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Hidden Gems on the 2600


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Do you have any favorite hidden gems on the 2600?

Favorite games that may have been overlooked due to their rarity, obscurity, release date or for other reasons?

Here's my current top ten hidden gems on the system. Feel free to share your favorite hidden gems below!


The No Swear Gamer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChtJuo040EOCTVziObIgVcg

Host of The Atari 7800 Game by Game Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube

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What a great idea for a video.  Your choices are solid.


I'd add:

  • Most any of the M-Network games.  Especially Astroblast, which is even better than the intellivision Astrosmash.  M-Network games don't have any flicker.  They play great, and are a lot of fun.
  • Star Voyager.  There were 4 first person space shooters for the 2600 that all came out about the same time.  This one is the most fun, yet seems to be overlooked by most (Star Raiders and Starmaster seem to get the most attention).
  • Supercharger Frogger - this one is so dang impressive.  Most people have never tried it.
  • Indy 500.  It came with special controllers, which is cool enough.  So many fun variations if you have 2 players.
  • Submarine Commander - A Sears exclusive.  Very fun. 
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Let's see...have most of the games mentioned in the video.  Gravitar, Defender II, Kung-Fu Master, Popeye (although this is not favorite and least played game in my collection), and a couple of others.  Kung-Fu I agree with...it amazes me how well made that game was done on the 2600...and no flickering.


However, while I agree with some of those choices I have discovered many 2600 games that were new to me which left very good first impressions.  My choices would be based on game play alone and not their rarity.  So my list will have titles that are very common to many but left such a lasting impression that I would consider them hidden gems in my book.  Not listed in any particular order.


  1. Robot Tank -- This Battlezone clone uses many features Activision became famous for like daytime and nighttime environments, snow, rain, and fog elements, while keeping some of the game play from the game it seems based off of.  Easy to pick up and play, hard to put down.
  2. Enduro -- Out of all of the racing/driving games on the 2600 Enduro pratically set the standard for future driving games.  For which it was named, Enduro is more of a test of endurance because a single game can last a long time creating long game playing times than any other 2600 game produced.  The only two aspects against the player are time and number of cars passed.  Position has no meaning in Enduro, it's all about passing all of the predetermined number of cars before the next day starts.  I first discovered this game in 1988 with the purchase of a used system with some games.  I was blown away then and it still blows me away today with the things it does.
  3. Mountain King -- Agreeing with GRay Defender on this one, this is a neat adventure game with arcade elements mixed in.  When I played this game earlier this year for the first time I really didn't know what to do.  Watching game play and review videos I learned how to play and found the game very enjoying even when I have never been able to make it to the top with the crown on my head.  Sooo many things are against the player once the crown is on the character's head that it makes for some heart-pounding moments and frustration.  This game turned out to be more fun than I anticipated.
  4. Star Voyager (Imagic) & Starmaster (Activision) -- I'm including two games on this line because while each is unique as Star Raiders clone they are quite similar.  Both of these games are more fun than the 2600 version of Star Raiders.  I've played them a few times and had great fun.  It was a nice surprise.  Not often played out of all the 2600 games I have but they are much better than expected.
  5. Solaris -- Great space action adventure game with lots of strategy elements.  As simple as it looks the heart of Solaris is in the layout of the map and the enemies the player will encounter.  Solaris can only be experienced on the 2600 as no other game has ever tried to duplicate it.  Just be sure to bring your best controllers with you.
  6. Radar Lock -- About as close as you can get to Sega's After Burner on the 2600 and it does not disappoint.  Good luck finding it, however, as it seems to be a bit rare.
  7. Video Chess -- I love to play chess but finding another human player to play a game with me is not easy.  And the VCS plays a mean game of chess.
  8. Midnight Magic -- A more common title and easy to find, Midnight Magic blows Video Pinball out of the water.  A very well made pinball.  This one surprised me when I bought my first Junior model as a teenager.
  9. Warlords -- I enjoy the arcade, and many arcade ports, of this four-player breakout battle of kings.  However, the 2600 version has a more simplistic approach that is visually appealing while keeping the .  But it also has a single-player option for some fun time again three computer opponents as well.
  10. Dark Cavern -- Mattel tried to bring their INTV Night Stalker to the 2600.  And I've played that one.  To my surprise I find Dark Cavern a bit better.  This maze-style, gun blasting, game will keep any 2600 gamer on their toes.  It is also one of the first 2600 games I've come across where you have to be aware of your ammo situation.  You can't just go in all gung-ho with guns a blaring.  Ammo must be conserved and used sparingly. 

Those would be my hidden gems for the 2600.

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I just discovered "Seawolf" ....awesome game!!

Brian Matherne - owner/curator of "The MOST comprehensive list of Atari VCS/2600 homebrews ever compiled." http://tiny.cc/Atari2600Homebrew

author of "The Atari 2600 Homebrew Companion" book series available on Amazon! www.amazon.com/author/brianmatherne

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You've got some solid choices in that video! I couldn't agree more with the picks of Popeye, Frankenstein's Monster, and California Games.


Here are a few of my picks for hidden gems:

  • Solaris - a later release in the Atari library and boy did this push the limits on what was possible on the 2600.  
  • Moonsweeper - Imagic is commonly known for it's hits Atlantis and Demon Attack but this game seems to be forgotten at times.  I love this one!
  • BMX Airmaster - originally released by TNT (and re-released later by Atari), this game is action packed and features some solid tunes to boot
  • Tunnel Runner - Pseudo 3-D version of pac-man where you play the ghost?!  Not quite but I have an active imagination
  • Turmoil - twitch gaming at it's best 

I'm on Instagram! @AtariToday

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Lots of great choices already.  Here are some from me:


Rescue Terra I - VentureVision's sort-of prequel to Laser Gates (same programmer).

Shuttle Orbiter - Orbital mechanics and action puzzling?  Sweet!

Tapper - Solid, fun, and wholesome (Mountain Dews for everyone!)

Subterranea - I so wish this game were more readily available; it deserves far more recognition IMO.

Bump 'N' Jump - It's a bit of a memorization game at its core, but besides that there's plenty of fun to be had here.

Room of Doom - A cool action shooter, probably my favorite CommaVid game.

Montezuma's Revenge - a better action/explorer game than Pitfall II.  Yeah, I said it!  :P :D 

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Atari Today just reminded me that I had Moonsweeper.  Played it a few times but not enough to figure it out.  Fun game!


Sega made one game for the 2600 called Thunderground that I have only played through Stella.  I had great fun with that one.  The 2600 has sooo many games that it is difficult to narrow it down to just 10.  There's probably some that none of us here even know about.

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Love the video!!


Thank You!


There are sooo many great recommendations mentioned here, many of which I have yet to play.

It says a lot when after covering 136 games in depth, that there are still a whole a bunch of games I haven't even tried.

It makes me excited to see what other hidden gems pop up!

The No Swear Gamer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChtJuo040EOCTVziObIgVcg

Host of The Atari 7800 Game by Game Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube

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Atari Today mentioned Tunnel Runner, too.  That is definitely a hidden gem!


Tunnel Runner is fun game! If my list was a top 11, it would've been included :)

The No Swear Gamer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChtJuo040EOCTVziObIgVcg

Host of The Atari 7800 Game by Game Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube

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