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Best third party that isn't Activision or Imagic

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I would defend Pitfall, too. For the VG beginners, like my mom, there are many actions and skills to learn such as crossing the 3 crocs pits, avoiding logs so you don't lose points, the timing required to jump a scorpion, swinging on vines and getting off at the right time, and climbing ladders. She was lucky to get more than one treasure yet still found it fun.

 

But for us who are real players, there are exactly 256 screens, 32 treasures, 20 minutes; there is an endgame to aspire to. Thanks to the HSC here, years back I finally got all the treasures before time ran out. Perfect game accomplished! What satisfaction! I've mapped the game several times until I started to use that high quality Pitfall map that is available online.

 

I don't find Activision 2600 games to be any more shallow than atari published games, except a few early ones like Barnstorming or Freeway.

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Activision was never overrated. Lots of design, NO FLICKER, good documentation, patches, credit for creators, original ideas, reliably high quality.

 

the boldface type says it all....they were miles above most the competition in terms of graphics quality because of this. I wish THEY would have ported Pac Man back then....

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Pitfall is deeper than it looks, if you're playing for score and/or completion. That's something I've never bothered to do, because the "one screen of underground is equal to three screens of surface" breaks my brain, but the maps are out there. There are also homebrews that up the number of potential encounters, and possibly randomize things?

I remember getting Pitfall for Christmas the year it came out, and it was mesmerizing because there were no maps for it. I spent hours mapping it out myself, and at the time, there was really nothing else like it. Since it's been so thoroughly analyzed and dissected over the years, it's lost that sense of newness and mystery. But at the time, it was really groundbreaking. It's reputation at the time was well-deserved.

 

Activision was never overrated. Lots of design, no flicker, good documentation, patches, credit for creators, original ideas, reliably high quality. Dumping on Activision cos you weren't wowed by a PC collection a decade later misses what they were all about. Sure, they ran out of steam as technology moved on, but they did amazing things while they were at the peak of their retro powers.

I think history is a little unkind to Activision, because it gets evaluated as a single entity, rather than as a series of games being released in the context of what was happening at the time. But for awhile ('81- early '82), in comparison to other games on the market (including Atari), they were in a league of their own. I remember seeing each new Activision game at my local video store, and just being blown away and wishing I had the money to buy more of them (and I bought quite a few). I still remember when Chopper Command and StarMaster were announced, and how I couldn't wait to buy them. At the time, no other company had that kind of impact. Imagic was second because their games had a lot of visual flash (and chrome boxes!), and they were one of the earliest third-party companies, but they were a distant second.

 

I'd recommend looking at Random Terrain's excellent Quick Lists of release dates. Particularly 1980, 1981 and 1982, and see in context what Activision and Atari were doing before the flood of third-party titles came in mid/late '82. I bought my console in mid-'81, and revisiting those dates now is astonishing to think how rapidly things changed.

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"Parker Brothers" was great and was already mentioned a few times here in the thread. I also liked how their cartridges looked with that different form.

 

"CBS Electronics" i also like and i have four original cartridges from them, which are "Smurf", "Venture", "Donkey Kong" and Zaxxon".

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Sorry -- just want to get back to Pitfall one more time. This is the first game I remember where the "fire" button did something other than shoot a gun. We take "push button to jump" for granted now, but it was quite innovative 35+ years ago.

 

It's kind of a shame the megalithic Call of Duty publisher and Blizzard overlord uses the same name as that crazy old company that made Enduro, Stampede, and Chopper Command.

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I remember getting Pitfall for Christmas the year it came out, and it was mesmerizing because there were no maps for it. I spent hours mapping it out myself, and at the time, there was really nothing else like it. Since it's been so thoroughly analyzed and dissected over the years, it's lost that sense of newness and mystery. But at the time, it was really groundbreaking. It's reputation at the time was well-deserved.

 

I think history is a little unkind to Activision, because it gets evaluated as a single entity, rather than as a series of games being released in the context of what was happening at the time. But for awhile ('81- early '82), in comparison to other games on the market (including Atari), they were in a league of their own. I remember seeing each new Activision game at my local video store, and just being blown away and wishing I had the money to buy more of them (and I bought quite a few). I still remember when Chopper Command and StarMaster were announced, and how I couldn't wait to buy them. At the time, no other company had that kind of impact. Imagic was second because their games had a lot of visual flash (and chrome boxes!), and they were one of the earliest third-party companies, but they were a distant second.

 

I'd recommend looking at Random Terrain's excellent Quick Lists of release dates. Particularly 1980, 1981 and 1982, and see in context what Activision and Atari were doing before the flood of third-party titles came in mid/late '82. I bought my console in mid-'81, and revisiting those dates now is astonishing to think how rapidly things changed.

 

I had a similar reaction to Activision as a kid. I'd played Pitfall!, and then I specifically remember seeing the commercials for Chopper Command and I HAD to have it.

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I had a similar reaction to Activision as a kid. I'd played Pitfall!, and then I specifically remember seeing the commercials for Chopper Command and I HAD to have it.

Yes, but how did you like Chopper Command when you finally got it? I grew up with and had Atari's Defender. Wasn't until the mid 90's before I played Chopper Command... and felt it was pretty "shallow" comparatively. Still do, which is why I'm surprised people make a big deal about it today, or that some get excited about such ports over to the Intellivision. Same with Seaquest... holy smokes is that one shallow, monotonous and repetitive game IMO. Fun for a few minutes (after the difficulty finally ramps up that is), but c'mon... Dolphin is another. :)

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Honestly, many many classic games are monotonous and repetitive, the kind of thing we'd call mini-games now. That's part of the charm.

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Carnival I think is pretty unique shooter for the reason you have limited bullets and the entire game revolves around you maintaining your supply. I didn't understand the game as a kid, but when I finally DID, it got a lot more interesting. The 2600 version is a decent port as well. :)

What about River Raid?


In retrospect it was a fun and challenging game.. but I guess at the time since it wasn't "space" the earth bound theme didn't really move 10 year old me :P Ditto for Stampede.. I totally passed on that game, yet I find it pretty decent today.

 

 

The Atari version of Demon Attack? nothing like Phoenix to me......I believe they mean the Intellivision version, which was pretty much Phoenix rip-off complete with mothership with a barrier to penetrate...and much better graphics...

 

That's a really fair point! I guess I never even considered the Intellivision version (Intellivision was always on the other side of the fence :lol: ). That said, the VCS version is the original obviously.. seemed like it was some time before the ports to other systems started coming out. But I stand corrected.. I totally see the similarity now. The Intellivision version is a total Phoenix clone. Wow.

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Carnival was a drag when I was a kid but it looks more interesting and tactical to my grown up self.

 

I adored Intellivision Demon Attack for its detailed backgrounds as a kid, but the Atari one seems deeper and more trance-like to me now.

 

It's weird looking back at these ancient things.

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Carnival I think is pretty unique shooter for the reason you have limited bullets and the entire game revolves around you maintaining your supply. I didn't understand the game as a kid, but when I finally DID, it got a lot more interesting. The 2600 version is a decent port as well. :)

 

In retrospect it was a fun and challenging game.. but I guess at the time since it wasn't "space" the earth bound theme didn't really move 10 year old me :P Ditto for Stampede.. I totally passed on that game, yet I find it pretty decent today.

 

 

 

That's a really fair point! I guess I never even considered the Intellivision version (Intellivision was always on the other side of the fence :lol: ). That said, the VCS version is the original obviously.. seemed like it was some time before the ports to other systems started coming out. But I stand corrected.. I totally see the similarity now. The Intellivision version is a total Phoenix clone. Wow.

 

When I was a kid, my next door neighbor friend had an Intellivision and Demon Attack. This was the first version of the game that I played. The huge mothership boss was really cool at the time. As a kid I don't think we ever beat it.

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Carnival was a drag when I was a kid but it looks more interesting and tactical to my grown up self.

 

I adored Intellivision Demon Attack for its detailed backgrounds as a kid, but the Atari one seems deeper and more trance-like to me now.

 

It's weird looking back at these ancient things.

 

The Intellivision version has the better background graphics (in that it has background graphics) and the mothership. The Atari 2600 version has more interesting demons. They're both fine in their own way.

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Yes, but how did you like Chopper Command when you finally got it? I grew up with and had Atari's Defender. Wasn't until the mid 90's before I played Chopper Command... and felt it was pretty "shallow" comparatively. Still do, which is why I'm surprised people make a big deal about it today, or that some get excited about such ports over to the Intellivision. Same with Seaquest... holy smokes is that one shallow, monotonous and repetitive game IMO. Fun for a few minutes (after the difficulty finally ramps up that is), but c'mon... Dolphin is another. :)

 

Yeah, I don't find Chopper Command to have any deep gameplay elements. I didn't mention it in my earlier posts either, but I'd rather play it over Dragster, so its in the middle. It looks great though - that Orange background and the blue laser fire is a great combination.

 

Seaquest on the other hand is my favorite horizontal shooter on the console. It has many of the same elements as Defender in that you have to shoot enemies and save people, the enemies and their patterns change from level to level and the bonus scoring system adds a very enjoyable high score strategy to the gameplay.

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I'll add that as a 7 year old, it blew my mind.

Even when I played the display as a 14 year old at the JC Penny in the Louis Joliet Mall, I felt underwhelmed by it. It looked good, but it missed... something.

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Posted (edited)

 

The Intellivision version has the better background graphics (in that it has background graphics) and the mothership. The Atari 2600 version has more interesting demons. They're both fine in their own way.

 

My only problem with Demon Attack on 2600....you ever watch someone beat the crap out of a game as SOON as it comes out...before you even get a chance to play it? that's what happened...i was at a cousin's house and we went to one of his "rich" neighbor's house to play atari on a huge rear-projection tv they had setup in the basement....that rich kid already had Demon Attack nailed like the week it was released, we didn't even get to play, he was on ONE game for over 30 minutes...so I never got into it (after seeing every 'demon' combination it had to offer...) Exact same thing happened to me for Dragon's Lair in the arcade...waited behind some douche that beat the entire game on one play......then lost complete interest after seeing the ending. I must be the ONLY one from our generation that didn't pump 50 cents into that turd of a game....

 

people say early Activision games were simplistic...what about the overhyped Dragon's Lair? it was just a Dance Revolution type "follow the arrows" timing game....i hated it...

 

I do have to say, now that i'm older i do appreciate 2600 Demon Attack more....

Edited by eddhell
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I must be the ONLY one from our generation that didn't pump 50 cents into that turd of a game....

 

people say early Activision games were simplistic...what about the overhyped Dragon's Lair? it was just a Dance Revolution type "follow the arrows" timing game....i hated it...

 

I've played it a few times, but lost interest real fast. It's a "choose your own adventure" book, but with fast reflexes.

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Yeah, I don't find Chopper Command to have any deep gameplay elements. I didn't mention it in my earlier posts either, but I'd rather play it over Dragster, so its in the middle. It looks great though - that Orange background and the blue laser fire is a great combination.

 

Seaquest on the other hand is my favorite horizontal shooter on the console. It has many of the same elements as Defender in that you have to shoot enemies and save people, the enemies and their patterns change from level to level and the bonus scoring system adds a very enjoyable high score strategy to the gameplay.

 

 

I loved Chopper Command and Seaquest. Fine pieces of programming by Activision

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I must be the ONLY one from our generation that didn't pump 50 cents into that turd of a game....

 

To this day I haven't played Dragon's Lair on an arcade cabinet (though I did play Dragon's Lair II once or twice when it came out).

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Epyx should have done more for the Atari sooner.....they had good computer games, i'm sure Pitstop could have fit on a cart..

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I loved Chopper Command and Seaquest. Fine pieces of programming by Activision

 

here's an observation...Activision was one of the first (if not the first) game makers that had this feature:

on most of their games with an energy or bonus timer, you could "milk" the game level for a bit to get more bonus points (like those vidiots on King of Donkey Kong movie), helpful if you already had the max number of lives...Seaquest had this in some form, Frostbite, Megamania, and others...

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I must be the ONLY one from our generation that didn't pump 50 cents into that turd of a game....

It may be craptacular when it comes to gameplay mechanics, but as a Bluth animated FMV experience it was pretty awesome to many of us. I was probably 13 or 14 around then. I studied the Joystik strategy article and beat the game more than once. Got applause one time, it was output to bigger monitor. The home ports I've played are never as fun for some reason.

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I never touched Dragons Lair as a kid because it cost a buck. I could play 4 other games with that dough! :lol:

 

Nah to be honest I was always fascinated watching people play it.. I knew how the gameplay was etc. It was only when Dragons Lair came out for the Gameboy Color of all things that I dived right in and gave it the good try to master the game. It was far from the true arcade experience but close enough for me. Nowadays of course we have Daphne and the ability to play the "corrected" versions of the Dragon's Lair ROMs with the proper sequences, bugs fixed, etc. I still like it to be honest.

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I would argue that Pitfall has pretty shallow gameplay. For the promise of adventure, there really wan't much to it. Maybe it's because I was already in love with Adventure by that point, but to me, Pitfall!, while not bad, is overrated.

 

This. Don't get me wrong, the game is a technical marvel on the 2600. But gameplay-wise it gets old fast. A pit, a pit with a vine, a pit with crocs, a pit with a vine and crocs, a pit that opens and closes. Screw all these damn pits, I'm going to get killed by the scorpion instead!

 

For someone who likes adventure with actual variety, you won't find it here. I much prefer Pitfall II or even Pitfall Mayan Adventure for that reason.

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I don't think I paid full retail for any 2600 game (late to the party, enjoyed crash blowout pricing) but I'd say Raiders is the Lost Ark. I understand what they were trying to do, but it's so abstract and inscrutable, and too far removed from the quick & intuitive classic arcade aesthetic.

 

Raiders is actually my favorite 2600 game. My friends and I spend the summer trying to solve the game, and it was always exciting when we figured out the next part. It showed the possibilities of what Adventure games could be like in the future.

 

But like most 2600 adventure games, it makes little sense without the manual.

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