What a tournament it has been we have seen some upsets (Atari's Golf, Imagic's Trick Shot, and Activision Skiing) and some unexpected games make it into the latter rounds (RS Volleyball, HES' My Golf). We had quite the quarter-final with potentially some controversial wins.
Our four semi-finalists are Enduro (Activision), My Golf (HES), Pole Position (Atari) and Super Football (Atari). It's certain that most 2600 collectors and owners would have a copy of Enduro or Pole Position, while significant less people would have Super Football which was released in the late days of Atari and missed a lot of households. Even less likely are people to have a copy of My Golf. Most of us would be playing this PAL game on Stella or with some adjustment on a Harmony Cart.
The bouts will be:
- Enduro (Activision) vs My Golf (HES)
Pole Position (Atari) vs Super Football (Atari)
It isn't surprising to see two Atari titles at this stage due to the sheer number of sports-related titles released. Simple titles like Basketball, Golf, Bowling, and Pele's Soccer were fun, and then the Realsports series elevated the quality of the various offerings by quite a notch. The last two sports titles Super Baseball and Super Football brought some excellent offerings based on everything that had gone previously, refining all the gameplay and pushing it to the limits, no wonder we see Super Football at this stage.
Activision always had the best library in terms of quality. Certainly the innovators in many aspects, they launched new genres of games that live on decades afterwards. Having the need to establish themselves as a strong company selling quality titles, they steadily released great sports titles such as Boxing, Skiing, Tennis, Dragster, Decathlon, Ice Hockey and of course Enduro. With perhaps the exception of Dragster, all titles are great sports titles and very popular.
HES is the oddity in this bunch. My Golf is its only original title and what title it is. Created by a veteran programmer, this game benefits from from the latter stage of the VCS where both the true capabilities of the console were pushed and inspiration would come from the computer games available at the time.
At this point we should note one omission in our tournament; Atari's Football was the original Football game and a very weak offering that left a lot to be desired. Being one of the first games it's riddled with the lack of sophistication and not blessed with the experience what makes a good fun game. It's a pity that we didn't include it for fairness, although it most likely would have been eliminated in the preliminary round.
So let's start the bouts. I'm sure these will be classic match-ups.
1. Enduro (Activision) vs My Golf (HES)
What can we say about Enduro that we haven't said before. It borrowed a bit from Night Driver, but added so much more to the game, making it one of the best and most fun titles to play. Passing 200 and then 300 cars per day was quite the challenge and the perfect balance in making the game great to play trying to improve on your score. Getting the speed right where you have enough time to react while passing cars as quickly as possible was almost an art. My Golf with its 3 screen holes, full club selection and a great swing meter, made this one a great golf and unthinkable in the early 80s. It is challenging and also great fun, trying to get a par, or if you're extremely good, even a birdie. There is one big difference, Enduro behaves with its controls as you would expect a car to do, while the direction selection in My Golf is extremely challenging and at times unpredictable. Even with the purple water hazards on the lush greens, this is were My Golf stops.
Winner by 3rd round KO: Enduro !!
2. Pole Position (Atari) vs Super Football (Atari)
As mentioned, the one thing we will know for sure is that Atari will be represented in the final with an extremely strong contender. Pole Position chimes in with arcade-original tune and makes you qualify right off the bat. It doesn't want to deal with novices in the actual race. The control scheme takes some getting used to. Gear shifting directions match what was in the arcade, and the automatic acceleration leaves you with the button to break, something that you will rarely do as downshifting works better. Super Football comes along with its crisp graphics and innovative point of view for an Atari 2600 game. 10 players show up on the screen at the same time and distant players are rendering in perspective. There is a little or no flickering, which makes this game a technical marvel. This game also supports 9 different plays for both offense and defense, although you're always tempted to just go with your QB for a touchdown. This game is an exceptional implementation of a Football considering the limitations of the console. And more importantly, it's really fun once you master the basics. Both have a learning curve with their control scheme, and Super Football is certainly more difficult to learn especially if you're not familiar with basic Football rules. You can have a fun session playing Super Football either against the computer or a friend. Pole Position can get frustrating at times and requires almost precision driving.
Winner by 3rd round TKO: Super Football!!
And there you have it, we will have a final of Enduro (Activision) vs Super Football (Atari)! Both games didn't have an easy ride, especially Enduro which had to face the preliminary round to get this far!