• Category Archives Atari 2600
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  • Star Wars: Jedi Arena (Atari 2600)

    Star Wars Jedi Arena for Atari 2600


    Here we have the very first video game to feature a light saber and also what is generally considered to be one of the worst Star Wars games of all time. Released in 1983, Jedi Arena was the second Star Wars game released for the Atari 2600 by Parker Brothers after Empire Strikes Back. Jedi Arena is based loosely on the scene in Star Wars where Luke duels with the Seeker ball aboard the Millennium Falcon.

    While the graphics and sound are pretty good for the time, the main criticisms come from the abstract nature of the game play and the fact that the game is based on such a limited part of the movie. The goal is to defend yourself from the Seeker while causing it to fire bolts at your opponent who can be a human or computer controlled. Some liberties were obviously taken given that there was no such duel between Jedi in the movie. The Jedi do not move around, you simply have control over where the light saber points by using the paddle controller.

    While the game is pretty limited in nature and relies a lot on luck, it is also pretty unique. There seemed to be a lot more creative experimentation with video games back before everyone knew the genres games had to fit into. These experiments obviously didn’t always work out as with this game but I still think it’s a game worth trying. You’ll have to find an original cartridge or resort to an emulator for this one. There are no modern remakes or re-releases that I know of.

  • Entombed (Atari 2600)

    Entombed, Atari 2600.


    Entombed was released by U.S. Games for the Atari 2600 in 1982. Given the massive number of clones and rushed games on the Atari 2600, particularly by 1982, Entombed was actually fairly unique for its time.

    You can think of Entombed as an extremely early predecessor to games like Tomb Raider. You play the role of an archaeologist exploring catacombs inhabited by zombies. The mechanics of the game involve maneuvering your archaeologist in a maze as it scrolls up the screen. If you touch a zombie or the top of the screen then you are dead. As you progress further in the game, the screen scrolls faster. You have the ability to break through walls should you find yourself at a dead end but you can only do this once until you find more power-ups in the maze. You even have the ability to play cooperatively or competitively with another person.

    While Entombed deserves some credit for being unique, it is still a pretty mediocre game. The graphics do not stand out and the game play gets repetitive pretty quickly. As with many games, it is a little more fun with two players. Still, it is a nice change of pace from your typical Atari 2600 game. I don’t know of any remakes or re-releases of this game but you can play it via emulation or even track down an original cartridge as it isn’t particularly rare or expensive.

  • Crossbow (2600, 7800, XE)


    Source: Atarian – Issue Number 2 – July/August 1989

    Crossbow is an arcade game developed by Exidy and released in 1983. In 1987, it was ported to the Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Atari XEGS and the Commodore 64. This is probably the first light-gun (or light-crossbow in this case) game that I ever played. My local roller skating rink had one circa 1985.

    (Atari 2600)

    The above review (really more of a summary or even advertisement) is from the July/August 1989 issue of Atarian. It isn’t surprising that Atarian didn’t last very long. They were always reviewing or printing other editorial content about years old games as if they were new. In this case we are talking about an arcade game that was released in 1983, ported to various home systems in ’87 and Atarian is treating it as if it were a new release in the Summer of ’89.

    (Atari 7800)

    Having said that, even though the game was a bit dated, the home versions were decent enough, particularly if you were using the light-gun on the Atari 7800 and XE versions. I remember the arcade version the best and will never forget the “Don’t shoot your friends!” announcement you would get when you accidentally shot those you were escorting… The point of the game was to lead a group of adventurers through various locations, shooting anything that was out to harm them. Those you were defending would walk slowly across the screen depending on your protection. It was non-linear in the sense that you could choose your own path to a limited degree and the difficulty depended on the path you chose. This game can be played with a joystick but for best results, use an Atari 7800 or XE system with a light gun.