MAURICE MOLYNEAUX'S TOP TEN ATARI CONSOLE AND COMPUTER GAMES|
Amazing what a clever programmer can do with a 2600. Then again,
this was written by the creator of the original Star Raiders, so
what did I expect?
The dreaded pack-in. Lame in most situations, but a blast at
parties (it still is), because you can pass the controls around
and take turns. A great example of why "short" games can be a
lot of fun.
8. Tower Toppler
I first saw this game in beta when a version of it was being
produced at Epyx for some forgotten platform, and I reviewed a
Game Boy port of it called Castelian (I believe). The goal: lead
your...what the heck WAS that critter, anyway?...creature, and
scale each tower by hopping from platform to platform. Reach the
top, and destroy the tower. Enemies abound. Wish I still had it
and my 7800...but it would be even more fun using a joypad
instead of a stick. Neat rotating tower graphics. A good
example of how the 7800 hardware was superior to the NES. Too
bad Atari never knew how to get enough games out for it or how
to market the thing correctly.
One of those weird "concept" video games which, sadly, we don't
see any more. Clever, frustrating, and a lot of fun. Best
played with those neat little guides you'd snap onto the 5200
controllers to ensure the stick could only hit the four cardinal
directions. I believe there was an 800 version, but I never saw
6. Miner 2049er
(8-bit Computers, 5200/Big Five)
(I swear I played this on the 5200...if not, so sue me.) I just
love this game. An early platformer, and one I wished for some
years would see a comeback in the era of more powerful game
systems. The sequel was even nastier. I always hated getting
too close to one of the radioactive mutants and getting nastily
"melted"...the sound would make me jump!
Awesome. Forget Missile Command, this was THE reason to own a
trackball. Sure, you could use a trackball on the 2600 and home
computer versions of the game, but the 5200's analog trackball
delivered the best feel and response of them all. My only
quibbles was that they didn't even make an attempt to replicate
the arcade game's vertical screen dimensions, and that the Fleas
stopped dropping after a time, making it possible to thin the
mushrooms out too much.
Never got to try the 5200 version (did it actually ever ship?),
but I loved the computer version and always wished to have it on
my 5200. A programming tour-de-force. Fast, furious, with great
music. A must-have two-player game. Sadly, the computer A.I.
wasn't as good as it could be. Once I figured out that I could
totally block my foe when I had the ball simply by watching his
screen and steering right in front of him...ah well!
3. Tempest 2000
The only Jag game which merits inclusion. Great, great, great.
Only a few quibbles: the player should be able to shut off the
panning around on the web in any zoom mode, the shattering
scores and stuff are just a little TOO distracting, and a few of
the webs are waaaay too hard, requiring more luck than skill to
conquer. Still, a shining moment in home gaming and a
picture-perfect example of how classic games can be upgraded.
Too bad Defender 2000 didn't accomplish this same feat.
As close to perfection as a multi-player "twitch" game came
come. Best played in four-player mode, but, to be fair, trade
positions from game to game because a few bugs made a certain
castle all too easily destroyed if you lob the fireball just
1. Star Raiders
A classic in more ways than one. Although three versions of
this game exist (800/2600/5200...the ST abomination
notwithstanding), the 5200 version is hands-down the best. The
main reason for this is the 5200's normally annoying controller,
which was perfectly suited to this game. The variable turning
rate of the analog stick made Starcruiser 7 a hell of a lot
easier to control, making it possible to finely home in on a
distant target and also to slam hard a starboard to avoid
incoming fire. Furthermore, the keypad on the controller made
it possible, once you learned how, to thumb controls in the
middle of a firefight, without ever looking away from the
screen, something next to impossible in other versions. One
other minor improvement: the long-range scan is altered so that
you can tell asteroids from ships (which could happen on the