Sunday, January 21, 2007

My Top 20 Atari 2600 Games

For Christmas 1981, I received an Atari 2600 & a few games. Over the next few years, I accumulated many, many games & played even more games with friends. This machine has obviously had a profound effect on me, as I've never stopped playing video games ever since.

This isn't a list of the best games of all-time, the most critically acclaimed or the most popular by fans. This is MY list, the ones I enjoyed playing the most & the ones I look back on most fondly.

This was difficult to narrow down this list to 40 or so before narrowing it down to 20. I may have even left off a game or two by accident.

Before I get to the Top 20, here's some that just missed the cut:

Air Sea Battle, Atlantis, Berzerk, Bowling, Cosmic Ark, Defender, Demons to Diamonds, Donkey Kong, Dragonfire, Enduro, Frogger, Kaboom!, Megamania, Ms. Pac Man, Phoenix, Pole Position, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Venture


I remember my grandmother buying me this game at Caldor in Vernon, CT. (I think I also nabbed a couple Star Wars figures that day, but that's a story for another day.)


Obviously, a Star Wars game holds extra-special memories. This was a unique game in that it allowed you to try & take out the nasty AT-ATs. Very cool.


This has to be one of the most in-depth 2600 game ever created. There was an overlay for the console that took advantage of every switch on the machine. It was a little too complicated for my young brain (X & Y axis?), however it was cool to watch the Shuttle take off.


Aside from Pac Man, this was probably the game I anticipated the most. I had a poster of the box art hanging in my room & played the heck out of it. It was fairly easy, so the challenge wasn't really there. Still a fun game though.


There will be a lot of Activision games on this list. They produced a ton of great games over the years. They also offered a patch for those who could achieve a certain high score & mail a picture of the screen in to prove it. (The father of the highly addictive Xbox 360 achievements??) This was a game I never had much luck in sniffing the patch, but it was still a blast to play.


A game that really captured the spookiness of being in a haunted house. This is the father of the Castlevania games that exploded on the NES a few years later.


Man, did I waste away many a Saturday morning playing this baby. A simple cops & robbers game that forced you to run the floors of a department store, trying to reach safety on the roof.


This was basically Pong, with many different variations, but it was still Pong. My Dad & I had many classic battles on this game.


Speaking of battles with Dad, this was another game we played a lot. It was as simple as the picture shows. 2 on 2 hockey, with some checking, simple passing & shooting. This was the game I could've earned a patch, but we couldn't get the picture without the flash screwing it up. :(


Probably the most maligned game of the era, one that definitely contributed to the Great Video Game Crash. It was obviously rushed out to capitalize on the success of the movie & the gameplay reflected that. I'm not sure if anyone was able to finish this game, but did I ever try.


One of the first games I had & along with Video Olympics, one of the two games that used the paddle controllers I played the most. I don't think I'll ever forget the sound of those balloons popping.


No, not the TV show. Just another great Activision game. This is the game I can still rack up a ridiculously high score. (Still no patch.)


This game was very similar to Defender, but better, in my opinion. This, along with Pitfall, spurred me to pen a book in 5th grade titled, "How to Win at Video Games". This chapter was called "Chop Chopper Command". (I still have the book somewhere.)


Who doesn't love Combat?? Everyone had one, as it was packed in with the majority of the 2600's sold. This was a great party game & the replay value was, and is, fantastic.


Another classic. There weren't many arcades around during this time for me (Norwichtown Mall, downtown Mystic), so I can't really speak to the closeness of this port to the arcade game. This version is the only one I know & I love it.


I have played the arcade version of Asteroids & to me, this version is far superior. It's probably the color asteroids that do it. I always loved the sound that was made when earning an extra life. I always thought it was the sound of the fry machines beeping at McDonald's.


I remember receiving this game for my 9th birthday in 1982 (along with a boombox & "Freezeframe" by the J. Giels Band) & thinking that this looked nothing like the game that everyone raves about. Still, I had a blast playing it over the years.


These next three games could really be a toss-up. All are equally great in my mind. I remember being transfixed by this game, loving the comic book that came with it to give the game a true backstory. I wasn't particularly good at it, but enjoy playing it to this day.


I probably logged the most hours played on this game. I loved the premise & it always presented a good challenge, but never too hard to make me stop playing. Still, no patch.


No surprise here. This is probably #1 on most people's list. This is an all-time classic & has spurned many variations on many different consoles over the years. The chapter in my book dedicated to Pitfall was cleverly named "Pound Pitfall". Still, no patch.


Mike said...

Dude, what a phenomenal list. Can't really argue with your rankings. I would have had pole position in the top 20....but the problem is, not sure what i would have thrown out! great stuff...especially the visuals.

Adrian Gainsborough said...

You have here a great list!! I agree with almost all choices!! Is so good to know that there are persons who still love these amazing games...Sorry for my terrible english.rsrs Bye guy!!