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Atari 2600 Games I owned as a kid

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#1 PitfallHarry77 OFFLINE  


    Space Invader

  • 28 posts

Posted Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:55 AM

The following are the games my brother and I owned as kids in order from best to worst. We had an Atari Jr. (mini rainbow version) and only one Atari Proline Joystick:




We loved this racing game and I think it was the best game that we had and is still fun today. I have seen some reviewers say it is overrated and runs too long. To make such a comment is a bit like saying that a sport is boring when you have never actually invested in it enough to actually care who wins. I think all sport is boring unless you are actually supporting a team with some passion. I disagree with those who have criticised Enduro and think these people just needed to add some challenge and go for a patch or a top score. Just driving it casually and taking it 'for a spin' is a limited experience, particularly with Atari games. It is fun because you can get into some kind of zone where you have an almost telepathic ability to dodge traffic. The sound is timeless and brings back memories and the weather conditions made it the best racer on the Atari 2600. My brother and I both achieved a patch which I think you were awarded if you lasted 5 days. The best we ever did was 7 days but I am interested to see how our American friends got on because this was the PAL version which is slower. What is the standing record on Enduro? 


Space Invaders


I enjoyed this one as a kid but think I appreciate it more today. I didn't really bother with the variations and I only had one joystick. I had also never played the arcade version to compare it to as it was all Galaga in the arcades at the time at the local fish and chip shop. I preferred an obscure shooter in my collection called Marine Wars because I was good at it and it had more variety. Playing 2 player and using the double shot cheat really adds to this game and today I love it even more and find it to be a great game and great arcade port.


Marine Wars


I am not sure if this came out in the US but it is a great little shooter. You are a destroyer against other ships initially and then planes. The impressive thing was that between levels it changed between night and day and at night the last line of ships was invisible. It was a great feeling of satisfaction when you hit an invisible ship. It was tough because although you were given a lot of lives to start with, your actual ship was a big target. I loved this game and played it a lot, holding the top score in my family. I also imagined I was taking part in some kind of great World War II naval battle such as the Battle of Midway which added to the appeal.


Strategy X


I am not sure if this was released in the US either. This has dated quite badly due to the poor graphics but back in the early 80s I really liked this game. You were a tank that had to shoot through a gate before making your way up the screen while being shot. In the second level you would get attacked by planes. I imagined the things shooting at you were like anti-tank gun emplacements surrounded by sandbags. My brother and I played this a lot and tried to top each other's scores. One year Santa brought this for my brother and I got Marine Wars (which I thought was better).




Graphically, this has all the features of Activision with crisp graphics and the Activision sunset. Race a biplane over windmills and through barns while dodging geese is a simple premise. This game seems to polarise opinion with some raving about it and how simple things work best while others deride it for being dull and not up to Activision's high standards. I fall somewhere in the middle. At the time I didn't know about the patch for this one so I didn't really have a clear goal or the ability to save my score so I was effectively just 'having a bash'. You need a goal with these Atari games for them to come alive in terms of gameplay. As one of a select few games that I had over a 5 to 6 year period, this game was a little monotonous. However, on the Gameboy Advance with a save feature and the ability to go for a high score and patch, this game was addictive and quite a lot of fun.




Very similar to Barnstorming and the same comments apply although this one copped more criticism. Trying to go for a patch or high score is fun, addictive and gives that feeling of satisfaction when you achieve it. In short bursts this isn't a bad game but not when you own it over a 5 year period and it bores you fairly early on in the piece. It also wasn't a game I could use to defend the Atari 2600 against my Commodore 64 owning friends who were playing Impossible Mission and Raid on Bungeling Bay.


Realsports Tennis


I loved this game at the time and it got a good run during the Australian Open or during Wimbledon, especially if Pat Cash or Steffi Graf were playing. I remember being particularly inspired by the 87' Wimbledon finals when Graf went down to Martina Navratilova in the women's final and then Cash defeated Ivan Lendl in the epic men's final. This game definitely got a good run that year. It had decent graphics and a scoreboard like the one on television. I have read reviews that say that Tennis by Activision is better but not in my experience. I only ever played Realsports Tennis against the computer and it played a solid game as you could add topspin, hit a lob and place the ball. I did the same with Tennis and the rally went forever. I couldn't win a point and neither could the computer. It was a stalemateI would be interested to know if it is a different story if you play 2 player but as a 1 player game, I think Realsports Tennis is better. 




This is a decent puzzle game but it isn't Tetris or Pokemon Puzzle League and it wasn't the game to excite me as an 8 year old. Despite this, I still had some decent games of this against my Dad and we still had fun.




This got a lot of play because it was really our only 2 player game and it was around the time of Carl Lewis dominating the 100m until he came up against drug cheat Ben Johnson in 88' at the Seoul Olympics. The Summer Olympics in LA in 84' stands out to me because it was the first one I remember watching. We used to write our scores down and after a lot of practice, I managed to achieve a bronze patch. I never actually sent away for it so there was no way of confirming my score. I also achieved this with an Atari 7800 controller which I think is worth mentioning. Playing this recently, it seemed more like some kind of torture than something you would play for fun. The gameplay just seemed so dated compared to some of the great Atari games I have played recently and everything moves too slowly. Furthermore, it is likely that you would destroy your favourite controller playing this game with 100m, 400m and 1500m of joystick waggling. Every event actually requires joystick waggling. I have fond memories of competing in this game and of the music as well. It is pure nostalgia, it has to be, as Decathlon isn't that much fun to play and it never will be.



Space Shuttle


My brother and I took this one very seriously and it was an upgrade from pre-primary when my class had actually built a spaceship, outfits for everyone to wear and were all set for a space mission. Our ship was sufficiently covered in tin foil and it had different rooms - it was pretty cool! However, there was one hitch, I stood down from the mission at the last minute because we also had space food and I wasn't too keen on the rhubarb and custard that was on the menu. Anyway back to Space Shuttle by Activision. We read the manual and had our overlays in place. I started as co-pilot and had to read out the instructions before I got a 'check' from my brother who was chief pilot. We fully believed that if we could do this, maybe being future astronauts for NASA was a career option. I remember that I mainly played Level 1 if I was on my own and I had fun because my imagination went into overdrive. Sometimes after playing Dam Busters on a mate's Commodore 64 I would pretend I was a bomber pilot flying a Lancaster bomber pilot deep into the heart of Germany. Docking with the satellite was when I pretended I was lining up to drop my bomb payload on the target below. The flashing lights when coming back through the atmosphere I pretended was flak. The experience paled a little with Dam Busters as there was no equivalent to being under attack by Messerschmitt fighters. I have since played Level 1 as an adult and it is a bit like the first level in Adventure. The space shuttle flies by itself and there isn't a lot to see or do. There are flashing lights, the satellite moving across the screen and two white lines in a yellow desert that serve as the runway. I always tried not to land as I wanted to fly past the runway and go to the mountains. I think I managed to overshoot the runway once but another runway just appeared. I guess the 'earth from space' effect is pretty good. Anyway, without the overlays and believing the hype about becoming an astronaut, it isn't much fun today. It was a technical achievement at the time but it hasn't aged well.


Human Cannonball


This one is very simplistic and involves firing a man from a cannon into a water storage tank. You have to get the angle of the cannon and the power right. There is some amusement to be had in seeing your little stick man go splat and there is also a decent challenge. However, I had this over a 5 year period and it doesn't have that kind of longevity and there are so many games I would rather have had.

#2 Freeway OFFLINE  


    Combat Commando

  • 3 posts

Posted Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:55 PM

You mention the crisp graphics of the Activision games, I also distinctly remember that from playing Chopper Command at a friend's house. It's interesting to read about the games you were playing at the time.

My console was bought around 1981 (with Combat cartridge, from Comet store I recall).
The other games I had were (in order of purchase) Asteroids, Adventure, Defender, Freeway and Cosmic Ark.

Adventure is the most fondly remembered, I read an Atari newsletter reporting that someone had recently discovered the dot easter egg, so I went searching for it too. Finding a new feature was quite a big deal given the prices (£30 each in 1980's money) and the long wait until I could afford a new game, plus there is something satisying about knowing everything you can about a game.

Cosmic Ark seemed to me at the time another step up in graphics resolution, even compared to Chopper Command.
I would say all games except Cosmic Ark got equal play-time (i.e. played to death), Ark got too fast too quickly and the resulting games were too short.

The console and games (and official dustcover!) got sold to help fund a bicycle, but around 1990 I saw the Atari Jr and bought one new. It came with several cartridges. Off the top of my head they were Centipede, Pele's Soccer, HERO, Ms Pacman, Stargate, River Raid and Adventure. I also bought E.T mailorder to see what it was like. Favourites here were Stargate and HERO. I still have the Jr and games that came with it.

My favourite game overall that I played back then (but never owned) was Raiders of the Lost Ark. It seemed to have a greater level of complexity and more puzzles than other games, plus good graphics. It was reminiscent of Adventure to me. Another thumbs up for Activision Grand Prix which I played a lot, trying to beat a friend's fastest times.

#3 bohoki ONLINE  



  • 1,516 posts

Posted Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:35 PM

my familys first one was bought in like 1981 we had a few games we got a couple every yearfor birthdays


had combat loved invisible tank mode


super breakout loved the 2 layers of bricks  mode


superman could not get enough of superman tried making maps of the place but mostly just went the long ways around to take the gang to jail x-ray vision amazing hunting down and kissing lois when you get kryptonited


air sea battle loved the carnival level poppin the big smilers


night driver loved driving that wheelchair avoiding the crayons


eventually we got frogger 2 i liked it better than frogger

#4 The MilkMan OFFLINE  

The MilkMan


  • 619 posts
  • Location:612 Warf Avenue

Posted Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:36 PM

Loved Space Shuttle! I would open 2 folding chairs and place one front of me, one behind. I'd place my 13" TV on the fold out chair in front of me, and the 2600 was on the floor. Then drape a blanket over the two chairs...that provided the fuselage (tent) of the shuttle. I'd sit between the chairs on the floor and use a pair of headphones (hooked up to nothing of course) as a headset to communicate with CAPCOM. Haha...man...good times!

#5 Keatah ONLINE  


    Missile Commander

  • 20,874 posts

Posted Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:42 PM

While I never did things like that (too much) with Space Shuttle. I did do it with Lunar Lander on the Apple II and Star Raiders on the Atari 400/800. Got lots of stories. I may re-paste some of them here.


But we used the VCS in our training station, and as entertainment on our interstellar voyages.

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