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Atari 7800 - Top 10 Games

Atari 5200 Guy


I'm just going to put this right out there without any introduction (I'll save that for another related article) and pick the 10 games I play most on the 7800 in the small collection I have which is now at 16 games.  We start with number 10.

10.  Centipede

Mom's favorite...but on the 5200.  She tried playing the 7800 version when I got the system and a few games for Christmas around 1990.  I have to admit that even though it gets more play time than others it doesn't quite capture everything I enjoy about the 5200 version.  Never the less the 7800 Centipede is a rock-solid title full of all the bug killing envy anyone would wish to do.  It's very colorful, sounds are OK, controls are done well.  Visuals are a bit different than the 5200 version but once the game play starts the difference is quickly overlooked.  And Spidey still needs to go decaf.


9. Dark Chambers

Dark Chambers was Atari's attempt at making a Gauntlet clone without having to pay for a license.  That's my opinionated theory about Dark Chambers.  This adventure game features levels that are lettered from A to Z giving the game over 20 levels to explore and conquer.  Graphics look good, sounds are appropriate, levels are colorful, controls are solid, and the enemies can be a handful.  Along the way the player gets to pick up items to help maintain health, increase weapon power, and a few other things.  No 7800 player should be without this game in their library.  This game is also on the 2600 and XEGS/A8 computers.


8.  Choplifter

I have to admit that my first encounter with Choplifter was with Sega's remake of the game for its Master System.  When I played Choplifter on the 7800 for the first time a few years ago I was taken by surprise how much more basic the game was.  But this is the way the game was originally designed and not the way Sega did it.  This game can be challenging and unforgiving to those who don't know what to expect.  Very colorful, sounds are awesome, controls are very responsive.  Watch out for those tanks while rescuing people, though, as they can take you down in no time.


7. Xevious

Xevious was originally not one of my favorites mainly because I had no clue what I was suppose to do or if there was an end to it.  But the more I played it the more I enjoyed the game.  And the only way I ever played the game was on the 7800.  Sounds are really good with great control options and visuals are impressive.  It's hard for me to not spend hours on this game once I decide I want to play it.  The only downfall is if the standard 7800 controller is the only controller option available Xevious can cause cramps in a matter of minutes.  For this game I recommend a game pad of some sort or even splurge on the 7800's EuroPad controller.  Those are way better options for this game than what the 7800 came with in the USA.


6.  Robotron: 2084

I'm just going to call it Robotron for short.  Robotron remains the one game on the system that can showcase its graphical power.  While it is a simple game there is so much going on that it can be considered a chaotic madhouse.  Seriously, there's all kinds of things going on to distract the player and yet the 7800 never slows down or breaks a sweat.  It is games like this that made the 7800 different from the other consoles of the time.  Sounds, graphics, and controls are spot-on in my opinion.  Great game.  Pick it up if found.


5.  Food Fight

Food Fight was one I questioned as soon as I unwrapped it that Christmas morning I got a 7800.  It was the last one I tried but easily became a favorite.  It would have had a lot more game play if not for the hand cramps caused by the standard 7800 controllers.  Even then it remains hard to put down.  There's something fun about throwing food at chefs.  It never gets old.  And if a round is played great the game treats with an instant replay.  The only game I know to do this.  I've also noticed that after playing a game it will use that instant replay for a demonstration until the system is turned off.  Good graphics, sounds, and controls are good.


4.  Commando

Out of the NES and 7800 versions of this game I prefer the 7800.  It simply performs better in my opinion.  It's also seems a bit easier to play than the NES version.  Graphics and sounds are amazing and the controls are responsive.  If there was a game made to showcase how much better the 7800 could be over the NES I would put this game on that list.  If this is missing from a 7800 player's game library keep an eye out for it.  This one should not be missed.


3.  Galaga

Some may question this game being high on this list but this is one of the most-played games on my 7800.  This was also the first game I tried that Christmas morning I unwrapped a 7800.  I prefer Galaxian over Galaga but I enjoy this game the most on the 7800.  The game play starts out easy but after awhile the game really speeds up which increases the challenge factor.  Graphics are good, sounds are OK, controls are good.  A solid 7800 title no 7800 owner should be without.  This is a common title so it should be easy to find.


2.  Ms. Pac-Man

Out of all of the ports of the queen of video games I've played the 7800 port of Ms. Pac-Man is probably the only one that is the closest to the arcade.  The sounds are amazing considering they are coming from the 2-channel limitations of TIA, even surpassing the same game on the 2600.  The colors are right, the graphics are detailed, the ghost AI is spot-on, and the speed is just right.  This is the only title on the 7800 I can enjoy playing using the standard 7800 controller without much fatigue.

And the most played game on my 7800 is ... (drum roll)...


1.  Asteroids

Asteroids on the 7800 is the most played game in my library.  I just can't get enough of those 3D-like boulders and the small space sounds that randomly call out.  And lots of memories playing this game on two-player with a friend where we would just fly around in every direction to see how long we could last without shooting anything.  We would always laugh out loud when we would collide with an asteroid flying full speed.  Who said you had to play by the rules?  I absolutely love the graphics and sounds in this game and it is a 40-plus year old concept that never gets old.  There's just something mesmerizing about blowing up asteroids and alien saucers.   


And that ends my top 10 7800 games.  I like every game I have for the 7800 but these are the ones I go to the most.  I'm not big on Donkey Kong or his son and I'm not that interested in sports although I find Hat Trick a fun, if not supped up, version of Pong even if it is suppose to be hockey.  And Ballblazer?  A LOT of fun with that game...I simply lack that game in my library.  I'm sure as I acquire more games for the system that what gets played the most may change.  But no matter what when I think about the 7800 I immediately think about Asteroids. 


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Your list is great.  I'd put "Centipede" a bit higher for one reason:  the two player co-op mode.  Asteroids has this same feature, and it makes an awesome game even better.  

Another of my favorite 7800 games is the Dr J/Larry Bird One on One.  I absolutely LOVED this game on the Atari 8-bit computers and played it to death.  It's amazing the control the designers gave each player using only a stick and one button -- spins, dunks, jumpers, steals, jumps, checks.  The 7800 version plays exactly the same, but has much better graphics.  From your list, it's hard to find any game I'd replace with One on One, but I'd probably choose Choplifter.  Just because the 7800 Choplifter is worse than some of the earlier versions.  

I really love Food Fight, and the 7800 version is absolutely the best home version of that great game.  

I'd say the games that really show off the ability of the 7800 to move LOTS of sprites quickly are Asteroids and Food Fight.

Great post, K -- I really enjoyed reading your thoughts.  Thanks!


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Great post! You can't really go wrong with the core 7800 arcade conversions. All of them are fantastic in my opinion and make the 7800 worth owning.  I happen to really enjoy Joust, DK, DK Jr. & Mario Bros. in addition to the ones that you've named.

Ballblazer is just amazing with a second player. It's stunning, really. It would definitely make the list. 

These days many of my favorite 7800 games are homebrews. My top game on the system is probably either Jr. Pac-Man or b*nQ. I also really like DK PK, Space Invaders and Moon Cresta. I can't wait until Baby Pac-Man gets released. I missed the list. It looks great! 

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Thanks for the comments, guys.  It was hard for me to decide between a few of them for equal play time.  I have Ken Siders' Q*Bert 7800 port and it's a fantastic game!  But I tried to stick with official releases on this list.  I may do a homebrew one later once I get a few in my collection if I decide to get more.  And Ballblazer would have made the list easily taking the number 2 spot for it's fun and original play style but I don't own a copy of that one yet. 

I have Donkey Kong Junior and One on One, neither of which I'm a huge fan of.  While I enjoy the game I just don't get into Donkey Kong arcade games much...but I enjoy Donkey Kong Country on the SNES.  I'll have to give One on One another go sometime.  At present time it is my very least played game along with Hat Trick. 

I have Joust, Dig Dug, PP II and a few others as well but I played PP II so much in the past that it sort of became the 7800's "Combat" in my opinion.  Still a great game though.  Joust?  I prefer the 5200 version over the 7800 version.  Graphics are better on the 7800 but the sounds impress me more on the 5200.  Dig Dug?  The 7800 is spot on but...it's Dig Dug.  Sounds again I prefer on the 5200 version more.  Those games I play more on the 5200 than the 7800.

I'm curious to see who else reads this and chimes in with their favorites that I made have missed.

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