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Ikari Warriors (Atari)




"Oh, no honey... Don't do that..." Those were the first words I uttered when I heard that Ikari Warriors was ported onto the 2600. This was one of the final games on the system, released in 1990, the death year of the system, this game was inadvisable, even back then. This game is in the same vein as many of the late release red box games... Ports of games released on the NES, games like, KLAX, Xenophobe, and Roadrunner. Games that were just too big for the 2600, this is definitely one of those games. So... Here's the question... how does the game look? How does it sound? How does it play? Well... By the time this game rolled around both the Gameboy and Sega Genesis were out, gaming as moving forward, so how did the folks who stayed behind do?


This game doesn't look half bad. While definitely not coming close to the NES version it's still very complex for 2600 standards. Like, instead of the ground being solid green it has little rectangles to imply grass and give variety to the monotony. The plane you start by actually looks like a plane, which is rather incredible when you think about it. The enemy sprites are large, multicolored and well animated. Terrain has variation, from grassy fields, to rickety bridges, and even to swampy ponds. The buildings and gates are a sight to behold, such beautiful gradients. Unlike all the other versions of this game it has only one level which loops endlessly, which will lead to some boredom with the graphics since despite the quality of them, are very few and far between. Mostly you'll just be looking at the green grass for minutes on end and it just leads to boredom.


The sounds are rather irritating, the same annoying tune plays over the game that plays in the other versions, but instead of a well mixed and well orchestrated piece of music, you get a single channel, slightly off timing, and slightly off key solo of the most annoying part of the incredibly repetitive song. I thing the other sounds are okay, there's a pretty chunky sounding explosion, but everything is just overshadowed by the crappy recorder solo music.


The gameplay is disappointing to say the least, you move like you're wading through molasses, your bullets seem quite slow as well, in fact everything feels incredibly slow in this game. The problem is though, if you try to move quickly through the stages, your lives will evaporate, this is not the kind of game you can rush through. Enemies move and shoot rather erratically, leading to you pacing around their shots while never getting to shoot one off yourself. You are given the chance to control the tank in this game, but that is also a bit of a let down, it moves as slow as you do, and the fuel drains so fast you'd be lucky to get off just a few shots before it's gone forever. This game is just so boring, it gets so boring that it verges on being frustrating. The same thing goes for Activision's Commando in my opinion, the 2600 just couldn't handle this style of game... Or could it?


If it's not already obvious this game goes to the dreaded Collector's Zone, where it can spend the rest of it's days rotting on a shelf never to be played except by an unwitting and unfortunate fool who doesn't know any better. This just shouldn't have been made, and I think is was just a desperate move by Atari to breathe some new life into a system that had been dead for years.

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It's a little hard today to understand why Atari Corp. was still grinding out games for a system at least three generations old in 1989-90. Ikari Warriors is a typical sufferer of 2600portitis--it's a weird, 2600y version of the arcade game ("interpretation" is probably a better word), but isn't bad on its own merits. If nothing else, it mixes up the system's genre variety a little bit (the only other games of its type I can think of are Frontline and Commando), and as a run 'n' gun game on the old Atari 2600, I actually don't think it does too badly at all. :)


I'd have gotten a lot of mileage out of this if I was still stuck with an Atari when my friends had Nintendos and Segas and hand-me-down Colecos. It wouldn't have made me wish any less harder for a Nintendo, but it might have tided me over until I could get one. :P


That music, though...... :P


(Actually, I think the worst thing about the music is that the 7800 version uses it, too. If any 7800 title needed POKEY sound, it was Ikari Warriors. But there was also Commando, so I guess it's a wash. :P )

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