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

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16 hours ago, CapitanClassic said:

People were moving towards cheap home computers, and a market can only sustain so many competing companies. Colecovision, Intellivision, Bally Astrocade, Odyssey,  Atari 5200, VCS, consumers can only pay attention to so many incompatible consoles. 

Yes that's all true

 

16 hours ago, CapitanClassic said:

The North American crash of 1983 happened here because everyone expected the market here to grow faster than it actually did.

It wasn't just that it didn't grow fast enough, it contracted drastically.  According to wikipedia,  home video game sales dropped from $3.2 billion in 1982 to $100 million in 1985.    In 1981-1982 videogames were a huge fad, ignited by Pacman.  But no fad can sustain itself more than a few years.  By 1985 only dedicated gamers remained,  all those people along for the ride in 81-82 had left gaming to do other things and sales reflect that.   After 1985 NES started to bring people back.

 

16 hours ago, CapitanClassic said:

this caused consumers to buy cheap games for a third of the cost, rather than the better, more expensive games.

music stores had bargain bins, book stores had bargain books,  and bargain games still exist.   This isn't something that would normally kill an industry, it was a symptom not the cause.  If everybody bought the same number of games for a third of the cost, that doesn't cause sales to drop to $100 million.  In reality people often bought several bargain games instead of one full priced game.   The only way it gets down to $100 million is if lots of people stop buying games outright.   The crash was a demand problem, not an oversupply problem.  Because the industry growth happened all at once rather than organically, it was inevitable there was going to be a crash.

 

It was similar to today how something like Fortnight becomes hugely popular overnight, and it spawn a whole class of imitators.   But then the popularity wanes as rapidly as it rose.    But now that would only cause a crash in 'battle royale' subgenre.   Back then the entire industry was like that.

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42 minutes ago, zzip said:

 

It wasn't just that it didn't grow fast enough, it contracted drastically.  According to wikipedia,  home video game sales dropped from $3.2 billion in 1982 to $100 million in 1985.    In 1981-1982 videogames were a huge fad, ignited by Pacman.  But no fad can sustain itself more than a few years.  By 1985 only dedicated gamers remained,  all those people along for the ride in 81-82 had left gaming to do other things and sales reflect that.   After 1985 NES started to bring people back.

 

I don't think they left gaming. I was one of those people and I simply moved from video game consoles to home computers. The Commodore 64 was out and I was busy buying games (and blank discs for more games) during that period. There were tons of people like me.

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43 minutes ago, cvga said:

I don't think they left gaming. I was one of those people and I simply moved from video game consoles to home computers. The Commodore 64 was out and I was busy buying games (and blank discs for more games) during that period. There were tons of people like me.

Some moved to computers, but many left the scene.  Computer games sales didn't make up for lost console game sales, and there was no bargain bin for computer games just yet.  

A lot of them were kids/teens that rode the videogame fad and then moved on to MTV and whatever else was the next big thing.

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5 minutes ago, zzip said:

...whatever else was the next big thing.

Skateboards, BMX bikes with mag wheels, the Sony Walkman/Discman... and girls!  🤣

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18 hours ago, cvga said:

I didn't realize that there were sometimes huge differences between the cart and disk versions of games on the Commodore 64. Wow.

Looks like the tape/cart version is an almost straight port of the Atari 5200/8-bit cart version.  The disk version is what we all wanted the game to look like, and this is the version Sega used in their ads

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18 minutes ago, save2600 said:

Skateboards, BMX bikes with mag wheels, the Sony Walkman/Discman... and girls!  🤣

Yeah, my timeline went ... early 80's => Atari; mid 80's => music/C-64; late 80's => girls (one in particular that I wound up marrying)

 

Here I am in 2020 playing the same games (console and computer), listening to the same music and with the same girl. 80s forever!

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On 5/4/2020 at 4:17 PM, cvga said:

I didn't realize that there were sometimes huge differences between the cart and disk versions of games on the Commodore 64. Wow.

I actually realized this in recent years too.  Most of the games are just missing a level or something.  I know Congo Bongo is missing the last level on the cart version.  One that has a huge difference is cart vs disk Zaxxon.  I discovered that I had never played the cart version until recently and it is VERY disappointing.

 

Edit - I looked at screens on the link in question.  Like everything with the C64, the variations are complicated.  There is a disk version that actually looks like the cart version.  I've played it and it has a level that the cart version doesn't have (of course there could be multiple cart versions too).  It looks like those screens are from an even different disk version.  Still researching . . .

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1978, the Atari had really taken off. By 1980, most people had the console, or had a friend who had the console.

 

The Atari games were played out by 1983. It had lost its novelty.

 

There was only so much entertainment that can be delivered by the 2600, and 6 years is a long time for a console that is relatively limited in the quality of the games it can support. And 6 years is a significant change in life for the kids who grew up on the system. We went from being kids having sleepovers to learning to drive our first car.

Edited by keithbk
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6 hours ago, keithbk said:

1978, the Atari had really taken off. By 1980, most people had the console, or had a friend who had the console.

 

Most VCS owners in 1980 didn't have their Ataris before 1980. So what happened in 1980? Space Invaders came out for Atari, and that's when the system really blew up.

 

The VCS only sold about 750,000 total units by the end of 1978.

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I would agree that around the time of the crash, many of us were moving on to cars, heavy metal, girls, etc.,...NES brought it back around 87-88 I think...Not earlier,...I don't count test markets (personally)...

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We got ours around 1980. Then I moved on to the Atari computers a few years later. And finally the PC when the 8-bit line died out. But I kept everything and started collecting it all again in the 90s when everyone else was getting rid of their stuff.

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5 hours ago, InfoMan said:

We got ours around 1980. Then I moved on to the Atari computers a few years later. And finally the PC when the 8-bit line died out. But I kept everything and started collecting it all again in the 90s when everyone else was getting rid of their stuff.

Same for me, just replace "Atari computers" with "Commodore computers".

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On 5/3/2020 at 10:38 PM, keithbk said:

I find miniature golf for the Atari unplayable.

 

Honestly, I love real Putt-Putt and the Atari game cartridge is simply awful. 

I started a miniature golf game and a basketball game... maybe i'll get back to them one day... gaining interest again. i would like to do a switch accessible version of Battleship - with regular controls as well.  </edit>

Edited by uosipa llamxew
clarification

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On 5/15/2020 at 3:00 AM, uosipa llamxew said:

I started a miniature golf game and a basketball game... maybe i'll get back to them one day... gaining interest again. i would like to do a switch accessible, but more-abled user-friendly version of Battleship.

Miniature Golf: It would be great if you had a two-step system. First, AIM by rotating around the ball and push button to select your strike angle. Second, power of hit (sliding power bar) and push button for the putt. A similar game dynamic would work for a regular golf game for the 2600 as well.

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I agree with most of your list, but I wouldn't put Basic Math on that list as the worst "game" simply because it's not really a game.  I think Atari was trying to put some educational stuff out there to make themselves relevant in all areas.  You're right...it's just flash cards, but it never claimed to be much more than that.  Same goes for Math Gran Prix.  It's just...math!

 

I think Airlock deserves to be on that list.  What a snooze-fest.  Otherwise, I'd say your list is pretty spot on.  :)

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On 5/4/2020 at 1:41 PM, zzip said:

I owned it back in the day, my friends and I all hated it.  We all had the opinion Coleco did it to try to sell us Colecovisions back then too...

I really don't think the crash was caused by third party saturation.  That seems like an excuse when you look back at the situation.   Most of the third party games came to the 2600.  But Coleco, INTV and Arcades were affected by the crash as well.   Why would the 2600 situation cause that?  It shouldn't.    Also the number of third party titles on the 2600 at the time was tiny compared to the amount of shovelware that came to later systems, without similar effect.

 

 

It was probably caused by a combination of factors.  One factor not usually mentioned in these circles was the increase of the fed's discount rate to over 20%.  Borrowing became very expensive.  Atari and Coleco both had a ton of debt. Not sure about Mattel, though it probably did as well.   There was also a lot of incompatible systems and all of the computers, most of which had cartridge ports.  There must have been over 10 video game systems on the market in 1983 including a lot of the lesser known ones and then add the computers.  Not to mention a better than 10% unemployment rate in the US. A lot of people thought it was a fad that would soon disappear like the Hula Hoop.

The whole industry was a giant mess.  A healthy industry would not have collapsed.

 

On the other hand, there was never another major collapse of the industry ever since.  Whether coincidence or not, this is when the lockout started happening and you needed a license to publish a game for a system. 

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10 minutes ago, christo930 said:

It was probably caused by a combination of factors.  One factor not usually mentioned in these circles was the increase of the fed's discount rate to over 20%. 

Wasn't that about a year earlier, and they were easing up around the time the crash happened?

 

But the economy is an interesting factor,  the early 80s videogame boom happened during a deep recession, and the crash happened just as the economy was starting to recover.  Could be that games are a cheap form of entertainment during hard times? (as opposed to taking the family out the movies, a sports game, broadway show, etc)

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There are a variety of bad games, some for different reasons...

 

1) Bad Graphics: some games look so bad on the 2600, you want to despise them simply for how they look. For example, I HATE the look of Congo Bongo's 1st screen.

2) Stupid Ideas: some games have really dumb ideas, like Mangia or Picnic (think about it, a really DUMB idea; who WANTS to play that?) or, of course, Dishaster.

3) Poor ports: some games ported to the Atari are simply poorly executed, like Zaxxon.

4) Bad Rip-Offs: S-s-s-snake, I'm talking about YOU. Centipede you are NOT!

5) Unplayability: Some games are near-impossible to play without getting frustrated because they are so unforgiving or poorly executed (Xonox games often fall into this category).

 

What you need to do is list games that fit at least three of these categories (not all bad games are ports or rip-offs).

 

 

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3 hours ago, zzip said:

Wasn't that about a year earlier, and they were easing up around the time the crash happened?

 

But the economy is an interesting factor,  the early 80s videogame boom happened during a deep recession, and the crash happened just as the economy was starting to recover.  Could be that games are a cheap form of entertainment during hard times? (as opposed to taking the family out the movies, a sports game, broadway show, etc)

Actually, 83 was a year of (slight) tightening. In Jan of 83 it was 8.28% and in Dec 83 it was 9.43  Not exactly super-tightening, but a bit up on the year, but  still pretty high. (https://www.macrotrends.net/2015/fed-funds-rate-historical-chart )

Unemployment peaked in Dec 82 at over 10% (10.3) and took until election day 1984 to drop to 7.2% From Google (link is way too long). So that's still pretty high.

 

I also always thought it was odd that so much of the early computer and game revolution took place during some really difficult economic times.  Generally investment dries up in times like that. 

You're probably right about the cheap entertainment.  I'm sure early cable TV benefited a lot as well.  Cable didn't come to my city until the late 80s and a couple of my neighbors had a special roof antenna an a hot box for descrambling the content.  This was also the era of the video rental shop coming into fruition.  Lots of cheap entertainment.

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23 hours ago, keithbk said:

There are a variety of bad games, some for different reasons...

 

1) Bad Graphics: some games look so bad on the 2600, you want to despise them simply for how they look. For example, I HATE the look of Congo Bongo's 1st screen.

2) Stupid Ideas: some games have really dumb ideas, like Mangia or Picnic (think about it, a really DUMB idea; who WANTS to play that?) or, of course, Dishaster.

3) Poor ports: some games ported to the Atari are simply poorly executed, like Zaxxon.

4) Bad Rip-Offs: S-s-s-snake, I'm talking about YOU. Centipede you are NOT!

5) Unplayability: Some games are near-impossible to play without getting frustrated because they are so unforgiving or poorly executed (Xonox games often fall into this category).

 

What you need to do is list games that fit at least three of these categories (not all bad games are ports or rip-offs).

 

 

How about great concept, poor execution?

Edited by Atariperson23

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1 hour ago, Atariperson23 said:

How about great concept, poor execution?

Yeah, that's pretty much #5. Unplayability. 

 

There are a number of games that are too unforgiving in measured jumps or level layouts that make them more frustrating than enjoyable. Spike's Peak is particularly frustrating for this reason, as an exmaple.

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On 4/15/2020 at 10:07 PM, cvga said:

3. SwordQuest - AnyWorld - Ugh! Maybe it was just beyond the Atari's capability, maybe it was a cash grab, maybe they should have ended it before they released EarthWorld, certainly right afterward but they didn't. Play the games, solve mysteries, win prizes. What's not to like? The answer is Earth, Fire and Water. AirWorld is definitely my favorite of the series and that's because they didn't release it.

Best laugh I've had in some time! Couldn't agree more and couldn't have said it any better.

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I'm not sure how you can write off a game purely on graphics; Let alone when the 2600 is so underpowered in that regard.

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13 hours ago, ∞ Vince ∞ said:

I'm not sure how you can write off a game purely on graphics; Let alone when the 2600 is so underpowered in that regard.

There are plenty of games out there with graphics that are bad, even by 2600 standards. Truly awful graphics can do a lot to detract from a game, even if the gameplay is good.

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5 hours ago, KaeruYojimbo said:

There are plenty of games out there with graphics that are bad, even by 2600 standards. Truly awful graphics can do a lot to detract from a game, even if the gameplay is good.

I'm of the opinion that Gameplay is king. I saw through the terrible graphics of Missile Command and Joust and loved the games they were.

 

Saying that, you have a right to your opinion and in that I respect your view! :)

 

The only time I've felt like that was occasionally on the Spectrum when the colours or clash make the screen very muddy and hard to see the main sprites, in those cases the graphics have ruined the game, sure.

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