CRAIG HARRIS' TOP TEN ATARI CONSOLE AND COMPUTER GAMES|
10. I, Robot
It's been years since I've seen this game last, so I can't say
for sure EXACTLY if this is still one of my favorite games.
However, I have an obsession to find this game again, be it in
a classic arcade, or being sold off at an auction. Eventually,
I *will* find this game again, and when I do, the classic arcade
community will definitely hear about it. DO YOU HEAR ME???
This Activision title may be rather basic, but no other game can
match the physical pain it induces in the thumb. 'Nuff said.
My father is technically inept. There's no
question about it - but boy, when we got Kaboom for Christmas,
he really went to town.
It's really hard to say this, but this is a videogame my father
can beat me at. Which brings us to number 7:
7. Super Breakout
My parents were not videogame people, but when they gave me Super
Breakout for Christmas, even my mother got into it. Their
favorite mode was "Progression," you know, where the wall slowly
closes in on your paddle, gaining speed with every hit.
I sometimes feel bad about the evolution of the videogame
industry, leaving my parents and their precious paddle-games
behind. I don't think they've willingly played a videogame ever
I was introduced to this game WAY late in Atari's life, initialy
by my best friend. But it didn't tickle my fancy, so I let it go.
However, one of my friends I met while in high-school plopped
this game into my system, and explained to me "Thunder Road," the
forming of a two vertical walls in the center of the screen, with
just enough room for you to fit in and, while holding the fire
button, have created an impenetrable force field.
He also wrote a heavy guitar song based on the monotoned
background music. He's a weird soul...
This game was the deciding factor of me either buying a 2600jr to
replace my busted VCS, or going all out and getting the NEW Atari
7800 that just hit the shelf in 1985.
I played this game for hours in the arcade, and when I saw the
back of the 7800 box with the Xevious mothership staring back at
me, I had to buy this system. Unfortunately I had to wait a few
months - Unbeknownst to me, Atari had a funky release schedule,
and Xevious was delayed until right before Christmas.
But, eventually I got this almost-perfect Xevious, and spent
hours going through the game while a snow-storm brewed outside.
4. Slime World
Truly the Lynx's finest hour. The game may be incredibly boring,
but wait until you play the ultimate, pre-Doom 8-player version.
Extremely fun, and a great party game (especially with a few
Yep, Track & Field edged out this older Activision title, but
not by much.
My favorite memory is discovering the bug/feature/trick in the
Pole Vault event: Even running as fast as you can can't get your
player over the bar everytime. But if you "pump" the button as
your athlete sails through the air, every "pump" will give the
guy a little more height. Eventually, you can actually have him
fly off the screen, cruising over even the most impossible bar
Eventually, though, after a few dozen attempts and an incredibly
high bar placement, the game gets confused and issues point
values like 12$!3 or 1/2 /13. Finally, the game will go
completely bonkers, and the athelete will eventually float over
the tarmac until the power switch is flipped.
2. Track & Field
There's a term my friends and I created for the action of somehow
"borrowing" an Atari cartridge from a friend, and discovering
years later that you still have possesion of this item, with the
original party having no idea that you are the new owner. The
word is "hutzel."
Track & Field for the 2600 is one of many games I've hutzelled
over the years...but it is by far the greatest hutzelled gem in
my collection. Not only does it come packaged with a neat replica
of the arcade buttons, it's limiting graphics actually retains a
near-exact port of the gameplay.
Now, I wonder who this actually belonged to...
1. Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
I have a very special place in my heart for this game, as well
as a touching story.
When the 2600 version came out, I spent hours, days and weeks
perfecting my skills on this top notch cartridge. I threw my
joystick across the room in victory when I finally finished the
game PERFECTLY - i.e. all gold bars and the three required
treasures, all without taking an unfortunate trip to the
red-cross. I must've let the game cycle through its screen-saving
colors for days, annoyingly gloating to my family and friends of
A few days later, I discovered that one of my good friends
received the 5200 version for his birthday, and was having
trouble making it up the Condor Cavern (self-titled stretch of
caverns to Quickclaw). So, I biked on over to his house, ran down
to his basement and prepped myself for the now-typical Pitfall
Boy, what a learning curve. The game looked and sounded exactly
like the weaker brother, but those mushy joysticks took a lot of
effort to get used to. But, my endurance conquered - and after a
few deaths, I picked up the Diamond and Rhonda, and started up
I discovered the downside of the 5200...the jump button I was
using stopped working. I couldn't figure this out, but then I
realized there was another button underneath. Luckily, that one
Anyway, I finally made it up to Quickclaw (but picked up the
rat, natch). I went over to that scaredy-cat, jumped into him
(virtually sticking him in my pocket), and watched Pitfall jump
up and down in victory, and I smugly put the controller down. My
friend was amazed at my skill, and I sat back with a grin on my
face. We heard a voice calling down the staircase, "Steven, time
for dinner!" and I reached over to the power-switch.
It was at this time that I discovered that Pitfall stopped
jumping up and down like a maniac. A monolith-type figure rose
out of the ground, and Pitfall ran INTO it. Whammo! A whole new
level. We were both amazed, but it was I who was floored. Huge
caverns, drunk bats.. I couldn't believe it. I was also asked to
leave because my friend had to eat his supper. He hit the power
switch...sort of a metaphor for what happened next.
I went on vacation the next day...and my friend was moving away
the next week. That was the last day I ever saw my friend, the
last time I played the 5200, and the only time I witness the
hidden level in Pitfall II.