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Top 10 Worst Games on the 2600 (In my Opinion)

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10: Basic Math

Do you know why Gary Palmer never worked on another game for the 2600? This is why. Basic Math is boring, boring and boring. It's about as fun as practicing flashcards. Not much to say about this primitive torture device. NEXT!

9: Donkey Kong

Everyone, here's the worst arcade port in all the 2600 arcade ports (which was a lot) Coleco produced a lot of trash for the 2600, but Donkey Kong is on a new level. Donkey Kong? Gingerbread man. Levels? 2. Paulina? Yellow-headed and wearing a blue dress with white sleeves. Considering Garry Kitchen (who cooked up Pressure Cooker) made this, this makes Donkey Kong frustrating and disappointing, especially considering the publicity surrounding the arcade port in 1982. Yes, I know they couldn't have done a perfect port, but this feels like Coleco was just lazy.

8: SwordQuest: FireWorld

This game was made by Atari. Not Apollo, nor Froggo, nor Zimag, but the company that started it all: Atari. And I don't like it at all! The graphics will make your eyes bleed (Your character is a lovely shade of black, with a cross sticking out, the dragons are birds, the snakes are worms, the bird sprite in a challenge looks like a sorcerer...) And there are a lot of bugs and glitches in-game, including the warp factor, losing a life automatically at the beginning of the bat mini game... This is no doubt the worst game in the SwordQuest series.

7: Fire Fly

Oh No! Mythicon!!!!!! Mythicon has come to invade the world with bad games and music! But to be honest, Sorcerer has a strong and haunting tune played to it that'll make you want more of it, as well as added levels and challenge. Star Fox at least tries to do something different with the Defender formula. Fire Fly meanwhile makes no sense whatsoever, the difficulty never ramps up, the music is awful, the graphics are blocky and one-dimensional... This game is just horrible, ouch.

6: Space Jockey

Yawn... Not only does Space Jockey possess annoying sound effects, monotonous gameplay, and bland graphics (All you'll see is your spaceship, a house, a tank, a hot-air balloon, a helicopter, a tree, and the one-colored ground) you'll also have... NO LEVELS!!! How absolutely exciting! I can't wait to play Space Jockey for five hours! (Yes, that was definitely sarcasm) 

5: Sssnake

Get a Centipede cartridge. Now flip it 180 degrees. Now make everything the same color, except for a bunch of brown squares. Now make the control really bad, and make the snake/centipede invincible. Now make the score roll over at the high score of 99 and you have Sssnake. Sssnake is unoriginal and as fun as watching decomposing corpses, only worse. Not only that, the game freezes some times. Enjoy.

4: Double Dragon

People love to defend Double Dragon. They say it's the best Activision could've done. Wrong. This is a game released by the same company that brought us the legendary classics Pitfall II and River Raid, and a company that had 16K to work with (Normally, 8K would be enough for Activision to "work their magic") and twelve years of programming breakthroughs and expertise. So Activision has zero excuses of making a bad port- especially in 1989! Klax and Secret Quest were also made in 1989, also with 16K, and were they as bad as this disposable piece of- of... ?!

3: Dishaster

This game is endlessly repetitive. The score is pre-determined, so you can't really have any strategy to improve your score, the graphics are lowly-defined circus tents, a lot of purple, a girl that looks like a blob, and plates that look somewhat reminiscent of marbles. The music is eight measures, and will cause you to fall asleep. The game is very slow-paced, and dropping a plate takes too long. Not only that, it's a waste of your time. No wonder Zimag didn't last all that long.

2: Karate

In Karate, you will embrace the world of... diaper-wearing ameoba slime! Not only that, take poor collision detection, compromised and slow controls, gameplay that repeats itself over and over again... Volia, Karate. Why is this Number 2? Because it's utterly unplayable. In one-player, you'll hit the enemy AI one every five or six times, while he'll be perfect. Also, the worse you are, the harder the game is! This one deserves to get a good beating.

1: Merlin's Walls

Ladies and gentlemen... the worst game of all time. Can you believe this was made in 1999? Yeah, neither can I. You have to rotate your TV 90 degrees just to play the game, which makes the game convoluted enough. Add horrid graphics and weird controls and you get this unplayable piece of schmuck. This game has 3D mazes, but so does Tunnel Runner, and it's not this bad. FAIL!

 

Basic Math (Fun With Numbers) (Atari 2600) - online game ...image.png.244571ca97c9f29a63a9ad233b243f1c.pngAtari 2600 VCS SwordQuest - FireWorld : scans, dump, download ...image.png.1dbc9415b797b9973cc1d08a3391596b.pngimage.jpeg.69fdd866690b997cd40959db979657ac.jpegimage.png.68f8e81cf65346857b7da276551c918a.pngimage.jpeg.c8b456b18ec65afa16e000a0f82f418d.jpegimage.png.4b4688dafe168ae3901b2781860dc111.pngimage.png.317d8a71fb36a4ac8df091212d722b80.pngAtari 2600 VCS Merlin's Walls : scans, dump, download, screenshots ...

What do you think? Am I right or wrong?

 

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1 hour ago, Atariperson23 said:

9: Donkey Kong

Everyone, here's the worst arcade port in all the 2600 arcade ports (which was a lot) Coleco produced a lot of trash for the 2600, but Donkey Kong is on a new level. Donkey Kong? Gingerbread man. Levels? 2. Paulina? Yellow-headed and wearing a blue dress with white sleeves. Considering Garry Kitchen (who cooked up Pressure Cooker) made this, this makes Donkey Kong frustrating and disappointing, especially considering the publicity surrounding the arcade port in 1982. Yes, I know they couldn't have done a perfect port, but this feels like Coleco was just lazy.

 

Supposedly Garry put a lot of work into this,  but it always felt lacking.  I think a few tweaks could make it better.  one have the "music" in the background (it's only like 5 notes repeated over and over),  make the color of the platforms in level 1 closer to the arcade,  on screen two the foxfires really need to go up and down ladders and not just back and forth-  That might be the hardest of the 3 suggestions.

 

But we were never going to get a great port of this in 1982, even if it wasn't Coleco.

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Just now, zzip said:

 

Supposedly Garry put a lot of work into this,  but it always felt lacking.  I think a few tweaks could make it better.  one have the "music" in the background (it's only like 5 notes repeated over and over),  make the color of the platforms in level 1 closer to the arcade,  on screen two the foxfires really need to go up and down ladders and not just back and forth-  That might be the hardest of the 3 suggestions.

 

But we were never going to get a great port of this in 1982, even if it wasn't Coleco.

Of course. But even Miner 2049er had three levels, and it was a very stripped down port. Coleco should have gave Garry Kitchen 8K instead of 4K, and I think that would've made Donkey Kong at least a little better. :)

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18 minutes ago, Atariperson23 said:

Of course. But even Miner 2049er had three levels, and it was a very stripped down port. Coleco should have gave Garry Kitchen 8K instead of 4K, and I think that would've made Donkey Kong at least a little better. :)

Agreed,  but unlike Pacman, I have yet to see a homebrew version that proves how poor this port was..   yes some people have done amazing 2600 DK concepts, but they take liberties like scrolling the screen, screen flipping (which would annoy many people) and having the levels be flat instead of slanted.   Also I think the binary size on those demos is too large for a 1982 cart.

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1 minute ago, zzip said:

Agreed,  but unlike Pacman, I have yet to see a homebrew version that proves how poor this port was..   yes some people have done amazing 2600 DK concepts, but they take liberties like scrolling the screen, screen flipping (which would annoy many people) and having the levels be flat instead of slanted.   Also I think the binary size on those demos is too large for a 1982 cart.

The reason why Pac-Man was constantly homebrewed was because Atari put way too much hype into Pac-Man and made a bunch of poor business decisions. However, Donkey Kong suffers from the opposite: Coleco was far too apathetic about the final release and should've made the release more anticipated. I mean, other than a few ads and catalogues, that was it! I feel like the reason people cared more like Pac-Man than Donkey Kong was 1: More Hype 2: The game is easy to port 3: It wasn't really complex and 4: They were more disappointed. So that's why people haven't tried as hard with Donkey Kong as they were with Pac-Man with homebrews, because they're less bitter.

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If you insist on including Donkey Kong, then you must include Donkey Kong Junior which was many, MANY times worse than DK.  DK was actually playable and I would say it falls nowhere near the bottom 10 of the *entire* 2600 library.

 

Also should Merlin's Walls be included since it came out after the 2600's lifespan?

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Just now, glazball said:

If you insist on including Donkey Kong, then you must include Donkey Kong Junior which was many, MANY times worse than DK.  DK was actually playable and I would say it falls nowhere near the bottom 10 of the *entire* 2600 library.

 

Also should Merlin's Walls be included since it came out after the 2600's lifespan?

Well, Donkey Kong Junior has one more level as well as added music, so that in some aspects is an improvement over Donkey Kong. Also, you just explained half of the reason I put Merlin's Walls in: It came out 7 years after the 2600 died and it was horrible to play, which in my opinion makes it the worst offender of all.

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4 minutes ago, glazball said:

If you insist on including Donkey Kong, then you must include Donkey Kong Junior which was many, MANY times worse than DK.  DK was actually playable and I would say it falls nowhere near the bottom 10 of the *entire* 2600 library.

I don't think I ever played DK jr on the 2600, and just looked up the gameplay.   It looks truer to the arcade version than Donkey Kong IMO.    That said, I never cared for DKjr much even in the arcade.

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7 minutes ago, zzip said:

I don't think I ever played DK jr on the 2600, and just looked up the gameplay.   It looks truer to the arcade version than Donkey Kong IMO.    That said, I never cared for DKjr much even in the arcade.

I think the reason it's not as well-known or loved as it's predecessor was that Mario was the antagonist... 

Edited by Atariperson23

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OK fair enough.  DK Junior just looks so ugly though!  I hate the 2600 port!  Merlin's Walls may look and play like ass (I admit I haven't played it), but it's considered a homebrew is it not?  Seems unfair to lump homebrews in - maybe a separate list would be better?

 

Basic Math is present but no love (err, hate) for Eli's Ladder?  Karate is pretty damn awful and would probably be my #1.  Sssnake is a solid choice for the list too but Bugs (also by Data Age) is right up there and it holds a special, bitter place in my heart.  I bought Bugs with birthday money as a kid and I think I'm still sour about it!

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I like the overall post and the commentary you included with it.

 

Personally, I would not have included Donkey Kong either. Although people were disappointed that it only included two levels, I thought the game fun and playable.

2 hours ago, Atariperson23 said:

Of course. But even Miner 2049er had three levels, and it was a very stripped down port.

Ironically, even though it has 3 levels, I would have put Miner 2049er on the list. It plays way to slow. I had both Donkey Kong and Miner 2049er as a kid. Donkey Kong got a ton of play while Miner 2049er spent nearly its whole life sitting on a shelf.

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1 minute ago, cvga said:

I like the overall post and the commentary you included with it.

 

Personally, I would not have included Donkey Kong either. Although people were disappointed that it only included two levels, I thought the game fun and playable.

Ironically, even though it has 3 levels, I would have put Miner 2049er on the list. It plays way to slow. I had both Donkey Kong and Miner 2049er as a kid. Donkey Kong got a ton of play while Miner 2049er spent nearly its whole life sitting on a shelf.

Miner 2049er is fair enough. The only real problem is Bob's too slow and if you die you restart. Also, gameplay takes too long. But other than that, it doesn't have any factors that makes you want to puke, which is what i'm looking for here. Is the gameplay really awful? Is the sound really bad? I'm not looking for bad, i'm looking for bad bad. 

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3 minutes ago, glazball said:

OK fair enough.  DK Junior just looks so ugly though!  I hate the 2600 port!  Merlin's Walls may look and play like ass (I admit I haven't played it), but it's considered a homebrew is it not?  Seems unfair to lump homebrews in - maybe a separate list would be better?

 

Basic Math is present but no love (err, hate) for Eli's Ladder?  Karate is pretty damn awful and would probably be my #1.  Sssnake is a solid choice for the list too but Bugs (also by Data Age) is right up there and it holds a special, bitter place in my heart.  I bought Bugs with birthday money as a kid and I think I'm still sour about it!

Eli's Ladder at least has a goal and accomplishment. The sounds are improved, and the graphics are better. Karate is bad but at least a tiny bit playable, unlike Merlin's Walls. Bugs is OK once you learn how to play it, (not good) but not awful.

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2 minutes ago, Atariperson23 said:

Miner 2049er is fair enough. The only real problem is Bob's too slow and if you die you restart. Also, gameplay takes too long. But other than that, it doesn't have any factors that makes you want to puke, which is what i'm looking for here. Is the gameplay really awful? Is the sound really bad? I'm not looking for bad, i'm looking for bad bad. 

It's your list and you did a heck of a job with it. However, I had both games when they were popular and one got played a ton while the other one was rarely played. I know which one I think is worse. A game has to be fun more than anything else and Miner wasn't. I'm also a fan of the Miner 2049er games. I just think the 2600 version is by far the worst and would be on my Bottom 10 list. Here's a pic of my Miner family...

 

IMG_4034.thumb.JPG.75cf5af556b0999d0a4d8e18a86ce47a.JPG

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2 minutes ago, cvga said:

It's your list and you did a heck of a job with it. However, I had both games when they were popular and one got played a ton while the other one was rarely played. I know which one I think is worse. A game has to be fun more than anything else and Miner wasn't. I'm also a fan of the Miner 2049er games. I just think the 2600 version is by far the worst and would be on my Bottom 10 list. Here's a pic of my Miner family...

 

IMG_4034.thumb.JPG.75cf5af556b0999d0a4d8e18a86ce47a.JPG

Can't argue with that. What's the bottom 10 in the 2600 in your opinion? (Not trying to be argumentative, just want your take on it)

Edited by Atariperson23

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I always liked all the Swordquest games, Fireworld included. I never really knew what I was doing, but I found them pretty fun.  They're on my retirement list to someday finish one.


I also enjoyed Donkey Kong back in the day.  Sure it was lacking, but there was still fun to be had.

 

Space Jockey is pretty boring, it doesn't really progress, but I think it looks good and it's certainly playable.

 

I'd personally add Airlock.  That's my personal Worst 2600 game.  Obviously everyone has different opinions, that's okay.

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1 minute ago, BydoEmpire said:

I always liked all the Swordquest games, Fireworld included. I never really knew what I was doing, but I found them pretty fun.  They're on my retirement list to someday finish one.


I also enjoyed Donkey Kong back in the day.  Sure it was lacking, but there was still fun to be had.

 

Space Jockey is pretty boring, it doesn't really progress, but I think it looks good and it's certainly playable.

 

I'd personally add Airlock.  That's my personal Worst 2600 game.  Obviously everyone has different opinions, that's okay.

Is Airlock the game where you're a plane that uses both joystick controllers trying to shoot enemy planes?

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Just now, Atariperson23 said:

Is Airlock the game where you're a plane that uses both joystick controllers trying to shoot enemy planes?

That's the game where you try to get to the top level of a sinking sub.

Airlock Retro Review (Atari 2600) - Hey Poor Player

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It's a good list.  Putting a brew at #1 is kinda lame though.  Is it a brew?  I've never heard of it and your screenshot doesn't load for me.

 

If you are including homebrews, there have been a lot of 2k demos and stuff that are just not good.  Maybe Merlin's Walls was trying to be a real release? I dunno, but the whole list would have more gravity without any homebrews.  Also, can it really be worse than Karate?  Just swap those two and I think your list would be unique but pretty easy to glance at and say "Yep those are bad."

 

I'll defend Basic Math.  It does what it was meant to do.  Perhaps it is a bad idea for a VCS cart, but it isn't trying to entertain you.

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5 minutes ago, Atariperson23 said:

Can't argue with that. What's the bottom 10 in the 2600 in your opinion? (Not trying to be argumentative, just want your take on it)

I didn't take your response as argumentative at all and have really enjoyed the discussion. My list would actually be very similar to yours. I'll post it in a bit.

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9 minutes ago, wongojack said:

Its a good list.  Putting a brew at #1 is kinda lame though.  Is it a brew?  I've never heard of it and your screenshot doesn't load for me.

 

If you are including homebrews, there have been a lot of 2k demos and stuff that are just not good.  Maybe Merlin's Walls was trying to be a real release? I dunno, but the whole list would have more gravity without any homebrews.  Also, can it really be worse than Karate?  Just swap those two and I think your list would be unique but pretty easy to glance at and say "Yep those are bad."

 

I'll defend Basic Math.  It does what it was meant to do.  Perhaps it is a bad idea for a VCS cart, but it isn't trying to entertain you.

Basic Math belongs on a Commodore 64, not an Atari 2600 IMO.

 

Edited by Atariperson23

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Ebivision (Merlin's Walls) is listed on AA and Atarimania as a company. Are the games from Ebivision homebrews or not?

Edited by high voltage

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Just now, high voltage said:

Ebivision (Merlin's Walls) is listed on AA and Atarimania as a company. Are the games from Ebivision homebrews?

I tend to count them as official releases. :)

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Donkey Kong is far from the worst arcade port on the 2600. Donkey Kong Jr., Pooyan, Double Dragon, Rampage and Pac-Man are worse. And those are just off the top of my head without looking at any sort of game list. Far from a lazy port, DK is a technical marvel for the time. It had a hi-res (for the 2600), asymmetrical playfield when no one else had done anything like that for the 2600, has no flicker and is moderately fun to play at least for a little while (something that can't be said for Pooyan or DK Jr.) Yes, it would have been better if Coleco had sprung to make it 8k and included at least the elevator screen, but that doesn't make what is there less impressive.

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