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  1. 2 points
    kamakazi20012

    It's a SMURFING Day

    The SMURFS. Arguably one of the most popular cartoon icons of the 1980's. These little blue people took America, if not the world, by storm literally overnight. Once the cartoon aired it wasn't long before stores started loading down their shelves with everything from lunch boxes, vinyl records, figurines, dinnerware, posters, and many other items too numerous to mention. Seriously, anything you could think of to put SMURFS on was available. The Saturday morning cartoon series ran a full 9 seasons (1981-1989) containing 256 episodes. I loved the SMURFS. Even Atari couldn't keep me from watching my favorite Saturday morning cartoon show. The Atari was on from about 6 until the SMURFS came on which was usually about 9. The first shows aired for about 30 minutes in my area. After the SMURFS I usually tried to watch Saturday Supercade on another channel if it was coming in good. If not then back on went the Atari. I would pick up SMURF items during the show's run. I had lots of figurines but never could find a Papa Smurf. I had three of the full-length LP vinyl albums and enjoyed them. Some songs I still remember by heart. "10...9...8...7...5...4..." "Hey! You forgot 6!" "What?" "You forgot 6." The the sounds of a rocket ship would take off followed by a pop-rock style beat and music. Yea, you just never forget some things from childhood. The one thing I was blind to was the SMURF games that came out for the Atari 2600. This was due to my owning an Atari 5200 which did not get any games made by Coleco, Mattel, and most other 3rd party software developers that graced the almighty 2600. I recently acquired a SMURF game for the 2600 titled SMURF RESCUE IN GARGAMEL'S CASTLE. SMURFS? On the 2600? I have to admit my first thought was, "Oh dear. Those poor SMURFS. Even they were not immune to the 2600." Knowing how the 2600 really was not suppose to be capable of decent graphics I only imagined what the game would look like. I cringed to think about how it would play. But I loved the SMURFS so I took a chance on it. Would I see Gargamel? What about Azrael? What was the point of the game? Was I going to run for my life or was I suppose to try to get something back from Gargamel? These questions all popped up in my head because I only had the cartridge. I didn't have the instructions to read that might have gave some insight to what I was suppose to be doing. On goes the game and I immediately hear that famous "La la lala la la" theme the SMURFS would always sing. And it wasn't that bad. Then I start playing the game. Make it to the next screen and ... couldn't figure out how to jump over that first fence for nothing. I lost all five lives in about 5 seconds...or so it seems. It might have been longer than that. I wasn't counting. I try another round. Found the jump button! You push UP on the joystick. And if you time it right you can get a double jump that is significantly higher than before. I try the double jump and VIOLA! I'm over the fence. Next screen...a river. No problem. Double jump over that no problem. Next screen. Oooo...a spider! I try just walking down the hole and die. OK. Walking in the hole doesn't work so I tried jumping in it. Success! Pass the spider, jump up the other side and on to the next screen. Another river. I mistimed my jump and ended up taking a bath. Another life lost. I managed to get over it the second time. Next screen. Gargamel's castle. In the top right corner is Smurfette and now it all becomes clear. I'm to strategically work my way through screens, each with its own challenges, to try to reach Gargamel's castle before Smurfette becomes Smurf Stew. The more I played the game the more I became hooked on it. The game is very colorful and the characters actually look decent. The controls take a bit getting use to but that's commonplace for 2600 games. What is a rarity with most 2600 games is in-game music that plays in the background while there is action going onscreen. Only a few games did that including Pitfall II and Moon Patrol, the latter of which did not do it very well but tried. SMURFS on the other hand managed to get background music and sound effects without either one cancelling each other out. It's like there is a second sound chip in the cartridge somewhere. There probably is truth be told. What is even more interesting is how well Coleco captured one of the most on-going story lines in the cartoon series. Gargamel, an evil wizard whose schemes almost always never worked, would manage to capture a few SMURFS to try to eat. Eww. It was never clear why the two never got along and I remember a few episodes where the SMURFS actually helped Gargamel and his evil cat Azrael a time or two. By the end of some of the episodes where SMURFS were about to be Smurf Stew the SMURFS captured where always rescued and Gargamel kindly cursing his loss or blaming his cat for them getting away. And that's the plot of the game. To save Smurfette which, surprisingly, was originally Gargamel's creation to lead the SMURFS to Gargamel's castle. For what it's worth SMURF RESCUE IN GARGAMEL'S CASTLE is probably the first true hidden gem I've come across on the 2600. It's not what you would think. This game is more like the ancestor to the Super Mario Brothers games. It's easily the first, if not the only, side scrolling style platformer for the 2600. Putting it down is hard to do and as you progress the harder the game gets but speeding things up. You will soon be trying to figure out how to jump a fence and avoid a pesky hawk, avoid snakes and rivers, and much more. No, it doesn't scroll but it fits better in that category of gaming than any other as far as I'm concerned. My original thought on the game before I even played it was quickly laid to rest as soon as I started playing. I understand that this is considered one of the more rare games on the 2600 but should one be found in the wild don't hesitate to pick it up or might miss one of the best games Coleco put out on the 2600. If Donkey Kong on the 2600 is considered their worst then SMURF on the 2600 should be considered their best work. Period. Don't miss it if you find it and if you have it play it more often. Below is a video of me playing the game the first time after I learned the controls. This should showcase all it has to offer and why I feel it is a 2600 hidden gem. Enjoy the video and I hope you enjoyed this post. And have a SMURFING Day!
  2. 1 point
    kamakazi20012

    Diggin' With Dig Dug

    Grab that joystick, mash that button as we go on a journey digging underground to collect vegetables, pump up Pookas, and dropping rocks on Fygars. This is Dig Dug -- the strategic underground arcade digging game that took the video game industry by storm in the early 1980's. Released by Namco in Japan, the game was brought to America and Europe by Atari's arcade division. It wouldn't be long after that when Atari's console division made home versions of the game for the Atari 2600, 5200, and 7800 consoles. All three versions capture the essence of the game but which one stands out the most? That is the purpose of this writing. I sat down over the weekend and played all three versions of the game to answer my own question of which one was the better Dig Dug. Fans of the game and Atari consoles might have a personal favorite because it was probably the one they played growing up. I get it, I know that way of thinking very well as I, too, grew up on Atari's Dig Dug for my first Atari console. But I went in to this being completely biased and taking mental notes on what I liked and didn't like about each version on an individual basis. I also kept mental notes on which one I was playing the most. This one is more for my own personal satisfaction. It is in no way saying which one is better for everyone, everywhere. The answer I came up with may surprise you. But it would be foolish to give the answer away first thing and make for a very short blog post. So I will start off with the version I grew up with first. The 5200's Dig Dug is the version I grew up with. I spent many hours on this game without reading the instructions of course. Then again I'm sure those of us who had an Atari did a similar thing...in goes the cartridge, in the trash went everything else including instructions. If only I had read those instructions but more on that later. The 5200 version gets points for looking more like the arcade with the exception of the single-colored sprites or characters. Everything else looks good. The game play is definitely here and the sound effects that make Dig Dug enjoyable are also present and done very well. Having grown up with the 5200 allowed me to gain an appreciation for the system so the controller was nothing new to me. The controls worked fine, no issues. However I could easily understand how this game would be a flop if and when a controller decides to stop working properly. The 5200 was marketed as an at-home arcade system and its ports of the then-popular arcade hits were nothing short of a miracle and Dig Dug still holds up well on this console. On a more personal note I think the game would have been a bit better with multicolored characters. At least Fygar looks like a dragon. I just wish that the Pookas had their iconic yellow masks. Now...on to the next version I played. Dig Dug on the 7800 gets points for the much improved graphics...and the characters finally look like their arcade cousins. The game play is smooth, graphics are good, sounds are OK, and the controls works. The only thing about this Dig Dug I don't like has nothing to do with the game but more with the controller. The 7800's original controller is so uncomfortable that playing this game for any kind of enduring high score run is almost impossible. This is easily eliminated by using a Europad controller or even the standard 2600 style controller. Using any kind of controller besides that 7800 controller would be a blessing in disguise. However, to stay true to my original concept of trying Dig Dug using all original hardware I hung in there. I found myself playing this one a few times before reaching the point my hands simply couldn't take it any more. I had fun with this version and the 7800's Dig Dug can be fun. It's a real shame that this was not released when it was ready and when it would have mattered. What I did notice was how quick the game was unforgiving. It didn't take long for three or four monsters to turn into ghosts and come after me. Usually within the first and second rounds. I simply couldn't do as good on the 7800 version as I could on the 5200 version on the default settings. And we have now reached the final version of Dig Dug I tried. Dig Dug on the 2600 was one I remember playing after years of owning the 5200 Dig Dug. At first glance the game doesn't look as good as its 5200 and 7800 siblings. The characters look OK, the controls are good, the sounds are as good as they can be (which the 7800 has the exact same sounds), it's just the dirt, or what is suppose to be dirt, is just thin solid bars. There is a little bit of flicker which is understandable considering the hardware and memory limitations. But the game play is what is all about when the 2600 is in the spotlight. To my surprise the 2600 Dig Dug holds its own. And considering the large amount of various controller styles for the 2600 I can see how anyone could sit and do a decent high score run on this system with very little to no fatigue. I have to say what impresses me the most about this version is how colorful it seems over the others. Bright, solid, vibrant colors that are easy to look at. They don't appear dull, dark or dingy like the 5200 and 7800 versions can sometimes appear. It's just an overall fun experience. Now, to the section that was hard for me to decide...which one ranks above the others. The 5200 I am sentimentally partial to so that would normally rank it above all others. If it was the only Atari Dig Dug I had I would be satisfied with it. It does play well for what it's worth. The 7800 version looks remarkably better but I do wish they would have done different sounds instead of just copying those from the 2600 version. And if I was stuck with the original 7800 controllers there's no way my hands could tolerate lengthy amount of game play. I'd have to use a different controller. The 7800 controllers are just not balanced well. With that being said... ...the 2600 version wins this round. I have to be honest here because the 2600 took a really long time to capture my heart. It was very much ignored, overlooked, frowned upon during its production run and even years after. Trying to be biased for this game on the 2600 was not easy for me to do. When I played it before I wasn't sure why I was playing it or if I even wanted to play it. Over the last few years I have slowly discovered all the games I missed that ended up being a lot of fun. And that's what the 2600 was about...fun. It wasn't about the graphics or sounds...it was all about the game play. And Atari nailed it on the 2600 version of Dig Dug. It's colorful and after a while the appearance of the dirt just starts to blend in. It's a formula that just works, pure and simple. To my surprise I found myself playing Dig Dug on the 2600 more often than on the 5200 and 7800 systems. The 2600 keeps proving to me time and time again what its true nature is. It's a game machine where it is not always about how the game looks but how the game is played. And Dig Dug on the 2600 plays very well. And it would be easy to do a long running high score attempt on it without worrying about fatigue or sore hands. The 2600 has a lot of character for a simple machine and Dig Dug fits in very well into its library of arcade ports. Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to return to my 2600 to play some more Dig Dug. Oh...I almost forgot! Getting back to those instructions. It wasn't until I recently picked up a new copy of Dig Dug for the 2600 where I learned how to get those vegetables to show up. All I had to do was drop two rocks. I sat down to read the instructions and that's when I discovered it. I've had Dig Dug, buying it new in box as well, for the 5200 for at least ten years now and I've never read the instructions or I would have known that tip a lot sooner. OK...back to more Dig Dug. Have Fun!!
  3. 1 point
    Welcome to the second "annex" entry of the Gaming Notebook. In this entry, I'll discuss the PenguiNet game Rikki & Vikki for the Atari 7800. Rikki & Vikki was a surprise release on Steam (12/2018) and the 7800 in February 2019 from PenguiNet. Some of you may be familiar with PenguiNet for their amazing work on Zaku for the Lynx; arguably one of the best original titles on the platform. Zaku really pushed the Lynx and stands as a tremendously fun, graphically stunning and amazing sounding game. For Rikki & Vikki, PenguiNet continues in that tradition, delivering an original gaming experience on a classic console that largely exceeds Atari published efforts in key areas of gameplay, graphics and sound. Make no mistake - this is not a homebrew. This is a professionally developed game with a high level of production value and a stellar physical product. Now for some impressions & observations! Gameplay: Rikki & Vikki is a sort of puzzle platformer. The goal of the game is to save your two children - Mary & Sam - from Misery the Inconvenient. Misery has kidnapped your children and taken them to the six cavern Miseryland Themepark - "a downward spiral of inconvenience." On each level, use Rikki or Vikki to collect all of the keys within the time allotted to progress to the next level. Collecting keys isn't always easy. You have to move cubes, navigate enemies, spikes and other hazards to get to the keys. Some puzzles are more obvious than others and don't be surprised if you run out of time before solving a puzzle. Rikki & Vikki requires a 7800 compatible controller with independent fire buttons. This means that you can't use a standard 2600 controller or a Genesis gamepad for the game. The left button is used to "interact" with the cubes and the right button is used to jump. When you grab a cube you can throw it at an enemy or stick it to the floor or wall in order to gain access to an otherwise unreachable area of the play field. Falling into a void will cause you to re-emerge from the top - this is sometimes necessary to solve a puzzle. Each area of the Park - called "caverns" - consists of several levels and culminates in a boss battle. Gameplay modes come in three flavors: co-op with Rikki & Vikki, solo Rikki, and solo Vikki. I have not yet played co-op mode and from what I can tell, the solo experiences are the same whether playing as Rikki or Vikki. This is a hard game. You will die. You will run out of time. You will make stupid mistakes. You will get stuck. While you can continue, doing so forces a restart at the beginning of the cavern. Fortunately, after a few continues, a character named "Dut", a large penguin and "salesman" of you unlimited continues in exchange for your points. You will no longer get points in game - so no high score - but you will get to keep problem solving. This makes it a little less arduous to develop your skills and improve your puzzle solving strategies. Graphics: Rikki & Vikki boast what are possibly the best graphics on the 7800. The character animations, level-design, character and enemy sprites all look amazing. Add to that, the game runs in the 7800's 320 mode - a higher resolution mode that few games have taken advantage of. I struggle to think of a single game published for the 7800 that looks better. It looks first-party NES/SMS good folks. The animations are not just good, they're thoughtful and add depth to the game. The levels look great with coherent themes throughout. Its clear the people at PenguiNet are getting all they can out of the 7800. Sound: Like the graphics, PenguiNet went all in with the sound here. Apparently, they developed a custom chip for sound that allowed for NES level music. The TIA is still there and - at least on my 7800 - the harsh crashes are a bit louder than the music. However, that's my LHE mod and not the game. The music here is absolutely fantastic. Packaging: The packaging on this game is beautiful folks. Everything from the cart, to the box to the manual screams professional. The game comes on a custom transparent orange cart shell with a wrap around full color label. It fit my 7800 perfectly. The box is likewise full color and is in the same size and style as original run 7800 games - just missing "Atari." The instructions are full color and come as a "Miser Land Official Tour Guide" fold out with gameplay and character info. The package even comes with a warranty card, two passes to Misery Land and a PenguiNet sticker. Top notch all the way! Final Thoughts: This is 7800 gaming at its best. It has game design, graphics, sound and amazing packaging. If you own a 7800, I urge you to support the developer and grab a copy today. For $59.99 plus shipping, the package is well worth the price of entry. Even if you don't own a 7800 or don't have the $$, the game is also available on Steam for $9.99. For that price, you could hardly find a more fun and complete game play experience. Have you played Rikki & Vikki? What are your thoughts on the game? How does it stack up to other games on the 7800? PenguiNet Rikki & Vikki Trailer:
  4. 1 point
    kamakazi20012

    Small Size, Big Heart

    What to write about? I know I want to write about the 2600 but I just don't know where to begin. Do I talk more about the iconic woody console or the Junior model? I don't have much to say about controllers because it's either paddle, driving, keypad, or more joystick designs than anyone could fathom. Games? Do I talk more about games that I have managed to pick up since my last post? I might have to think on this a bit more. While I'm thinking... As I sit here writing this there is a 2600 Junior model sitting in front of me. Recently acquired in unknown condition I spent the better part of a day taking it apart all the way down to the motherboard and gave it a good cleaning. Wondering why I couldn't get bubbles off the chrome strip I finally discovered that the protective covering had never been taken off. Nice surprise. So I removed it. I couldn't let all that moisture remain trapped and ruining that beautiful chrome strip. It still has some color issues I have to work out but is functional otherwise. Since I'm here, and more Atari games have been added to my collection, I'll do a bit of an updated version of my favorite cartridges. Keep in mind these are personal favorites solely based on two factors...they are favorites and played the most. Let's get started. Favorite Black Label Carts I have two black label favorites. Video Chess and Yar's Revenge. Yar's Revenge was a 2600 title I could have seen as a Saturday Morning cartoon show. It wasn't until a recent Squad Challenge that the true nature of this game proved to me just how challenging Yar's could really be. Because of that, and the few years I've been biased about the 2600 in general, that this game moved up the ranks as a favorite and played often. It's arcade-style game play is rock solid and sure to give the joystick a workout. Video Chess is my go-to black label game when I want to play a relaxing game. I still haven't managed to beat the computer but I enjoy playing Chess and don't really have a human opponent to go up against. I'm not a pro at the game but I enjoy this classic strategy game. I have never found a perfect computerized Chess game either and the 2600 is not without its own flaws. However the 2600 is a very strong opponent no matter which skill level you attempt at trying to win. And it will always plan its next moves carefully but at times it seems as if its first few moves are preset. Still fun, though. Favorite Silver Label Cart One of my favorite games on the 5200 is Vanguard so it shouldn't be no surprise that the 2600 port of Vanguard became a favorite. I love the artwork on the label and surprised that it isn't the same one that was used on the 5200 as was often done. Compared to the 5200 port Vanguard on the 2600 seems a bit more challenging and a bit more unforgiving. One mistake can mean sudden death. I also believe this is the only 2600 game I have that has a continue feature. It's also the only one where the player can move diagonally while firing because you can't do that in the 5200 port. Graphics in this game are absolutely stunning and the sounds are not much different from the 5200. I do miss the music that plays during some of the vertical scrolling segments. I also miss the Striped Zone that is absent in the 2600 port. And I have yet to destroy the end boss before it takes me down. Believe it or not, I never knew this was an arcade game for the longest time until I discovered an actual cab during the NES days. Very well made 2600 port with very little to no flicker issues. My favorite shoot'em up on the 2600. Favorite Adventure Cart For most other 2600 gamers Adventure might be their favorite adventure-style game but for me Dark Chambers has slightly taken an edge above Adventure. I enjoy having to figure out the levels to find items and exits that are often hidden. I also enjoy having to go through the level screens to figure out how to reach those items. For this reason this game gets more play time than Adventure in my library. I personally think it is even slightly better than the 7800 version. That one looks better but, as NSG has mentioned, if only it would have taken the game play concept of hidden items to find the 7800 version might have been the better game. But, alas, the 2600 once again shows just how well it can capture a gamer's attention and hold it when properly developed for. And Dark Chambers is one of those games. I've not been able to spend as much time with it as I would like to fully enjoy it but what little I have played of it I keep finding myself spending more time in every level trying to find items than what is probably required. Seriously, I've spent about 15 minutes in some levels. Favorite Pinball Cart Again, it should be no surprise that Midnight Magic makes for one of my most played 2600 games. I like Video Pinball but at times you just sit there waiting to do something. Midnight Magic manages to capture some of the pure essence that makes pinball tables fun. There are targets, bumpers, a spinner, kickbacks, dual flippers, rollover targets...this game has the basics that are perfectly placed and captures what made some of the early pinball tables memorable. Knock down all the targets at the top and the game goes into double points. The table also changes color and plays a short tune. Knocking down targets again advances the multiplier all the way up to five times the points obtained. Lose your ball, however, and it's back to single points again. Do it right and the player can obtain extra balls. Lose all five balls and the game is over. Easy to pick up and play, no flickering, and it looks good. I'm also a little partial to this game because when I got my very first paycheck the NES and Sega Genesis were on the market. Instead of buying anything for either of those I picked up a new 2600 Junior, Jr. Pac-Man, and this game. All for about $50. I played Midnight Magic the most. Favorite Arcade Cart The 2600 got lots of arcade ports. While the limitations of the system kept most ports from looking like their arcade parents the game play managed to remain intact. Two arcade ports stand out in my collection. Space Invaders and Gyruss. Space Invaders was the very first Atari game I remember playing many moons ago on a store display. Dangling from a chain I put the game in and quit playing only when it was time to leave. This game was the one that introduced me to Atari, the VCS, and the only reason why I kept hoping for one. Gyruss, on the other hand, was a game I remember playing in arcades and enjoyed it immediately. I must have been sleeping when Parker Bros. ported this game over to various consoles. Being fairly new to my collection Gyruss on the 2600 has quickly become a favorite. It might not be graphically impressive but the game play is there and the music that constantly plays in the arcade was put in the 2600 port in all of it's 2-channel glory. And it's really not all that bad. Missing are the sound effects because the music constantly playing doesn't leave room for any sound effects. A valiant effort that is a very worthwhile cart to play. One of my favorite arcade games and one of my now favorite 2600 games. Space Invaders and Gyruss. What more could one ask for? Favorite Dot Munching Cart Mouse Trap is an easy to pick-up and play dot munching game where the player controls a mouse. The object is to eat all the dots in the maze of which I'm not entirely certain what they are suppose to be. In each of the four corners of the maze are X's that change the player into a dog temporarily when the fire button is pressed. This helps keep the cats chasing the mouse at bay. A unique feature of this game is the ability to change the maze by opening and closing doors. Doing this can help block cats from catching the mouse. Originally released on the 2600 by Coleco of ColecoVision fame the cart I has is the re-release Atari did with a red label. Still an easy game to pick up and play today. This one and Jr Pac-Man get lots of attention but I find myself coming back to this one more often. Favorite 3rd-Party Carts Fast Eddie and Planet Patrol are great 3rd-party 2600 games. I'm sure there are others but I have to base this post on games I have in my collection. Something about Fast Eddie is addictive. The ladders are vary in position with each game played, enemy characters are basic but challenging, and the only real thing the player has to do is collect things like hearts, tanks, fish, etc., to grab a key being guarded by the enemy at the top. It's a bit of Popeye (the collecting hearts part) mashed up with Lode Runner in a easier format. Very colorful game that is fun for hours on end. Planet Patrol is another shoot 'em up on the 2600. The only real difference is the changing of day to night, destroying enemies and reactors/power plants, and scrolling from right to left over left to right or vertically. A bit unusual. What makes this so appealing to me are the small details of this game. Easy to pick up and play, takes a while to master. I also love the chrome label, something rarely seen. It's very attractive and I could see how eye appealing that package would have been sitting next to other games, fighting to be taken home. It does that now in a large library of 2600 carts. Favorite Activision Cart It's almost unlawful to mention the 2600 without thinking immediately about the first 3rd-party game developer known as Activision. Activision literally pushed the 2600 as hard as they could and, in the end, it paid off. Almost every title they released for the 2600 was an instant classic. While I enjoy all Activision games in my collection the two that I go to the most are Enduro and Space Shuttle. Enduro took me completely by surprise in 1988 when I picked up a used 2600 with a bunch of games. This cart was one of the games included and when I first plugged it in I expected it to be a Pole Position rip-off. The next thing I know I had been playing it for over an hour and forced myself to stop when it was time for dinner. I was in 8th grade then. Enduro left such an impression that I would have an agonizing 24 hour wait time to return home to play it again. To help with that I woke up an hour early to get a game in before having to get ready for school. Space Invaders game me a reason to want an Atari, Enduro gave me a reason to hang on to one. Enough said. Space Shuttle. Gee, where do I begin with this one? You're a NASA astronaut and your mission is to dock with a satellite in space currently orbiting the Earth. Sounds simple, right? Then you give it a shot and wonder why in God's name you can't seem to leave the planet without killing you and your crew members. Then you grab the manual for some pointers. It is at this precise moment you realize what you have plugged into your 2600. This isn't a game...this is a simulator. The author wanted to capture as much as he could about space flight that he literally went to NASA and participated in learning everything the astronauts have to do and even used NASA's flight simulators used for training. I would have to say that his efforts paid off in probably the only simulation game made on the 2600. The amount of detail in unreal. Every switch on the 2600 does something to the space shuttle. There's a switch for running gear, brakes, deploying parachute when landing...let's see what else?...one to turn on ignition I think...it's unreal! The instructions alone are like a shortened step into NASA's school. The manual is thick and can take a lot of time alone to absorb. But it is also probably the most expensive instruction book made for any 2600 game ever. Full color, exploded views of an actual space shuttle, step-by-step instructions on what you are suppose to do. And it's on the 2600 to boot. I'm not very good at it but I keep finding myself coming back to this simulator because its visuals and sounds are absolutely amazing to me. I consider this one of Activision's, and Steve's, holy grail. If only today's games went this far. I believe there was only one other game to do something similar but it was at least a decade after Space Shuttle. For those that wanted to be astronauts but never did...here's your chance. This is as close as it gets. Favorite Paddle Game The 2600 had plenty of games but it also had plenty of controller options. I don't know how many times I would play a 2600 game without paying attention only to realize I needed paddle controllers. For the longest time I felt the paddle controllers for the 2600 could have been better. Once I found Warlords, however, that thought quickly changed. It didn't take me long to realize just how comfortable those paddle controllers actually are. And after hours of playing Warlords the design of the paddle controllers made sense. What makes playing Warlords for hours on end a must on the 2600 is the fact it's a mix of Pong and Breakout put together and then shaken up with steroids in the mix. The 2600 might not be graphically impressive but when it comes to game play it can strut its stuff like no other. Warlords offers four-player game play either solo against three computer players or with a group humans be it they are friends or enemies. And once the action starts it's hard to put down. All you have to do is break down your opponents' barrier to their castle to hit the center of their castle with the ball. That's it. Yea...good luck with that. Favorite Red Label Cart Since I did my favorite black and silver label carts I might as well tell my favorite red label cart. I kept wanting to put Solaris on this list but that game makes me rage quit so much that it could take me weeks to return to it. Radar Lock on the other hand is a well done game, by the same author, using most of the same mechanics found in Solaris. This is easily the 2600's answer to those needing an After Burner fix. It looks good, sounds good, uses dual joysticks (one stick is used to select weapons), plays good, and is just all around fun for hours on end. This on is probably one of the more rare red-label carts out there so if you find it I would suggest picking it up. Favorite Non-Game Cart One cart in my collection that is not a game at all is Basic Programming. The 2600 is interesting not only from a gaming point-of-view but also from a technical perspective. It's hard to believe a game console designed to do strictly tank and pong games showed that it could do so much more, often times surpassing what it was originally designed for. For the curious this cart would allow anyone with the enthusiasm and patients to write small programs for the 2600 to perform. While it doesn't unlock the full potential of the 2600's inner workings it does give a taste of what it's like to program the 2600. However, with the memory limitation, don't expect to write the next Adventure game as there simply isn't room. Also, once turned off any programs you've written are erased. Pencil and pad are your best friend. I use this one often just to toy around with the system. Kind of neat to see what can be done with it. Final Thoughts The 2600, no matter which model you own, has always been a small system with a big heart. Even the almighty six switch models are not that large. When taken down to just the heart of the system only a small footprint remains. Big things do sometimes come in small packages and the 2600 has proven time and time again that it is very capable of entertaining for hours on end. I still run across games that are just unbelievable in terms of what the developers managed to pull off. Again, here is a console designed for simple Pong and Tank style games. It was never designed to play Space Invaders, Galaxian, Gyruss, Pitfall!, or anything close to Space Shuttle...but it did those things and did them pretty well. Truthfully, the video game genres we have today have their roots dating back to the 2600. This is the console that started it all and it is still showing it can stand its ground against modern gaming hardware. And that, my friends, is no small achievement.
  5. 1 point
    I love taking something old and giving it new life. That said when it is a creation from someone else past it can be a bit touchy. Anxiety on red alert. This kit was someones work of art, their creative outlet in the time in witch it was created. No matter, some things need to be restored and given new life. I am more than happy to do so. In fact it's an honor. Someone its giving you something VER PERSONAL regardless if they feel so or not. Regardless of the extent I do or do not put my spin on a restoration I try to retain something, even a small part of what was there to start with. Thanks to @btbfilms76 for entrusting me with small slices of your childhood, even if you do not take it as serious as I do.
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