers to create new challenges that you must face. There are now two new castles to conquer, the Gray Castle and the Skull Castle. You must find their keys to enter them, just like you must also find the Golden Key if you are to return the Chalice. New labyrinths surround the castles and multiple new rooms wait to be explored in the Magician’s Gray Castle. In addition, instead of dragons, you must face the Evil Magician and his apprentice, the White Wizard. Getting touched by either is deadly and you must watch for the EM’s magical fireballs! Thankfully, you are not without defence as the Fire Staff grants you the ability to throw fireballs. Be careful, however, because an apprentice is not the only thing the EM has found as there is now a new powerful creature for you face. EMR is a fabulous sequel to the original Adventure game. Not only does it have better graphics but it also offers new challenges for any player as well as one new advantage: the ability to carry multiple items as you search the kingdom! EMR can be played in “amateur” or “pro” modes and has three difficulty levels. It certainly is the golden chalice of Adventure games for the 2600!

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Escape From The Mindmaster – By Starpath

You are the victim of an alien abduction! The MindMaster has captured you to perform experiments that will determine the worth of your species. The MindMaster has trapped you in a series of mazes (a total of six) from which you must escape. The first five mazes are problems that you must solve and even some intelligence, memory, coordination, and reflex tests that you must pass if you are to move to the next maze. The final maze is something very special that the MindMaster has prepared for you. The mazes have tall, smooth walls and you must explore the entire maze to find the tests within. You must be careful, though, as you are not alone in the maze. An unfriendly alien also roams the maze and he is trying to escape at your expense. Avoid him at all costs. As you advance through the mazes, new challenges appear such as shields, one way doors, and traps. Regardless, you must find all the puzzle pieces within each maze and place them in their proper place before you can move to the next maze. To help you achieve your goal of escape, the bottom of the screen has an information pane with a top view of the entire maze, a direction finder, a puzzle peg viewer, a life counter, and score countdown. Escape from the MindMaster has to be one of the most impressive games for the 2600 that take advantage of the extra memory provided by the SuperCharger. It boasts well rendered 3D mazes, multiple in-game puzzles and minigames, top notch scrolling, and good sound. It is hard to believe you are playing a 2600 game.

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Fireball – By Starpath

You are an expert juggler participating in the International Tournament of Jugglers. As an expert, you can handle rubber balls, plates, even razor-sharp daggers. One challenge remains, a challenge that will determine whether you are the best of the best - the Fireball event! You must capture the fireball and hurl it back at the wall of blocks for as long as you can to rack up the most points. Clear the screen of all blocks only to have a new wall appear to test your mettle. Oh, and to really prove that you’re the best, you’ll be handling not just one fireball but two, three, four...up to six fireballs at once! No one said it would be easy! Fireball takes the formula from Breakout to a new level by adding complexity to the gameplay and to the visuals. Gone are the simple, linear brick walls. Here you have bricks organized into fireballs traps, marching blocks, migrating blocks, and even a cascade that traps five fireballs! Your juggler can hold up to two balls at once (given you the opportunity to better target them) but you have to be sure to keep things moving. Fireball is an excellent game for the 2600 with the SuperCharger. I like that, instead of having to imagine the juggler, the programmers from Starpath do give you a real juggler to control with your paddle controller. He is well animated and you can even tell when he is holding onto a ball and throws it! It is also quite fun to see him getting pulled “off stage” by a hook if he fails to capture any of the fireballs.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Frankenstein’s Monster – By Data Age

You village needs your help! This is the night Dr. Frankenstein completes his creation, a monstrous abomination he plans to revive through the power of lightning. Only you are brave enough to stop him from activating this creature but, are you skilled enough to accomplish this task? To stop the evil doctor, you must collect six stones from the dungeon of Dr. Frankenstein’s castle and bring them to the tower so that a barrier can be made and stop the monster from being energized. Unfortunately, things are just never that simple. On your way to pick up the stones there will be ghosts, a giant tarantula, and poisonous spiders that you must avoid at all costs for they make you lose precious time. Once you reach the dungeon, you must be careful not to fall in the pool of acid for that will only lead to instant death. Reach the stone and make your way back to the top where a green wall marks the base of the tower. Go through that wall and enter a chamber full of vampires that will try to prevent you from reaching the footing where you must place the stone. Accomplish this and start again at the top of the castle with each succeeding attempt becoming increasingly difficult. Frankenstein’s Monster is a rather fun game on the 2600. The graphics are colourful and the characters are nicely animated. You do have to race against a timer or the monster will come to life and he will just come at you (it will grow on the screen until the whole screen is green). The game does have some similarities to Pitfall but is different enough to make it worth your time.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Freeway – By Activision

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side, of course! And that is your goal in Freeway. Take control of the chicken and help it cross a 10-lane road (five lanes each way) and do this as many times as you can within an limited time window. Freeway appears to have been inspired by Frogger but its gameplay is not quite the same. Here, the yellow chicken can only move up or down and never sideways. Anything that’s on the road is a danger to the chicken, so everything has to be avoided. Timing is of the essence, particularly since the cars and trucks move at different speeds in each lane on the freeway. In fact, the game offers eight different freeway variations that range from early morning on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago to peak traffic time in The Beltway in Washington DC. Needless to say the number of cars on the road varies dramatically and so does their speed! Your chicken never gets killed if it gets hit by a vehicle but it does get pushed back. How far back depends on where you’ve set the difficulty switch. B just pushes you back one lane but A gets you all the way back to the curb, the very start! Freeway’s gameplay may be simple but it certainly is addicting. Though one player can enjoy the game alone, it is best to play it with a friend to compete against each other at having chicken cross the road. Game graphics are well done and the chicken are well animated. Game sound are also well done and it is cool to hear horns and engine sounds as you try to make it to the other side.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Frogger – By Parker Brothers

Konami, in 1981, brought to the arcades a game about a little frog that had to cross the road and a river. The game became an instant hit thanks to its fantastic gameplay. That game was Frogger. For those how have been under a rock for the past three decades, Frogger is a game where the player controls a frog as it crosses the street while avoiding traffic to then navigate a river by jumping on logs, turtles, and alligators (these frogs do not swim!). Make it all the way to the other side and sit your frog in a “home.” Along the way you may give a ride to a lady frog for bonus points, or you may catch bugs (also for bonus points) that appear in the “homes” just before you jump into them. As the game advances, the road gets busier and other dangers appear (like otters and snakes). Parker Brothers licensed Frogger for creating home ports and one of those ports was for the 2600. The port retains almost all of the elements from the arcade and has always been regarded as an excellent adaptation for the console. The game has good graphics but they’ve been simplified. You cannot tell that the turtles are turtles (they are just ovals) and the cars have simple designs. The intro music is included but the otter is missing. There is some flicker but it isn’t a major issue. Game controls, which are very important for this game, are spot on. Overall, Frogger captures the essence of the arcade game and bring the fun home for everyone to enjoy.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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Frogger, The Official - By Starpath

Thanks to a loophole in Parker Bros’ license for Frogger, the folks over at Starpath were able to secure rights for a tape version of the game. Since this was what they needed for their SuperCharger, things worked out like a charm and they were able to bring us this truly impressive port of the game. In Frogger you play the role of a frog who is trying to get across a busy street and a river so he can make it to his grotto on the other side. Cars and other vehicles will crush the frog, so they must avoided when crossing the street. The river can only be crossed by jumping on logs or turtles but care must be taken to avoid turtles that take a dive or even the mouths of alligators that may appear in between logs. Your frog is also a gentleman and can help a lady frog get to the grotto if she happens to be on one of the logs. I can’t say enough good things about this port and I’m very happy Starpath was able to pull this off. This has to be one of the best, if not the best, home port of Frogger ever on a retro system. The graphics are bright, detailed, and colourful and the animation of the characters is done beautifully. Sound is fantastic as music plays through the game and sound effects from the arcade are faithfully reproduced. Every element of the arcade is included (like the otter and the snakes) and control is perfect. This is such a great port that it has become my most favourite home version of Frogger to play. Don’t hesitate to get this game if you are able to. You will not regret it!

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Frogger II: Threeedeep – By Parker Brothers

In 1984, Parker Brothers surprised computer and console owners with a sequel to the arcade hit Frogger called Frogger II: Threeedeep! In this sequel the frog is back but, this time, the game has three different screens per level: underwater, over water, and through the air. As with the original game, the goal is to reach the home berths at the top of the screen and fill them with frogs. Here, though, there are berths in each of the three screens that need to be filled before advancing to the next level. Interestingly, Frogger can move between any of the three areas at any time. In the underwater screen, Frogger must fight the water currents as he moves up the screen. This screen has dangers in the form of fish and submarines. There’s also an eel that blows air bubbles that will push Frogger and can lead to his death. A turtle called Joe is a friendly, though, and a nice way to move around the screen without being killed. If you jump into a filled berth or a log you can move onto the water surface. Here Frogger can’t swim well, so he needs to jump on the various creatures (ducks, hippos, whales, turtles) or logs to move to the berths. He also must avoid sharks and be sure to jump on the life preserver pulled by the tugboat. If you jump on mama duck, she will fly you to the air level. Here Frogger must jump on butterflies and birds while avoiding a dragon, bats, and planes to make it to cloud berth. Though Frogger II expands on the original formula, the game isn’t quite as fun. The graphics and sounds are good and control is perfect. A very good game for the 2600.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Frostbite – By Activision

You are Frostbite Bailey and you build igloos. You do this by jumping on floating blocks of ice that are in the Arctic Sea. Each workday you must built four igloos per shift (you work both day and night shifts). Working in the Arctic isn’t always safe, though, as there are Alaskan King Crabs, snow geese, and killer clams that will push Bailey off the ice. And what’s an Arctic Sea without Polar Grizzlies? Yep, they are here too and they will push Bailey right off should he get too close to them. As if that weren’t enough, Bailey is racing against falling temperatures. If the temperature drops to zero, he dies frostbitten! Frostbite’s gameplay combines elements from two other very entertaining games, Q*Bert and Frogger. As you’d imagine, this combination makes for a very addicting and enjoyable game. As you control Bailey, he jumps on the various ice blocks in the sea. Every block that is jumped on turns blue and adds another block to an igloo at the top of the screen. Once all the blocks have been turned blue, they revert to white. Be sure to check the igloo because, once the door appears, that igloo is finished and it is time for Bailey to step in. Though you have to avoid the geese, crabs, and clams, do keep an eye out for fish. They are Bailey’s food and catching them gives you extra points. Frosbite has nice graphics and simple sounds but these work well. One interesting aspect of the control for Frostbite is that you can change the direction of the ice blocks in the sea. The only catch is that every time you do this, the igloo loses a cube (except when it is finished). Now, go make some igloos!

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Galaxian – By Atari

You are a cadet under the instruction of Commander Champion and you are in training at the missile laser base. Your goal is to prepare to repel the invading force of the Galaxian Fleet which has threatened your world with war and terrorism for centuries. The Galaxian Fleet always flys in formation and sends waves of attack drones to attack before the Flagships enter the foray. The Flagships don’t attack alone, though, as escort fighters always join them. Can you destroy the Galaxian Fleet before they reach your world? This is the story behind Galaxian, an arcade game created by Namco. The game takes the original formula from Space Invaders and expands upon it. This winning formula made the game a hit which led Atari to licensing it to create ports to their systems, including the 2600. Atari’s version of Galaxian is an excellent adaptation that captures the gameplay of the arcade remarkably well. The graphics show nicely coloured Galaxians in formation but has a ridiculous yellow border all around the playing field. I’m not sure why Atari programmers did that but it does not affect the gameplay one iota. Game sounds are also well done and really emulate the arcade sound effects well. The action may start a bit slow but, as you progress in the game, things get frenetic rather quickly making it necessary for you to avoid not just the attacking Galaxians (they’ll try to ram your ship) but also their incessant fire. Galaxian is a winner for the 2600 and should not be missed.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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  Galaxian Expanded/Arcade - By Nukey Shay

Atari’s port of Galaxian for the 2600 has always been considered to be an excellent version but the game had some visual differences compared to the arcade that always annoyed some of us. Well, be annoyed no more as Nukey Shay has hacked the original game into something that is visually closer to the arcade and retains the gameplay that made the game a winner on the 2600. Gone is the yellow border that adorned Atari’s original version. The Galaxians have been modified to have a colour scheme closer to that of the arcade game and the Flagships have been entirely redesigned so they look just like in the arcade. Your laser ship has also been redesigned to more closely resemble the one from the arcade and it is rendered in three colours with the yellow “laser tip” also present. Though the flags from the arcade are missing, the number that indicates the wave is now red in colour, emulating the colour of the arcade. In addition to the changes made in the game screen, the title screen has been modified to also show the message displayed in the arcade version: “We are the Galaxians/Mission: Destroy Alien.” This screen also has the Score Advance Table where you can see the points awarded for each Galaxian type killed. All of these visual changes take an already excellent game and take it to the next level. This is the ultimate Galaxian for the 2600!

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Garfield - By Atari

Garfield is a game based on characters created by Jim Davis for a comic strip. Garfield the cat is, of course, the main character of this comic strip and he is the star of the game. Originally developed in 1984, Garfield never saw release back in the day because Atari did not want to pay the required royalties, so the game development was stopped and the game was never completed as intended (it was supposed to have hundreds of screens). Garfield is a side-scrolling platformer in which Garfield must find Nermal by going across five different areas. During his search, Garfield must be careful not to run into Odie or that will be the end of him. The five areas that must be crossed are The Burgers, The Flowerpots, The Roof, The Odie Invasion, and Nermal. Because the game wasn’t completed, some of the things that happen on these screens may seem odd. Once you find Nermal, the five screens start again but appear randomly and some elements of the action change to increase difficulty. Controlling Garfield is a bit interesting as it requires using the fire button and the joystick at the same time as Garfield is only able to jump from spot to spot. Despite its incomplete state, Garfield looks fantastic and is still fun to play. It is unfortunate that Atari did not want to see this game finished because it would have been a stellar platformer for the 2600. Thankfully, Jim Davis gave permission to Steve Woita (the game’s programmer) to release the prototype and this is how we get to play this game today.

Review by TrekMD

6/10

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 Gate Racer 2 - By Steve Engelhardt

Gate Racer 2 is less a true sequel and more an improved version of the original Gate Racer homebrew (which was a 2K game). Gate Racer 2 has been expanded to 4K to allow for score saving using an AtariVox. As in the original game, the objective is to race through a road and drive through scrolling gates while avoiding the barriers, oil slicks, and walls on the side of the road. This game is simply about survival. As the game advances, the gates become narrower and more difficult to go through. If you crash the game ends and your time is displayed. Gates appear randomly, so there is no pattern that you can figure out to play better the next time you race. This, of course, adds replay value to the game. In addition to the oil slicks that appear on the road, there are some mysterious white blocks on the road that make you invincible temporarily and let you pass through two gates unharmed (should you happen to touch the walls). Keep an eye out for them. Gate Racer 2 may be a game that follows the K.I.S.S. principle well but that does not mean that it isn’t fun and addicting. Controlling the race car is tricky, which is what the game is all about. Graphics are basic and definitely look like they came from 1970's (an intentional choice of the programmer). Sounds is also minimal (engine sound, going over oil slick, crashing...) but it works. The game does have a title screen and some options you can select before you start to play as well.

Review by TrekMD

6/10

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 Ghostbusters – By Activision

Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! Based on the hit movie from 1984, Ghostbusters is an adaptation of the C64 game originally programmed by David Crane. At the start of the game you have been loaned $5000 to start your very own Ghostbusters franchise. You must use this money wisely to get the gear you need to actually capture some ghosts. You have to select from image intensifiers, bait, ghost vacuums, and traps. Once you’ve done your shopping, hit the difficulty switch which will take you to the map screen. Here you will see the city blocks, the location of Zuul’s temple, and the location of the Ghostbusters office. Look for red squares that mark the presence of slimers and get to some ghost busting! As the game progresses, the Marshmallow Man will appear and you’ll have to use bait to stop him. Speed is of the essence! Fail to bait him and you lose $4000! Once the PK energy level reaches 9999 and you’ve earned $10,000 from ghostbusting, you’ll face the Marshmallow Man and must get two Ghostbusters past him to conquer Zuul. If you succeed, you get bonus money and you can keep on playing. Ghostbusters on the 2600 works pretty well and manages to capture elements of the movie that are fun to play. The graphics are rather good and the classic movie theme plays continuously through the game. The sound effects are kept to a minimum but they do the trick. It is cool seeing the Ectomobile driving on the streets which also gives you a chance to capture more ghosts for extra money. Overall a good game for the system and one for every fan of the movie.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Ghostbusters II – By Activision

Oh, oh, those pesky ghosts are back and who you gonna call? Well, the Ghostbusters, of course! It is five years after Gozer tried to take over New York and the rest of the world. Now there is slime filling up the old Van Horne transit line beneath the city. This slime feeds off the negative energy that comes from the citizens in the city above. It is the job of the Ghostbusters to clean up the slime before it can take over the city. Ghostbusters II was only released in the European market as it was released when things in the North American market were taking a nosedive for video games. The game is an adaptation of the computer version but it has been paired down to only have two levels. First you have to travel down the shaft at Van Horne to collect “positive” slime that you can use to fight off the bad slime. You must swing side to side in the shaft to collect slime as well as bonus items that will help you deal with the ghouls that surround you. Once you clear this level, you move onto the streets where you control Lady Liberty (or the arm that holds her torch) to shoot the ghosts that come toward you. You have to use your fire to destroy the ghosts but must also collect the slime that forms when they are destroyed. Ghostbusters II does not translate well on the 2600. The game has poor controls that make it very frustrating to play, particularly during the shaft stage. Graphics are very boxy in the first level but nicer in the second with a well animated torch. Play this one if you are looking or an exercise in frustration!

Review by TrekMD

4/10

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