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Top 10 Worst Atari 2600 Games? (Not counting E.T. or Pac-Man)


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#26 Atari PAC-MAN Fan OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 6:42 AM

The *one* thing Atari freely gave up and didn't enforce by way of litigation. How ironic. And it's not just Superman III… plenty of other movies, TV shows, documentaries, radio spots, etc. use Atari's Pac-Man sounds for various things. Coleco's Donkey Kong sounds too.   :lol:

For example, you know the sound in Ms. Pac-Man when the fruit is bouncing? Pitfall 2 uses that sound effect in the music.


Edited by Atari PAC-MAN Fan, Thu Mar 23, 2017 6:43 AM.


#27 Downland1983 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 6:51 AM

Think it would be more fun to come up with popular games that you don't care for, but most people seem to like. And for every asshat that says Pac-Man or E.T. sucks, could just as well shove their Megamania cart up where the sun don't shine.   :rolling:

 

 

Why all the hate for pac man?  Granted it was ugly compared to what the system could have done, but at the end of the day it played like pac man.  At the time, I played the heck out of it.

 

It gets the hate because Atari knowingly and willfully released it in its sorry state (even after Frank Ballouz from Atari's Coin Division warned Ray Kassar would not be well received) for their own 2600 system and 1 year later released a much, much better version on their own competitor's Intellivision system. 

pacman.png

Sorry, Atari doesn't get a pass from me for cutting corners (like using a 4KB cartridge when 8KB cartridges were available) to put out a cheap garbage port to meet their self-imposed holiday '81 deadline.  There is no sense in you demonizing any one who dislikes something that several people in the very company who released it (including Ed Logg, a lead Atari designer, who called it a rushed and lousy effort) knew wouldn't be liked by the general public in the first place!



#28 Atari PAC-MAN Fan OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:08 AM

 

So hard to pick just ten...

  • Miner 2049er (agonizingly slow controls, abysmal collision detection, grating music)
  • Miner 2049er vol. 2 (more?!? really?!?)
  • Karate (aka "Dancing Diaper Stickmen")
  • Racquetball (cool concept, impossibly awful execution)
  • Defender (thanks for ruining one of my favorite arcade games, Atari)
  • Shark Attack/Lochjaw (anytime you think 2600 Pac-Man was terrible, play this and see just how bad a maze game can be)
  • Donkey Kong Jr. (Donkey Kong was merely disappointing, but this is like Shark Attack with apes)
  • Zaxxon (it might have not been quite so awful of a game, if they weren't trying to call this mess "Zaxxon")
  • Quest for Quintana Roo (it's been so long since I've played this festering stinkbomb, I've forgotten the myriad of reasons I hated it - but there were oh-so-many...)
  • Math Gran Prix (I really shouldn't have to justify this one)

 

I agree with you on Miner 2049er. It's terrible on the 2600, but is pretty good on everything else. I actually kinda like Shark Attack and Donkey Kong Jr. I've never heard of Racquetball or Quest for the Quintana. (but from what you said, that's probably a good thing.) You are right about Defender, but I think it's still fun. I just don't think of it as Defender. If you want a good Defender for Atari, pick up Defender Arcade over in the Hacks section of the Atariage Store.  ;-)



#29 Atari PAC-MAN Fan OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:10 AM

 

 

 

It gets the hate because Atari knowingly and willfully released it in its sorry state (even after Frank Ballouz from Atari's Coin Division warned Ray Kassar would not be well received) for their own 2600 system and 1 year later released a much, much better version on their own competitor's Intellivision system. 

pacman.png

Sorry, Atari doesn't get a pass from me for cutting corners (like using a 4KB cartridge when 8KB cartridges were available) to put out a cheap garbage port to meet their self-imposed holiday '81 deadline.  There is no sense in you demonizing any one who dislikes something that several people in the very company who released it (including Ed Logg, a lead Atari designer, who called it a rushed and lousy effort) knew wouldn't be liked by the general public in the first place!

They also were gonna make a version for the Colecovision, but it was never released. 



#30 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:10 AM

Why all the hate for pac man?  Granted it was ugly compared to what the system could have done, but at the end of the day it played like pac man.  At the time, I played the heck out of it.

 

Because it got almost everything wrong about the original game.   Granted we knew the 2600 wasn't going to give us arcade quality visuals.  But we knew it could do better than this

 

For a start- 

1. get the colors right (easy fix)  I know some will say it was Atari policy to not have black backgrounds, but then why did they allow the 5200 version to look like the arcade?

2. Pacman doesn't have an eye!   (easy fix)

3. put the passages on the side

4. Make the music at least have the same tune as the arcade,  make the other sounds more similar.

5. Pacman should face all four directions, not just two.

6. Put fruits in, not giant power pellets.

 

Atari's MS Pacman does all that right,  and proves that 2600 Pacman wasn't hurt by technical limitations.  It was either bad design or rushed.



#31 Downland1983 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:18 AM

They also were gonna make a version for the Colecovision, but it was never released. 

 

Yeah, I had heard that as well.  Terrible shame.  Would have loved to play Pac-Man at home on my ColecoVision back in the day. 

 

Because it got almost everything wrong about the original game.   Granted we knew the 2600 wasn't going to give us arcade quality visuals.  But we knew it could do better than this

 

For a start- 

1. get the colors right (easy fix)  I know some will say it was Atari policy to not have black backgrounds, but then why did they allow the 5200 version to look like the arcade?

2. Pacman doesn't have an eye!   (easy fix)

3. put the passages on the side

4. Make the music at least have the same tune as the arcade,  make the other sounds more similar.

5. Pacman should face all four directions, not just two.

6. Put fruits in, not giant power pellets.

 

Atari's MS Pacman does all that right,  and proves that 2600 Pacman wasn't hurt by technical limitations.  It was either bad design or rushed.

 

It was both.  They cheaped out on a 4KB cartridge when 8KB was available but more expensive, and only allotted 4 months of development time so the game could release in time for the 1981 holiday season.



#32 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:31 AM

10. Superman -  I feel like I might like it if I understood what was happening half the time.

9. Custer's Revenge

8. Empire Strikes Back

7. H.E.R.O - seems like it should be fun, but wasn't

6. Pitfall - Yes it was a technical marvel, but I still get bored with it after about 5 screens.  I much prefer Pitfall II

5. Entombed

4. Kool-aid Man - I hated it because I wanted the cool-looking Intellivision one.

3. Donkey Kong

2. Swordquest Earthworld

1. Swordquest Fireworld



#33 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:33 AM

 

Yeah, I had heard that as well.  Terrible shame.  Would have loved to play Pac-Man at home on my ColecoVision back in the day. 

 

It was both.  They cheaped out on a 4KB cartridge when 8KB was available but more expensive, and only allotted 4 months of development time so the game could release in time for the 1981 holiday season.

 

Even "Pacman 4K" shows that a 4K limit still didn't mean it had to be this awful :)



#34 Downland1983 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:14 AM

 

Even "Pacman 4K" shows that a 4K limit still didn't mean it had to be this awful :)

 

Yep, all the more reason the original 2600 version is more than deserving of its bad reputation.



#35 davidcalgary29 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:17 AM

 

So hard to pick just ten...

  • Miner 2049er (agonizingly slow controls, abysmal collision detection, grating music)
  • Miner 2049er vol. 2 (more?!? really?!?)
  • Karate (aka "Dancing Diaper Stickmen")
  • Racquetball (cool concept, impossibly awful execution)
  • Defender (thanks for ruining one of my favorite arcade games, Atari)
  • Shark Attack/Lochjaw (anytime you think 2600 Pac-Man was terrible, play this and see just how bad a maze game can be)
  • Donkey Kong Jr. (Donkey Kong was merely disappointing, but this is like Shark Attack with apes)
  • Zaxxon (it might have not been quite so awful of a game, if they weren't trying to call this mess "Zaxxon")
  • Quest for Quintana Roo (it's been so long since I've played this festering stinkbomb, I've forgotten the myriad of reasons I hated it - but there were oh-so-many...)
  • Math Gran Prix (I really shouldn't have to justify this one)

 

 

Totally in agreement on Defender, which is just awful, and so much worse than 2600 Pac-Man. Defender Arcade is wonderful, though. :)



#36 KaeruYojimbo OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:22 AM

A couple of other things that never get brought up when talking about Pac-Man are that Atari insisted it include 2-player mode and multiple game variations, which used up precious bytes that could have been used to improve other things. It was also one of the first games to push the 2600 beyond the Tank/Pong style games it was designed to play.

 

If nothing else, Atari at least learned from the mistakes they made with Pac-Man which is why, for example, the 5200 version has arcade accurate colors and why 2600 Ms. Pac-Man is so much better.



#37 BydoEmpire OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:03 AM

In about 1982, a friend purchased Air Lock, largely on my recommendation -- presumably based on a careful review of the Data Age catalogue. It was the worst game I had played up to that point. 

 

The Swordquest "games" make little sense without the supporting materials, and they should have quietly disappeared after the contest ended.

 

 Any love (or hate) for Strawberry Shortcake's Musical Matchups?

Airlock is my "worst" game on the 2600, and probably on any platform.



#38 mbd30 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:08 AM

ET and Pac-Man aren't the worst 2600 games, but they are the best examples of Atari releasing disappointing rush jobs that could have been so much better.



#39 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:29 PM

For some reason I never get tired of these threads.

Karate - the graphics and sounds would have been pretty good in 1975, but the game is an unresponsive, unplayable, inexcusable mess in every possible way.
Skeet Shoot - very plain graphics; gameplay relies on guesswork more than skill.
Sssnake - this one actually wouldn't be that bad if it weren't so boring. Even on Game 2, Sssnake presents little challenge apart from aggravating controls.
Sneak 'N' Peek - not bad from a technical standpoint but utterly pointless.
All Mythicon games - these games are actually torture. The gameplay is so dull as to induce sleep, but the horrible, repetitive, grating sound forces you awake.
Racquetball -  I want to like this one but it's impossible to play.
Scuba Diver - broken, cheap, and infuriating--just getting out of the boat and starting the game is a crapshoot in which only those determinedly masochistic enough to master the timing have any advantage.
Pac Kong - I had to go outside of my physical collection and even my native region for this one. Suffice to say there's a reason this title frequently comes up in "worst game" discussions.
Slot Racers - I know this one has its fans, but I just can't get into Slot Racers. Two-player only, needlessly convoluted steering controls, unexciting "gunplay," cars look like blocky penises.
Chuck Norris Superkicks - f@&# this game. I've tried to give it a fair shake, but every attempt to get anywhere in this game results in futility.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Slot Machine - I hate to beat up on this one, being such an early title, but this is rough. When the slots games for the Odyssey 2 and Channel F outclass it, there's a problem.
Basic Programming - this one gets a pass since it isn't actually a game at all, but with only enough room for nine lines of code, abbreviated syntax, and no way to save/load, it's still pretty pointless even as a BASIC trainer.
Laser Blast - Laser Blast gets a pass because it has other variations that are at least more initially challenging, but once you get the hang of even those, you're trancing out again just as you would on the easier variations.
Basic Math, Hangman - dumping on these two feels cheap, being very early titles that only existed to convince parents that buying an Atari would help their kids learn. (True story: A buddy and I played Basic Math for 45 minutes once.)
Artillery Duel - another gem from Xonox; there are worse games, to be sure, but this one is so interminably slow I can't stand it. Every time I've played it, I wished it would hurry. the. f@#$. up.
Airlock - the biggest problem is that there's just not enough game here. Make it to the top, that's it. No score or anything. There's a variation that adds an additional five floors with extra obstacles, though, and there's an ending, so that's neat.
Freeway - essentially a clone of the old arcade game Space Race dressed up as Frogger (only with chickens), but less interesting--and less fun--than either. Looks, sounds, and controls great, though.



#40 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:03 PM

Sneak 'N' Peek - not bad from a technical standpoint but utterly pointless.

 

I bought this for like $4.99 from a bargain bin, and I still felt the need to return it!  I don't even know why, it wasn't that terrible.    It just didn't feel like a "proper" game or something



#41 Atari PAC-MAN Fan OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 23, 2017 5:52 PM

 

Because it got almost everything wrong about the original game.   Granted we knew the 2600 wasn't going to give us arcade quality visuals.  But we knew it could do better than this

 

For a start- 

1. get the colors right (easy fix)  I know some will say it was Atari policy to not have black backgrounds, but then why did they allow the 5200 version to look like the arcade?

2. Pacman doesn't have an eye!   (easy fix)

3. put the passages on the side

4. Make the music at least have the same tune as the arcade,  make the other sounds more similar.

5. Pacman should face all four directions, not just two.

6. Put fruits in, not giant power pellets.

 

Atari's MS Pacman does all that right,  and proves that 2600 Pacman wasn't hurt by technical limitations.  It was either bad design or rushed.

We always have this Pac-Man, too. 



#42 Cynicaster OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:01 AM

I agree with almost every single criticism commonly leveled at Atari 2600 Pac-Man and ET, but nonetheless I can't fathom how anybody bearing even a passing familiarity with the 2600 library at large could say that either of these games is amongst the 10 worst on the system, at least not while simultaneously trying to claim any semblance of objectivity. 

 

Just sit down with a Harmony cart and go game by game through the library--top to bottom--and try to tell me with a straight face you honestly cannot find 10 examples that are more grating, more bland, more tedious, more clunky, more dull, more downright insulting in their defiant and unabashed pointlessness than Pac-Man and ET.  I just don't buy it for a second.


Edited by Cynicaster, Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:01 AM.


#43 Professor Gull OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:31 AM

Well I would have to do the list form the games I still have for it.

 

So my top 10 worst would be the follows.

 

1. Firefighter (I just can't play this one for any more than like 2 minutes tops its just not right)

2. Swordquest (any of them although I suppose if you have the book like the one I have it at least makes sense but still       not fun.

3. Defender (Well it tried to be arcade but even simplified it still seems broken)

4. Squeeze box (I tried to like this one and it can be fun to annoy friends but the sounds are like kids playing on an old       Casio keyboard. You tell them to stop and keep it quiet and they just hit more keys and give you the angry face. I           could be wrong but that's my beef here.)

5. Sky Jinks ( I like Activision but this one was just not very good Zaxxon like and eh.)

6. Indiana Jones Raider of the Lost Ark ( Epic game but dammit why do I have to use 2 controllers I die more often from     stupid snakes than anything else.)

7. Lock n Chase (yup its that game we are not supposed to talk about here so there.)

8. Night Driver ( comments welcome to argue this is good.)

9. Hide N seek (ok interesting concept but when playing with a group of people it becomes just aggravation at best.)

10. Enduro ( I used to like this one but getting older I just find myself bored with it)

 

These are in no particular order but that's the ones I own I don't like really.



#44 Downland1983 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:39 AM

I agree with almost every single criticism commonly leveled at Atari 2600 Pac-Man and ET, but nonetheless I can't fathom how anybody bearing even a passing familiarity with the 2600 library at large could say that either of these games is amongst the 10 worst on the system, at least not while simultaneously trying to claim any semblance of objectivity. 

 

Just sit down with a Harmony cart and go game by game through the library--top to bottom--and try to tell me with a straight face you honestly cannot find 10 examples that are more grating, more bland, more tedious, more clunky, more dull, more downright insulting in their defiant and unabashed pointlessness than Pac-Man and ET.  I just don't buy it for a second.

 

I don't dispute that.  I was just reacting to the person saying that anyone who thinks Pac-Man 2600 sucks (which it does) is an *sshat.



#45 Gabriel OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:56 AM

Think it would be more fun to come up with popular games that you don't care for, but most people seem to like. And for every asshat that says Pac-Man or E.T. sucks, could just as well shove their Megamania cart up where the sun don't shine.   :rolling:

 

I really dislike Pitfall II.  I had it back in the day, and it disappointed the hell out of me.  After the novelty of that infinitely irritating music wore off, it took only a few minutes to see how tedious the game was.  I kept on playing it, because, you know, it was the only new game I was going to get for months.  It was probably my last new game for 3 years, how's that for a disappointing note?  Then I got to that endless tower of bobbing birds where it just goes on forever with no checkpoint and just one pixel off sends you all the way back to the bottom.  The game is such an endurance match of boring environments and just the most tedious gameplay ever.  Grinding in MMOs is more entertaining.

 

Imagine my surprise when I first came here and realized people liked this turd of a game.  More than that, people thought it was one of the best 2600 games ever made. WTELF?

 

God damn, I hate Pitfall II.  it's awful, and anyone who likes it is a bad person.

 

Moving on...

 

I've made peace with it, but I've never liked Asteroids.  It isn't virulent hate like with Pitfall II.  It's just that I think it's such a bad port of the arcade whose game it's labeled with that it can barely be considered the same thing.  I actually think Pac-Man and Space Invaders are far better ports than Asteroids.  

 

I recall I had been playing the arcade game during that time.  I saw Asteroids in Circus World and I had been promised a game.  I figured, I can get this game and practice for when I get to play the Arcade game.  Then I got it home.

 

The sherbet scoops were to be expected.  But where the arcade Asteroids is a game of maneuver, the 2600 port is a game of staying in the center of the screen immobile as much as possible.  The sherbet doesn't behave anything like the Asteroids of the arcade.  The UFOs are glitchy, especially when shooting them from the side.  Nothing about the game is the same other than the vague concept of shooting rocks and aliens.  Nothing about the game feels similar or plays similar.  Just about every clone game of Asteroids ever made feels more like Asteroids than the official 2600 port.

 

Not a fan of Asteroids.  It was named the game I wanted, but it wasn't anything like that.  As far as I'm concerned, Asteroids didn't exist for the 2600 until Space Rocks.

 

It's fine though.  I can play it and enjoy it.  The crushing disappointment of that one has worn off decades ago.  I've considered having someone make me a label that says Sherbet Shooter or just renaming it on my Harmony, because really the fact that it's not even remotely Asteroids is my only problem with it.

 

Let's see... can I think of another popular one I don't like?  Hmmm.

 

Screw it, I'll cheat.  I'll pick a non-popular game, because my loathing of this game knows no bounds.  Swordquest: Earthworld

 

I bought the game with birthday money.  I was at K-Mart.  I thought Swordquest was going to be like Adventure.  It had a comic!  I bought the game and brought it home.

 

Then I spent the next several hours walking from identical room to identical room, and occasionally playing stunningly awful minigames.  Occasionally, numbers would pop up on the screen.  The was no exploration.  There was no adventure.  There was just moving items around.

 

Swordquest isn't even a game.  It was definitely sold as one, but it isn't a game.

 

I took the game back to the store and exchanged it.  I could have gotten Phoenix or Berzerk, but I still wanted an adventure game.  I already had Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I don't think they had Riddle of the Sphinx (which I had played at a friend's house and liked).  So, I got E.T. despite my absolute hatred of the movie.

 

And you know what?  E.T. was OK.  I mean, I could have gotten Phoenix or something, but I don't have any regrets about buying E.T.  It's just an average 2600 game, which is many orders of magnitude better than Swordquest.

 

To this day, Swordquest: Earthworld is the worst video game I have EVER purchased.  It beats out the aforementioned Pitfall II easily.  I've owned the Defender remake for the PS2, Ravenloft Iron & Blood for the PS1, and Ballz 3d*, and all those awful games are better than Swordquest: Earthworld.  There's a horrifically broken racer on the 3DO sampler disc called Racing in Hell or something.  It was probably programmed in 30 minutes, and it is still better than Swordquest: Earthworld.  I like Doctor Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine better than Swordquest: Earthworld, and my efforts to complete that game on the Sega Genesis Collection to get 1000 gamerscore on that game have inspired an undying hatred for Mean Bean Machine.

 

I HATE SWORDQUEST: EARTHWORLD!  I didn't even get stuck with it when all was said and done, and it's still the worst video game experience of my life.



#46 Gabriel OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:02 AM

Slot Machine - I hate to beat up on this one, being such an early title, but this is rough. When the slots games for the Odyssey 2 and Channel F outclass it, there's a problem.
Basic Programming - this one gets a pass since it isn't actually a game at all, but with only enough room for nine lines of code, abbreviated syntax, and no way to save/load, it's still pretty pointless even as a BASIC trainer.
Laser Blast - Laser Blast gets a pass because it has other variations that are at least more initially challenging, but once you get the hang of even those, you're trancing out again just as you would on the easier variations.

 

Just in case anyone is wondering, because these three games come up a lot on these kinds of topics.

 

A friend of mine had Slot Machine.  Yes, it sucks.  But it's also still more fun and interesting to me than Pitfall II and Swordquest: Earthworld.

 

I owned Basic Programming back in the day.  Yes, it sucks.  I still enjoyed tinkering with it more than playing Swordquest: Earthworld.

 

Nothing is wrong with Laser Blast.  It's a great game to play while zoning out to your rage related to Pitfall II or Swordquest: Earthworld.  Kill, Kill, Kill, pause, Kill, Kill, Kill, pause, Kill, Kill, Kill, pause, Kill, Kill, extra man sound, Kill, pause, Kill, die, longer pause, Kill, Kill, pause... etc.



#47 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:29 AM

I think you're crackers for not liking Pitfall II, but at least you explained why. 

 

Pitfall II is the most NES-like of any VCS game. How do you feel about NES?



#48 Gabriel OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:34 AM

I think you're crackers for not liking Pitfall II, but at least you explained why. 

 

Pitfall II is the most NES-like of any VCS game. How do you feel about NES?

 

I was disinterested in the NES when it was current.  I didn't even get one for myself until 1994, and I purchased it mainly to play older RPGs like the Dragon Warriors and Ultimas.  My Apple IIc had died, and the NES was the only way I could afford to get back to playing Wizardry and Ultima IV.  In terms of action games, I didn't bother acquiring many of the games others would consider signatures for the system.

 

I'm kinder to the NES in retrospect, but I didn't like much for the system back then.



#49 Nathan Strum ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:46 AM

Just sit down with a Harmony cart and go game by game through the library--top to bottom--and try to tell me with a straight face you honestly cannot find 10 examples that are more grating, more bland, more tedious, more clunky, more dull, more downright insulting in their defiant and unabashed pointlessness than Pac-Man and ET.  I just don't buy it for a second.

 

 

I think it has less to do with the actual quality of the games themselves, and more to do with the expectations people had of what they should've been. Had they just been generic Atari games, and not had any ties to two of the most massively popular properties of the early 80's, they wouldn't have the reputation they do.



#50 AtariLeaf OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:59 AM

I think they've been mentioned but pooyan and Mr do really bug me because I love both games and am so disappointed in the 2600 ports. Pac-Man and donkey Kong don't bother me. I can't be live someone mentioned hero. Metal Jesus will have a fit 😅




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