Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sixty Atari 2600 Classic Games (and a few Others)

The Atari 2600 had many classic games as befitting the first really successful home video game console.  However, it has a lot of not so classic games and a lot of derivative games.  I have devised a list of must have games.  The games on this list are generally easy to pick up and play, provide some of the most fun gameplay on the console.  Moreover, there are no holy grails on this list.  If you want to actually collect the cartridges, as opposed to playing them on a Harmony Cart, none should break the bank.

If you are going for a pure cartridge route, note that four of these games will require a Starpath Supercharger.  A Supercharger is a very wise investment because almost every game is really good.  Moreover, you do not even need the original cassette tapes to play the games.  You can run the binary files through a digital to analog program like makewav and output the audio signal from your computer to the Supercharger.

There are a lot of direct arcade ports on this list.  I have highlighted them in yellow.  Some of the early 2600 games like Indy 500, Combat and Video Olympics are more of the embodiment of a series of arcade games (the Indy, Tank and Pong series), but I consider them the official home port of these arcade system lines.  Some arcade ports like Stargate and The Official Frogger are truly amazing.  If you want to obtain the cassette before playing The Official Frogger, the Parker Bros. cartridge is good enough to fill the void.

You will note a fair number of paddle games on this list.  The paddle controller is the second most used controller for the 2600 and I tried to give a sampling of the best games that support it.  Warlords is a great four player game, an essential addition to any 2600 library.  Indy 500 uses driving controllers, which are far more precise than paddle controllers and are always responsive.

Most of these games are essentially pick up and play, but there are a few exceptions.  You will need the manual and overlay for Space Shuttle, which uses every switch on the console.  Dragonstomper, the only true RPG for the 2600, requires a read of the manual before sitting down with the game.

A 2600 game does not need advanced hardware to earn classic status.  Of the sixty games on this list, thirty one do not require any additional hardware.  Of the 8K and 16K cartridges, only six require extra RAM, noted in blue background :

Game Title Publisher Size Notes
Communist Mutants from Space Starpath 1 Tape Load
Fireball Starpath 1 Tape Load Paddle Controller
Frogger, The Official Starpath 1 Tape Load
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns Activision 10.2K Unique Hardware
Crystal Castles Atari 16K
Dig Dug Atari 16K
Jr. Pac-Man Atari 16K
Midnight Magic Atari 16K
Millipede Atari 16K
Road Runner Atari 16K
Secret Quest Atari 16K Has a password save system
Solaris Atari 16K
Bowling Atari 2K
Boxing Activision 2K
Combat Atari 2K Two players required
Fishing Derby Activision 2K
Freeway Activision 2K
Frogger Parker Bros. 2K
Indy 500 Atari 2K Driving Controller, two players highly recommended
Kaboom! Activision 2K Paddle Controller
Video Olympics Atari 2K Paddle Controller, four player support
Dragonstomper Starpath 3 Tape Loads
Adventure Atari 4K
Atlantis Imagic 4K
Berzerk Atari 4K
Chopper Command Activision 4K
Circus Atari Atari 4K Paddle Controller
Cosmic Ark Imagic 4K
Demon Attack Imagic 4K
Dolphin Activision 4K
Enduro Activision 4K
Haunted House Atari 4K
Megamania Activision 4K
Missile Command Atari 4K
Pitfall! Activision 4K
Q*bert Parker Bros. 4K
River Raid Activision 4K
Seaquest Activision 4K
Space Invaders Atari 4K
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Parker Bros. 4K
Super Breakout Atari 4K Paddle Controller
Warlords Atari 4K Paddle Controller, four player support
Wizard of Wor CBS Electronics 4K
Yars' Revenge Atari 4K
Asteroids Atari 8K
Battlezone Atari 8K
Beamrider Activision 8K
Centipede Atari 8K
Frogger II: Threeedeep! Parker Bros. 8K
H.E.R.O. Activision 8K
Joust Atari 8K
Jungle Hunt Atari 8K
Moon Patrol Atari 8K
Ms. Pac-Man Atari 8K
Pressure Cooker Activision 8K
Robot Tank Activision 8K
Solar Fox CBS Electronics 8K
Space Shuttle Activision 8K Has an overlay for 4-switch and 6-switch consoles
Stargate Atari 8K
Tapper Sega 8K

There are several games, that while not bona fide classics, have such a historical impact or made in such large numbers that they may deserve to be on any list regardless of quality.  This includes the unholy three of the 2600, Defender, Pac-Man and E.T. the Extra-terrestial.  Defender is fairly disappointing compared to Stargate, Pac-Man's reputation is well-known and E.T. status is legendary.  However, the first two are pick up and play.  E.T. requires reading the manual and avoiding the worst of the bugs (do not stop levitating until every pixel of E.T. has cleared the pit.)  Breakout and Star Raiders are OK, but Breakout pales in comparison to Super Breakout and Star Raiders is best played on the Atari 8-bit and 5200 systems. Donkey Kong from Coleco is also extremely common but only has two of the four levels from the arcade and is rather lacking.  The Swordquest games are not very fun and the third is rare.  But if you really want to explore garbage on the 2600, you could try the adult games available for that system, starting with the execrable Custer's Revenge.

With this post, my 257th, one can no longer number the number of blog entries on this blog in an 8-bit number!

1 comment:

Chris Nova777 said...

moon patrol .. joust .. missile command
good times;)