So as promised at the end of Backlogs III, this weekend was the land of the Atari 2600 and 7800. Actually, all of the games this weekend are going to be played on the 7800, since it’s backward compatible with 2600 games if you didn’t know that already, and I don’t really want to jump between two different systems when one can do the job.
I’m actually pretty happy having been able to spend the last few weekends pushing through these games, since the piles of games do prey on my mind. Hopefully, you as my readers are taking something away from this as well, especially since I have no doubts many of you serious collectors have had the same issue. So with that said lets get to this weekend.
This Weekends Buy’s:
F-Zero GX (GameCube)- So yes after pushing through my minor backlog of GameCube games last week, I’m adding another to possibly start a new pile. Actually, this one’s been on my wishlist forever, and I’ve been waiting a while to get it. This also completes my F-Zero collection, but my fingers are crossed we get a new addition to the franchise in the near future.
Nuclear Strike (PS1) – Actually, I have a correction for last week, but I’ll get to that. Nuclear Strike is the last and final installment of the “Strike” series. Although the previous game Soviet Strike (covered last week) was on both the Sega Saturn and PS1, Nuclear Strike would only appear on the PS1. In its complete state it’s actually pretty cheap on eBay, so I grabbed a copy shipped for less than $7.
Ok, now on to the correction: Thunder Strike which I covered last week and gushed about, isn’t actually part of the “Strike” series. All real “Strike” games are published by EA, and have that same out-of-helicopter isometric view. So although Thunder Strike is a cool helicopter game, it’s not a true “Strike” game, nor part of the franchise, and published by US Gold and not EA.
NCAA Football (SNES) – So I know I’m usually down on sports titles, but I am a huge NCAA Football fan, and I just had to get this one. To be honest I didn’t even know they had NCAA titles as far back as the SNES so this one was a surprise for me. Go NIU Husky’s!!! Surprisingly, no SHMUPs or Star Trek games this week. I lost an auction at last minute for one SNES SHMUP, and the Star Trek game I wanted to get, Away Team (which I will mention later), wasn’t available at a good price. Fingers crossed for next week.
This Weekends Plays
Now on to the Atari 2600 and 7800. With the 7800 transferred to my smaller TV, and my CX-78 joypad controller attached, I’m setting out on a journey to see if I can push through 8 Atari 2600 games, and then 21 Atari 7800 games in the space of this weekend. Easy you say? Perhaps to a more modern gamer, but as one who grew up on these games I can tell you there is no greater siren song in home console gaming than an Atari 2600 game, whose 5 minutes of simplistic play can turn into two hours, making the system a virtual Ogygia where time passes unbeknownst to the player.
Galaxian (Atari 2600) – Of course starting with the SHMUP! This is my first virgin package NIB to open this weekend, and this one comes with a comic book. In comparison with the Atari 5200 version which I covered a few weeks back, this one isn’t too bad and is very entertaining. It looks good and a you can generally make out what your shooting at and what you’re shooting with, and on top of that it also moves pretty quick. Excellent SHMUP on the Atari 2600, although I can’t claim it looks as good as the Atari 5200 version. I will be covering its sequel, Galaga on the Atari 7800 later
Strawberry Shortcake (Atari 2600) – So you know how newer gamers always pick on the Atari 2600? Well this game is one of the reasons why. It reminds me of that music demo program I got with my old Commodore SX-64, but now turned into a game. Basically, it’s a match up game were you make sure the head, clothing, and legs match up to Strawberry Shortcake characters. It’s not that much of a game just matching, and dancing legs to music. My 3 year old is playing it as I write this, so if your 3 it must be awesome, otherwise it sucks and should never have been made.
Mouse Trap (Atari 2600) – Basically, this is another Pac-man rip off but meant to cash in on the old board game Mouse Trap. It’s not very good, since your mouse gets trapped in inescapable corners pretty easily and the cats move faster and smarter than Pac-man ghosts. I’m thinking this might be one you need a manual for unless you play it over and over to find tricks, but to be honest with you between the speed of those cats and the barely usable dog disguise, that would be hard to do. Guess, I’ll have to see if Ferg at the Atari 2600 Game by Game Podcast got to this one.
Math Gran Prix (Atari 2600) – First of all shut up, secondly shut up! You may call it a very lame edutainment title, but to me this was one of my Atari 2600 favorites growing up. I “studied math” a lot with it. Sorry, I have a lot of good memories of this one. Sometimes I just played it to mess around, but yes occasionally I tested myself with it as a young boy. For the Atari 2600 collector this one is a must, but for me this was a buy for nostalgia sake. My only issue this time around is that it didn’t seem to control too well with the CX-78 joypad, which is fine since I’m going to have to get out my Gemini controller for my next game so I will retry it with that.
Piece O’Cake (Atari 2600) – Ugh, if there’s one thing that annoys me about the 2600, it’s that need for certain games to have a special controller, like the paddles, or a number pad. Part of the reason I love the Coleco Gemini (see my article The Coleco Gemini and I) so much, is because Coleco did some forward thinking and made one controller that could work as a joystick and paddle controller so there was no annoying switching around. I might also mention that the paddle on Coleco’s Gemini controller worked better than that of Atari’s dedicated paddle controller, but enough of my Gemini love fest for now. So Piece O’Cake is one of those assembly line kind of games much like Activision’s Pressure Cooker (actually more like Mystique’s gross Beat ‘Em & Eat ‘Em) but no where near as good. Basically you drop cake parts(?) down on to an assembly line cake dish, and even though there is no rhyme or reason to it, you must always end with a cherry on top, located on the right of the screen. It does have its challenges as most paddle games usually do, but this one just comes up a bit generic.
Radar Lock (Atari 2600) – This is very late entry into the Atari 2600 library, 1989 to be exact, and basically for the Atari 2600 Jr. You can definitely tell with this one, since it has more of the late 8-bit vibe to it, and has some similarities to 7800 and NES games. Most flight sim type games on the 2600 and 7800 tend to be boring at best, but this one moves pretty quickly, and reminds me of being like Top Gun on the NES, but better. My only complaint is that the end of each mission doesn’t make a lot of sense, since rather than automatically land, or refuel, and head to the next mission, you just kind of inexplicably hang out there. Overall though, this one is getting some pretty high marks in my book.
Off The Wall (Atari 2600) – This is another late entry in the Atari 2600 library. Basically this one is a little less imaginative than Radar Lock, and is more or less a Breakout clone but here your paddle is an actual guy. It has some unique elements like bonus items that come at you, as well as the silk worm at the top you can hit for extra points. These features do separate it from the average wall breaker and overall it’s a pretty fun little game.
Ikari Warriors (Atari 2600) – Yes, on Atari 2600! I also have it on the 7800 as well, but I played it a long time ago and will not be covering it this time. This is a game that is legendary for being hard on just about every system its been ported to, starting with the arcade version and going straight on the to the NES. Of course the AVGN covered the NES version, and it’s part of the reason the NES version doesn’t grace my collection, yet. The Atari 2600 version is no different, perhaps cuter in its Atari 2600 way, but still equally as hard. This is another late Atari 2600 entry as well.
Now, on to the Atari 7800
Alien Brigade (Atari 7800) – Alien Brigade has the unique privilege of being a nominee for having some of the creepiest box art in video game history. I personally don’t think it’s that creepy, but rather fun, to the point, and a sign of the Atari 7800’s true zaniness. Despite being designed for the Atari 7800’s light gun, it works very well with the CX-78 controller, and is a complete blast to play, honestly just pure fun. It’s by far one of the best games on the system, and a unique take on the Operation Wolf type games of the arcade and NES during that same era. As a warning though it does come with a pretty high price tag especially CIB, but I’m sure you’ll find it a true plus in your collection.
Galaga (Atari 7800) – As promised the sequel to the above mentioned Galaxian and fittingly on the Atari 7800. I was actually a little let down that this doesn’t look as good as the NES version, I shouldn’t be, yet I am. To be honest though having just buzzed through the NES version a few weeks ago in my first Backlogs article, I have to admit that despite not looking as good, the game is still equally as fun. The one advantage the Atari 7800 version does have over the NES version is that the sound is very unique, and very fitting to the game’s origin. I’m going to tell you the best version is definitely on the NES, but if you have a 7800 this one is definitely worth adding.
Tower Toppler (Atari 7800) – What a bullshit game! I’m playing this with the CX-78 joypad which should be the optimal controller for a platformer like this, and the controls absolutely suck. Both buttons fire, and you have to move and hit fire to jump, even though there is no room for such actions. I salute the creativity and cuteness of this game, and it’s ahead of its time Fez like quasi-3D premise, if only they would have made it control better. Guess I’ll have to check the Atari 7800 Game by Game Podcast on this one, maybe there is some insight on this one there. But, hey the 3 year old loves it.
Jinks (Atari 7800) – This one is neat, it’s kind of like a blockbuster type game where you have to manipulate a triangular paddle to break bricks in a large room and move on to the next level. With that said this one got under my skin a bit, just a lack the patience today I guess. Overall, it’s a very interesting premise, and on par with similar puzzle type games I’ve seen on the NES, right down to graphics and intensity. This is another one that the joypad works extremely well with, and to be honest I couldn’t imagine playing this on the standard controller.
Fatal Run (Atari 7800) – This by far is one of the best I’ve played on the Atari 7800. Basically in reminds me of Pole Position or Outrun mixed with an element of sci-fi drama where-by the faster you go the more lives you save when you get to the next town. In the meantime you have on-the-road “Road Blasters” type combat, mixed with the RPG elements of saving money and upgrading your car. It sounds generic, but trust me it’s not. It also has some humor, with exploding hot dog vendors and cheerleaders who haven’t gotten their medicine, just part of the 7800’s tongue and cheek moments. Overall, this is one of the 7800’s best and I guarantee you’ll have a hard time putting this one down once you start playing.
Crossbow (Atari 7800) This is a mildly entertaining title meant for the lightgun but usable with the standard controller. Basically it’s a shooting gallery type game in which you must keep a path clear for your traveling companions, and do so throughout a map to a final destination. It’s fun, while also not being too complicated. Got to love the box art on this one!
Cracked (Atari 7800) This is another shooting gallery type game in which you must protect eggs, but strangely it wasn’t developed for lightgun use at all. Again it’s mildly entertaining and reminds me of some mini-game you’d find as part of a modern smartphone game app. Yes, its that simple, and a touch screen would work well for this one, too bad they didn’t have them at the time. This is definitely an Atari 7800 collector only type game, nothing you’d want to show off the system with.
Mat Mania (Atari 7800) This one is most definitely on par with both games of the SMS, and NES, and is proof that if allowed to the 7800 could’ve held its own against the two. It looks great, is fun to play, and actually a little challenging. If I’m not mistaken this is also one of the more abundant and cheaper titles on the system as well, so it’s worth picking up.
Ok, so once I got to Mat Mania it was 4 PM on Saturday afternoon. Having more or less gone through 16 Atari 2600 and 7800 (8 each) titles since late Friday evening, I decided to take a bit of a break from the system. In retrospect I had played 22 games total the weekend before, (Backlogs III) yet also had two bonus days to my weekend thanks to the holiday so covering 16 games in less than 24 hours is actually a pretty big undertaking. When I got back to my computer after an hour break and just before dinner I decided to take a complete break from the Atari 7800, and take a look at the backlogs in my Steam collection instead.
X-Com: Interceptor (Steam) – X-Com: Interceptor is an old DOS game based on the X-Com franchise. This game came with 4 other X-Com games I bought as part of an X-Com sale bundle I got from Steam about two years ago. I actually found this game kind of boring, essentially it’s supposed to be a space flight combat simulator set against the X-Com universe, instead though it’s a lot of waiting and more base building turn-based crap. I guess if your were a true fan of X-Com back in the day you’d probably love this, but to me…I guess I just don’t have the patience.
X-Com: Enforcer (Steam) – OK, Wow! This one had some troubles loading on Steam, which was disappointing but once I got it running…holy smokes. This X-Com game actually knows what it’s doing and throws you into the action pretty quickly. This is a third person shooter (you know your perspective is behind your guy) that puts you into the X-Com universe as an alien hunting robot. Trust me it’s actually a lot of fun, no squad based tactics stuff here. Yes, its also worth the current $5.99 on Steam.
X-Com: Apocalypse (Steam) – This is an interesting one although I still can’t claim to like it. It basically starts you out in something that looks like SimCity, and you have to wait about 30 minutes (literally) for the first bit of action. When it does happen the game doesn’t really explain much of anything so you have no idea what you’re doing. Suddenly after that your base gets attacked and you can choose between playing it as an RTS or Turn Based, neither of which work out well, and even the RTS seems like its turn based. Essentially, I get where they were coming from on the RTS angle but I think they should have taken a page from Mechcommander or Star Trek: Away Team’s book in its execution.
X-Com: Terror From the Deep (Steam) – This is just the original X-Com dressed up with an underwater element. It’s a turn based strategy game, that once again isn’t very clear on how it’s played. I guess if you’re a fan of the X-Com games you would probably like this one as well as all the others. I guess it’s just not my personal thing since I’ve always preferred straight up RTS’s and I can’t help but think even with limited units, that the X-Com franchise would have been better as an RTS and left the turn-based stuff to board games.
Back to the 7800
Midnight Mutants (Atari 7800) – Munster’s themed video games should be more of a thing! I mean could you imagine MunstersRacing or something, creating your own monster themed “Rat Rod” and racing it? Anyway, Midnight Mutants starring Grampa Munster not the actor Al Lewis who played him (this is long before FMV’s) just Grampa Munster. Believe it or not this is actually a pretty cool game, and definitely on par with something from the NES library, and slightly better than some SMS titles. In an apple to apples comparison it’s much better than Festers Quest on the NES, but also somewhat similar. Basically the story has a Hocus Pocus element to it where some evil doctor returns to life after 200 years, and your character (not Grampa Munster) must stop him with Grampa Munster’s help. It’s a “fetch quest” type game where you fight monsters, and a pretty good one at that. It’s also easy to see why this one joins such iconoclasts as the Castlevania franchise as top picks for Halloween favorites every year as well. Like some other Atari 7800 titles this one is abundant, but pricey, and a must for an Atari 7800 owner and/or collector.
Meltdown (Atari 7800) – This one looks like it could be fun but considering I have neither a lightgun or a CRT TV this one is basically unplayable for me. Yes, it’s a lightgun only game the first I’ve run across. The concept certainly seems cool though, but sadly this is one of those, “yes I tried it and it works” kind of things, too bad I can’t give an honest opinion on this game itself by playing it.
Impossible Mission (Atari 7800) – I watched Phil the No Swear Gamer and host of the previously mentioned Atari 7800 Game by Game Podcast actually cover this one on YouTube some time ago. Graphically, it’s a really good looking game, seriously on par with NES titles like Rolling Thunder. Gameplay and mission wise this one actually exceeds what we normally see on gen 3 consoles, and looks and feels very close to MS-DOS games of the time, being unusually detailed and involved for a console game. This one is definitely a headache giver though due to that, and if you really want to get through it you better be prepared to get a walk-though or spend hours playing. Overall, though whether a collector or owner you want this one for your 7800.
Donkey Kong Jr. (Atari 7800) – This isn’t a bad port, a little less detailed than what you’d see on the NES but not by much. It’s pretty much Donkey Kong Jr. though, nothing really all that different even if it’s on the Atari 7800. It’s cool to have though, as a comparison point between both consoles, especially since the Donkey Kong franchise is a Nintendo staple
Donkey Kong (Atari 7800) – What better way to follow Donkey Kong Jr. then with Donkey Kong! Ok, perhaps I should have switched them but truthfully there was no rhyme or reason just trying to play all of these games. Ok, not much to be said here either it’s Donkey Kong, and although it looks a little better than the Atari 2600 version, it doesn’t look as good as the NES version. I would like to say they all play the same but that’s where this version differs, frankly the controls are unresponsive at times on this one, which is not a plus playing Donkey Kong when you need to scurry up a ladder quickly, or jump a barrel. Sadly this version will not be scoring high with me because of that.
Joust (Atari 7800) – Great port, very good looking. Looks and plays well, and controls are fluid and just perfect for Joust. Definitely a port worth having, and one of the best I’ve ever played.
Fight Night (Atari 7800) – Punch Out, this game is not. The graphics are good but the game isn’t. It’s hard to play and lacks intuitiveness. I couldn’t even get through the first round, I didn’t get beat, I just got bored. I really don’t know what’s with this one! What I can say is that the introduction graphic at the beginning is cool with the Regan’s getting out of the limo and other celebrities waiting for them, and some of the other segways are cool and well thought out, but the gameplay itself sucks. Like Impossible Mission this is another one with graphics reminiscent of an old MS-DOS title, and no doubt that’s because this is a port from an older title of the same name. I guess they left the old MS-DOS controls in or something, maybe I needed a keyboard to play this one? Wonder if they knew there is no such thing as an Atari 7800 keyboard accessory when they ported it?
Touchdown Football (Atari 7800) – Not too bad, and a nice little gem. Easy to pick up and play and you can figure it out quickly. It’s about on par with some of the Football games available on the NES, and SMS at the time, but I would say simpler to play, making it a bit more fun. It’s graphics are cutesy, but a definite improvement from the Football games of the Atari 2600. This one is worth picking up. BTW, this is also an example of an early EA sports title.
Winter Games (Atari 7800) – This particular game and its partners Summer Games and California Games are like a scourge on game systems of that generation. Despite the famous AVGN episode on Winter Games it’s actually not too bad of a game, and has its fun parts just as its partners do. Graphically speaking this one doesn’t look as good as it’s NES counterpart, but it still does the trick and you can clearly see what your doing in each event, which means somebody gave this one a little TLC bringing it to the Atari 7800. I had fun playing this one, but I will agree some of the events can be frustrating to play which can also be said of Summer Games and California Games as well. What I find most amusing is the way the Impossible Mission and Winter Games cover art looks similar, but that’s just me. Like Summer Games and California Games, Winter Games falls into the collector realm more than that of the player realm, so whether or not it’s an add is up to you.
Water Ski (Atari 7800) – This is one of those very rare Froggo titles, and I had it sealed in box and felt as if I was committing a major crime just opening it. I was actually trying to sell this one a few months back in hopes of buying another arcade machine but I just kind of gave up on it and kept the silly thing. This is a fun game but its a classic example of a game being worth a butt load of money but in reality not being all that um…awesome. This one is a unique game with some fun elements, but again reminds me of a PC port with the washed out CGA monitor type color pallet. Believe it or not it’s actually a fairly challenging game, where you control the boat itself but have to get the water skier behind you into position to go up ramps. Good game yes, worth the $100+ price tag, No!
Planet Smashers (Atari 7800) – Finally another SHMUP!! Look out Klingon, Romulan, Federation ships, and space sperm my space going F-14 is coming for you! Not literally, but play it you’ll see what I mean. Ok, this one is harder than it looks, and its very nearly a modern “bullet hell” with the amount of enemies that come at you. It’s actually pretty satisfying as a SHMUP, and is on par with some NES, and SMS titles I have played. What really hits home on how challenging this game is and how different it is from many of its contemporaries, is the fact that many of the enemies actually require multiple hits to be destroyed, and there are no real power ups to speak of, or screen clearing mega-weapons. Bare boned? Yes! Challenging? Hell yes! Do you want this one as an Atari 7800 player and/or collector? Definitely!
Barnyard Blaster (Atari 7800) – This is another lightgun let down, and another pure lightgun game (see Meltdown). I remember looking at this one before I bought it and reading it supported standard controllers but I guess that isn’t the case. Anyway from what I did see, it did seem like it had fairly decent graphics, and probably would have been fun to play. (**sad face**)
Xenophobe (Atari 7800) – If you’ll remember correctly I covered the NES version of this game in my first Backlogs (http://www.noisefromthebasement.com/8-bit-fridays-backlogs-august-19-2016/), so far the Atari 7800 version (being played by my eldest son as I write this) is much, much better and also a lot less cartoonish. It also controls and looks better than the NES version as well, and in my opinion is the superior version. No joke! This is another must for a 7800 collection, or anyone who wants to play a good port of Xenophobe.
So with that said that this concludes my 29 game playthrough of 21 Atari 7800 games and 8 Atari 2600 games. I’m actually pretty impressed with myself since I needed all 4 days last week to play 22 games and in the period between Friday night and Sunday afternoon this weekend I knocked out all 29 games. Admittedly, some were blazed though in a hurry, and others like Barnyard Blaster and Meltdown, basically had to be passed by, but I did learn a lot more about the Atari 7800 in the last few days and came to appreciate some of its forgotten titles like Xenophobe, Planet Smashers, and Fatal Run and I hope to return to them later.
Also as a parting gift to you here are a few titles that I could tell you would work best with the CX-78 joypad:
Ok, believe it or not pushing through 29 games is actually pretty tiring. But, the list I talked about briefly last week is looking a lot smaller especially with wiping out over a quarter of it just this weekend alone. I still have a huge collection of GoG titles to push through, which is only slightly smaller than what I went through this weekend. I also have some 32x, Sega-CD, Dreamcast, DOS, and Windows 95/98 titles to hit too, as well as one or two titles on other systems. So with that said I’m not going to commit to a particular system for next weekend, but maybe I will decide over the week.
Until than have a good week, and take some time tonight to pray and remember 9/11.