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The 10 Worst Atari 2600 Games


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#1 Albert OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 7:14 AM

Stan, a regular member here at AtariAge for some time, recently took control of Deaf Sparrow, a site that originally specialized in extreme underground music, but has since branched out into other avenues, including media. Stan, as you all probably know, is a huge fan of the Atari 2600 and is a regular participant in the High Score Club. For one of his latest articles, he did a write-up on what he considers to be the top ten worst games for the 2600, complete with videos, links, and descriptions about each, based on his actual experiences growing up with the system and playing through its library over the years. You might be surprised what you find. Quick hint, ET is not one of his selections, and neither is Pac-Man.

The 10 Worst Atari 2600 Games (E.T. Is Not One of Them, Duh)

#2 save2600 ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 7:17 AM

Hey, Burgertime was not on that list! :lol:

#3 high voltage OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 7:43 AM

good choice, maybe Fire Fighter shouldn't be on that list, good game.

Some of those on the list were firsts for prgrammers, like 3D Tic Tac Toe and Space Jockey, they got better with time

Edited by high voltage, Thu Apr 3, 2014 7:53 AM.


#4 Brian R. OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 7:45 AM

I love when fans of something focus on the negative.



#5 Stan OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 8:29 AM

Hey, Burgertime was not on that list! :lol:

Hey now, let's be real!  Not a great port, but it's playable.  I rated these on a variety of levels.  Nice mention of the programming thing though.  I really don't care if it was a first, but it should be mentioned. Still sucks either way!



#6 FujiSkunk OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 9:02 AM

This list is incomplete without SwordQuest: FireWorld.  Also, I have a soft spot for Space Jockey, and would even question the inclusion of games like Flag Capture and 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe.  Yes, they aren't much, but they are products of their time, and they deliver on what they promised.  There are plenty of other games that fail even in that context.

 

Still, in all seriousness, kudos for basing this on actual experience and not simply parroting others who didn't play the games either.



#7 Gregory DG OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 9:30 AM

Hm, without Star Ship, we might not have gotten Star Raiders or Solaris...



#8 IHATETHEBEARS OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 10:00 AM

This list is incomplete without SwordQuest: FireWorld.  Also, I have a soft spot for Space Jockey, and would even question the inclusion of games like Flag Capture and 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe.  Yes, they aren't much, but they are products of their time, and they deliver on what they promised.  There are plenty of other games that fail even in that context.

 

Still, in all seriousness, kudos for basing this on actual experience and not simply parroting others who didn't play the games either.

 

I enjoy 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe and Flag Capture myself. Do these two games generally not get much love around here?



#9 Cynicaster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 10:37 AM

This article is certainly more meaningful than 99% of similar stuff you'll find online, because it is an experience-based editorial rather than yet another steaming mass of groupthink-derived bullshit.

I had 3D Tic-Tac-Toe back in the 80's and I actually really enjoyed it. As somebody already mentioned, it may seem silly in retrospect, but it's a product of its time. The stacking of boards would not have been terribly convenient to do in "real life" with a pen and paper, so at the very least, making the concept into a video game facilitates the experience in a meaningful way (unlike checkers, for example).

So, I don't agree with the list 100%, but it's a great article that every 2600 fan should read.

#10 save2600 ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 11:53 AM

...and we're not really focusing on the negative per se. Fun postulating and really, all part of the hobby. I enjoy reading what others think. Encourages me to look at something differently and maybe give that something another chance. :)

#11 OldSchoolRetroGamer OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 11:59 AM

I love when fans of something focus on the negative.

 

There is no LIGHT without DARK !  - Laurell K. Hamilton


Edited by OldSchoolRetroGamer, Thu Apr 3, 2014 11:59 AM.


#12 Chuck D. Head OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 12:15 PM

As far as these types of lists go, this is one of the most accurate according to my tastes. I absolutely agree with Firefly as the worst. Sorcerer deserves to be on the list, but at least Mythicon's craptacularity is represented (i just finally picked up Star Fox, and while quite poopy, I don't think it makes the bottom ten). Bugs and Mr.Do Castle are rightful entries as well. The only game on this list I would take exception to is Flag Capture; I never played it in the day, but it is one of my go-to games on the bathroom DS with Atari Greatest Hits. 



#13 roadrunner OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 12:40 PM

No Sssnake or Slot Machine?



#14 Foxsolo2000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 12:41 PM

Personally I would have said that the worst arcade conversion was Amidar but to each their own ;)



#15 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 12:46 PM

Star Ship? Nah. Space Jockey? Mediocre, but hardly one of the worst. 3D Tic-Tac-Toe? That's like picking on Basic Math. Fire Fighter? C'mon, buddy.

My "Bottom Ten" would look something like this:

10. Slot Machine

9. Word Zapper

8. Sssnake

7. Shark Attack

6. Dishaster

5. Scuba Diver / Sea Hunt

4. Anything that says "Mythicon" on it

3. Karate

2. Sneak 'N' Peek

1. Skeet Shoot



#16 IHATETHEBEARS OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 12:52 PM

Hey now, let's be real!  Not a great port, but it's playable.  I rated these on a variety of levels.  Nice mention of the programming thing though.  I really don't care if it was a first, but it should be mentioned. Still sucks either way!

 

So will you do a personal top-10 list next?



#17 StanJr OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 12:54 PM

Ah, Stan. 

 

I Want My Mommy is mediocre, but it's not bad.  You seem to have a bigger beef with the packaging and marketing than with the actual game.  If we are rating games based on this, I think the list is VERY different.  It's not a terrible game, it's just so-so.

 

Mr. Do's Castle isn't nearly as bad as you say.  Is it the arcade game?  No, but it is playable, and I enjoy it quite a bit.  If you take it as a game on its own merits, it's not that bad at all, unlike Pac-Man

 

Fire Fighter belongs on this list, but you fail to mention the worst part of the game:  each game lasts roughly 14 seconds.  It takes longer to insert the cartridge.  FF is a mess.

 

Flag Capture is Minesweeper, and not a bad version for the VCS.  But the moving flag variation is just bizarre.  But again if you want to bitch about packaging how about Breakout or Super Breakout?

 

Bugs is playable, Sssnake is not.  You picked the wrong Data Age game.

 

Only one Mythicon game?  You are far too kind.

 

 

 

But I thank you just the same.  These lists are always fun to talk about and disagree with.  And you, sir, tend to have a particular flair about yourself that makes your list uniquely yours.  Well done.

 

:spidey:



#18 bomberpunk OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 1:09 PM

Fire Fighter is a childhood favorite. being on any bottom-10 list is just a case of RTFM.



#19 Tinman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 2:21 PM

Not a bad list, really.  Obviously, almost any game had some good things going for it.  Well, almost any game.  (Dirty little secret:  Back in the day, I had a LOT of fun playing Pac-Mac on the 2600.  Yes, it looked nothing like the arcade and had a lot of limitations, but taken on its own, it was a decent game...)



#20 Brian R. OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 2:27 PM

With all the shovelware that was released for the 2600, plus games that maybe once were OK but to today's tastes are considered unplayable, the 2600 is going to have a ton of "worst" games.

 

Pac-Man isn't a good conversion or translation of the arcade game, to be sure, but is it a "bad" game, in and of itself? LIke Tinman, I also played the hell out of it at home, and did so happily.

 

I seem to remember reading something about Space Jockey, that it featured some kind of technical achievement/accomplishment...



#21 Rom Hunter OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 3:46 PM

Star Ship? Nah. Space Jockey? Mediocre, but hardly one of the worst. 3D Tic-Tac-Toe? That's like picking on Basic Math. Fire Fighter? C'mon, buddy.

My "Bottom Ten" would look something like this:

10. Slot Machine

9. Word Zapper

8. Sssnake

7. Shark Attack

6. Dishaster

5. Scuba Diver / Sea Hunt

4. Anything that says "Mythicon" on it

3. Karate

2. Sneak 'N' Peek

1. Skeet Shoot

 

That's more like it.

 

8)



#22 godzillajoe OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 3:49 PM

Not a bad list overall.  I would maybe throw Ssssnake on there instead of something like Mr. Do's Castle or even I Want My Mommy.  Actually the video of Do's Castle made me wanna revisit it and play it again.  Airlock is worse than those too.  No animation to speak of and over in 2 minutes.  I actually liked Star Ship back in the day.  Maybe because someone at school actually owned it and I never saw it anywhere for sale so it was a rarity.  Or maybe I just like those kinda shooters, cheesy gfx and all.



#23 Cynicaster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 5:03 PM

Not a bad list overall.  I would maybe throw Ssssnake on there instead of something like Mr. Do's Castle or even I Want My Mommy.  Actually the video of Do's Castle made me wanna revisit it and play it again.  Airlock is worse than those too.  No animation to speak of and over in 2 minutes.  I actually liked Star Ship back in the day.  Maybe because someone at school actually owned it and I never saw it anywhere for sale so it was a rarity.  Or maybe I just like those kinda shooters, cheesy gfx and all.


I kinda thought the same thing with Do's Castle. Never played this version, but I love the arcade game, and based on the video this port doesn't look too bad by 2600 standards. Of course, if the game's main issues are with hit detection and stuff like that, you're not necessarily going to appreciate that by watching a video.

#24 supercat OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 5:15 PM

Both Mr. Do's Castle and BurgerTime were ambitious projects, whose programmers bit off a bit more than they could chew. I suspect that if programmers had known in advance the limits to what they'd be able to pull off, the projects would likely have been skipped in favor of games that would better fit the 2600's abilities. Incidentally, back in the day I estimated that BurgerTime would need more than 256 bytes of RAM and wondered how they pulled it off; I didn't realize (1) the 2600 only has 128 bytes [not 256] internally, and (2) some cartridges add a little RAM, and BurgerTime in particular adds a boatload (a whopping 2K!)

Both 3d Tic Tac Toe and Stellar Track were implementations of games that were popular on the HP-2000 time-sharing system. A 3x3x3 version of Tic Tac Toe was sold under the name Tri-Tac-Toe and featured three glass shelves along with yellow and blue marbles; as a game, it leaves much to be desired since the center square is way too powerful. A 4x4x4 version using plastic shelves and tokens was sold under the name Qubic.

One good thing not mentioned about Froggo's Karate is that if one removes the chip, one can solder in a 2764 socket (only 4K is used). That's how I got my start 2600 programming (I think I burned about half a dozen chips before I decided that 24hr turnaround (2600 was at home, and the programmer was at work) wasn't going to cut it.

As for things like Star Ship, it was the first 2600 cartridge to multiplex sprites using flicker (perhaps the first game of any sort to do so?) Flicker multiplexing can certainly be abused, but without it a lot of very good 2600 games wouldn't work at all.

#25 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 3, 2014 8:34 PM

As for things like Star Ship, it was the first 2600 cartridge to multiplex sprites using flicker...

It also features the first "FPS" ever to appear on a console, as far as anyone knows. Even apart from the firsts it represents, Star Ship is a neat little diversion (specifically Game 4), a sort of stylized video version of a carnival shooting game. As a game of split-second decisions (again, Game 4 or other fast variations), it isn't completely devoid of strategy, either; instinct tells you to avoid getting hit, but sometimes it's a good idea to actually crash into something on purpose and sacrifice a point if it means being able to get a shot at a 2- or 3-point target.

I love the sound effects, too. :-D






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