Sync - Atari 2600
Sync is a unique collection of puzzle and rhythm games that require you to think fast and improve your dexterity to get higher scores! Sync includes seven games in total and you're sure to find several (if not all!) to your liking! Many of the games have a wide variety of settings for you to try to keep them interesting--you'll never get bored of all the variety Sync has to offer! A brief description of each game follows:
The world of Mantra is a matrix, progressively populated by sequences of symbols: keep matching each symbol by reacting with the corresponding action on the joystick, until a sequence is over, and you will score points. Can you keep the Mantra alive?
The matrix from Mantra returns, but this time the symbols closely resemble arrows, and you are in control of the pace of the game: as soon as you match a symbol, the control will skip to the next one in the sequence. Maintain a steady rhythm of play to score bonus points!
Flow is a game of balance, played inside a grid, where you have to place bars around those placed by the CPU. As soon as a running cell counter completes a given number of loops across the grid, every CPU cell whose number of bars corresponds to the sum of adjacent bars placed by the player is removed, and points are scored. Watch out for side reactions, as placing your bars to balance a CPU cell can cause a mismatch on a previously balanced CPU cell!
Four is a compilation of four minigames: both Jitter 1K and Flow 1K are scaled down versions of the corresponding 4K games; in Gate you have to match the symbols placed by the CPU on a column that rotates vertically; and Here requires you to clear cells whenever an arrow is inside each cell. All four of these minigames offer different challenges.
The above brief descriptions do not do these games justice! All of the included games have more depth than described above and will take a while to master--you'll find yourself coming back to them time and time again! Two of the games support one or two players (Mantra and Jitter 4K) while the other games are one-player only.
Includes cartridge and twelve-page, full-color manual. Sync supports both NTSC and PAL60 television modes through the use of the B&W switch.
Sync takes advantage of Richard Hutchinson's AtariVox. If you have an AtariVox plugged into the Player Two joystick port, the AtariVox will "sing" along during Mantra, Jitter (4K) and Flow (4K). Note: You can not play the two-player variations while the AtariVox is plugged in.
|Number of Players||1 - 2|
|Manual Text||Nathan Strum and Simone Serra|
|Label and Manual||Nathan Strum|
In Mantra, shapes are displayed on screen that correspond to the four joystick directions and fire button. As each series of shapes appear, you must move the joystick and match the symbols according to a rhythm. If you successfully match a series of shapes, they'll disappear. If you don't, they become locked, and must be matched twice in order to remove them. Once the screen is filled with shapes, the game is over.
Mantra is a fun, unique game for the 2600, and in some ways is reminiscent of rhythm games for modern consoles (Patapon, Dance Dance Revolution, PaRappa the Rapper, etc). The game determines the pace at which you can respond, and getting the hang of the rhythm can take a little time (and a really good joystick), but once you get on a roll, the game can really move fast. There are quite a few game options, including several two-player simultaneous modes, a demo mode and a practice mode. The graphics, while simple, are vivid and colorful, and are a perfect example of not needing high resolution to make a great game.
Jitter 4K is very similar to Mantra, except the symbols are less abstracted, and you can respond immediately to the patterns, giving you a little more control over the pace of the game. It has some of the same options as Mantra, but offers a couple of new ones as well. Jitter 4K does have a different feel to it, but it's just as much fun as Mantra, and may be a little easier to get the hang of for beginners.
Flow 4K is my favorite game in this collection, and is one of my favorite 2600 games, period. There is a grid of 20 stacks of bars on screen, and your goal is to clear off these stacks by surrounding them with the correct number of bars in adjacent stacks before a timer counts down. In addition to adding or removing bars, you can slide rows and columns around to better match up stacks. If the entire grid is occupied with stacks when the timer runs out, then the game ends. If there are still open spaces, the timer resets and gives you another chance.
Flow 4K is unlike any game I can recall playing. It's a puzzle game, but one that's played against an ever-accelerating clock. After awhile, it becomes a frenetic action game, driven along by great music which gets enhanced by digital "scat-singing" if an AtariVox is plugged in. Flow 4K is a one-player only game, but there are a couple of different game play modes so you can choose the one to your liking. As with Mantra, the graphics are perfect for this game, and you'd never think of them as being low resolution - they're just the pieces in a puzzle.
Sync's other four games are presented as a set of mini-games, collectively (and appropriately) titled Four.
Jitter 1K is a stripped-down version of Jitter 4K. It plays similarly, but symbols don't become locked if you miss a series of shapes. The basic gameplay is intact though, and it makes for a fun, quick gaming fix.
Flow 1K is a simplified version of Flow 4K. But while in Flow 4K you have to wait for a timer to clear off the bars, in Flow 1K, they're cleared immediately. The pace is dramatically faster in Flow 1K, because the game ends whenever any stack has four bars on it if the timer runs out - not when the entire grid is full. This keeps you constantly in motion, trying to keep track of which stacks are reaching their limit, and trying to keep everything in check. This is the most frenetic game on the cartridge, and plays very differently from it's 4K cousin.
Gate is a shape matching game, where you must place shapes in one column, to match those in another column. The trick is, the column you must match is continually scrolling, and every third time it scrolls by, more shapes are added to it. As you match shapes, they disappear from the scrolling column. The goal is to keep the scrolling column from filling up for as long as you can. Gate is a terrific, fast-moving puzzle game with great graphics and excellent music. There are a couple of different play modes: Arcade Mode - which allows you to keep playing if you mismatch shapes; and Simulation Mode - which doesn't allow you to make any mistakes.
The final mini-game - Here - is yet another unique game, which is based purely on reflexes. The gameplay is simplicity itself - you must press the fire button as an arrow passes over a colored bar. Doing so will cause the bar to be cleared from the screen. Pressing fire at the wrong time will end the game. There are ten bars on each screen, and they're constantly shrinking in size, reducing the amount of time you have to react. Your arrow is always in motion too, although you can change its direction, and choose which bar you're currently trying to clear. This is an almost maddeningly addictive game - in part due to its simplicity (and how easy it is to bring the game to a screeching halt by missing a bar), but also because the music is almost hypnotic. It's very reminiscent of wind chimes, with perhaps some Asian influence. It's unlike anything else I've heard on the 2600, and it helps make Here one of my favorite mini-games.
Sync is a remarkable and unique collection of games for the 2600. While a few of the games are similar, there's more than enough variety to keep you entertained for a very long time, and there should be something for everyone here to enjoy. The pick-up-and-play nature of the games is perfectly suited for the 2600, and the graphics and music throughout really show off what the 2600 can do when games are designed with its strengths in mind. The AtariVox support is a nice addition, although it's a shame it doesn't save your high scores. But that's a minor point, and Sync is very highly recommended, especially if you're looking for something different. With seven games plus variations (including two-player modes), this is a tremendous value, but most importantly - it's just a whole lot of fun.