Welcome to another 8-Bit Friday, this time is the 2600 Conquest. Basically, I’m going to try to play 23 Atari 2600 games that have been in my gaming backlog since 2018, as well as using the Retron 77’ my wife bought me a few years ago for the first time. 

The backstory to this is that I’ve actually been making a lot of noise down in the basement (get it “Noise From the Basement” like my website name) lately.  I’m trying to reorganize the basement, and with it some of the storage methods I had used for my hobbies in the past, i.e. trying to put them into containers that allow them better protection and organization. This project started out a few months ago as I worked on clearing and storing old GI Joe, and Star Wars toys, moved to my model kit after that, and is now onto the highly unorganized pile of video games, consoles, and accessories I have more or less neglected over the past 7 years. Games are now finding themselves in smaller containers by system, and if there’s enough of them in alphabetical order, allowing me to find games quicker.  Even games in my backlog are in a container marked “queue” to keep them safe, and as a reminder these games need to be tested and played. 

Of course having games in a backlog doesn’t help with this process, so I will need to focus on getting backlogged games tested and played so I have everything lined up correctly, in the storage containers. The Atari 2600, NES, and SNES have been the three major contenders in my backlog making up more than half of the unplayed games in my queue between the three systems. 

Here are brief accounts of this week’s plays

Alien (Fox)⭐⭐

Pac-Man clone, fight Xenomorphs, as you make your way through the maze to capture power pellets, and upon grabbing them you can kill the Xenomorphs with your flame thrower. Mildly entertaining, and unique use of the Pac-Man maze concept.  

Name That Game (US Games)⭐⭐⭐

Try to capture treasure while managing your oxygen supply, restored by a mad man in a boat on the surface, while fighting a circling shark, and ever grabby octopus. Hectic, and even stressful for an Atari 2600 game, but extremely unique not just in name but concept and worth whatever price it originally sold at in the 80’s.  

Room of Doom (CommaVid) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

You’re trapped in a room with a T-Rex, only have a ray gun for protection, while your captor’s take shots at you from opening and closing portals. Kill all of them, and the T-Rex to survive. Very fun game and deep for the 2600. This was really fun and if not for the other games to get through I might have spent a lot more time on this one. 

Secret Quest (Atari) ⭐⭐

Late Atari 2600 game, nice clean graphics, but familiar gameplay. Fight monsters in a maze, and manage your oxygen and energy. Nice game, but hackneyed premise for the 2600. Kudos, for the crisp graphics though, definitely a good looking game if nothing else.

Gopher (US Games) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fill in the Gophers holes to prevent it from eating your carrots. Fast paced and hectic game. Interesting premise. Mostly you compete against yourself or others for points. My youngest had a lot of fun playing it, and I can see how it can be addicting.

Krull (Atari) ⭐⭐

Attempted port of the arcade game, with lackluster results on the 2600. First level characters look like bald Lego mini figures. I suggest you buy this one with the manual, or find it on Atariage so you know what the heck you’re supposed to do in each level. 

Lost Luggage (Apollo)⭐⭐⭐⭐

Catch it game in which your baggage carriers need to catch all luggage off an arriving plane. Similar to a lot of other dropping items catch games, this one has a comedic twist, of underwear, pajamas, bras, socks and shoes all over the place when dropped luggage pops open. Fun game

Spitfire Attack (Milton-Bradley) ⭐⭐⭐

The closest you’ll come to a flight sim on the 2600. Engage German aircraft and ground targets from your Spitfire, but don’t expect much movement besides a little left, right, up, and down. Entertaining but quickly repetitive, and the sound effects can be a bit grating.

Kool-Aid Man (M-Network) ⭐

I wanted to like this game but I think there’s an emulator issue with controller, as I’m playing this on a Retron 77’. Apparently Kool-Aid Man mainly wanted to jump around in the upper left hand corner of the screen while the thirsty’s drink up the swimming pool. Interesting premise, I guess I’ll have to try it on my actual 2600 to see if it works any better.

Bermuda Triangle (Data Age) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Had to look up how to play this one, but once I did it was pretty fun to play. It gets repetitive after a while, but I still liked it a lot. It’s like under-water Defender except instead of saving people your saving artifacts, and need to bring them to your boat at the top of the screen. Not bad overall

Fantastic Voyage (Fox) ⭐⭐⭐

If ever there was a movie from the 60’s to be turned into a video game, Fantastic Voyage is a good candidate. The game isn’t bad, but isn’t totally intuitive either, which makes gameplay confusing. I may return to it later though. 

Tax Avoiders (American Video Game) ⭐⭐⭐

Ever want to learn about taxes, and investments from an Atari 2600 game? This is an odd one, and to be honest I just lost patience playing it. Chasing after blinking dollar signs, and dudes changing color can do that to you. Of course playing on a modern 70” screen probably made it worse. Props for the very interesting premise, and attempt at being edutainment.

Jawbreaker (Tigergames) ⭐⭐⭐

Talking about edutainment. This is a unique platformer with some interesting elements for jumping platforms. Basically you’re a set of teeth looking to avoid candy, and stay healthy. It’s a “video games can teach kids”, kind of thing. Anyway kudos for originality in concept and gameplay, like Tax Avoiders maybe this ones better on a smaller screen.

Porkys (Fox) ⭐

This game straight up sucks for sheer annoyance. It starts out like Frogger, but if an object hits you you’ll find yourself in a second level where you have to pole vault over a small pond and if possible to an upper level to recover bricks. The bricks eventually allow you to build a ladder and go to the next level, but this annoying task is a killer. To be honest after watching other players try to achieve this on YouTube, I gave up after a few tries myself, because it was a painful experience.

Mines of Manos (Commavid) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Another great by Commavid, but it’s a two player game. Guess I’ll have to look up if there is a single player mode. What I was able to play in first player was fun though. 

King Kong (Tigergames) ⭐⭐

This is a Donkey Kong rip off, but with a little creativity added, but not much. Character sprite moved slowly, and at times not at all. Maybe an emulation issue with the Retron 77’ or just a general issue with the game, the latter seems more plausible. 

Additional Mentions:

Tutankham, Mr. Do, Smurf, Polaris, and Cosmic Swarm weren’t playable on the Retron 77’. If you’re unfamiliar with Retron systems, they don’t actually play the games from the cartridges placed into them. Rather, they pull a ROM dump (i.e. download the games instantly into their hardware) and then use an emulator to play the game. Retron’s emulators, not just in the 77’ but as I’ve seen in the Retron 5 too, can at times not be fully compatible with all games a system may have had. The two Coleco games Mr. Do, and Smurf for instance seem to be examples of Retron’s emulating software not working with carts made by a particular publisher. Cosmic Swarm on the other hand seems to be more of an individual game issue, as the other two Commavid games I played this weekend worked just fine. Tutankham being the only Parker Brother game I had in my Atari 2600 queue for this weekend, may either be a game or publisher issue, I don’t know for certain. I do know that AtariAge does publish a regularly updated list (last update 3/21/22), of game compatibility with the Retron 77’. Of these four games Tutankham, Mr. Do, and Cosmic Swarm have all proven to be incompatible with the emulator. Smurf works, but has been shown to be extremely glitchy, and unplayable. As for Polaris like Cosmic Swarm its not the only game by Tigergames I played this weekend, and like Smurfs it does work it just refuses to play. 

That means I’m going to have to get the Atari 2600 Jr. out to test and play these four games, which is fine since I have a Starpath Supercharger and four games in the queue I need to test out as well, and the Supercharger is most definitely not compatible with the Retron 77’. 

As a by the way Kool-Aid Man may not be glitchy due to the Retron 77’. In reading through some AtariAge articles it turns out some copies of Kool-Aid Man weren’t exactly debugged properly before the games release, and Kool-Aid Man bouncing around in the corner is a common issue with this game. I think I will give it a second chance with the Atari 2600 Jr. as well but I don’t have high hopes.

I’ll be sure to let you know how the five holdouts, Kool-Aid Man, and the four Supercharger tape games workout, as well as how well the NES, and SNES playthroughs go.