Atari 2600 T-U

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Tapper – By Sega

In 1983 Bally Midway released a game where the player controlled a bartender serving beer and collecting empty mugs. This game was known as Tapper and it used the Budweiser brand on the wall of the bar. The game was later modified as Root Beer Tapper to be more kid-friendly but kept the same gameplay. The has four tables where patrons appear periodically to be served. You must then fill mugs and send them down the tables to your customers. You have to avoid sending extra mugs because if they fall, you lose a life. You also have to watch for empty mugs customers send your way. Pick them up before the fall at your end of the table. Tapper has four different bar settings with different customers, each lasting two to four levels: a western bar (cowboys), a sports bar (athletes), a punch rock bar (punk rockers), and a space bar (aliens). In between the bars you’ll come to a bonus screen where a Soda Bandit challenges the player to a soda can version of the shell game. The 2600 port of Tapper actually does an great job of capturing the frenetic action of the arcade game. Game graphics are excellent with well rendered tables and multicoloured kegs , drinks, and bartender. The customers are rendered in single colours but you can recognize them easily. In addition to the nice graphics, game sounds are also well done and a musical tune plays through the game. The bonus stage has replaced the Budweiser logo with a Mountain Dew logo and the dancing girls that celebrate when you finish a stage also make an appearance. Tapper is truly an excellent port for the 2600.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Tennis – By Activision

Activision’s Tennis was the first real tennis game for the 2600 and, like other games by Activision, it took the system to new levels because of its graphics and gameplay. This game, however, was surpassed later by Atari’s release of RealSports Tennis. That doesn’t mean this is a bad game, it just means that Atari was able to create something even better. Tennis displays a court with a solid net on a solid green background. There are four game variations to choose from that allow for one or two players and fast or slow speed. In addition, the difficulty switches alter the “angle” at which shots can be hit. The game follows the standard tennis rules for scoring: 15-30-40, “deuce” at 40-all, and “ad in” or “ad out” following “deuce.” To win a player must beat the other player at least for six games and be ahead by two games to win the set. If the players tie the games, then the score is reset and the first player to go two games ahead is the winner. Tennis is fast paced and fun, particularly if played against a friend. The graphics do look very simplistic, though, if compared to Atari’s Tennis game. The court is of the same colour as the rest of the screen, the solid net just doesn’t look as nice, there is no scoreboard (just numbers on the screen), and the player characters are monochromatic. The characters are well animated, however, and their rackets are larger than on Atari’s version. The latter makes it easier to hit balls. Despite this, this game is still very good and worth playing.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Texas Chainsaw Massacre - By Wizard

Here is a game that was so surrounded by controversy that it was even hidden at the stores as retailers refused to sell it to children. Based on the movie of the same title, this game lets the player control Leatherface, the main villain of the story and a character known for his masks made of human skin, his blood-soaked butcher's apron and the chainsaw he wields. Leatherface is chasing a group of tourists who have trepassed on his property and he will find and chop them with his chainsaw. As you run around the property looking for victims, you must avoid wheelchairs, fences, cow skulls, and other objects on which you can get stuck. You must also keep an eye out on your fuel gauge because, once the fuel is gone, so is your chance to catch the victims. In fact, you use up all the gas tanks, one of the victims will come kick Leatherface in the butt (literally). Texas Chainsaw Massacre may have been a successful movie franchise but this game is certainly not part of that success. This game has bad graphics, poor sound, lousy control, and no fun factor. The women that you chase make this hyperacute sound that hurts your ears. Trying to catch them is also a pain as they magically vanish from in front of you only to appear behind you. Once you reach them and but them with your chainsaw, they become a blob of some kind that you still have to get lose from. The stores did the right thing for the wrong reason back then. No one should have to suffer through this massacre!

Review by TrekMD

2/10

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 Thrust+ Platinum - By XYPE

You are a Captain of the Resistance against the Intergalactic Empire and you have been tasked to retrieve Klystron Pods from the Empire’s stockade planets. If the Resistance is to succeed in their major offensive against the Empire, you must not fail your mission. Thrust+ Platinum is an enhanced port of Thrust, a game inspired by Gravitar originally created for the Commodore 64. You are in control of a starship that must navigate through underground caverns to locate the Klystron Ponds. As you go in search of the Pods, you must fight against gravity and be watchful of “Limpet” guns that defend the Pods. The guns are energized by nuclear reactors that you can shoot to temporarily disable the guns; however, take too many shots at the reactors and the entire planet goes kaboom! If a reactor goes critical, you have 10 seconds to leave that planet before it blows. This means that, if you time things right and you already have a Pod, you can intentionally make a reactor go critical to rid the Resistance of another enemy planet. If you’ve ever played Gravitar, you should feel right at home with Thrust+ Platinum. This enhanced version of the game has a title theme that was composed by Rob Hubbard (composer of the theme for the C64 version) and it has additional sound enhancements when compared to the previous releases of Thrust on the 2600. The game is also compatible with a gamut of 2600 controllers (standard joystick, Omega Booster grip, Driving controller, and footpedal controller) and has instructions for all of these. As a shooter, the game is both challenging and fun and it includes five game variations to choose from. With its beautiful graphics and pristine control, this is yet another excellent title any 2600 owner should have.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Toyshop Trouble - By John Payson, Zach Matley, Bob Montgomery, Thomas Jentzsch & Nathan Strum

You are an elf who finds himself having to fix the mess created by three other elves who are now having fun in the Bahamas having “completed” their toy painting chores. So, if they painted the toys, what is it that you are fixing? Well, turns out your buddies just dumped all the toys in gray paint and you now have to get them painted properly! Toys appear on conveyor belts that, at either side, have paint buckets of different colours for you to choose from. You must get all the toys properly painted which, at times, may mean not one but two colours need to be applied to each toy to get them right. Of course, you don’t have all year to get this done and it is a race against the clock if you are going to have all the toys painted in time for Christmas! Each day you have a quota of toys that must be painted in a certain amount of time if you are to be successful. Whenever you complete a days quota, a new screen appears that tells you what the next toy is going to be along with how it will have to be painted. Toyshop Trouble is a fantastic and fast-paced game that must be had by anyone with an Atari 2600. The game has nice music, a train whistle sound announcing the start of each day, and graphics that are just beautiful. The elf you control is rendered in several colours and the toys are just amazing: candy canes, fire trucks, trumpets, trains, Tonka trucks, AT-ATs, Godzilla figures, and sailboats. If you are looking for great Christmas cheer, look no further!

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Track & Field – By Atari

Originally released in Japan by Konami under the title, Hyper Olympic (with an official 1984 Summer Olympics license), Track & Field brought a unique game mechanic to the arcades in 1983. Instead of using a joystick for action, the player had to push two buttons in sequence quickly followed by pressing an action button for the game’s athlete to perform at any given event. A total of six events appear in the game: 100-metre, dash, long jump, javelin throw, 110-metre hurdles, hammer throw, and high jump. Up to four players could compete at a time. Each event has a qualifying part that costs the player a life if qualification is not met. Atari obtained rights to the game and created a port for the 2600 that was packaged with a unique controller designed specifically for this game - a button controller to imitate the arcade cabinet set up. The game is compatible with joysticks as well, however. Atari’s port is an excellent game that sports superb graphics, good sound effects, and the full gameplay of the arcade. Sure some adjustments had to be made, like limiting it to two players, but the game is all here. At the start of the game you get to enter your initials and then the events start with the qualification round followed by the actual sporting event. It’s cool to be able to play the game using the special controller but it is also good that Atari did not make it mandatory. The joysticks work well also and some people may even prefer using them over the button controller. Nonetheless, being able to emulate the arcade experience at home is great.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Tron: Deadly Discs – By M-Network

In 1982, Walt Disney Productions introduced us to world within computers, a world of programs, Recognizers, and a Master Control Program (MCP). This was the world of Tron. The movie inspired a number of games and Mattel capitalized on their license developing games for the Intellivision. One of their most successful games was Tron: Deadly Discs and it soon was adapted for the Atari 2600 through Mattel’s M-Network brand. In the game, the player controls Tron himself who must play in the arena against other MCP-controlled programs by using their discs. The enemies appear through doors on the side of the arena and they are out to kill Tron. Tron must dispose of them before they dispose of him. To derezz the enemies, Tron throws the disc at them while avoiding any discs coming in his direction. Tron can either wait for the disc to return after hitting the walls or he can recall the disc if it misses its target. The disc will only derezz enemies when thrown and not when returning to Tron. Clear all enemies on screen only to have another wave sent it by the MCP. Tron can try to escape hits by using the open doors on the sides of the arena. Doing so also stuns the enemies for a few seconds so that they don’t throw discs at Tron. Unfortunately, the doors do close behind Tron, so this has to be used strategically. The 2600 version of Tron: Deadly Discs has simpler graphics than its Intellivision counterpart and it is missing the “boss” of the game, the Recognizer, which takes away from the fun. Despite this, the game is well done and worth playing.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Up’n Down - By Sega

Up’n Down was an arcade racing game released by Sega in 1983 in which the player controls a Baja Bugger (think, Volkswagen Beetle) on a course of zigzagging one-lane roads. The goal is to pick up 10 of coloured flags that are spread the roads while avoiding impact with the other vehicles on them. The player can accelerate or decelerate their buggy by pushing the joystick forward or backward, respectively and can jump over other vehicles by pressing the fire button. Jumping is key to survive and the player can either jump to avoid a car or jump on other cars to get points. Jumping also lets the player change roads (if timed correctly) to get to flags that may be there. Once the 10 flags are picked up, the game starts a new round. Missing flags as they appear doesn’t mean the player has to go backwards as the flags will appear again later. The player keeps track of the flags picked up by a flag display at the top of the screen. In addition to the flags, other bonus items (i.e., balloons and fruits) appear on the roads for you to pick up. Sega’s conversion of the arcade game to the 2600 is a mixed bag. The graphics of the game are truly horrible. Everything is a jumble of pixels but, surprisingly, you can tell whether you are on a regular road on land or a bridge over water. The cars are hard to describe, though they are rendered in various colours. The flags, balloons, and fruits are well done, however. Despite the graphical shortcomings, the game does capture well the gameplay of the arcade and it even has a rendition the arcade’s musical tune.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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