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

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On 5/5/2020 at 4:21 PM, 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.

100% right.

Here in the UK after the C64 came out in 82, there was a slow but steady amount of software coming out primarily by 1 or 2 man developers selling games in mags by mail order. It just kept growing, cheap affordable 8 bits were everywhere and at some point it went Bang! and the industry just grew and grew and a huge gaming industry now exists.

 

Here Tape was king, and Tape was/is the cheap format that could be mass produced and you wouldn't lose money on a poor game, you could do all sorts, discount it, bundle it.

Worse case, copy a new game over and relabel them, you cant do that with carts.
 

The huge cost of Carts is why a lot of UK Devs suffered in the 16 bit era, but in the years 1982-1990-ish they thrived.

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11 minutes ago, ∞ Vince ∞ said:

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.

That's what I had in mind more than just badly drawn sprites (and personally, I don't think the graphics in Joust or Missile Command are bad at all as 2600 games go).

 

A couple of examples would be Congo Bongo and Mr. Do's Castle. Games where they tried to do too much and the screen just became a muddled mess.

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1 hour ago, ∞ Vince ∞ said:

100% right.

Here in the UK after the C64 came out in 82, there was a slow but steady amount of software coming out primarily by 1 or 2 man developers selling games in mags by mail order. It just kept growing, cheap affordable 8 bits were everywhere and at some point it went Bang! and the industry just grew and grew and a huge gaming industry now exists.

 

Here Tape was king, and Tape was/is the cheap format that could be mass produced and you wouldn't lose money on a poor game, you could do all sorts, discount it, bundle it.

Worse case, copy a new game over and relabel them, you cant do that with carts.
 

The huge cost of Carts is why a lot of UK Devs suffered in the 16 bit era, but in the years 1982-1990-ish they thrived.

I would expect that piracy of tape games was a huge hindrance to software development companies. In the USA, you at least had to have your game cracked (happened fairly quickly)  go to a local group that connected to a BBS to download the latest cracked software,  and copy the disk using something a little more expensive than a tape player with 2 decks (that everyone had).

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39 minutes ago, CapitanClassic said:

I would expect that piracy of tape games was a huge hindrance to software development companies. In the USA, you at least had to have your game cracked (happened fairly quickly)  go to a local group that connected to a BBS to download the latest cracked software,  and copy the disk using something a little more expensive than a tape player with 2 decks (that everyone had).

Piracy was a problem, but only really towards the end of the life of the machines. Up until 1991 they were still selling by the truckload. Of course the industry claimed it was dying on its arse, but the record revenues contradicted this.

 

Consider that most budget games were so cheap it wasn't worth copying, at £1.99,£2.99 and £3.99 they were very affordable pocket money prices.

 

A lot of the games had copy protection, but of course it always got broken, eventually, as is the way of life, all tech created by man can be broke by man, that's my personal view but I think it holds.

 

I used to have a program for my Amiga that would copy any disk any disk at all copy protection and all.

 

I don't think disks are much harder to break than tapes. As someone who has never pirated anything, I'd have to ask that Q, but I think I am right.

 

The budget houses sold so many copies of the games during the golden, era, a whole lot.

 

And not just the budget games. Some Ocean compilations like They Sold A Million show just how many copies some games were shifting.

 

And if it wasn't profitable they would have stopped.

 

Even Carts can be broken. Don't forget the Action Replays, Game Genies and things. That's how we have rom images now I should imagine.

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14 hours ago, ∞ Vince ∞ said:

And not just the budget games. Some Ocean compilations like They Sold A Million show just how many copies some games were shifting.

That was just a marketing ploy, some or many of those never sold a million...

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16 hours ago, KaeruYojimbo said:

That's what I had in mind more than just badly drawn sprites (and personally, I don't think the graphics in Joust or Missile Command are bad at all as 2600 games go).

Ah bit I had already had a Spectrum and a C16+4 by this point. I was very late to the 2600 party, and I was making my own games which looked / played better than a lot of the 2600 games by this point.

16 hours ago, KaeruYojimbo said:

A couple of examples would be Congo Bongo and Mr. Do's Castle. Games where they tried to do too much and the screen just became a muddled mess.

I think CB is an amazing effort, considering. Mr. Do's Castle, is that the one that is a clone of Space Panic? I didn't see too much wrong with it, though it might be different on later levels. The Spectrum was notorious for muddy graphics.

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3 minutes ago, high voltage said:

That was just a marketing ploy, some or many of those never sold a million...

They sold 250,000 each (outside of the compilation sales) and there were four in each compilation. You know nothing about the British scene and I wonder why you keep trying to pretend that you do.

 

I refer you to my reply to your Apple ][ nonsense:

 

you can make your magniloquent, bombastic remarks all you like, but better than me have put you back in your box over the same assertion, so I will withdraw from the discussion and concede that you can't tell a fool he's being foolish.

 

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Going back to being about Atari rather than the C64, the worst 2600 game I ever owned was Outlaw.  I've never owned any of the games that have a bad reputation either back in the day or since getting back into Atari.  Nor have I checked out the roms of bad games out of curiosity.  There have been some early games I never originally owned but have purchased since and have been a little disappointed in such as Air Sea Battle and Canyon Bomber.  I still like them enough to keep them though but Outlaw was one I just had to get rid of.  I wanted a similar two player experience to Combat, which I enjoyed playing against my brother back in the 80's and again now when he's over.  We were both so disappointed.  Because your character fills almost half the screen, there's no room for maneuvering, strategy or tension like there is in a good tank battle on Combat.  It was sooooo boring.  Barely played it for 5 minutes before moving onto something else.  Admittedly, I did get rid of it partly because there is a superior alternative to it.  Namely the homebrew Gunfight.  So glad I bought it.  It's everything Outlaw should be and is about a 1000 times more fun.  Which reminds me, I must post a review on the AtariAge store at some point.

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If you are expecting me to say something offensive about Wales, you'll be disappointed, I've some distant Welsh ancestry, Also your the guy who thinks 'Europe' is a country, says it all.
____
In my opinion one of the worst 2600 was Custer's Revenge . I don't think rape should be the basis of anything, other than condemnation that is.

 

...let alone a game. Especially in an era when games machines were primarily owned by kids. Reminds me of another messed up one, Mad Nurse. So yeah to be Custer's Revenge is the worst Atari 2600 game.

 

What the hell was the developer thinking! Or the Publisher. Jesus!

Edited by Guest
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Custer's Revenge has to be in folks' top 10. There's the subject matter to start with. That alone. But the horrific implementation consisting of gameplay with next to zero skill and no variety. Horrific sounds as well. 

 

A few UK folk mentioned tape above. That era almost put me off videogaming for good. I have very little in the way of happy memories of it. I was 16 in 1982. In the mid-80s I went from the 2600 to the 8bit micro era which was a car crash as far I was concerned. The immediacy was removed. The video circuitry was cheap and gave you a crap image on the TV.

 

While it was a great nursery for fledgling talent the vast majority of the games were shit. They looked like shit. They sounded like shit. The design was shit. The frame rates were shit. The jerky movement and animation was shit. The overall implementation was shit. Difficulty curves were all over the place. They were slow, unresponsive trash even compared to mid-tier 2600 games that made up for their relative simplicity with their craftmanship. Going from masterpieces of game design in the arcade to this trash simply didn't cut the mustard.

 

There are a handful of games worth even looking at now.....Thrust, Jet Set Willy, Chuckie Egg would be 3 that would be still playable today. Boulderdash would be another.  I got a fair few hours of pleasure out of the micro era but the compromises were too much. Too many games were simply too ambitious for the platforms - the ultimate sin being multi load games.  I still remember the pain of Epyx and their multi-event sports games. Bloody awful.

 

The devs were cutting their teeth and learning their trade. And most of what they made should have stayed on the workshop floor. Hideous time. If I had been able to afford an Atari 800 and carts or a BBC-B and a hard drive I may have thought better of it. But I didn't.

 

Tape loading was bad enough but to have to rewind and load again if you got a game over in New Zealand Story was inexcusable. I binned that hardware without a tear when I got a NES. Good riddance to bad rubbish. I got more fun out of coding simple stuff myself and even taught myself a bit of assembler but I didn't have the drive to create anything worthy of playing. It's a pity a lot more people didn't think the same.

 

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I still play 2600 games today - emulated and on real hardware. Spectrum? C64? CPC464? Give me a break. I briefly looked at the emulators - it was even worse than I remembered even with the loadtimes removed.

 

F**k it all in the bin.  Rant over.

 

 

Edited by davyK
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On 7/13/2020 at 3:49 PM, davyK said:

Custer's Revenge has to be in folks' top 10. There's the subject matter to start with. That alone. But the horrific implementation consisting of gameplay with next to zero skill and no variety. Horrific sounds as well. 

 

A few UK folk mentioned tape above. That era almost put me off videogaming for good. I have very little in the way of happy memories of it. I was 16 in 1982. In the mid-80s I went from the 2600 to the 8bit micro era which was a car crash as far I was concerned. The immediacy was removed. The video circuitry was cheap and gave you a crap image on the TV.

 

While it was a great nursery for fledgling talent the vast majority of the games were shit. They looked like shit. They sounded like shit. The design was shit. The frame rates were shit. The jerky movement and animation was shit. The overall implementation was shit. Difficulty curves were all over the place. They were slow, unresponsive trash even compared to mid-tier 2600 games that made up for their relative simplicity with their craftmanship. Going from masterpieces of game design in the arcade to this trash simply didn't cut the mustard.

 

There are a handful of games worth even looking at now.....Thrust, Jet Set Willy, Chuckie Egg would be 3 that would be still playable today. Boulderdash would be another.  I got a fair few hours of pleasure out of the micro era but the compromises were too much. Too many games were simply too ambitious for the platforms - the ultimate sin being multi load games.  I still remember the pain of Epyx and their multi-event sports games. Bloody awful.

 

The devs were cutting their teeth and learning their trade. And most of what they made should have stayed on the workshop floor. Hideous time. If I had been able to afford an Atari 800 and carts or a BBC-B and a hard drive I may have thought better of it. But I didn't.

 

Tape loading was bad enough but to have to rewind and load again if you got a game over in New Zealand Story was inexcusable. I binned that hardware without a tear when I got a NES. Good riddance to bad rubbish. I got more fun out of coding simple stuff myself and even taught myself a bit of assembler but I didn't have the drive to create anything worthy of playing. It's a pity a lot more people didn't think the same.

 

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I still play 2600 games today - emulated and on real hardware. Spectrum? C64? CPC464? Give me a break. I briefly looked at the emulators - it was even worse than I remembered even with the loadtimes removed.

 

F**k it all in the bin.  Rant over.

 

 

Wow Davy. Bit of the Irish temper coming out there? ;)

 

I respect your views, but I really can't agree in any way. My experience was the opposite. My first experience of gaming was a TV Pong Game. I then went handheld Donkey Kong Game and Watch. I had a Spectrum then C16+4, Commodore 64 Console, GameBoy C64 and others. 

But I absolutely adored my C64. The games. How the coders (to me) pulled out things the system should not have been able to do. The quality of game design and depth they managed to convey.

 

Tape games made them affordable. I grew up working class on a tough poor estate so when £4 could buy me 2 full games it was really good times.

 

They were cheap enough that, if a game was crap, you either returned it and pretended it would not load, or you just got a new game next week.

I suppose it does really depend on what games you experienced and so how you came to think about the systems off the back of that.

 

I too have a thing for very immediate get stuck in games. My favourite games are Bubble Bobble, Flicky, Pac-Man. Games with simple ideas but hidden depth.

 

I was 8 when I got my first computer, I was 10 when I wrote my first game. I had my 2600 in 88 and by then I was coding more complex and attractive games than those on my 2600. I really have an aversion to the 2600 aside from my favourite games, Joust and Missile Command.

 

I'd loved to have had a XLXE like a friend had. Which was ultra rare here in the UK, the playgrounds were full of mainly C64, then Speccy then Amstrad owners with a few BBC Micro and C16+4 users.

 

I stuck to computers because budget games existed. I couldn't afford £25 a pop for Amiga games unless it was Christmas or my Birthday, but I could get the occasional £7.99 or £9.99 game and when I had saved for a month maybe a £16.99 Kixx XL graphic adventure.

 

I also love the music and loading screens. Ocean in particular. I used to be watching the Robocop screen being drawn and it felt like when it had finished displaying that the game had loaded.

 

Other games had mini games you could play as it loaded.

 

Some of the best times of my life, but, everyone's own experience is what matters and as I say, still respect your opinions. You are 13,14 years older than me, so I expect your view to be different. I have three brothers who are all older and they might feel the same.

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Also the games you mention are some of my faves. If you like Thrust, you should try out Exile. It is wonderful.

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Heh...yeah - had a bit of a rant there and got carried away!

 

I'm from a working class area too . We didn't have much in the way of money. I appreciated that tape games were cheap and I played quite a few of them but I still consider it a low point in my game playing memories.

 

I've tried to go back with emulators and it was awful. :(  I still play 2600 games though.

 

It's more to do with memories though - I appreciate that 8bit micro era brought pleasure to a pile of people. i found the 8bit micro gaming to be a bit of a solo thing. I had some MP on it but not as much as I did on the 2600 and I've always preferred the local MP experience in gaming. So I suppose that colours my memories too.

 

But for me the biggest issue was the tape loading - it was just such a hateful thing - it completely compromised the experience for me. :(

 

You had the best micro around having a C64 which was a pretty expensive thing to get. I wasn't able to afford one of those. I would have preferred an Atari 800 but it was a close thing between those two. I would have gone for the 800 for the Atari games.

 

Age may be a big factor too of course...it's all about the context of the time and how it fit into your life.

 

I can appreciate everything you say - well... almost everything.....I will never agree on enjoying loading screens!!!  :)

 

 

Edited by davyK

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S-s-snake is DEFINITELY the PITS for me. I despise that game with a passion.


Demons to Diamonds and Star Ship were the two Atari cartridges I ended up loathing.

 

I get people not liking Basic Math or even Basic Programming because they are so forgettable or tediously time consuming, but they at least do what they are supposed to do. I felt the same way about Chess; it was SOOOOOO long to play a harder game that it never got much play, but it wasn't terrible by any measure.

 

As to Donkey Kong, I enjoyed that one far more than the eyesore Congo Bongo. I HATE the look of Congo Bongo and the difficulty in control. Congo Bong should have been much better, but as a port, it was a complete failure.

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I wish someone would hack Tomarc and make him just walk around the various screens or at least make the jumping a lot easier to control. Other than that it could be a really nice game with these fixes.

Please, please, somebody fix this.tomarcthebarbarian_atarigame.thumb.png.1820294c1c08c9e3f56a653dbaad2ef5.png

93829-tomarc-the-barbarian-atari-2600-screenshot-senta-needs-to-defend.png

maxresdefault.jpg

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Donkey Kong was playable at least.

 

I thought Donkey Kong Jr. was lousy.  So much was missing from it and the graphics were weak.

 

Even then, I completely agree that Congo Bongo was far worse than either DK game.  Seriously, the Atari 2600 CANNOT handle 3D isometric perspective plus you had only two levels!!  Ugh...

Edited by 7800Knight

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I’ve never played the home brew game but I like your list. I did have fun playing space jockey when I was a kid. I always thought it was fairly unique that you could lay waste to some aggressive defenders like the jet and prop plane but could also destroy a couple celebrating their wedding in a romantic hot air balloon, blow up the environment by gunning down trees and laying waste to some poor soul and his family in his little red bricked home. Just a joke of course but that is a unique aspect of the game for the era. 
 

 

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I don't know if I've said this before (In This thread), but well...For Atari,

 

I'll never have a 10 Worst Games list...

 

If I wanted to, though,  I could come up with a 10 Least Best List...*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I'm not going to because I'm trying to go all day without thinking,   but I could...

 

 

 

PS Slot Machine was one of my First games ever, and even as a kid I knew slot machines were fun as hell,  though I wouldn't win some cash on real ones until Much Later**...How could anyone put That on a list?  Especially when sports games continue to exist.

 

 

**PPS  Last time in Vegas, I turned $60 into $200 on roulette,  then put that into slots, walked away with $425!

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On 4/15/2020 at 11:38 AM, 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. :)

 

I wonder what the cost difference was between the 4K and 8K to make back in 1982?

Was it really that much different?

 

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Parker Brothers' James Bond is not going to win awards on gameplay, and it surpasses some of the games mentioned , but I just loathe this game. Even as a kid - I hated this game. I think I was more pissed because I got this mess instead of that cool ad where Roger Moore is traversing on top of a train.

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8 hours ago, GoldLeader said:

I don't know if I've said this before (In This thread), but well...For Atari,

 

I'll never have a 10 Worst Games list...

 

If I wanted to, though,  I could come up with a 10 Least Best List...*

 

I couldn't do a worst list either but for different reasons.  I'm not in denial that there's garbage games for the 2600.  Everyone except GoldLeader, it seems, knows there is.  2600 shovelware is a big reason why the 1983 videogame crash happened.  I couldn't do a worst of because I only buy original carts and there's no way I'm going to spend good money on the crap games.  I can only do a worst of the best.  And then it's still only on the ones I've played so far.  Still have some way to go before I have have all the good to great 2600 games I want.  But so far, here's my top 10 "worst of the best" list in no particular order.

1. Canyon Bomber.  Early 2 player military shooter that's nowhere near as much fun as Combat

2. Air Sea Battle.  For exactly the same reason as Canyon Bomber

3. Jungle Hunt.  Perhaps unfairly I compare it to Pitfall because of the vine swinging but this is nowhere near as good as Pitfall.  Those large boulders are almost impossible to get under too!

4. Xenophobe.  A late game that very much reminds me of a slow, ugly, inferior version of the type of games around in the 8 and 16 bit eras.
5. Barnstorming.  Fun for a few minutes but rapidly descends into frustration as you keep pressing reset whenever you hit something, because you know you won't beat your time, so what's the point in continuing?

6. Megamania.  Those flight patterns in later levels make it really annoyingly difficult to hit things.

7. Pressure Cooker.  I just can't get a handle on this game and it's not much more fun than working in a fast food restaurant for real.  That's just an assumption though.  I've never actually worked in one, thankfully.

8. Pitfall 2.  For some reason, this game is far more frustrating than the first Pitfall.  It should've also had a no music option.  That tune gets annoying very quickly.  Why is it so loud too?

9. Star Voyager, Starmaster etc.  Basically any first person perspective, 3D shooter.  I like my retro to give me the 2D experiences I can't get on modern systems.  When they're first person and 3D, they just look like really crap versions of modern games.  Like, why would anyone want to play Star Voyager over Star Wars Squadrons?  I broke one of my retro gaming rules when I bought Star Voyager and Starmaster and kind of regret getting them.

10. SW: Empire Strikes Back.  Fun but the rapid fire is too slow so you have to resort to rapidly pressing the fire button instead.  This leads to your left hand wanting to die after about 5 minutes of play.

 

 

.

Edited by insertclevernamehere
Grrrr. Noticed a typo.
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3 hours ago, Steverd said:

 

I wonder what the cost difference was between the 4K and 8K to make back in 1982?

Was it really that much different?

 

I don't know either, but Atari started shipping 8K carts not long after Pacman released, and if there was any game that should have had 8K, it was Pacman because it was such a high-profile title! 

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1 hour ago, zzip said:

I don't know either, but Atari started shipping 8K carts not long after Pacman released, and if there was any game that should have had 8K, it was Pacman because it was such a high-profile title! 

Yeah, but if the difference in cost is $1, then you just saved Atari Corp. $27 million, and earned yourself a huge bonus. ;)

God bless the bean-counters.

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2 hours ago, CapitanClassic said:

Yeah, but if the difference in cost is $1, then you just saved Atari Corp. $27 million, and earned yourself a huge bonus. ;)

God bless the bean-counters.

 

Great point - I imagine all corporate saw was the dollar signs in savings.

 

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