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Coolest paddle controller Atari game

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What don't you like about the difficulty ramp up? Too fast, too slow? Just curious because I've never really thought about how to make it better or what I do or don't don't like about Kaboom!

 

I'm working on a version for a different, extremely limited platform. Is there any gameplay that you think could be added in a platform that's extremely limited in resolution, i.e. a microcontroller based discrete LED array sorta simplistic interface?

I agree it ramps up too fast between the top two fastest levels... There should be about 2 or 3 intermediate levels between those.

 

And the slowest (eg. first) level is TOO slow. I wouldn't mind if a game started with the fourth level.

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That mirrors my own thoughts about the difficulty level in Kaboom. As for how to improve the gameplay, even something as simple as every other stage the Mad Bomber tossing individual bombs that have to be caught rather than just dropping them would mix things up a bit. As was stated, once it gets up to speed, it's just a matter of moving the paddle back and forth as quickly as possible and more or less hope for the best.

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Was just going to talk about frantically wriggling your paddle and hoping for the best after a few levels in Kaboom! but you guys beat me to it. Slightly overrated game IMO. While definitely a little on the weird side, Eggomania does offers more variety and challenge. Prettier graphics too.

 

Other than that, Favorite paddle games include:

 

Super Breakout

Tac-Scan

Medieval Mayhem

Video Olympics

Astroblast

Indy 500 - okay, so it uses the driving controller.

 

Too bad Super Sprint didn't use the driving controller BITD, although I bet someone has created a hack out of it by now.

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That mirrors my own thoughts about the difficulty level in Kaboom. As for how to improve the gameplay, even something as simple as every other stage the Mad Bomber tossing individual bombs that have to be caught rather than just dropping them would mix things up a bit. As was stated, once it gets up to speed, it's just a matter of moving the paddle back and forth as quickly as possible and more or less hope for the best.

I agree that stage 1 could be a little bit faster. But, I was just playing NES Duck Hunt yesterday and found it completely boring until about round 10, so I sorta like the quick ramp-up speed of -Kaboom!. (To be fair, Duck Hunt probably wasn't supposed to be played on a 32" screen from 5 feet away.) I suppose, though, that it's not really a fine line between "too quick" and "too slow" when it comes to difficulty ramp-up.

So, Bill, what do you mean by "tossing individual bombs"? You mean he drops one bomb and you have to catch it before he drops another? With a drop speed that escalates within the round as well as starting at a higher baseline each round?

Edited by BigO

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So, Bill, what do you mean by "tossing individual bombs"? You mean he drops one bomb and you have to catch it before he drops another? With a drop speed that escalates within the round as well as starting at a higher baseline each round?

 

 

No, like a literal toss. He tosses an individual bomb in an arc somewhere on the screen, sort of like a ball in Breakout or how a soccer ball might be hit at a goal. I was just thinking that it might break up the game's strict emphasis on speed in-between main rounds.

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Oh, I see. So in that variant, the Mad Bomber could conceivably even move up and down one side of the screen to do the arcing toss instead of across the top to do the straight drop. Could even alternate sides during the round. Maybe he could even move across the bottom... Something like that.

 

I wonder if the screen real estate is too limited to give the bombs some lateral momentum. That might screw up the way I play. I don't really ever focus on the buckets or the bombs directly, but rather somehow see the whole screen at once and follow the pattern of drops and where the lowest bomb is at the same time...I think that's what I do anyway. The harder I focus on, well, any element of the game, the worse I play. Same thing with Circus.

 

These variants wouldn't translate well to the minimalist environment I'm working in, but could be a decent variation for a console or PC based version.

Edited by BigO

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I don’t think Kaboom is overrated at all.

 

Let’s face it: whereas we’d play most anything in the 70’s and 80’s and enjoy it—hey, I liked Sorcerer when I was 7—a fair number of those same 2600 games hold little entertainment value today, outside of their status as mementos from a bygone era.

 

Only a select batch of titles are able to transcend the misty-eyed nostalgia and provide a truly entertaining video game experience 30+ years on. Kaboom is repeatedly cited as one of those games by enthusiasts. I have a hard time calling any game capable of making this elite club “overrated”, because clearly, it’s a good game that has made a mark on legions of players.

 

As for the difficulty, I love it, myself. It’s got kind of an 80’s or Robotron-like difficulty arc, in that some are able to master it, while most mere mortals struggle to survive for more than 2-3 minutes. When games are as simple in concept as they typically were back in those days, they need to be short and sweet, otherwise they get boring. Who wants to spend several minutes catching bombs at a speed that could be easily managed after 10 scotches with one eye shut? What’s even the point? The game needs to quickly get to that level where the player is at the brink of short-circuiting their brain, because that is where the excitement kicks in. The earlier levels, by comparison, are about as dull as an on-rails shooter—no stimulus, just perfunctory dance steps.

 

Kudos to Kaplan for recognizing this back then, and not Nerfing the game in deference to the light at heart.

Edited by Cynicaster
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Without derailing the topic TOO far, I find it kind of a double edged sword...

 

It may seem true, that if even newcomers today like the game, that MUST be a sign of something...

But at the same time look how popular Flappy Bird is...

 

I can't help but think that even in '77-'83 gamers would have found Flappy Bird a little shallow... but I guess we'll never know...

 

Plus I'm also a firm believer in "Just because a lot of people agree on something does not make it so".

Edited by Torr
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Always felt like Kaboom was a good start to a game, but lacking... one-dimensional. Like Tempest without the lasers. Guess that's why I prefer Astroblast.

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My vote goes to Astroblast, but there are several good ones to choose from. Guardian and Solar Storm are along the same lines as Astroblast, but they lack the combination of frenzy and polish that Astroblast has.

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But at the same time look how popular Flappy Bird is...

I'm inferring that you think the game sucks and that the quality of the game is not commensurate with its popularity.

 

I've never played Flappy Bird--so I don't hold an opinion on the matter--but I'm comfortable assuming that I would agree with you.

 

To that, all I can offer is, never underestimate the infectiousness of viral commodities in the age-of-instant-access-to-everything. Let's see if the game continues to rake in the sales and make headlines long after the Facebook "shares" and "likes" have faded and the Flappy Bird bandwagon no longer holds a spotlight making it a "cool" place to be seen.

 

None of that applies to Kaboom.

 

Plus I'm also a firm believer in "Just because a lot of people agree on something does not make it so".

And please, continue to believe this, because the argument that "popularity = quality" makes me mental. Nickelback fans love playing this card.

 

That's why, in my message, I made a point of saying "enthusiasts" have a lasting appreciation for Kaboom, not just any old person who kinda-sorta likes games. Enthusiasts--connoisseurs, if you will--are more discerning in their tastes. On that, I'm sure we can all agree.

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I'm inferring that you think the game sucks and that the quality of the game is not commensurate with its popularity.

 

I've never played Flappy Bird--so I don't hold an opinion on the matter--but I'm comfortable assuming that I would agree with you.

 

To that, all I can offer is, never underestimate the infectiousness of viral commodities in the age-of-instant-access-to-everything. Let's see if the game continues to rake in the sales and make headlines long after the Facebook "shares" and "likes" have faded and the Flappy Bird bandwagon no longer holds a spotlight making it a "cool" place to be seen.

 

None of that applies to Kaboom.

 

 

 

While it's true that Kaboom has stood the test of time as a well remembered classic, it's still OK to acknowledge its flaws, including shallow gameplay and a difficulty level that eventually makes the game impossible. I think Kaboom saw success at the time for its relatively impressive audio-visuals, fast play, and easy to understand mechanics. It was also perfectly mated to its controller, which obviously was key. Its inspiration, the arcade game, Avalanche, is as much the source of the flaws in Kaboom as anything, though, simply because that was designed to get your game to end in a timely manner. All I'm saying from a devil's advocate standpoint is it would have been nice if the game went a bit beyond that idea. Nevertheless, it's hard to argue with its success, and, while it may not be the first paddle game I go to, it's certainly one I can still enjoy a round or two of. That in and of itself says a lot (and probably again is thanks to its genesis in the arcade where your attention needs to be captured quickly).

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So, clearly, some skilled VCS programmer needs to make an update to Kaboom!

 

I like the fact that it becomes "impossible". I guess that's part of the "pick up and play" appeal for me. But, what would you see as a suitable finale? A more defined goal other than the highest score my skills will let me attain? Saving the high score might provide more of an attainable goal. (Honestly, I have no idea what my high score is on Kaboom!)

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But, what would you see as a suitable finale? A more defined goal other than the highest score my skills will let me attain? Saving the high score might provide more of an attainable goal. (Honestly, I have no idea what my high score is on Kaboom!)

 

It can continue indefinitely, but extending the gameplay a bit could be as simple as changing up the bomb patterns every now and again; making different objects get tossed (with different sizes, which might require different strategies; kind of like the different enemies in Megamania); having in-between levels that make you do something slightly different every fifth (or whatever) round (like bouncing a couple of bombs off the left and right sides of the screen), where the next level starts at a slightly lower speed than you left off at (this would make beating some of the higher speeds more of an accomplishment) before continuing to ramp up again, etc. Basically anything that can keep you playing for longer than Kaboom allows for now. That would be a true sequel of course, leaving the original, with its straightforward play and completely linear progression as-is. Considering the state of Batari Basic, I imagine it would be a fairly straightforward game to more or less replicate, then extend as desired.

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My vote for best paddle controller games Is Warlords for multiplayer and for single player it would be Kaboom. There is a lot of great paddle games out there. Solar Storm and Astroblast are some honorable mentions.

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Yeah, I get a lot of stick for this, but I like Beat 'em & eat 'em, it's a sort of Kaboom only slower

 

Yep. Beat'em & Eat'em is a great game to play. Even if the subject matter was different it would still be great (although not half as funny).

 

EDIT: It might sound like a dull answer but I still love a good game of Pong Sports too. You can't go wrong with Pong :)

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Kaboom since it has water buckets. As far as hombrews, there's that Avalanche WIP that's fully playable. There's also a Christmas hack of Kaboom.

Edited by BrianC

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I'd argue against the statement that Kaboom at its highest difficulty is impossible. I'd qualify that with stating that at diff B level 8 is quite possible - I have done that many times. At diff A it's a different story though and maybe that's the point being made.

 

It does need something added to the gameplay but I'm not sure I know what it is. Maybe requiring the player to leave certain bombs or others causing the buckets to grow or shrink? I still rate it amongst my favourites.

 

I'm also a big fan of Solar Storm. Just the fact that it's a vertical shmup with paddle control makes it an interesting proposition.Once you realise that the enemy ships that can fire only have one shot the game becomes an interesting exercise in risk management and reactions. It looks and sounds great too. The two player game is quite enjoyable as turns alternative between life loss OR level completion so a player's turn won't last too long.

 

Warlords is the best multi-player game - no doubt about that - and Medieval Mayhem is the icing on the cake.

 

Kaboom and Super Breakout are my two "go to" 2600 games at present and have been for decades. I believe Super Breakout to be pretty close to perfection re game design. The 4 modes cover all you need for the ball and bat gameplay - I prefer its purity to Arkanoid. It presents 4 distinct challenges - score 10,000 in each of its modes - the ultimate challenge being the brutal progressive mode. It does have a flaw in the change in angles after 7 hits if you don't hit a "speed up" brick. The angles change back after 7 more hits - but it's a brief phase in the gameplay I find to be slow and a bit annoying - but that's a minor gripe.

 

Video Olympics also rates highly in multi-player because of the quadrapong mode - but it's a pity it is only 2 vs 2 and has no 4 player versus option.

 

Circus Atari is highly enjoyable too - I really wish I had got that game back in the day as I was a fan of the arcade game - but the look of those square "balloons" put me off. I'm rather interested in the remake.

Edited by davyK

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It took me a few hours practice spread over a couple days to play Kaboom! on level 8. And the more you play, the game starts to slow down for you mentally. I guess that could be said for

anything that takes hand-eye coordination at top speed.

 

 

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It took me a few hours practice spread over a couple days to play Kaboom! on level 8. And the more you play, the game starts to slow down for you mentally. I guess that could be said for

anything that takes hand-eye coordination at top speed.

 

 

 

Level 8 is just not attainable for me, so far. I've tried since the early 80's, and I have never been able to get through a whole set of bombs, no matter how much I play or how focused I am. I've come close, and still hold hope that someday I might squeeze that tiny extra bit of skill out of myself, but I'd have to conclude that it's too fast... for me (and I'm no slouch on most hand/eye games).

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Assuming diff B play here.

 

I have to play myself into Kaboom!. There is no way I could defeat level 8 at my first attempt even now after all these years. I gradually improve throughout the session.

 

You start to feel the rhythm of the level and you adjust to the sense of speed much the same way you adjust to the sense of speed in a car. When I play at level 8 I'm not responding to the visual inputs - at least not totally - it is probably the first game to put the player into the zone - certainly the first I can think of.

Edited by davyK
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