Today’s Atari Flashback Classic is a one- or two-player blastathon with a couple of twists: firstly, it’s paddle-controlled, and secondly, it involves firing an extendable “beam” rather than the more common shots.
Yes, it’s Demons to Diamonds, a simple but enjoyable shoot ’em up designed for younger players — but there’s still some fun to be had for a few minutes here if you give it a chance.
It may not be the most fondly regarded of all the Atari Flashback Classics, but it’s worth a blast or two — particularly if you bring a friend along for the ride!
It’s always interesting to look at a very old game and see the earliest glimmer of a subgenre that became well-established much later.
Mattel’s Dark Cavern, actually an Atari 2600 port of their Intellivision title Night Stalker, is a good example. On paper, it’s a simple maze game, but in practice, you can see just a hint of what would become stealth and survival horror gameplay in there.
We’ve got a fragile protagonist; we’ve got an emphasis on outwitting enemies; we’ve got limited resources. How long can Your Man survive in the Dark Cavern?
Back in the ’70s and ’80s, players of home consoles weren’t looking for “arcade perfect” — mostly because the home systems of the time weren’t up to it.
Rather, they were looking for a roughly equivalent or perhaps complementary experience to that which could be had in the arcades. This meant that sometimes games underwent a few changes in the transition from the arcade to the home.
A good example of this is Crystal Castles for the Atari 2600, which provides a surprisingly authentic-feeling approximation of the arcade classic, while working within the constraints of its host hardware.
Today’s title from Atari Flashback Classics is one of the few genuine exclusives for the Atari 5200: it’s Countermeasure!
Countermeasure is an interesting strategic shooter in which you navigate a “supertank” through a perilous environment in an attempt to destroy a selection of missile silos. Yes, it’s another “Cold War paranoia” sort of game, but this one has some interesting twists.
Unfortunately, it’s also a pretty strong example of how the emulation of the Atari 5200’s POKEY chip is a bit dodgy in Atari Flashback Classics, which is a bit of a shame — especially considering the fact the emulation of the arcade titles that use it is spot on! Ah well.
A lot of early Atari 2600 games (or, sorry, “Atari Video Computer System”, as it was called back then) were adaptations of games that could be played on the tabletop.
The convenience of playing them on the television was, of course, that you didn’t have to worry about physical components getting scattered all over the place, setup time and the like — if you just wanted a quick game of something with someone, all you had to do was slap in the cartridge, pick up a controller and you were away.
One example of this early brand of tabletop adaptation comes in the form of Concentration; perhaps not the most interesting game to play today, but kind of fun for two players, a good showcase of the Keyboard Controllers and a game with a certain amount of educational value, too.
One of the coolest things about the Atari Flashback devices and compilations that have been released over the course of the last few years is the number of prototypes included.
In many cases, these prototypes were complete games that just didn’t get released for one reason or another; such is the case with Combat Two, a game originally set to come out in 1984, but which was a victim of the great crash of ’83.
Fortunately, we can play it today — and it’s an interesting twist on the tank battle formula of the original Combat, offering a very different competitive experience for two players to enjoy.
One cannot talk about the Atari 2600 — or the Atari Video Computer System, as it was originally known — without mentioning Combat.
The original deathmatch, one of the original competitive multiplayer titles and a game that is still an absolute ton of fun to play today — Combat really is an all-time classic, with the only sticking point for a lot of people being the fact that it’s a two-player only affair, so you need another person readily available to get the most out of it.
Fortunately, I have a very understanding, supportive and helpful wife, so let’s get right to the blasting!
Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.