Publisher: Atari (1984)
Yet another ill-fated 2600 project shelved in the mid 80's, Saboteur was consequently "lost" for many years. But thanks to the good people at Atari Age, you can now purchase this interesting shooter in its finished form. Saboteur has engaging gameplay and is quite sophisticated as well. You play the role of a robot attempting to stop an evil race from constructing a missile. The first screen is divided into six layers, with your robot situated in the center. Various "slave" robots and Yar flies (!) scurry above and below, systematically building a huge missile on the right side of the screen. You can fire in eight directions, but try not to shoot the yellow birds, since they actually slow
the missile construction. The second screen is wide open, with a wandering "master robot" (which looks like a mask from Crash Bandicoot) and a conveyer belt along the bottom. By deflecting laser blasts off the master robot, you can indirectly destroy missile parts on the conveyer belt below. Should you not destroy all the parts in time, the third screen gives you a final chance to destroy the warhead as it's being launched. Saboteur features nice graphics, original gameplay, and five levels of challenge. But despite having so much going for it, the game as a whole lacks excitement and comes off as somewhat flat. Maybe that's why it was never released in the first place. Still, Atari 2600 collectors should be grateful that this old gem has finally seen the light of day. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Games of the Century (2002)
Although released for the first time during the 2002 Classic Gaming Expo, Save The Whales is actually an old, unreleased Fox title from 1984. To be honest, it looks and plays like a bargain bin title with its simple graphics and shallow gameplay. You guide a sub around the middle of the screen, just above a school of colored whales. As a tanker on the ocean surface drops nets from above, you must destroy them in order to protect the whales. The graphics are pretty standard, although the black puffs of smoke emitted from the tanker's smokestack really caught my eye. There are four speed settings and two-player modes that let a friend control the tanker. Setting the difficulty to 'A' changes the nets to harpoons, which are supposed to be harder to shoot, but I did not find that to be the case. Save The Whales is fast moving and difficult, and positioning your sub is key. The worst part of the game has to be the "radioactive flotsam" that comb the screen between rounds. Although meant to add variety, these blobs are easy to shoot and just plain annoying. Overall, Save The Whales is a mildly amusing little game. I wouldn't call it a lost treasure, but 2600 fans should appreciate this little piece of the past. Personally, I would have given this a more imaginative title, like "Save The Whales - For Me!!" © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Froggo (1987)
I know it's hard to believe, but this Froggo game is almost
good! You control a jet plane flying over open water, attempting to destroy as many helicopters and battleships as possible. Your enemies can fire back, and the helicopters move in schizophrenic patterns similar to Chopper Command. Sea Hawk's controls allow you to drop bombs or fire missiles, depending on how you're holding the joystick when you push the fire button. It's a bit awkward, but adequate. Sea Hawk has one neat little feature: when you get shot down, a little parachute appears, and should you guide your man to a friendly boat, you won't lose a life. Other than that, this is a repetitive, never-ending shooter. Note: This game was originally released by Panda in 1983. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Froggo (1987)
Froggo has long been the whipping boy of Atari 2600 critics, probably because most of their releases are garbage. Sea Hunt is also crap, but at least it's challenging as hell. You begin in a boat at the top of the screen. Ridiculously blocky fish swim below, and there's a pixilated blob on the ocean floor that's supposed to be a shipwreck. You jump out of your boat and enter the water with a nice splash. The objective is to shoot the fish and plunder the ship's treasure. Unfortunately, you can't take control of your man until he sinks near the bottom, and more often than not you'll be eaten on the way down. Once you gain control, you can harpoon fish, but your harpoon is slow and you have to nail them directly in the mouth. If you miss, you have to wait for the harpoon to return, and by then you'll be as good as dead. With some patience, you'll finally be able to enter the wreck. This takes you to a separate screen with blocky crabs and three treasure items. But even after you grab the treasure, you're still not finished! No, you need to return to your boat, which is no small feat. If successful, you're finally
awarded all the points you earned for shooting monsters, collecting treasure, etc. Sea Hunt looks good on paper, but on the screen it's a mess. The blocky graphics are embarrassing, and stiff control makes it frustratingly hard to maneuver. Although there appear to be escape tunnels each side of the screen, they don't work at all (they probably would have been a good idea). Sea Hunt's audio is deplorable. The tune that plays after each game sounds like a bad nursery rhyme, and there's a noticeable lack of sound effects (like when you jump in the water). Sea Hunt had potential, but its execution is fishy to say the least. Note: This game was originally released by Panda as "Scuba Diver" in 1983. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Activision (1983)
Yet another expertly-programmed Activision game, Seaquest is a sight to behold. The bright blue water, red sunset, and crisp graphics are incredibly inviting. The game offers some engaging, albeit repetitive, rapid-fire submarine action. Manning a yellow sub, you must rescue lost divers being chased by sharks. The blue divers look funny as they kick frantically with jaw-snapping sharks on their heels. You'll also have to contend with gray submarines that fire torpedoes. Your sub can carry up five divers at a time, and considering they are nearly as large as your sub, you wonder how they can all fit
in the thing! It's like the clown car of the ocean!
Your oxygen is limited, but that's rarely a factor. What is
a factor is the small, unassuming ship patrolling above. He looks friendly enough, but that son of a [expletive]
will try to ram
your ass when you surface! Bastard!!
I love Seaquest's bright visuals and crisp controls, but its gameplay gets old in a hurry, and not necessarily due to the difficulty level. No, it's the extra ships
you get at every 10K that water down the challenge and drag things out. Still, Seaquest is an appealing title that gets by mainly on the strength of its good looks. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation(s): A
Our high score: VGC 90,320
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Duane Allen Hahn (2011)
In Seaweed Assault you guide a white "submarine" around a blue screen while shooting green blocks (seaweed) that appear at random. Since when do submarines have flippers?
Touching a block of seaweed harms you (for reasons unknown) and if you linger in one place for too long a psychotic piece of seaweed will reach up from the bottom of the screen. Occasionally a jellyfish thing that looks like a crown moves down the screen, and you need to avoid that. There's really not much to this game. The green blocks are likely to remind many of Worm War I. The controls are slippery, making it hard to aim with precision. Despite its shallow nature, there is some subtle strategy. If your missile passes through multiple blocks of seaweed, their subsequent point values increase. It's actually a good idea to let the screen fill in a little bit, adding a risk-versus-reward element. Seaweed Assault needs a difficulty select in the worst way. I got tired of biding my time while waiting for the challenge to kick in. On a positive note, the programmer seems to know what he's doing so hopefully this is just a precursor of better things to come. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1,402
Publisher: Atari (1989)
Programmed by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Secret Quest pushes the 2600 to its limits. It's too bad this fine little adventure is a secret to most 2600 owners. Your mission is to blow up a series space stations. To do this, you'll collect weapons and keys, fight monsters, maintain your oxygen and energy, discover a detonation code, detonate a bomb, and escape through a transporter. The space stations also include traps, teleporters, and 16 different types of monsters! The characters are nicely animated and flicker-free. By flipping the black/white switch on the console you can consult a status screen which lets you know how you're doing. On top of all that, you are provided a symbolic "password" code that allows you to save and reload your game in progress! No question about it, there's a lot crammed into this cartridge. Three things detract from the fun. First, the rooms are all generic squares. Next, the size of the stations in later stages are so large that you'll actually need to draw a map to keep track of your position in the maze. That kind of sucks. Finally, the detonation and save codes are displayed in fancy symbols that are difficult to remember (or even write down, for that matter). As a technical achievement, Secret Quest is outstanding, but as a gaming experience, it's only very good. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1990)
Here it is: the one and only lightgun game for the Atari 2600! It also happens to be one of the most repetitive, mind-numbing shooters I've ever had the displeasure to experience. I normally dig light gun games, but Sentinel is so uninspired and generic that it's practically disgusting. The uninspired graphics include a large "orb" floating above a sparse planet surface. Your job is to protect the orb by shooting approaching objects of various shapes. Some enemies fire missiles, but you can shoot those down as well. "Smart" bombs (which destroy all enemies) are initiated by shooting the orb itself, which makes absolutely no sense. Bosses appear at the end of each level, but they all look the same and require little strategy to defeat. Sentinel requires the Atari XE light gun, which is fairly responsive but fires slightly to the right of where you're aiming. The stages are excessively long and boring, and a skill level select is needed in the worst way. Sentinel becomes somewhat challenging by the third stage, but by then your trigger finger will be aching terribly. I actually had to switch hands
just to soothe my cramping muscles. This game is awful. If not for the physical pain it inflicts upon you, Sentinel would be completely
forgettable. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Apollo (1982)
Looking like an underwater version of Pac-Man, Shark Attack is terribly unimaginative and its gameplay bites!
The visuals don't look so bad with inviting blue water and some nice tropical island scenery. The green "reef" maze is unusual in shape, with a lot of odd nooks and crannies. Your yellow diver must collect dots scattered randomly around the maze, but to score he'll need to return them to the "shark cage" in the center of the screen. If that's a shark cage, why do sharks swim right though it?
Most of the game's variations have to do with how the cage's doors open, which is totally inconsequential. The poorly-rendered sharks look like gray blobs swimming across the screen. But what truly kills this game are its aggravating controls. You are constantly
getting hung up on the walls and poor collision detection makes it difficult to squeeze through narrow openings. Sometimes it seems like an invisible wall
is in your way! The four corners of the maze are supposed to be "portals", but you'll have to wrestle with the joystick to get them to register. Occasionally you're chased all over the place by a "Loch Ness Monster" who looks suspiciously like a pink octopus!
The sound effects in this game are crazy. When a shark enters he sounds like a giant stomping around. Shark Attack had the makings of a respectable budget title, but it couldn't even get the basics right. Note: This game was originally released by Apollo as "Lockjaw" in 1981. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation(s): 1B
Our high score: VGC 105
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Imagic (1983)
Since the manual to this rare game is so hard to find, this review will also provide instructions so you'll know what the heck's going on the next time you play. Shootin' Gallery is an old-fashioned target-shooter that's very similar to Carnival. The object is to maximize your score using a fixed number of shots. The closest targets are snails, frogs, or ducks, and they are worth only 100 points. The next target up is the choo-choo train. Aim for the box cars, which are worth 1000 points each, compared to the 100-point engine. Above that, a monkey flips between bars. He's worth 500 points, and shooting him will summon a new train. The next row features animals like kangaroos, squirrels, and penguins. They are worth 2000 points each, and should be your main focus. On top of it all, there's a clock that is constantly counting down, and if it counts all the way down, a cuckoo will eat into your bullet supply. To avoid this, just shoot the clock periodically to reset it. You receive bonus shots every 20,000 points. Shootin' Gallery's graphics are impressive. The screen is an array of color, and the animals are realistically animated. That circus music really got on my nerves though. This is one of those games that seems interesting at first but doesn't hold your attention for very long. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Xonox (1983)
It's a strange game, but I liked Sir Lancelot much more than I expected. This rare Xonox title contains two alternating stages. The first features a castle at the bottom of the screen with flying beasts combing the skies overhead. Sir Lancelot takes to the air on his Pegasus with the intent of vanquishing these creatures. Uhh... come again?
When did Sir Lancelot ever ride a freaking Pegasus?
I watched that Monty Python Holy Grail movie at least a dozen times so I'm kind of an expert
when it comes to this stuff. Since this is a video game, I'll let it slide, but just this one time. Anyhow, the basic gameplay is a complete rip-off of Joust as you tap the button to flap your wings while moving left or right with the joystick. It's fun
though! There's a real sense of momentum and it's exciting to collide head-on with these colorful beasties. After wiping them out you enter the castle for the big showdown. On this screen a dragon drops fireballs while flying back and forth along the top. A maiden can be seen on the left edge of the screen as lava creeps up from below. Still on your steed, you can destroy the dragon by plunging your lance into its belly. If you look closely you never truly make contact with the dragon, which is kind of lame. You tend to bounce off the top of the screen a lot, so luck plays a major role. I do like how being hit by a fireball sends you into a tailspin but you can still recover before plunging into the lava below. Defeating the dragon returns you to the first screen, this time with a tougher, less predictable set of flying monsters. Likewise each subsequent dragon is more erratic and tougher to defeat. Sir Lancelot's gameplay is shallow but it's a lot easier to grasp than most Xonox games. The detailed graphics and formidable challenge combine to create a very respectable fantasy title. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 98,970
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Absolut (1987)
Skateboardin' suffers from a serious lack of excitement. Guiding a little skateboarder around a maze of screens, the object is to jump as many ramps and ride through as many tubes as you can in five minutes. The graphics and sound are fair, but Skateboardin's tepid gameplay in no way captures the spirit of the sport. Tony Hawk would never put his name on this one. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Apollo (1981)
Back in the early 1980's, certain game publishers would release any piece of crap to make a buck, and Apollo's Skeet Shoot is a prime offender. With ludicrous graphics and reprehensible gameplay, this cartridge is borderline offensive. Your goal is to shoot as many "clay pigeons" (gray disks) as you can. It would be difficult to imagine worse graphics than those in Skeet Shoot. Those ugly shapes at the bottom of the screen are supposed to be a man with a gun. You can shoot in five directions, but aiming diagonally is terribly difficult, even with a good joystick. The game offers two target speeds, with "slow" being far too easy, and "fast" being so quick you don't even have time to react. Skeet Shoot has 17 useless variations, and once you've played one, you've played them all. This game is so bad that I'd actually be embarrassed to be caught playing it. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation(s): 1B
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Atari Age/Eric Ball (2002)
Here's a fresh new title for your Atari 2600. Played from a first-person point-of-view, you navigate a blocky maze while hunting a wandering skeleton. Ominous tones of varying intensity indicate his proximity, and by setting the difficulty level to 'B' you receive visual cues as well. The action grows pretty intense as the tones grow louder, indicating he could be around any corner. Once he's in view, press the fire button one or more times to disintegrate his bony ass. Any hesitation results in "GOT YOU" being displayed on the screen, abruptly ending your game. To complete the game, you need to dispose of 80 (!) skeletons in total. I'm normally not a big fan of maze games like this, but Skeleton's responsive controls and clean graphics won me over. The skeleton looks terrific, even a bit frightening, and it scales nicely when approaching. The mazes are easy to navigate as well. The only things I can criticize about Skeleton is what it does not
have (but should). First of all, a skill level select is badly needed. The game is entirely too hard, especially with only one life
. Next, when the game ends it should display some kind of score so you can see how well you did. It would have been easy enough to just print out the number of skeletons killed. But despite these flaws, Skeleton is still playable and comes with an attractive instruction booklet. It's a good effort, but a little more polish could have gone a long way. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari Age/Eric Ball (2003)
Skeleton Plus (+) is a much needed update to a game that held much potential but was somewhat undercooked. I imagine programmer Eric Ball caught plenty of flack about the original Skeleton's lack of options and steep difficulty. However, I'm happy to report that he has addressed those issues sufficiently in this latest version. As in the original game, you move through a first-person maze, trying to zap wandering skeletons one at a time. The mazes are well rendered and can be navigated quickly and easily. The skeletons look terrific, and you can even follow them around (although they tend to turn on you). This "Plus" version displays the number of skeletons zapped on the bottom of the screen, along with your life points, which drain each time you're touched by a skeleton. Since some skeletons require multiple "zaps" to kill, there's a bit of a "cat and mouse" element. The game has four options: skeletons per level (five or ten), starting life meter (49 or 99), sound on/off, and skeleton speed. Unfortunately, two options are assigned to each difficulty switch, so there are only four combinations in total. I would have preferred if all 16 possible combinations were accessible via the select switch. A "touch of death" mode is also accessible via the black/white switch, in case you preferred the unforgiving gameplay of the original. I couldn't really recommend the first Skeleton game, but Skeleton+ is the real deal. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Activision (1980)
Skiing by Activision is fast, smooth, and slick. The straighter you head downhill, the faster you travel, but with speed comes danger. There are two modes of play: slalom and downhill. Slalom requires your skier to pass through a series of gates while avoiding the evergreen trees that litter the course. Downhill mode has no gates - you just try to reach the bottom of the hill as fast as you can. In addition to trees, there are also little gray moguls you can jump over. The novice and intermediate tracks are slow, but the advanced levels are fast and exciting. You can even ski randomly generated courses. Skiing's graphics are plain but silky smooth. The sound effects try to capture the sound of whooshing snow, but they sound too metallic. With ten game variations in all, Skiing provides enough challenge to satisfy any gamer. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1979)
When having to choose between real skydiving or playing this 2600 simulation, I always opt for the pixilated approach. That's because very few people have become a red spot on the ground by playing a video game. Despite being graphically challenged and labeled as a two-player only game, Sky Diver is surprisingly entertaining. Its simple gameplay involves two players jumping from blocky planes moving across the top of the screen, adjusting to crosswinds in order to land on their respective pads. Pulling your ripcord at the last possible instant maximizes your score. You can guide your diver all the way down, but fluctuating wind makes it a challenge. Unlike some 2600 games, the different variations really do have an impact on the gameplay. You can alter the size of the landing pads, and choose between wind or moving platforms. There's even a "chicken" match with a single landing pad both players can vie for. Obviously Sky Diver is designed for head-to-head match-ups, but single players can still play for score. Deceptively plain looking, it's easy to write off Sky Diver, but I recommend you give it a try. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation(s): 2A
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Activision (1982)
This surprisingly weak Activision title plays like an overhead version of Barnstorming, and we already know how boring that
game is! Believe it or not, Sky Jinks is even less
interesting and more repetitive! Piloting a "P41 Racer" plane, you weave around red and white pylons while avoiding trees and hot air balloons. The fire button is used to accelerate, and your goal is to complete the course in the shortest time. Even when you get a feel for weaving through the pylons, Sky Jinks is never remotely fun. What did Activision see in this? The first game variation features a 25-pylon course which can be completed in about a minute. The courses in the remaining four variations range from 50 to 99 pylons in length, and these seem to take an eternity to complete. Sky Jink's high-resolution graphics are sparse but sharp, and all of the objects (including clouds) have shadows to convey depth. Your plane controls well, and the instructions even boast how it handles like "real flying". All I know is, if I get on a plane and see the pilot holding a cheap Atari joystick, I'm outta there! Sky Jinks is a rare dud released by Activision. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation(s): 1A
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1983)
Here's an oddball little game where you fly an airplane through a maze that scrolls up and down. Sky Skipper's gameplay involves bombing gorillas, which somehow cause animals to be "released" from nearby cages. Scoop them all up, and you're off to the next stage. Your plane is smoothly animated, but I can't say the same for the tiny animals. When released, they simply blink in and out of their cages, and it looks pathetic. I can't tell you why it was programmed like that, but I suspect it was pretty easy
to do it that way! Later levels feature tougher mazes and faster planes, but Sky Skipper's methodical gameplay is painfully monotonous. In the early stages, your plane tends to move very slowly (boring), but later it moves too fast, causing you to crash into everything. Sure, it's a challenge to avoid the walls, but not the "fun" sort of challenge. Any game that predicates its difficulty on a lack
of control has serious issues. Sky Skipper is also the only video game where your airplane can actually crash into a cloud
. Now that's just dumb. Sky Skipper is one of those brain-dead, tedious titles that will leave you asking, "What's the point?" Why a respectable company like Parker Bros. would put their name on a piece of junk like this is anybody's guess. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1979)
VEGAS!! What is the purpose of Slot Machine exactly? I still don't know. All you do is bet one to five coins and pull the handle of the machine. The graphics are unexciting, with blocky, indiscernable objects. Vegas! If you're brain-dead, you can even compete against the computer which places random bets. Playing Slot Machine conveys the excitement of winning money in a real casino, except without the money and without the casino and without the excitement. Vegas...zzzzz © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1978)
You won't have much fun playing this game, but you'll probably have a blast
just dogging on the thing. As one of the few two-player-only titles for the 2600, Slot Racers is a shooting match between cars in a maze. The basic premise is similar to Twisted Metal, but the two games are not likely to be confused with each other. I asked my friends Chris and Scott to give Slot Racers a try, and their initial reaction was an incredulous "Oh my God - this is horrible
". Each car can fire only one missile at a time, and the missiles seem to have a life of their own as they navigate the maze on their own accord. The front of your car has some kind of weird appendage mounted on the hood, prompting Chris to remark, "I feel like I have an elephant trunk
." I could insert a joke here, but it's just too easy!
Slot Racer's control scheme is counter-intuitive, and at any given time it's unclear whether you're guiding your car, your missile, or both. The default maze is uninspired, and the alternate mazes are so cluttered you can't possibly direct your shots. In some variations the missiles travel slower than the cars!
Slot Racers is so offensive that Scott said the game made him glad
to hear Atari "went out of business for the third time!
" © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Smurf: Rescue in Gargamel's Castle
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Smurf: Rescue in Gargamel's Castle looks amazing
on the Colecovision, and while this Atari 2600 incarnation is a lot blockier, it still delivers a good-natured, side-scrolling romp. Your mission is to rescue the lovely Smurfette, who is being held "far, far to the right". Don't you wish real life were like video games? "You're looking for the nearest Starbucks? Just keep heading to the right! And oh yeah - if you see a bat, duck!
" Rescue in Gargamel's Castle challenges you to guide a brave Smurf through series of contiguous screens as a well-orchestrated tune plays in the background. There's the fence-jumping screen with the hawk, a river-hopping screen with a snake, and a dark cave where you contend with a spider on a web. I like how the music changes to simulate the echo of the cave. Finally, you'll need to hop around some furniture in Gargamel's castle to reunite with Smurfette. And when your weary Smurf lays his eyes on that pixelated figure of hers, he'll be ready for some serious Smurfing action. I enjoyed the variety in this game. Sure, the scenery tends to be blocky as hell, but there are a remarkable number of colors on the screen at a given time. The controls take some getting used to. The normal jump (initiated by pushing up on the joystick) is pretty worthless, but following it up with second jump makes your Smurf execute a huge leap. Be careful not to touch anything, because even rubbing against a chair is fatal
. The game contains four skill levels, and I prefer the third one because it really requires a serious effort to rescue Smurfette even once. Smurf may not look as flashy on the 2600, but in terms of fun, it's all here. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation(s): 3
Our high score: 14,300
1 or 2 players
Select new range: [Previous] [A] [B] [C] [D-E] [F] [G] [H-L] [M] [N-O] [P-Q] [R] Sa-Sm [Sn-Sz] [T] [U-Z] [Next]
Screen shots courtesy of Atari Age, 2600 Connection
Return to Atari 2600 index
Return to Main Page
© Copyright 1999-2013 The Video Game Critic. The reviews presented on this site are intellectual property and are copyrighted. Reader-submitted reviews are the property of their respective authors. Any reproduction without the expressed written consent of the author is strictly prohibited. Anyone reproducing the site's copyrighted material improperly can be prosecuted in a court of law. Please report any instances of infringement to the site administrator.