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Venture for Atari 7800 - The Review


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Some say the strength of the 7800s library is in its strong conversions of early arcade classics.  Games like Ms Pac Man, Food Fight, and Asteroids we're considered the best ports of their time, and some even prefer them to this day.  Others refer to the fantastical and crazy later releases like Ninja Golf, Basketbrawl, or Midnight Mutants being the true highlights of the library. But the truth may live somewhere in the middle, and there you'll find Venture for the 7800.

Venture is the latest release from Peter Meyer and Video61, and I believe it to be their best yet. I went back and played the 2600 version as I waited for my game to come in the mail, and I took notes of what I would like to see improvement on. Of course their was graphics and sound, but I also felt that the player was too slow and ill equiped to meet the games challenge. I also wanted to see more variety in gameplay by using additional rooms or modes. But I could understand if adhering exclusively to the arcades visions was the intent. So how did they do?

Graphically I feel that they did a fantastic job, with a slight caveat.  It may sound silly but the title card and the options menu looks really good!  There's something about it that conveys quality to my eyes. After you make your selections your shown what is essentially the interlude screen that plays before and after each map and lost life. Our hero Winky (yes that's his name) and usually a hallway monster run across the bottom of the screen with the treasure both collected and yet to be presented above. This all looks great. 

And the rooms themselves look great with an improved Winky sprite from the 2600 version, with bow equiped and all. The monsters are varied and easily identifiable. Everything looks great but I want to bring up the map screen. Here the rooms you have yet to enter have clearly marked doorways and are outlined. Rooms you've conquered turn solid, which is nice, and the hallway monsters look good. But Winky is represented with a dot. Simple but effective to me, but I could see some wondering why a smaller smiling face wasn't used here. Again, this is a small nit-pick but I thought I'd mention it. 

The sound rests solely on the back of the TIA chip and they did well with it. I like all the music and tunes that play. I also like the sound effects but a few have the tendency to play in fast repetition and I'm sure some people wont enjoy that as much. It becomes a little annoying after a while when hearing it play over ad over, but in my opinion it's really not that bad. But repeating sound effects aside, I really appreciate the music.  I have to say it feels great to nab a treasure and barely escape a room with that familiar tune playing you out, like you Indiana Jones or something. 

In my opinion, gameplay is where the biggest improvement over the 2600 version needed to be, and they mostly nailed it.  You have 3 difficulty options before you start, and 2 control options of how you shoot. You can either move freely and shoot wherever you happen to be facing, or you can lock the direction your facing by holding down the shoot button and then spin freely when you release the button. Both methods work fine and it should just come down to your preference. I prefer the free move and shoot where you happen to be looking mode myself. 

You can also choose between arcade mode that includes the 3 maps and 12 rooms I expected, the XL XE challenger mode with 4 maps and 16 rooms, or the exclusive 7800 challenger mode with 5 maps and 20 rooms!  I would recommend the 7800 option myself, as there is enough variety that even playing deep into the game and at high level loops it still feels fresh. But the XL XE map is by far my favorite, and the new 7800 map pales in comparison. That's not to say it's bad, but the bar was set very high with the XL XE map.  

Winky's movement is responsive and shooting works great. Sometimes shooting at angles resulted in situations where I felt I should've got a hit or a bullet was blocked that I didn't think should've been, but never to the point where I felt frustrated or wanted to call bullshit. The gameplay is solid and there is a good challenge in each room, with each having their own identity. In later loops of the game, the maps have more enemies and traps added, and the hazards move quicker. It results in a solid and fair challenge...most of the time. 

I do have to say that I did get frustrated and have to call bullshit when I enter a room just to have a monster spawn almost on top of me. That I didn't like. It seemed to happen the most in he Vampire room of the new 7800 map, And I didn't like it.  But that's really my only gameplay complaint. And it didn't happen all the time.  That aside, I feel that you get a lot of game in this package and it plays great!

So the 7800 version of Venture made all the improvements I wanted to see from the 2600 version. Graphics and sound?  Check. Faster and better gameplay?  Check. More maps and rooms to add to the replayability?  Check. I see this as an easy recommendation, and Peter and Video61 should be proud of Venture. It retails for 39.99 and I think it's well worth the asking price. Great job guys!

Graphics 7/10

Sound 6/10

Gameplay 8/10

Value 9/10

Overall 8/10 Great!

Pros

Lots of options, excellent gameplay, great music and tunes, lots of variety with 5 maps and 20 rooms!

Cons

Fast repetition of sound effects can be annoying, occasionally a monster will spawn nearly on top of you in a room

Final thought: A fantastic version of Venture for the 7800. If you liked other versions of Venture, arcade games, or action adventure games than this should be in your collection!

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To anybody interested in a different opinion, cousin Vinnie vineyard has posted his review of venture over at 7800 forever.  He has a different view of the game so make sure you check it out, it may line up with your sensibility more than mine does. And John Hancock has apparently posted a video about venture. I'll try to post links later as I'm still brewing my coffee lol. 

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It's great that you've added the various versions on this cart, with the enhanced 7800 version.

This should be how all 8-bit micro/5200 ports to the 7800 should be handled.

I'd love to see ATARI XP doing something similar with Blue Max.

Have a 5200 original version, a 5200 version with enhanced 7800 graphics and sound, and an 'ultimate' 7800 version that expands on the original game, and takes advantage of the 7800's superior sprite-capabilities for a more challenging version of the game.

Venture is quality and I hope we'll see many more 7800 games in the future.

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I would love to see Atari XP release Black Ice/White Noise (BI/WN) as a finished game for the Jaguar or the new VCS. Preferably, I would love to see it for the Jaguar CD, if B.J. West will allow it (he is the owner of the intellectual property that is BI/WN). This time, it could have the Nine Inch Nails soundtrack that would have been in the game. It was going to be epic for 1996. Maybe, it still can be. Maybe, it can be updated. Just a thought. :O)

But, anyway, that's a deviation from this topic. I wouldn't mind seeing more classic titles being resurrected for the older systems by Atari XP as well. It would be glorious.

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12 hours ago, DegasElite said:

I would love to see Atari XP release Black Ice/White Noise (BI/WN) as a finished game for the Jaguar or the new VCS. Preferably, I would love to see it for the Jaguar CD, if B.J. West will allow it (he is the owner of the intellectual property that is BI/WN). This time, it could have the Nine Inch Nails soundtrack that would have been in the game. It was going to be epic for 1996. Maybe, it still can be. Maybe, it can be updated. Just a thought. :O)

But, anyway, that's a deviation from this topic. I wouldn't mind seeing more classic titles being resurrected for the older systems by Atari XP as well. It would be glorious.

Is there any way of getting a message to him.

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Has the Atari XP games released yet?  I preordered all three but I switched jobs early February and pulled the cash back out since I was super excited for Yars Return, Sabatuer or Aquaventure. I mean it's cool their putting stuff out but I didn't have a choice at the time. 

Is there any other Atari XP stuff being rumored?

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I just wanted to state that even though my review on Atari 7800 Forever seems a little harsh, it's really just making fun of the main character's dumb looking sprite. It scored a 3.5/5.0, which is a good score. I played the arcade version of Venture for this review as much as I could stomach and it sucks in comparison to this 7800 version. If you like Venture... this is the best version ever made. 

 

Edited by Funkmaster V
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5 hours ago, Funkmaster V said:

I just wanted to state that even though my review on Atari 7800 Forever seems a little harsh, it's really just making fun of the main character's dumb looking sprite. It scored a 3.5/5.0, which is a good score. I played the arcade version of Venture for this review as much as I could stomach and it sucks in comparison to this 7800 version. If you like Venture... this is the best version ever made. 

 

hi funkmaster,

i am working on even more coolness for another future venture release.

 

lance

www.atarisales.com

 

 

VIDEO 61 & ATARI SALES
www.atarisales.com
22735 Congo St. NE, Stacy, MN 55079
651-462-2500

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