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Games #25-43 and Another System

I hooked up the Atari 7800.  The 7800 was originally to be released in 1984, but the Great Crash caused Atari to shelve the release plans until 1986, when the NES had revived the home console market.  The 7800 was backward compatible with the 2600, so it has a huge library of games that can be played on it.  Unfortunately, it also has some of the most uncomfortable joysticks ever made.  Fortunately, I have a pair of European Atari gamepads designed for the 7800.

Anyway, I had a couple of technical difficulties yesterday, one of them involving the screenshot program.  I decided it would be faster to play a bunch of games, then come back later and deal with the screenshots and writing about the games.  Unfortunately, the screenshot program took a picture of part of the title screen of the first game, then quit.  So, almost 20 games later, no screenshots.  Yay.  Instead, here’s the carts or boxes and a quick rundown of each:

#25: Snafu – Intellivision.  Snafu is like Surround on the 2600, or like the Light Cycles from Tron.  It has a few variations, including a mode with four opponents.  It also has some of the best music on the system. 1

#26:  Tron Deadly Discs – Atari 2600.  This version is easier to control than the Intellivision version, and it seems to be clearer about how much health is remaining.  Unfortunately, it loses out on the ability to fire in any direction at any time, and I think this one is missing the Recognizer boss.

#27:  Deadly Discs of Tron – Intellivision.  This version is harder to control than the Intellivision verison, and it seems to be less clear about how much health is remaining.  Fortunately, it has the ability to fire in any direction at any time, and this one has a Recognizer boss.

#28: Midnight Mutants – Atari 7800.  This game is one of the most complex games on the system.  It really shows that the 7800 was capable of competing with the NES, had Atari gotten its act together earlier.  If it had come out in 1986, it could have been a game changer.  Instead, it came out in 1990, so it was game over.  This game is the closest the 7800 has to a Zelda style game, with exploration and items, plus, it’s got Grampa Munster.  How can you go wrong with Grampa Munster?

#29: Tower Toppler – Atari 7800.  Tower Toppler is known by many names.  Tower Toppler, Castelian, Nebulus…  All involve a space frog trying to climb and destroy a series of towers.  Most of the enemies in the game don’t kill you, they just knock you down to a lower level on the tower.  You only die if you fall off the bottom of the tower or if you run out of time.  And you will run out of time often.  This game also features a convincing 3D effect as the tower rotates behind your space frog.

#30: Scrapyard Dog – Atari 7800.  Scrapyard Dog is the only side-scrolling platformer on the system.  The only one.  Think about how many there were on the NES at the same time.  The game itself is pretty decent, with lots of jumping and secrets to find.  I keep meaning to dedicate some time to playing this game.  Now that I have the game room all set up, I might just have to do that.

#31: Donkey Kong – Atari 7800.  The game is Donkey Kong.  The music is a horrifying mess.  This game is an indication of why the Atari 7800 failed.  Most of the launch games for the system were the same old games that people had on the 2600.  They were five year old arcade games that no one was playing anymore.  No one wanted to spend $200 for the ability to play games that they didn’t actually want to play, when there was this other system that had a completely new style of game, where getting a high score was no longer the main objective.

#32: Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine – Sega Genesis.  Ever play Kirby’s Avalanche?  Same game, but set in the Sonic universe.  And by same game, I mean that the gameplay is IDENTICAL.  Even the graphics for the blobs that drop down is the same.  If you haven’t played it, this game is sort of like Dr. Mario, where groups of two colored blocks fall from the top and you try to set up blocks of the same color.  Four or more of the same color touching each other will cause the group to disappear, and you get bonuses for setting up large cascades.

#33: Dashin’ Desperadoes – Sega Genesis.  This game is a split-screen footrace between two cowboys who want to get the girl.  That sadistic, mean-spirited tease has these two cowboys running across half the world, watching them kick, punch, sabotage, and throw bombs at each other, just on the promise of a kiss.  This game, like OutRunners, seems like it requires two players to be any fun.  The CPU character in the single player game visibly cheats:  If you get too far ahead, he snaps to within two feet of you and immediately throws a bomb to knock you off your feet.

#34: Space Spartans – Intellivision.  Star Raiders with speech synthesis.  If you like Star Raiders, you’ll like this.  If you like speech synthesis, you’ll be impressed, but you probably won’t have any idea how to play, so the only speech synthesis you hear will be the computer telling you that all systems have been completly destroyed and that you’re about to be killed by the alien horde.

#35: Pinball – Intellivision.  Whoa.  This looks like a real pinball table.  This acts like a real pinball table.  Multiple flippers, bonus tunnels, bumpers, curved surfaces, it’s all there.  It’s like the people who wrote this game actually played pinball at some point in their lives, unlike the people who wrote Video Pinball for the 2600.  Plus, this game has cute puppies.  Any game with cute puppies gets bonus points.

#36: Hero – Atari 2600.  A very complex multi-level adventure for the 2600.  Your goal is to take your copter-pack into dangerous mines and rescue trapped miners, while avoiding spiders and bats and exploding TNT.  I feel should like this game more than I do.   Some of the deaths felt very cheap, like dropping into a new room directly on top of a spider that kills you instantly.

#37: Astroblast – Atari 2600.  This is the 2600 version of Astrosmash.  Since you use a joystick instead of the thumb-mangling Inty controller, I should like this game more, but I don’t.  The speed’s all wrong and the game just doesn’t feel right.

#38: Sentinel – Atari 2600.  I believe this is the only light-gun game on the 2600.  It came out in the late 80’s, so the sound and graphics are top notch for the system.  It’s a multi-stage horizontally scrolling shooter, where it’s your goal to defend the planet Neptune2 from attacking alien forces.  At the end of each stage, there’s a boss robot to defeat.  I can easily say that it’s the best light gun game on the 2600.  Don’t confuse this with The Sentinel, the 3D game about robots that eat trees.

#39: Shove It! – Sega Genesis.  Sokoban.  A testament to stupid warehouse design.  Anyone who’s tried to clean their garage or pack things up for a move has played this game in real life.  It is a good version of Sokoban, but still, you’re just pushing boxes around.  Some day, I’m going to force myself to finish this game… 3

#40: Barnyard Blaster – Atari 7800.  This game forces you to shoot chickens and cute fluffy bunnies.  What kind of horrifying game is this?  The game is a light gun game with several screens of farm themed shooting.  Bottles on the fence, watermelons in the yard, owls in the barn, etc.  Somehow, this game is more morally abhorrent to me than GTA is.  “You shot Gramps!  No bonus!”

#41: SubTerrania – Sega Genesis.  This game is similar to Thrust, Gravitar, or Solar Jetman, only with a greater emphasis on combat and higher gravity.  I died within about 20 second when a giant robot punched me.

#42: Trouble Shooter – Sega Genesis.  Horizontally scrolling SHMUP featuring two teenage girls in with jet packs who are excited about going to the mall to fight evil, because the cute shoes might still be on sale.

#43: Rocket Knight Adventures – Sega Genesis.  Back in the nineties, pretty much every animal had a platformer.  There were hedgehogs and geckos and bats and bandicoots.  Rocket Knight Adventures has a possum.  A possum in a rocket-powered suit of armor with a boomerang.  The graphics are bright and detailed, but the controls will often have you rocketing around out of control in a direction you didn’t want to go.

  1. Well, okay, some of the only music on the system… []
  2. Or it’s a giant beach ball…  I’m not sure… []
  3. BTW, the password for level 2 is MARINA []

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