Publisher: Atari (1980)
Recommended variation: 4AA
Our high score: VGC 72
Publisher: Imagic (1983)
Recommended variation: 1A
1 or 2 players
Ocean City Defender
Publisher: Zellers (1983)
Ocean City Defender is nothing but a rip-off of Atlantis (Imagic) with slightly modified graphics. The new saucer-like designs of the ships and underwater buildings look really cheesy - a big step down from the original game. The one interesting aspect of Ocean City Defender is the cartridge label. It features a 1950s-era robot shooting lightning from its hands, and a metallic Lock Ness monster being ridden by a skinny robot. Weird! To be honest, the only reason I picked this up this piece of crap is because the title reminded me of my favorite vacation spot, Ocean City, Maryland. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1989)
As one of the last games created for the 2600, most gamers are unaware of Off The Wall, but it's probably just as well. It was Atari's attempt to modernize the classic game Breakout by updating the graphics with an Asian theme and loading it with power-ups. Using a joystick (no paddles - rats!) you move a guy across the bottom of the screen, deflecting a ball towards a colorful wall. A black bird flies in front of the wall, and he can block your shots as well as deflect the ball back towards the wall. The bird also drops some useful power-ups, like the "bomb" that lets you blow out a large chunk of the wall. Another handy power-up allows you to "steer" the ball, making it easier to clear those last few bricks. There are also power-ups make your life harder, such as the one that makes the ball travel faster. A "red dragon" dances on top of the wall, but it looks more like a big red caterpillar and only serves as an easy way to score bonus points. Off The Wall is less tedious than Breakout, but it's also too easy. Another problem is the annoying 10-second pause before each new ball is released. What's that all about? Off the Wall is respectable as a one-player game, but the two-player mode is lousy. Both players have to share the same wall, and the scoring system is totally unfair. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Activision (1983)
In this rare misstep from Activision, you control three little pigs trying to protect their houses from a wolf. Controlling one pig at a time, you move him around the interior of his house, grabbing bricks and placing them in holes made by the wolf below. Should a hole become too large, you're bacon. Each pig introduces a new style of house (straw, wood, brick) but they all play the same. Oink's graphics are actually quite good, with large, detailed characters. But the game suffers from a serious lack of fun. Going back and forth carrying bricks to the biggest hole is mind-numbing and hard on the wrist. With little variety or strategy, you may find yourself rooting for the wolf. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: CBS (1983)
Unlike so many other Atari 2600 arcade translations, this one isn't a cupcake version. Omega Race's single game variation provides a degree of challenge that will have you hitting that reset button over and over again. Gameplay involves thrusting a triangular ship around an enclosed, rectangular "track" littered with missile-firing, mine-laying enemies. What's cool about the game is how your ship caroms off the walls, letting you finely adjusting your line of fire while remaining a moving target. It's fun to be reckless, but easy to collide with stationary objects scattered around the screen. Omega Race isn't the prettiest game in the world, but then again the arcade original (rendered in single-colored vector graphics) was no beauty either. Here, the objects are rendered in dull colors, and the flicker is pretty bad. Omega Race does have one interesting gimmick, and that is the inclusion of a special hardware attachment to add two extra buttons (thrust and fire) to the standard Atari joystick. Why CBS felt the need for this device is beyond me. The same functionality could have been achieved using Asteroids-style controls, where you simply push forward to thrust. It's not a big deal, but be aware that this device is required
to play the game. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1981)
Unlike Atari's Chess, this classic board game (often called Reversi) provides an enjoyable and thought-provoking diversion. It's played by laying black and white squares on a checker board, trying to capture as much of the board as you can. Othello is simple to learn but tough to master. The secret to winning seems to lie in controlling the edges and corners, something the computer player tends to be quite proficient at. Three skill levels are provided along with a two-player variation. Each contest is quick, which encourages you to hit the reset switch for "just one more game". Othello's graphics and sound may be minimal, but they do the job. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1978)
It's hard to be critical of Outlaw, considering it's such an old favorite. This simple shoot-out game features large, slow, blocky cowboys. You can shoot at three different angles, with ricochets adding to the strategy. But what really makes Outlaw interesting are variations with cactus, covered wagons, and moving walls. There are even a few one-player target-shooting variations that are harder than they look! For an early Atari cartridge this isn't bad. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Hozer (1998)
What a surprise this game was. When I first played it, I was like, "what the heck is going on"? After an hour, I was still playing and my thumb was getting sore. Despite its goofy name, Oystron is no joke. While it may look like a simple shoot-em-up, there is subtle strategy involved. You control a ship on the left side of the screen that can fire both left and right. Objects approach from the right, including "space oysters" which you can blast open to reveal pearls. Collecting eight pearls earns you a bomb. After a certain period of time, a boss emerges, which can only be destroyed by one of those bombs. After you take him out (not too tough), you're thrust into a fast-paced "warp phase". Oystron provides fast, non-stop shooting action, and it's very challenging. My main beef is that the stages tend to run a bit too long. But overall, this is a real gem. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.