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The Atari 2600’s “Classic” Games— are they any good?


HDN
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The Atari 2600 has a lot of classic games, like Pitfall and Space Invaders. HOWEVER, when I say classic in this context, I mean GAMES THAT WERE CLASSICS BEFORE THE VCS CAME AROUND! Mainly board and card games, but also games like Hangman qualify too. But not sports games. I couldn’t think of a better way to put this in the title, so sorry for any confusion.

In the early years of the VCS, we saw a lot of conversions of existing, traditional games. Games like Blackjack, Checkers, Chess, etc. Inexplicably, these games have always fascinated me. They’re extremely primitive and have a lot of flaws, but even in an era of modern simulations of these games I find myself going back to Casino and Video Chess a ton! Maybe it’s the charm and novelty of playing these games on one of my favorite systems, even though the game is objectively worse than a modern simulation of it is.

But I know this isn’t the same for everyone. I’d like to know what you guys think of these old takes on even older, physical games! Do you still play the creaking 2600 “ports”, or have you moved on to the greener pastures of more modern takes? What are your favorites of these “classic games”?

Have a good evening and summer, everyone.

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Good topic!

I really like "Backgammon".  I think the reason is that the controls are easy and the games are reasonably quick. 

There are two card games aren't there?  Casino and Blackjack I think.  One uses paddles?  I'm not a fan of either.  Too primitive.  The Intellivision "Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack" I like very much.  Hey, maybe this is a good idea for a homebrew for me....a remake of Casino that's more lively and good looking. 

I'm with you on Video Chess.  I like how it's got the different skill levels, so sometimes I like kicking butt on the easiest level. 

Oooh!  "Othello".  I like that one a lot.  Make sure to get the corners!

 

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I'll be honest, I was never really a board game fan. Oh, I played my share, Trouble, Monopoly, Checkers, Snakes and Ladders, various card games etc, with family mostly but honestly it was not until I started seeing pixels animated on a screen that I cared at all about games of any type. Oddly, as big as I was into Fantasy, Horror, Magic, Wizards and the like I was not even into Dungeons and Dragons, at least not the original roll the dice games, it was more like I wanted to like them, that I expected like them more then I actually did since they seemed to have all the ingredients of stuff I was into. So, I would say that, I guess, if I choose to play something like that I would opt for the "Video Game" adaptation of classic games, at least I'd still be interacting with those loving pixels at the very least. Video Checkers, Hangman and various card games were all fun enough to play for sure. Once again so, some years later we all got into Ken Houston Black Jack / Poker on Colecovision and then I guess through the years I would try various interpretations of classic board games on Gameboy, GBS, computer games etc, I was huge into EA Zany Golf on AMIGA and SidePocket Pool on NES. I think overall though, even sticking specifically with Classic VCS I was more into original titles, arcade parts and original 2600 games would be my go to before classic board type games. 

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Casino is actually my favorite Blackjack game! At least it’s the one I go back to the most often. Something about it clicks with me.

@MaximumRD that’s ok! Everyone has different interests. I think a lot of people had that opinion, because we didn’t see a lot of board games at all on the 2600 after the early days. Because, when you get down to it, what’s the point? I enjoy them, but why not just play them with other people? Other than games like Slot Machine and arguably Video Chess and Checkers, there is no reason to play the 2600 game over the real deal. But, I personally like most of these games, so there’s no wrong opinion.

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9 hours ago, HDN said:

Casino is actually my favorite Blackjack game!

Well, I trust your opinion so I'll give this game another try.  It's possible I was confusing the other game with this one. 

9 hours ago, HDN said:

Because, when you get down to it, what’s the point?

I think it's a chance to play the games against the computer when you don't have anyone else that's interested in playing the real thing. 

IMO, the Gameboy ended up being the perfect platform for these types of games. 

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16 minutes ago, RickR said:

I think it's a chance to play the games against the computer when you don't have anyone else that's interested in playing the real thing. 

IMO, the Gameboy ended up being the perfect platform for these types of games. 

☝️this -- being an only child and all my friends after 7th grade not being into video games and board games, having a computer opponent was the reason I played the video games. Having said that, I mostly dabbled with chess games. I do remember playing the video game version of Yahtzee and that was fun.

As for the 2600 versions, I haven't played any. I do find it fascinating that the 2600 can play chess and would like to check that out.

I'll have to check some out on the GameBoy as well. I recently re-acquired the OG GameBoy.

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I’ve always been interested in 2600 Backgammon. It looks like it would be fun if you knew what you were doing. However, I DON’T know what I’m doing, so I’ll have to check out the manual!

19 minutes ago, RickR said:

I've always been fascinated with how this was programmed.  I can't imagine how hard it would be to program a chess game in 2k or 4k. 

 

I don’t know how they did it, either. I think the crazy part, though, is how they even managed to make the computer think AT ALL with the 128 *bytes* of RAM the 2600 had! Even showing all the pieces on the chess board is a feat in itself!

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I never owned any of the board game adaptations or card games on any console growing up. My parents were actually heavy backgammon players and played a few games nearly each night when I was kid. But getting it for the 2600 was never a thought or blip on the scope of things. It was the same way with checkers. My friends and I would just use an actual checkers board an play. 

I own these games now but it was strictly for adding to the collection and never for actual play. 

But, in the early 90s I did own the first release of Hoyle's book of games that Sierra released and my mom especially really got into playing several games of Hearts on it nearly every night. Now, she mainly plays Mahjong games on her computer. But that is because it is so much easier to just click a few buttons to start a new tile set vs what the real deal would have required LOL.

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On 6/10/2021 at 11:57 AM, RickR said:

I've always been fascinated with how this was programmed.  I can't imagine how hard it would be to program a chess game in 2k or 4k. 

 

Me too! At the time Video Chess was released there were dedicated computers just for playing Chess.

 I had the Fidelity Chess Challenger 7 which ran a 4K program which was equally amazing.

I like the way Video Chess strobes different colors while the computer thinks and that I can play in color or black and white.

The Chess Challenger showed animated eyes in the low res red LED move display while the computer was thinking.

 

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Yes I miss the Fidelity Chess Challenger's inclusion of the Chess board with the computer.

There was another interesting board game released for the O2 with a physical game board that reminded me of Dark Tower, another board game with a computer in the center of the board like the Fidelity.

 

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1 hour ago, Mr SQL said:

Yes I miss the Fidelity Chess Challenger's inclusion of the Chess board with the computer.

There was another interesting board game released for the O2 with a physical game board that reminded me of Dark Tower, another board game with a computer in the center of the board like the Fidelity.

 

Quest for the Rings?

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12 minutes ago, Mr SQL said:

Yes that was it, I never tried it on the 02 but I loved Dark Tower. The Physical board, pieces and cards added another dimension.  

Quest for the Rings has my favorite retro box-art of all time.  The box, the board, the packaging is an A+ IMO.  But the game?  Ugh.  I'm sorry to say it's just a mess to me.  I appreciate the effort, but I think they got way over their skis on this one.

Magnavox made a total of three of these big-box board games.  All of them are highly collectible. 

7349c8fb76c1357012231e9e77262087.jpg

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3 minutes ago, HDN said:

My dad had QFTR back in the day. When we got our O2 a few months ago, he wanted to collect all the games he had as a kid. He was devastated to see the price tag on a complete Quest for the Rings, lol.

Hey, I may sell mine (as well as Conquest of the World).  If your dad is interested, make me an offer.  I'd love to see it go to someone who will enjoy it. 

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3 hours ago, RickR said:

Hey, I may sell mine (as well as Conquest of the World).  If your dad is interested, make me an offer.  I'd love to see it go to someone who will enjoy it. 

Thanks for the offer, @RickR. I talked to my dad though, and he says he’s good for now. But thanks anyways.

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This thread has made me give some of these games another go, and now I’m hooked on this blasted thing. Curse you, nasty Othello computer!

image.jpg.e4718530c357960adbbbe48e1af042a8.jpg

As for that picture, here you guys go. It’s not much but it’s something. I didn’t realize I had so few Classic games! I’d like to collect more, but I’m not sure I can justify collecting more 2600 games with an Unocart. I know many of you have said it’s fine to collect more, but I’m not sure myself. Maybe eventually, but not just yet. Anyways of these games, Video Chess is probably my favorite. Casino is great too. I’m too bad at 3DTTT and I’m not sure if I like it against the computer just yet (but it’s fun with others).

image.jpg.c932d412640c9297ad530430d0b46422.jpg

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