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Hidden gem in the Atari 7800 Library


Silver Back
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Everybody gravitates towards games like Ninja Golf because of how crazy it sounds (not to mention it's exclusive to the 7800). Or games like Food Fight because it's a solid game that can't be found on many other consoles. Or they may be nostalgic for the games they grew up with, which was most likely stuff like Ms Pac-Man, Joust, Centipede, Dig Dug and more. 

But what games do you like that don't seem to get mentioned all that much?  Or maybe they get mentioned but people seem to not give the game the respect it deserves. Let's discuss a few here, and I'll start with 2 that I really like. 

One on One Basketball has no right to feel as good as it does for being (essentially) a one button game. But I love the control in it, and when you have 2 players it can turn into a fun and competitive game. Especially in the winter months when we can't actually go out and shoot some hoops.  I think most people don't like the sports games for the 7800, but this one just may surprise you if you haven't played it lately. 

My other hidden gem is known well by collectors, but I was surprised to find out not many people care for it. And that game is Water Ski!  Froggo released utter crap and rehashed versions of games we already had for the 2600. And I do not like Tank Command at all. But I think they (most likely) accidently made something enjoyable in Water Ski. 

The controls just make sense to me, and it's extremely challenging, but not impossible. I don't think it's particularly pretty, but I do find it rewarding to learn and fun to play. But maybe it's just too frustrating for others. And given it's price, you'll probably want to emulate before you commit to a cartridge. 

So, do you agree with my choices, or should we shovel dirt on one or more of these games and keep them hidden?  Or do you have a game that you like but doesn't get mentioned much in the community?  Or mentioned for the wrong reasons?  Let me know!

Thanks guys!

 

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I got Tank Command back in the day and it wasn't until many years later that I learned just how rare it was!  I did get Water Ski years later.   It's  a hard game but it is a fun challenge.

🖖 Going to the final frontier, gaming...

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Good thing you got it early because they are asking a fortune now.  The Froggo games must've been in limited runs because they both cost a fair amount compared to the rest.  I saw an issue of the atarian that they had a few other games that they were planning or working on. I wonder if anything was known about those?

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Midnight Mutants and Alien Brigade as late releases. I've said it before, but I consider AB the best 8-bit light gun game on a home console.

Commando and Ikari Warriors are overshadowed by their NES counterparts, but I find play better on the 7800. 

Tomcat F-14 is often overlooked but has a lot of depth for an early combat flight sim game.

And Ballblazer deserves more credit in general.

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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@nosweargamer I would agree with all those choices. And I am a huge fan of 8 bit light gun games, so much so that I keep my light guns hanging over the sofa for quick access. And Alien Brigade is my favorite of them all

Midnight Mutants is probably unknown outside of us 7800 fans, and I also agree that Commando and Ikari Warriors play better on 7800. 

But Tomcat was an unexpected mention for me. I've played all the 7800 flight sims but the only ones I've invested a lot of time into so far is Ace of Aces and Super Huey Uh-IX. What makes Tomcat more enjoyable?

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I remember really liking Tomcat for the brief week or 2 that is actually worked for me. I thought the graphics were pretty impressive at the time and making sure to follow the needed steps for proper landing etc. was very Space Shuttle like as well. Sadly when it up and stopped working, I took it back and exchanged it for F-18. I honestly wasn't that disappointed because I had a lot of fun with F-18 although calling it a flight sim is really stretching it since it doesn't really seem to have or follow any actual flight mechanics when playing it. 

See what I'm up to over at the Ivory Tower Collections: http://www.youtube.com/ivorytowercollections

 

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I have no issue with any of these choices, and I really like those two games @Silver Backmentioned of One on One and Water Ski.  I'd add "Asteroids" to the list.  It seems impossible that Atari could breathe new life into that old rock, but they did, and it turns out to be the best home version period. 

The main issue I have with looking over the 7800 library is how limited it feels.  So many arcade games and rehashes of computer games that had been out for several years already.  For all the talk of the 7800 hardware vs the NES, we fail to credit the creativity of NES game designers.  SMB, Zelda, Kirby, Castlevania, etc....how many series got cemented into classics on the NES?  Would Atari have ever been able to duplicate that level of creativity in software?  In the end, the hardware is irrelevant.  It's the software.  

Midnight Mutants fits the bill then for a hidden gem to me.  If only we got more like this! 

What kills me is that Atari probably would have NEVER figured this out.  After all, think about 2600 "Adventure", the best 2600 game of all time (IMO).  Did they ever come up with a follow up or build a story/mythology around it?  NO!  They simply lost that ability to think creatively about software. 

 

Edited by RickR
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That's a great way of explaining it @RickR. Nintendo not only made classics but they had the vision to build franchises. They had talented people and supported those people to succeed. 

Atari did have talented people and would strike gold once in a while, but you had the feeling they didn't know what to do with it when they did. As you said, adventure could've been expanded in endless ways, especially in building a franchise. You could move it into the 7800 as The Aqua Adventure, The Island Adventure, The Endless Adventure, etc and built a character that gets into incredible situations out of it. But even if they did there wasn't the support to make it succeed. 

still, I love my 7800 for what it is what it was, and even for what it could've been. Maybe I like it more than I should but I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. 

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Rick is right...it all boils down to software.  Atari was best known for porting arcade hits to their systems while the NES had a lot to prove to be successful and avoid Atari's mistakes in process.  I mean Dig Dug on three systems no matter what is still Dig Dug.  The NES offered fresh new game ideas but it, too, got some arcade hits which were good.  

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