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

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6 hours ago, JasperAK said:

Star Ship gets a pass because it's a launch title.

It also gets a pass because it's a pretty fun game. 😜

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On 4/15/2020 at 1:21 PM, Atariperson23 said:

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!Atari 2600 VCS Merlin's Walls : scans, dump, download, screenshots ...

What do you think? Am I right or wrong?

 

 

While it suffers with things like fireballs that only go left and right and has only 2 screens and is only passingly similar to Donkey Kong, I don't think it was a bad game.  I had it as a kid and I played it a lot.

 

It seems odd to me that Coleco cheaped out so much, not only on this version, but the Colecovision version as well. They needed to add ROM space to both versions.  The short screen of the Colecovision version knocks it down a couple notches IMHO.  The TI-99/4A has the taller screen and uses the same graphics chip.  Donkey Kong 2600 sold an awful lot of copies though.  Perhaps it could have sold a lot more if it had been better.

 

While certainly not all, a lot of the 3rd party stuff is terrible.

 

 

 

 

Double Dragon was an abomination.  Every game released that late by Activision should have had the Pitfall II chip at a minimum.  While it never could have been Double Dragon, it could have been a fun game.

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Look, Ssssnake is probably my pick for the WORST Atari 2600 game.

 

I still love Donkey Kong; don't know why that one gets so much hate. I like it better than Pac-Man, because I HATE Pac-Man's color pallet, especially when it starts blinking.

 

The first screen of Congo Bongo looks TERRIBLE and is just SLOPPY on old CRT screens. It may look better on new LCD screens, but this game needed a higher color contrast to properly play back in the day.

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On 4/16/2020 at 10:55 PM, GoldLeader said:

Don't you all think it should be up to the individual to decide if he/she thinks Basic Math is one of the worse games? 

You are 100% right of course, the only question is: should an education title be classed as a game. Is that a fair comparison to judge it as a game ?

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8 hours ago, christo930 said:

While it suffers with things like fireballs that only go left and right and has only 2 screens and is only passingly similar to Donkey Kong, I don't think it was a bad game.  I had it as a kid and I played it a lot.

 

It seems odd to me that Coleco cheaped out so much, not only on this version, but the Colecovision version as well. They needed to add ROM space to both versions.  The short screen of the Colecovision version knocks it down a couple notches IMHO.  The TI-99/4A has the taller screen and uses the same graphics chip.  Donkey Kong 2600 sold an awful lot of copies though.  Perhaps it could have sold a lot more if it had been better.

I had Donkey Kong as a kid (and remember my family literally looking everywhere to purchase a copy due to its popularity) and enjoyed it also. I think opinions of it today likely vary dramatically depending on if you owned it bitd or not. I don't remember any of my friends being overly disappointed with the 2600 version of Donkey Kong but maybe part of that was due to how bad the Intellivision version was. ROM was super expensive back then. I'm sure they did the math and realized the game was popular enough that they would make tons more money by keeping the size (costs) down.

 

6 hours ago, keithbk said:

Look, Ssssnake is probably my pick for the WORST Atari 2600 game.

 

I still love Donkey Kong; don't know why that one gets so much hate. I like it better than Pac-Man, because I HATE Pac-Man's color pallet, especially when it starts blinking.

 

The first screen of Congo Bongo looks TERRIBLE...

I agree with all of that. Sssnake was my #1 worst game. I also loved Donkey Kong and still enjoy it today. In fact, it's much closer to my Top 10 than my bottom 10!

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I don't think Donkey Kong is one of the 10 worst Atari 2600 games. Maybe it can be considered in the 10 worst arcade conversions for Atari 2600, but I wouldn't put it there too.

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I went back and looked at the compilation of games people voted for in their person Top 10 games of all-time to see where the Bottom 10 games are listed. Here are some of the games that were mentioned in this thread.

 

#28 Combat 192 points; 39 votes; 1 first place

#33 Pacman 178 points; 22 votes; 2 first place

#49 Donkey Kong 112 points, 22 votes; 1 first place

#70 E.T. 57 points, 16 votes; 1 first place

#78 Freeway 48 points, 12 votes

#94 Private Eye 34 points, 5 votes; 2 first place

#140 Miner 2049er 20 points; 5 votes

$151 DK Junior 17 points; 4 votes

#169 Space Jockey 12 points; 3 votes

#216 Space War 6 points; 2 votes

#230 SwordQuest Earthworld 5 points; 1 vote <== someone had this at #6 on their list!

#253 SwordQuest Waterworld 3 points; 1 vote <== someone had this at #8 on their list!

#269 Starship 2 points; 1 vote

 

Even though we might not like them, there's someone out there giving them love!

 

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I'd argue Donkey Kong Jr. is far worse than original Donkey Kong. The original isn't good, but it at least controls okay. The same can't be said for Junior.

 

I admittedly haven't played many 2600 games that I consider bad. However, I can say that Porky's is a nearly incomprehensible mess and is probably one of the worst games on the 2600. Also, I personally hate Jr. Pac-Man. There's nothing wrong with the port itself, but I think the game is bad on any system. Bigger doesn't always mean better, and this game definitely proves that.

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53 minutes ago, Jaden (JRH) said:

Bigger doesn't always mean better, and this game definitely proves that.

Yeah with ANY Jr. Pacman (starting with the arcade version), the only way to play it is with the player speedup hack, then all of a sudden the game improves 100% and becomes fun! :lol:  

 

The arcade version and 5200 version are the ones that benefit the most. But the 2600 version does a throttle version which helps

 

 

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I want to appreciate most of the efforts... homebrew and hack that have made the hobby interesting.  I can't get behind anything hateful, but I do appreciate efforts... even if the perspective seems flawed sometimes.  Not a lot of that though, in comparison to the best efforts, thankfully.  :)

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1 hour ago, NE146 said:

Yeah with ANY Jr. Pacman (starting with the arcade version), the only way to play it is with the player speedup hack, then all of a sudden the game improves 100% and becomes fun! :lol:  

 

The arcade version and 5200 version are the ones that benefit the most. But the 2600 version does a throttle version which helps

 

 

Tried out the speedup hack on the 5200. The game becomes MUCH more playable and fun! The non speedup version though is bleh.

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3 hours ago, juan_sanchez said:

I don't think Donkey Kong is one of the 10 worst Atari 2600 games. Maybe it can be considered in the 10 worst arcade conversions for Atari 2600, but I wouldn't put it there too.

 10 Atari 2600 arcade ports that are worse than Donkey Kong:

 

Amidar

Blueprint

Defender

Donkey Kong Jr.

Double Dragon

Mr. Do's Castle

Pooyan

Pac-Man

Rampage

Springer

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4 hours ago, Jaden (JRH) said:

I'd argue Donkey Kong Jr. is far worse than original Donkey Kong. The original isn't good, but it at least controls okay. The same can't be said for Junior.

 

I admittedly haven't played many 2600 games that I consider bad. However, I can say that Porky's is a nearly incomprehensible mess and is probably one of the worst games on the 2600. Also, I personally hate Jr. Pac-Man. There's nothing wrong with the port itself, but I think the game is bad on any system. Bigger doesn't always mean better, and this game definitely proves that.

Jr Pac always gets a lot of praise because it is technically very good and captures the game pretty well.  But the game itself is flawed.  I don't really like it on any system either.  It just doesn't carry over the good stuff of Ms Pac Man the way Ms Pac Man carried over the good stuff from Pac Man.

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2 hours ago, KaeruYojimbo said:

 10 Atari 2600 arcade ports that are worse than Donkey Kong:

 

Amidar

Blueprint

Defender

Donkey Kong Jr.

Double Dragon

Mr. Do's Castle

Pooyan

Pac-Man

Rampage

Springer

Yeah. Defender is another game that has very little in common with the original arcade game.  But it was a fairly early game so gets a lot of slack. I remember the first time I saw it and was like "this is defender?"

 

Amidar isn't that bad, I don't think.

 

Mr Do! is probably even worse than Mr Do!'s Castle.  I wonder if extra RAM would have helped this game?   Dig Dug accomplishes the play screen far better than Mr Do!. The lack of the ability to tunnel properly really changes the game. Also, they kept the 8 note do-re-mi of the cherries, but only group the cherries in groups of 6 except by random exception.

 

Pac Man isn't that bad (other than the flickering and horrid colors), but just doesn't "feel" like Pac Man from the arcade.  Even simple things like the score being off.  I played it quite a bit as a kid.

 

A lot of the games that are so bad often come down to 'without a lot of help, was just beyond the 2600's capability'   Why didn't Activision, who presumably owned the DPC+ chip use it in these late games?  They sold at a discount to NES and 7800 titles, but they could have raised the price a bit to make a much better game.  As DPC+ games, they could have commanded a higher price and presumably would have sold better if they were better games.  With a June 87 release date, it probably really wouldn't have cost any more money to include such tech because the bulk of the cost is other things and this chip was already obsolete and would have been dirt cheap to manufacture, especially when spread across multiple games (as Activision made other 2600 games at the time).  It was also probably no more expensive to make 32k games than 16k games.

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I never understood why Defender got so much hate. I think it's actually really good! Is it perfect? No. But it's an absolutely serviceable port of Defender and is very playable IMO. Stargate looks pretty cool, but I have yet to play that one.

 

I used to try to defend Pac-Man when I was younger, but it really is as bad as people say it is. All of the charm of the arcade game has been completely sucked out and you're left with a game that feels like it was made with peanut butter and twigs.

 

And games like Double Dragon and Rampage should have never been attempted on the 2600. That's all.

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32 minutes ago, Jaden (JRH) said:

I never understood why Defender got so much hate. I think it's actually really good! Is it perfect? No. But it's an absolutely serviceable port of Defender and is very playable IMO. Stargate looks pretty cool, but I have yet to play that one.

 

I used to try to defend Pac-Man when I was younger, but it really is as bad as people say it is. All of the charm of the arcade game has been completely sucked out and you're left with a game that feels like it was made with peanut butter and twigs.

 

And games like Double Dragon and Rampage should have never been attempted on the 2600. That's all.

Stargate/Defender II is what Defender should have been.  You should definitely play it. It's a very good game and captures the feel of defender and stargate for the most part.

It's not that Defender isn't an OK game in its own right, it's that it really doesn't play like Defender.  Back then, we weren't "retrogaming," we were trying to bring some of the arcade into our living rooms.

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The thing is,...

 

As nostalgia works...We, well I, at least, will always have a soft spot for Defender and even Pac Man because BITD I knew it wasn't perfect or great, but it was what we had...And games like Star Ship (or mine which is Outer Space) has that too, but in a much different way.  I wanted Star Ship, but it, along with Slot Racers was pulled from the shelves before I could buy it.  And do you know what happens when you really want something but can't buy it anywhere?  You only want it 20 times more!  And when you finally get it, (though you may have weirdness affecting your perceptions),  you may just have some fun with it, no matter what people think...People who come to the scene later, when there are many, many more options may be quite unaware of some of that early Magic and what it meant...

 

 

**Now,  I'm not saying to go out and play bad games, ... Just know that at the time, many of us put some time in certain games and can look back at it as a pretty cool thing.  Wouldn't have it any other way actually...**

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21 hours ago, christo930 said:

 

 

 

While certainly not all, a lot of the 3rd party stuff is terrible.

 

 

 

 

 

If it wasn't bad, the crash of '83 might've been avoided...

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I find miniature golf for the Atari unplayable.

 

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

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I'd much rather play Atari 2600 Donkey Kong than the truly pitiful Donkey Kong Jr. Sure it has more stages but they're all horrible.They shouldn't have even bothered porting DKjr if that was the best they could do.

 

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On 5/3/2020 at 1:01 AM, keithbk said:

The first screen of Congo Bongo looks TERRIBLE and is just SLOPPY on old CRT screens. It may look better on new LCD screens, but this game needed a higher color contrast to properly play back in the day.

To be fair, Congo Bongo looks terrible on most platforms:  It's funny that the visuals on the Apple II version beat out many ports on systems that are supposed to have better graphics capabilities!

https://www.mobygames.com/game/congo-bongo/screenshots

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On 5/3/2020 at 7:52 AM, cvga said:

I think opinions of it today likely vary dramatically depending on if you owned it bitd or not.

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...

17 hours ago, Atariperson23 said:

If it wasn't bad, the crash of '83 might've been avoided...

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.

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3 hours ago, zzip said:

To be fair, Congo Bongo looks terrible on most platforms:  It's funny that the visuals on the Apple II version beat out many ports on systems that are supposed to have better graphics capabilities!

https://www.mobygames.com/game/congo-bongo/screenshots

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

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3 hours ago, zzip said:

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.

Why would $5 -$13 bargain bin 2600 games that normally sell for +$35 affect the sales of Intellvision / Coleco / Arcade sales? You must be joking. 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. 

 

The North American crash of 1983 happened here because everyone expected the market here to grow faster than it actually did. Retailers had thousands of dollars tied up in software that they couldn't return for cash that wasnt selling, because the manufacturers were going bankrupt. In turn, this caused consumers to buy cheap games for a third of the cost, rather than the better, more expensive games. Only big companies with lots of cash were able to survive the crash and keep making games when the market rebounded in 1985-1986.

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