• Tag Archives Atari 2600
  • Amidar (Atari 2600)

    Source: Video Games – January 1983

    Amidar was released as an arcade game by Konami in 1981. As this was near the height of the popularity of the Atari 2600, it’s unsurprising that it received an Atari 2600 port the following year. While this ad doesn’t specifically mention the Atari 2600, that was the only home system that it was released for at the time.

    This game makes fun of the endless maze games that were essentially knock-offs of Pac-Man. Ironically though, this game was really just another take on that concept. Amidar is really nonsensical as far as what you are doing in the game. On odd numbered levels you control an ape who must collect coconuts while avoiding headhunters. On even number levels you control a paint roller and must paint over each spot on the board while avoiding pigs. I have no idea what these two things have to do with each other.

    Other play mechanics are very much like Pac-Man. Touching enemies normally kills you but by clearing a board you are temporarily able to kill enemies by touching them (as if you ate a power pellet in Pac-Man). However, there is the rather unique jump button. Instead of making you jump it makes all your enemies jump and you can then walk under them. As you might expect, as the level increases, your enemies get faster and more numerous.

    The Atari 2600 version along with a 1983 release for the obscure Japanese only Casio PV-1000 are the only official releases I could find reference to. There were various knock-offs for various home computers that came a few years later. However, if you want an official home version you’ll have to find the Atari 2600 version. You can also always emulate this game but if you are going to do that, you might as well find the arcade version. Apparently, the arcade version of Amidar was re-released for the Xbox 360 and Windows via Game Pak 12 for Game Room in 2010 but I believe that it is no longer available.

    Screen shots above are from the Atari 2600 version of Amidar. The ad is from the January 1983 issue of Video Games magazine.

  • Space Invaders (Atari 2600)

    Space Invaders, Atari 2600.

    Space Invaders is probably the game most responsible for popularizing video arcade games. Pong may have invented the genre and there were certainly other video games before Space Invaders but without Space Invaders, it’s questionable whether arcades would have spread across the world and became as popular as they did.

    Space Invaders was introduced in 1978. Though it’s hard to imagine, the Atari 2600 (or Atari VCS as it was originally called) predated that game by about a year. It’s no surprise that Space Invaders found its way to that system eventually. It wasn’t until 1980 but Space Invaders became the first licensed arcade game to appear on the Atari 2600. It is also responsible for quadrupling the sales of that system. Space Invaders became the first game on the 2600 to sell a million units and sold over 2 million in its first year. It truly was the first killer app for a video game system.

    What is somewhat surprising however is that there really weren’t many licensed versions of Space Invaders to appear on home systems at that time. Other than the Atari 2600, Space Invaders also found its way to other Atari systems including the Atari 5200 and Atari 8-bit computers. However, other popular home computers and video game consoles of the time did not have an official Space Invaders. There were, however, numerous clones including TI Invaders for the TI-99/4A and an unlicensed but very accurate port done in BASIC for the Commodore PET and Commodore 64 among many others. Later systems like the Super Nintendo would eventually get ports but not until it was already a retro classic.

    If you want to play the very fist licensed arcade game, the first killer app for a video game console and the first game to sell 1 million copies, then Space Invaders for the Atari 2600 is your game. Of course, it’s worth playing for other reasons. It’s still a great and very challenging game. As simple as the Atari 2600 is, Space Invaders is not a complex game and the Atari 2600 does a good job with it. This is certainly a game every Atari 2600 owner should own and it is cheap and plentiful so there’s no excuse not to pick it up if you don’t already have it.