We’ve done it, everyone; we’ve made it through the SwordQuest games without killing anyone. And thankfully, the last of the three games that actually made it to release is the best by a long shot — though that’s still not saying much.
SwordQuest WaterWorld was initially only released to Atari Club members, making it a very rare cartridge for the dear ol’ 2600 today. But thanks to Atari Flashback Classics, now we can all enjoy its… whatever it offers, but without the prospect of a $25,000 jewelled crown to spur us on. I will say this, at least; this is probably the SwordQuest game you’ll be most likely to actually beat!
Just… don’t. I don’t want to talk about it. I can’t. I just… please. Help me.
SwordQuest FireWorld is one of the most miserable video games I have ever played. And, as anyone who knows me well will attest, this is not something I say lightly. Forget E.T., forget Pac-Man, this is the true festering dog turd of the Atari 2600’s library.
The “snake” game, known over the years as “Blockade”, “Light Cycles” and doubtless various other forms of address, is one with enduring popularity. And indeed, as we’ll see with this launch title for the Atari 2600, it’s been around pretty much since the dawn of video gaming.
Surround is an unofficial home port of the game that started the whole genre: Gremlin’s Blockade for arcades. Surround has one big benefit over Blockade, however: its Video Graffiti mode, which allows you to draw gigantic hairy peni– I mean, tall men riding broken bicycles. Yes. That.
What happens when you give the guy who made Star Raiders the task of making an American football game for Atari 2600? You get the best damn American football game on the Atari 2600, that’s what.
Here’s Super Football, a game that I was dreading playing until I discovered that it was the work of Doug Neubauer, a guy who really knows his stuff when it comes to both technical mastery of the Atari 2600 and designing great games. And he only went and did it — he made an American football game for the Atari 2600 that I actually enjoy playing. Wonders will never cease!
Super Breakout for Atari 2600 is one of the best adaptations of the classic block-breaker out there — and much more fun than the arcade version due to its far more reasonably sized paddles!
It also plays host to a spectacularly overblown and completely unnecessary narrative setup. Because when you’re knocking bricks out of a wall, what you really need is some sort of narrative motivation, right?
Sometimes, as we’ve seen numerous times on this series already, the simplest game concepts really do work quite well. And such is the case with Steeplechase for Atari 2600, one of three games to be exclusively distributed through Sears’ Tele-Games label.
Offering simple, easy to understand horse racing action for one to four players, Steeplechase is a fun game to bust out when you have friends over and can’t be arsed to explain anything that needs more than one button. This also makes it an ideal fit for those people in your life who claim not to “do” video games.
Before Star Raiders, there was Star Ship. And it’s… umm… not quite as good.
That said, when you consider this came out in 1977 — a time when no-one really knew what a “video game” was, let alone what a “first-person perspective space combat simulator” might look like — then they didn’t do all that bad of a job considering the limitations of the hardware.
Slot Racers is a game for Atari 2600 that has nothing to do with either slot cars or racing.
Instead, it’s a top-down, maze-based, vehicle-centric deathmatch game with some interesting mechanics and the bendiest cars you ever did see. It’s a fun time, though some might argue it drags on a little longer than it is welcome to.
We’re closing in on the home straight of the RealSports collection in Atari Flashback Classics! Only two more to go after this one!
RealSports Tennis for Atari 2600 is a fun game for one or two players that… doesn’t really offer much of a realistic game of tennis, but does provide a rather prettier take on the Pong format, with a couple of interesting twists. It’s simple and straightforward, but it’s also speedy and fun — particularly with a friend.
One of the nice things about modern, curated compilations of games from old platforms is that they provide an opportunity for “lost” classics to finally get an audience.
In many cases, “lost” classics were completed and reached a full prototype phase, but just never ended up getting duplicated and distributed to the public. Sometimes this is understandable; at other times, it’s a bit of a mystery.