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Cousin Vinnie

In Defense of 9 Oft-Berated Atari 7800 Games...

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Like every other subject, people's opinions widely vary on video games. But in terms of the 7800 library, there's a semblance of solidarity. The enthusiasts normally agree on what's the cream of the crop titles and what's the worst of the worst. But there exists a handful of games that sometimes see uncanny vitriol... so pointed, so bombastic... that it borders on shameful mendacity. I feel like these nine games get an unfair bad rap. Some of them are terrific, and some are just OK, but all are worth a second look.

 

The Atari Apologist
http://www.atari7800forever.com/aa.html

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I consider some of those of the best on the 7800. Double Dragon & Fatal Run are of the better titles released for the 7800. Couldn't care less if I'm in the minority on that stance either cause I have a lot of fun with them.

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I know Fatal Run sucks... but it does something better than almost any other game does on the 7800 and almost any game Ive ever played, and that is create a true sense of despair. The game is almost depressing! Great immersion. However they did it.............. they did it. Hats off

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Of the games on this list, Desert Falcon was my favorite as a kid. That and Xevious. 

 

I only had the 2600 version of Double Dragon and I beat that one. 

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Surprised to see the last three on there...Ninja Golf, Choplifter, Dark Chambers. NG gets tons of love and the others are just fine.

 

They are all way better than Double Dragon. But then, most things are.

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I think the lack of an ending really hurts Dark Chambers, or at least makes me massively less inclined to play it. In fairness, that issue affects Gauntlet too (except the NES port), but that game manages to be more fun and dynamic; even so, I have no interest anymore in playing arcade Gauntlet, NES Gauntlet II, etc., since I know they just go on forever despite employing a kind of gameplay that implies an end goal.

 

Anyway, in the case of Dark Chambers, the lack of an ending just makes the game feel cheap.

 

I like Tower Toppler in many ways, and it's a nice-looking game that sits well on the 7800. It's pretty easy to understand why it's loathed by so many people, though; the controls are needlessly frustrating and opaque, while the stage design is sadistic and depends on deliberately unfair, trial-and-error gameplay that doesn't suit a game without unlimited continues.

 

(I generally don't like the idea of a game "aging poorly", but if that label applies to anything, it's to a game that wastes the player's time in order to artificially extend its shelf life.)

 

The Japanese release on the NES, Kyoro-chan Land, includes a password system that makes the game a lot more fun since you can learn the later levels without wasting hours of your life replaying levels you already know. I played through that version to practice for a legit run of the password-less NES version (Castelian), which I did earlier this year.

 

My plan is to replay the 7800 version on real hardware sometime in the next year or two (I did play through it in emulation with savestates many years ago).

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Wait a minute, Choplifer and Dark Chambers are generally hated upon? I always thought they were pretty well received. Well, whatever the general opinion is, I'd still gladly play both games. Dark Chambers is especially a blast to play when you have a buddy with you. Now Karateka, THERE'S a game that's difficult to defend. I'm still not even sure if I would call it a game. It's more of a slideshow than anything.

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1 hour ago, thegoldenband said:

I think the lack of an ending really hurts Dark Chambers, or at least makes me massively less inclined to play it. In fairness, that issue affects Gauntlet too (except the NES port), but that game manages to be more fun and dynamic; even so, I have no interest anymore in playing arcade Gauntlet, NES Gauntlet II, etc., since I know they just go on forever despite employing a kind of gameplay that implies an end goal.

 

Anyway, in the case of Dark Chambers, the lack of an ending just makes the game feel cheap.

 

I like Tower Toppler in many ways, and it's a nice-looking game that sits well on the 7800. It's pretty easy to understand why it's loathed by so many people, though; the controls are needlessly frustrating and opaque, while the stage design is sadistic and depends on deliberately unfair, trial-and-error gameplay that doesn't suit a game without unlimited continues.

 

(I generally don't like the idea of a game "aging poorly", but if that label applies to anything, it's to a game that wastes the player's time in order to artificially extend its shelf life.)

 

The Japanese release on the NES, Kyoro-chan Land, includes a password system that makes the game a lot more fun since you can learn the later levels without wasting hours of your life replaying levels you already know. I played through that version to practice for a legit run of the password-less NES version (Castelian), which I did earlier this year.

 

My plan is to replay the 7800 version on real hardware sometime in the next year or two (I did play through it in emulation with savestates many years ago).

Oh... but brother, Tower Toppler has level selection to help a man practice!

www.Atari7800forever.com/ttc.html

 

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Tower Toppler has an unlimited lives feature....Unlimited lives - Using the LEFT DIFFICULTY switch, move to the tower which is right before the tower you want to start playing, and then move the switch to the right.  Kill off all your lives. As soon as you’ve lost your last life, but before the "Game Over" sign displays, move the switch to the left (you have to be fast and time it just right).  You will cycle to the next highest tower and will be granted an infinite number of lives.  Move the switch to the right and begin playing.

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2 hours ago, Cousin Vinnie said:

Oh... but brother, Tower Toppler has level selection to help a man practice!

www.Atari7800forever.com/ttc.html

:) Yeah, I vaguely remembered that there was some sort of code or exploit to that effect. But I think those kinds of things should be built into a game like this (i.e. one that constantly trolls the player), not hidden away.

 

If, instead, TT had a level select that gave you a "NOW DO IT WITHOUT THE LEVEL SKIP!" ending, that'd be great!

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7 minutes ago, thegoldenband said:

:) Yeah, I vaguely remembered that there was some sort of code or exploit to that effect. But I think those kinds of things should be built into a game like this (i.e. one that constantly trolls the player), not hidden away.

 

If, instead, TT had a level select that gave you a "NOW DO IT WITHOUT THE LEVEL SKIP!" ending, that'd be great!

Troo. But we barely got an ending to begin with LOL

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Double dragon on nes & master system used x & z velocities (fixed point math) so the enemies will move at an angle towards the player if the x distance is greater then 48 pixels,if less then 48 pixels on the x axis then the enemies align the z axis movement within 3 pixels to the player(have a play of double dragon on nes or master system to view this).Both the nes and master system move entities per pixel,the 7800 because of it's double wide pixels can't exactly do a straight over port.It's still a decent game in my opinion.

Edited by CloakeD

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2 hours ago, ZylonBane said:

What a clickbait article. I thought it was going to try defending, y'know, Karateka, or Super Huey, or Jinks.

those games cannot be defended

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Of the games I've played, I don't disagree with most of the negative sentiments of these games.  My 2c (worth as much):

  • Pole Position 2 is simply a bad game.  It looks good, and it's nice to have a couple of tracks, but the "touch anything and die" mechanic simply isn't fun. 2/5.
  • Dark Chambers is good on paper, not in practice. It's simply boring.  The "shoot monsters to devolve them" is kind of stupid, and there's no challenge or exploration.  It's never tense, and you never feel like a hero.  Regardless of the fact there's no end, it gets old very fast and never recovers.  I'm not the biggest Gauntlet fan, but that's waaaay better than Dark Chambers, and I'd play that any day.  2/5
  • Choplifter has pretty good gameplay... while it lasts.  You can get everything there is to get out of teh game in a couple days and there's pretty much zero replay value.  Not ideal for an arcadey title. 2/5.
  • Tower Toppler looks great, but personally I hate the memorization-based gameplay.  The only way to do well ist o memorize exactly where to stand, where to shoot, and when to do everything exactly like the designer wants you to.  Similar to Pole Position, to me it's just not fun. Obviously others may dig it, and that's cool.  Diff'rent strokes and all.  2/5.

On the other hand, Desert Falcon is pretty fun, and I enjoy the game.  The controls are tough. I have a lot more trouble w/ it than, say, Blue Max or Zaxxon.  Not sure exactly why.   I's not enough to ruin the game, and you get used to it after a little while.  IMHO it looks good, too, and I like the variety of the bosses and power ups. 4/5

 

 

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That's a strange list. I had several of those games and quite liked them. Double Dragon, especially, had much better gameplay than the NES version (although, yeah, the graphics on the 7800 version weren't great).

 

On 12/1/2020 at 6:28 PM, BydoEmpire said:

 

  • Pole Position 2 is simply a bad game.  It looks good, and it's nice to have a couple of tracks, but the "touch anything and die" mechanic simply isn't fun. 2/5.

 

 

I agree. I played it a lot (as for a little while it and Asteroids were my only 7800 games) but never loved it. You were rewarded by memorizing the patterns, not by skill in avoiding cars (since avoiding them around a corner was impossible unless you knew exactly what was coming and when).

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1 hour ago, 6502wrangler said:

That's a strange list. I had several of those games and quite liked them. Double Dragon, especially, had much better gameplay than the NES version (although, yeah, the graphics on the 7800 version weren't great).

 

Hmmm....in what sense? It controls worse, and it looks worse, and it sounds worse (oh GOD), and it uses a worse controller by default, but you CAN make the pain twice as bad by having two players play it. I GUESS that's the advantage? I can't point to anything else anybody would see as a gameplay advantage over the NES version other than 2player simultaneous play.

 

Now Joust....THERE is a game that actually tears the NES version a new @$$#&@^.

 

 

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Perhaps I haven’t been around long enough - but I’ve not seen or heard hard criticism of Ninja Golf - which to me sounds more of a 7800 Classic, and Fatal Run is usually regarded as one of the deeper car/racing-shooters...

 

 

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Here's the complete list of games:

 

Choplifter

Dark Chambers

Desert Falcon

Double Dragon

Fatal Run

Ninja Golf

Planet Smashers

Pole Position 2

Tower Toppler

 

I'd say these are all middle of the pack games.  Of those on the list, I want to spend more time playing Ninja Golf.  I actually own that one and haven't given it enough time.  Seems like a good game in the limited amount of time I've played it although I didn't even know about the basic strategy mentioned in the "Retort."  I'd say I've probably already played all of the other games enough before I die (but that doesn't mean I won't play them again).

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Anyway - Double Dragon can easily work - simply by using normak kick for the Arcade-punch-series 

 its has some good background grfx.

 

If you nose-kick, well get along...

 

Sure, room for improvememts, but good fun [when you get normal kick + normal punch]...

Edited by Giles N

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Dark Chambers is about the only game that my kids want to touch on the 7800, as they like the co-op play...but because it's so repetitive, it does tend to get old a little fast. If it had the occasional boss battle, some scrolls to find with text and a little story, some special treasures to collect (maybe like Venture), and some music, it'd be a better game. As it is, it's just ok.  

 

Planet Smashers...I dunno. When my CC2 worked, I tried this a few times and just couldn't get into it. It's kind of like Trevor McFur...dull levels with a gimmick that wasn't implemented very well, cool looking bosses (and no/terrible sound). It's no Raiden, Dragon Spirit or River Raid. If it were just a boss rush game, then that would have been cool. Otherwise, I'd rather play Plutos. 

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