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Atari 2600 Top 10 Favorites

Atari 5200 Guy



The Atari 2600 is the undisputed king of game consoles. And in the short amount of time that I have owned an Atari 2600 4-switch wood-grain model the amount of 2600 games I owned has been growing fairly well. With that being said I thought I would do a post on what my top 10 most played games were that just happen to also be my favorites. This list is based on games I own a physical copy of and not on emulation. Therefore as I pick up more 2600 games this list will change and may expand to include more favorites. For now, here is my 10 favorite Atari 2600 VCS games. Enjoy!








#10 California Games


california games cart

California Games is one of three games that Epyx would release for the 2600. While I am not a huge fan of sports video games I find the variety of games included on this cart interesting. Epyx also did a decent job on making the graphics easy to visually understand what you was looking at. Sounds are good with my favorite being the Louie Louie playing at the Title Screen. The real reason I continue to play this game is for the BMX race. I will purposely have the biker go as fast as he can before a large jump just for him to fly through two or three screens and crash. It's simply hilarious!


#9 Breakout

breakout color cart

Breakout has its charm and is an easy paddle game to pick up and play. Simply bounce a ball between your paddle and a wall of bricks until the ball smashes away all the bricks or manages to slip past your paddle. There's nothing more exciting than getting that ball trapped for a few seconds above the wall of bricks and watching the ball bounce back and fourth, removing bricks and racking up points as the ball tries to find a way free. A simple concept that stands up well in the library of 2600 games.


#8 Othello

othello text cart

I enjoy a good fast-paced, arcade action game just as much as any gamer. But there are those times when I want to play a game that I can be relaxed at the same time. And Othello is one such game I enjoy playing on the 2600. It's down-to-basics nature captures this board game and makes it one of the better board-game conversions done on the 2600. Playing against the computer is very challenging at any skill level and the VCS doesn't take near as long to figure out moves like it does in Video Checkers and Video Chess.


#7 E.T. -- The Extra Terrestrial

Et silver cart

We all know the history of E.T. on the 2600 by now so there's no point in going into that over and over again. However, I will say that what was pulled off in 5 to 6 weeks time is not as bad as most reviews claim. E.T. can be difficult with normal settings but lots of patience and practice can pay off. This is one of my go-to titles when I want to play a relaxing game of a different genre. I will change the difficulty to three and guide E.T. to find the items he needs to return home. A fun game!


#6 Warlords

warlords color cart

Warlords is the only game I know of that is four players on the 2600. Then again I have never tried to play Super Breakout or Breakout with more than one player either. Warlords is a great party game alongside Combat. Even playing against three computer players is a fun challenge and, unlike the arcade, if your castle gets destroyed the game is not over instantly. The 2600, while the graphics are simplistic, captures the game play the arcade is known for very well. In some ways this port is a bit more friendly than the arcade in my opinion.


#5 Gravitar

gravitar Red cart

This is not one of my normal go-to games but when I do play it I am still amazed at what Atari pulled off. Having gravity against you constantly is a huge pain in the butt but also makes for an enjoyable game play experience when you can navigate some of the most bizarre maps, or mazes if you prefer, I've ever seen in a 2600 game. Even without the gravity against you some of the levels are hard to navigate. Hair pulling action at its finest!


#4 Amidar

amidar standard cart

Amidar is a go-to title for me that provides a pleasant balance between fast pace and relaxed game play. I know that sounds sort of contradicting but their are times when this game can put you in a hypnotic trance to where you are so involved with the onscreen action that nothing else matters. By the time the game is over and you return to reality you feel rested and ready to go. Actually, the game is great fun and captures the arcade well. It would have been better with the arcade bonus rounds.


#3 Enduro


enduro cart

Enduro is simply, in my opinion anyway, the best racing game on the 2600, period. The way you can adjust the speed to cruise along a road, passing cars, going from nice weather to snow and then fog, from mid day, through sunset and night fall, watching the sun rise only to do it all over again is some of the most impressive 2600 programming I've seen. The concept is simple...pass the required number of cars per round before the next day begins. In the first few rounds it is not so hard...later rounds get so difficult that you better not mess up even once.


#2 Solaris

solaris Red cart

Solaris is a very well made space game that seems to capture a bit of Star Raiders in its programming. The graphics, sounds, and game play of Solaris on the 2600 are simply incredible and should not be missed. I go to this title often when I'm ready for some serious space action/adventure challenges. I have yet to figure out my way to the planet Solaris but I am working on it.


#1 Space Invaders

space invaders color cart

When Atari released the 2600 I was entertained with the few visits to the in-store display were I would play a few games of Combat or some other game hanging on a chain. Then Space Invaders came along for the 2600 and I immediately wanted both. This game continues to be my number one go-to title for some classic 2600 fun. The game play is solid and there is no flicker that most 2600 games have issues with. And with lots of variations in how the game is played keeps this version of Space Invaders from being boring. There's so much to do with this simple game concept on the 2600 that it doesn't get old quick.


Well...that's my top 10 favorite 2600 games so far. I hope you have enjoyed seeing what games I find my favorites on the 2600. I look forward to comments as always and will be doing more top favorites across other consoles soon.


Recommended Comments

Hi Greenween,


I have those games.  They are a lot of fun.  However, while not a bad port, my favorite Vanguard port is on the 5200.  Enduro is a great racing game on the 2600 and my only wish was that it was ported over to other game systems of the time.  I think it would have done well on other systems like the Atari 8-bits and 5200 consoles.

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