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  • Donkey Kong (Atari 7800)

    Donkey Kong (Atari 7800, 1988)


    Donkey Kong, released in 1981, was Nintendo’s first big arcade success. Over the years it has been converted to a massive number of game systems and computers. The Atari 7800 version was released in 1988, seven years after its arcade release and a couple of years after the NES was released which had Donkey Kong as one of the launch titles.

    The Atari 7800 version of Donkey Kong isn’t bad. However, the NES version has slightly better graphics and greatly superior sound. Most games for the Atari 7800 made use of the same sound chip that the Atari 2600 used which was pretty limited. While not a bad game, the fact that it wasn’t quite as good as the NES version released years earlier did not help the Atari 7800. The Atari 7800 was a capable enough system but Atari had a bad habit of cutting corners by severely limiting first party game development time and cartridge memory in order to cut costs and it shows in this game. It’s just ok but it could have been much better.

    There are a million ways you can play Donkey Kong but if you want to try out the Atari 7800 version then you will have to obtain an original system and cartridge or resort to emulation. However, even though it is a decent conversion, it is hard to recommend this version when there are better conversions and arcade perfect translations out there.

    Screen shots above are from the Atari 7800 version.

  • 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.

  • Galaga (Atari 7800)

    Galaga (Atari 7800, 1987)


    Galaga was an arcade game released by Midway in 1981 and was the sequel to Galaxian. I always thought it was a little strange that there seemed to be so few home ports of this game. Despite being one of the most popular arcade games of all time, the first home port was not released in the U.S. until the Atari 7800 version came along six years later in 1987 (though to be fair, it was originally scheduled to be released in 1984). The following year, it was also released on the Nintendo. As far as anything that could remotely be considered contemporary, that’s all there was.

    Galaga could be described as a more sophisticated version of Space Invaders. Like Space Invaders, you control a ship that can move along the bottom of the screen and shoot at aliens firing at you from above. However, there are several types of aliens in Galaga and they attack by swooping down at you in formation. In addition to destroying your ship, they can also capture it. In this case, you have the chance to shoot that alien with a remaining ship (if you have any) and then your ship will return and connect to your current ship for double the firepower. You have to be careful not to shoot your own ship though.

    Much later on, starting in 1995 and continuing today, it has been re-released on a wide variety of systems as online downloads and as part of various compilations but there were not many choices back in the day. It seems like good conversions could have been done on the Commodore 64, Atari 8-bit and Atari 5200. I’m also surprised there wasn’t an Atari 2600 version given all the arcade conversions on that system though it obviously would have had to have some compromises.

    I did play black and white knock-off called Galagar (I think) on my Commodore 64. It played pretty well but was also pretty ugly.