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Atari 2600 Friday’s #51 – Scuba Diver

I feel like I should make an interesting note about this game here. Scuba Diver comes in the standard cartridge as most atari games do, however it only has an end label, there is no front label.

The Story: This really looks a lot like the NES version of Jaws when you go underwater to hunt fish. It’s just a diver looking for treasure, how rich will he get?

From the Manual: Nothing in the Manual, goes right into how to play the game.

From the Box: No information on back of box. Mostly Copyright Info.

The Game Play: The manual says there are two levels. Hunting for fish, and searching for treasure. You start with your diver sitting in his boat. You can jump into the water when no fish are below you and thus the game begins. You gain control of your diver when h reaches a certain depth and you have 4 divers to work with. When you gain control you can start shooting fish. While underwater, the scoreboard disappears and a 60 second oxygen timer is shown. So there is a time limit to how long you can stay under.  Then you have to return to the boat to deposit your catch and catch you breath before going back in. It is worth note that you will have to be careful with your aim as you will not be able to move until your harpoon returns, so only shoot when it’s safe to do so.

When you catch all the fish on screen and move into the sunken ship, the game moves on to Level 2. Watch your oxygen supply, it continues from level 1. Watch the walls, they are sticky and hard to get free from. There are also 3 sea monsters inside the ship you cannot harm, they protect the treasure and can move through walls. Apparently you can only grab one chest at a time, so keep that and your oxygen in mind.

The Controls: Up/Down/Left/Right Movement. Red Button fires the harpoon.

Post Review: I’m going to start of by saying I was excited to try this unusual cart. However on trying to play it, I find that I literally cannot even, it is pro tier difficult. The fish all come straight for you, the harpoon easily misses its target, and the most asinine part of this game would be, that when you jump into the water, your diver goes most of the way to the bottom  before you gain control, it is almost impossible to get in the water without dieing before you can move, only to shot maybe on fish before another one near it has swarmed you. All it takes is one pixel from the tail to kill you. I want to play this game, but it’s going to take of time and patience waiting for things to line up to even consider jumping into the water. Maybe you will have more luck than I did.

High Score: 0


Atari 2600 Friday’s #50 – Shark Attack

Who thought a game about diving for treasure would take place in Loch Ness, and what were spanish galleons doing in a lake? does this confirm the underwater tunnels connecting to the ocean? so many theories here. Oh right, we’re supposed to be concerned with the treasure.

The Story: You are diving for lost spanish treasure, while avoiding sharks and for some reason the Loch Ness monster…

From the Manual: “You are a deep sea diver in search of a fabulous treasure of diamonds that spilled from the hold of a Spanish galleon that sank during a fierce storm in the early sixteenth century. You dive deep into the murky darkness of Dave Jones’ Locker, and enter the shark-infested maze of kelp to retrieve the treasure. You know your mission is rife with danger…the menace of the man-eating sharks that patrol the kelp beds…the lurking menace of the legendary Loch Ness monster, a beast that will pursue you relentlessly if you dare invade its territory.”

From the Box: “You are searching for a fabulous treasure of diamonds that spilled from the hold of a sunken Spanish galleon. You dive into the murky darkness and enter the shark-infested maze of kelp. You accept the danger…the terrible man-eating sharks and the lurking menace of the Loch Ness monster will pursue you relentlessly.”

The Game Play: Move through the maze of kelp to get to the treasure while avoiding sharks and the Loch Ness monster. Don’t get too close to the kelp, it will slow down your movement. You get three divers, and a new diver every 100 points, Game over when you lose all your divers. There are two game modes, in ‘pic’m up’ you can only grab one diamond at a time, in ‘gobble’ you must get them back to the shark cage. So you gain points by collecting diamonds, which are only permanently added to your score when you get them back to the shark cage. Take too long and the shark will eat you and you’ll lose your points. Players also have control over the shark cage, which side the door is on and how often it opens. Sharks will move across the maze, though walls and eating up diamonds…even stealing them if it bumps into the cage. You cannot kill sharks, you are only safe in the cage with the door closed. There are caves in the corner of the map you can use to randomly teleport to another corner. Use this to help avoid the sharks. Nessie will also appear from one of the four caves when disturbed. You cannot kill Nessie either and she will only stop chasing you when you lead her back to any of the caves, the shark cage wont protect you from Nessie either.

The Controls: Up/Down/Left/Right/Diagonal Movement. Red Button closes the shark cage door in modes that allow it.

Post Review: So, this is actually a fun and interesting game. You do have to watch out though, because I had a few instances where I was on the edge of the map and a shark entered right next to me for unavoidable death. Once you collect every diamond on screen, more will appear once you deposit what you are holding into the cage. The cage by the way is that lone green bar in the center of the screen, you have to hold against it to deposit your diamonds. The enemies move quick, but I was actually able to lead Nessie away back to the caves.

High Score: 71

Atari 2600 Friday’s #49 – Desert Falcon

Sorry I have been so sporadic on these. I’ve been lazy since the holidays and I’m starting to run low on games, so I’m sort of trying to make them last. But I felt like doing this today so here we go!

The Story: You are the royal Desert falcon scouring the desert in search of priceless gems.

From the Manual: “All around you are long stretches of sand, ancient pyramids baking in the hot dead air, and constant danger. The legends that brought you here are 30 centuries old. The tales tell of thieves who plundered the Pharaoh’s tomb, loading bags of gold, silver, and precious gems onto their camels, then making off into the desert. But in the night, horrible desert beasts pursued the robbers, and the priceless treasure was scattered and lost. Not even a camel
was ever seen again. Now you search for the lost treasure, daring the beaks and claws of the desert guardians. As you scan the endless sand for the glitter of jewels, your eye catches sight of gliding shadows. Something’s coming! You could turn back now and be safe. Or you could go on, and dare to steal the Pharaoh’s jewels.

From the Box: “Dare to Steal the Pharoah’s Jewels! You are the royal Desert Falcon questing for precious gems and Eqyptian hieroglyphs hidden in the endless desert. Invincibility, warp speed, and quick shots are only some of the many magical powers you’ll gain on your search. Use them to capture a trove of treasures. But watch out for the evil ones! Mythical flying beasts, blazing firepots, and howling sphinxes guard the jewels you seek.”

The Game Play: You fly around the desert collecting gems and avoiding the enemy creatures. You can protect yourself by firing darts. You start with five lives, and lose one each time you are hit by an enemy or crash. You gain a bonus life every 10,000 points up to a maximum of 4 extra lives. The end of each desert track brings you to a sphinx you must shoot in the middle of it’s face, while dodging enemies and darts, in order to continue on. Destroying the sphinx lets you into a bonus round, where you grab as many treasures as possible in the time allotted with no enemies attacking you. Hop over any three hieroglyphs to gain super powers. Hieroglyphs are Ankh, Bowl, Eye, Man, Bird, Cane, Feather, and Sun Over Water. The powers are mostly helpful, but some at higher difficulty levels are actually detrimental.

Super Powers are: Air Bomb, destroys all flying enemies and darts on screen. Decoy, enemies will attack this instead of you. Hold Sphinx, the Sphinx is unable to spawn enemies or darts. Invincible, you cannot die. Omnicide, all enemies on screen are destroyed. Points, you get free points. Polywater, you can fly and hop but not swim. Roulette, you get two random hieroglyphs with the next determining your power. Shackles, you can fly and swim but not hop. Warp, you fly at lightning speed to the sphinx.

The Controls: Left/Right moves Left/Right. Fly/Gain Altitude by pulling the handle back. Land/Hop/Swim by pushing the handle forward. Red Button to Fire Darts. Quickly push Red Button twice to activate powers.

Post Review: This game is hard. Hard. Enemies and darts are barely on screen long enough to dodge, you have to be quick. On higher levels it feels like they home in. I quickly adopted a strategy of weaved flying and avoiding treasures and points just to reach the sphinx. Resulting in little to no points. The sphinx is a whole new issue, I’m not sure how many shots he takes to kill. One death resets you to a checkpoint just before the sphinx, I fired many shots at him towards the face without killing him, and his projectiles have even less time to dodge essentially coming from half a screen away. So lets recap, even on novice I never completed a level. This game would require more practice and effort than I normally put into these reviews, which as you all know by now I purposely only do a few attempts through the game for a beginners view. Be prepared to spend a little longer at this game to get good at it and focus on survival more than points in the beginning.

High Score: 1500 Novice, 850 Standard.

Atari 2600 Friday’s #48 – Combat

Alright, The holidays are over. I guess I have to stop being lazy at some point and get back to these right? Well, this week the randomizer picked Combat, I guess we haven’t done this one yet, so lets get to it. Combat actually shipped with the Atari Console, so it is extremely common.

The Story: There is no story for Combat, Just Military Warfare.

From the Manual: Nothing in the Manual

From the Box: Just a List of Game Modes -“Tank, Tank-Pong, Bi-Plane, Invisible Tank, and Jet”

The Game Play: Combat is a Two-Player game. You work to defeat the opponent. In normal games the missiles fire in a straight line. In guided missile games you can curve your shots by using the left and right joystick commands. In ping pong games, shots ricochet off of walls. There is also an invisible mode where your tanks are only visible when they fire, get hit, or bump into walls.

The Controls: For the Tank and Jet Games – Joystick Up/Down/Left/Right/Diagonals for movement.

For Bi Plane Games – Left for Decelerate, Right for Accelerate. Left Down for Slow Climb, Down for Medium Climb, Right Down for Fast Climb. Left Up for Slow Dive, Up for Medium Dive, Right Up for fast Dive.

All Games – Red button fires.

Post Review: You honestly can’t so much without another player. There is one biplane mode I believe that two players can face off against an AI, but otherwise without controller input nothing will move. It gets boring in seconds playing against opponents that don’t move or fight back. Do yourself a favor, grab a friend and try out combat. The Atari 2600 is one of the great consoles to have a little split screen fun for the variety of games it has.

Atari 2600 Friday’s #47 – Word Zapper

I think I missed last week, I’ve been a little busy with Christmas and trying to get presents for people. but here we are with a new game.

The Story: Apparently, An “evil” sentient scroll is challenging you to a spelling bee, taunting you to duplicate the words it shows, with a time limit.

From the Manual: “Word Zapper is a one or two-player, full color, action game with 24 variations, designed to be played on the ATARI (R) Video Computer System (TM) or Sears Video Arcade. The Joystick Controller links you with a most profound vehicle of amusement, the rotary wing Word Zapper. It is armed with vertical and horizontal firing lasers and capable of incredible maneuverability. Opposing you is the Scroll — a diabolic device designed to wear out the wrist an boggle the mind. The Scroll parades the alphabet across the screen, taunting you to duplicate a word or scrambled letters flashed at the bottom of the screen. You must shoot each letter in perfect order, and you must match three words or letter combinations within 99 seconds. Sounds easy? Wait until you meet the Scroll’s friend, the Asteroids.”

From the Box: Unfortunately this is one where they cheaped out and used the same text for the manual and box. “Word Zapper is a one or two-player, full color, action game with 24 variations, designed to be played on the ATARI (R) Video Computer System (TM) or Sears Video Arcade. The Joystick Controller links you with a most profound vehicle of amusement, the rotary wing Word Zapper. It is armed with vertical and horizontal firing lasers and capable of incredible maneuverability. Opposing you is the Scroll — a diabolic device designed to wear out the wrist an boggle the mind. The Scroll parades the alphabet across the screen, taunting you to duplicate a word or scrambled letters flashed at the bottom of the screen. You must shoot each letter in perfect order, and you must match three words or letter combinations within 99 seconds. Sounds easy? Wait until you meet the Scroll’s friend, the Asteroids.”

The Game Play: When you start the game depending on what difficulty you choose, a word or random letters will appear at the bottom of the screen. You have to remember this, it will appear for about four seconds and then disappear, this is the word you must spell. When they disappear the letters will start scrolling at the top of the screen, you have to shoot them in order of what was shown. You have 99 seconds to shoot down three words. The game ends when you shoot down three words, get struck by a doomsday asteroid or run out of time. There are four types of asteroids: Doomsday ends the game (these make a very distinctive noise when they show up), scroller mixes up the scrolling letters, bonker bonks the zapper to the side, and zonker zonks the zapper to the side. Of course you can shoot the asteroids just as well as the letters, nad you get a freebie letter substitute for every five asteroids shot.

The Controls: Joystick Left/Right plus red button fires to the side. Red button fires up.

Post Review: Okay, there is no real scoring system here except how many of the three words you manage to get in 99 seconds, so feel free to shoot as many letters and asteroids as you feel like or just dodge them all.  It took me a few tried to figure out how everything worked. First of all, I thought you had to restart every word when you messed up a letter, this is not true, just keep looking for whatever letter you are on, for example in alien, if you have I and and mess up E by shooting any other letter, just keep looking for E. The letters move pretty fast and there are a lot of asteroids to dodge so watch out.

High Score: Zapper, I beat whatever mode I was playing on.

Atari 2600 Friday’s #46 – Alien

Better than a facehugger escort.

The Story: Aliens are invading the Nostromo, crush their eggs and kill the Aliens to defend your ship.

From the Manual: “Your job is to run through the hallways of your space ship and crush all the Alien Eggs which have been placed there. You must also avoid or destroy the adult Aliens and snatch up as many prizes as possible.”

From the Box: “Ever since you left that last planet, you’ve been bothered by eerie sounds coming from somewhere in the hull of Nostromo, your giant transport cruiser. After setting the ship’s controls on autopilot, you descend to have a look. Yow! Every hallway i the entire maze-like hull has been lined with the grotesque eggs of some gruesome space creature. Quickly you sprint down the corridor crushing the eggs as you go. Then you see it! A hideous being with jaws like a beartrap. You run away from this brutal beast, not wishing to end up as an intergalactic snack. You turn a corner and stare unbelievingly. Another Alien is just ahead. Don’t bother calling for help. Remember, in space o one can hear you scream.”

The Game Play: Okay, I’m going to level with you, Alien is basically Pac-Man. You work through the mazes stomping on eggs (eating pellets), avoiding the Aliens (ghosts), and trying to clear each board to move on to the next. Every other level is a bonus stage where all you do is get 8 seconds to reach a bonus point prize at the top of the screen, it works like frogger, just ove forward and avoid the Aliens crossing back and forth. If you get hit by an Alien you lose a life, you gain a new life after the first or second screen depending on difficulty level. You can warp between the sides of the screen like Pac-Man. There are pulsars in the corners of the screen, which weaken Aliens and let you run them over (power pellets and eating the ghosts in pac-man). Alien however equips each Human with a flamethrower, which has four second of flame and can either immobilize or make Aliens run away. It really is basically pac-Man with a small twist.

The Controls: Joystick Up/Down/Left/Right to move up/down/left/right. Red button fires the flamethrower.

Post Review: I originally played this when I picked it up, which I did because I love Alien. It’s a fun pac-man spinoff type game. I should note that the flamethrower did not work for me and only shoots horizontally anyways, so don’t try to move up and down and shoot that way, it won’t work. I also did not notice the pulsars working, so maybe mine console is stuck on a higher difficulty level. Not much to say here, It’s pac-man Alien themed.

High Score: 1731, My cart/console decided to die in the middle of my best play.

Atari 2600 Friday’s #45 – Fast Food

I hope you are hungry, because it is time to “eat all the things!”…

The Story: Eat all the food, get fatter…Be an average American.

From the Manual: “Burgers, fries, shakes, pizzas . . . Flying by at sub-gastronomical speeds. You and Mr. Mouth have to catch ’em if you can. The higher the calorie count, the better your score. The more calories you consume the faster the food flies. But beware the purple pickles! Catch too many and your binge is over. No matter how much you eat, you’ll never gain a pound.”

From the Box: “Burgers, Fries, shakes, pizzas…Flying by at sub-gastronomical speeds. You and Mr. Mouth have to catch ’em if you can. The higher the calorie count, the better your score. The more calories you consume the faster the food flies. But beware the purple pickles! Catch too many and your binge is over. Fast Food – it’ll satisfy the appetite of every video game hot dog.”

The Game Play: So the object of the game is to eat all the fast food and get fatter while avoiding the healthy purple pickles. You control a mouth, which eats all the food, that can move in all four directions. This game plays similar to how a shooter plays except you don’t shoot anything. The food comes scrolling across from the left and you have to eat or avoid it. There is no penalty for missing food. The food speeds up as you get fatter. Collect six of the purple pickles and it’s game over.

The Controls: Joystick Up/Down/Left/Right to move left/right. Red button starts each round.

Post Review: It’s a fun little diversion, but it can be tough as food speeds up. some of it crosses the screen in a second or two. Sometimes you will get a purple pickle just from it going at super sonic unavoidable speeds. I noticed once my purple pickle count went down, this seems to happen every 500 points and wasn’t really listed anywhere and isn’t in a lot of guides…I had to google it after it happened so i’m sharing the information.

High Score: 787

Atari 2600 Friday’s #44 – Pitfall II: Lost Caverns

I missed last week because I went to a 3-day weekend anime convention, but we are back this week with Pitfall 2: Lost Caverns!

The Story: Pitfall Harry and Company got lost or god knows what while exploring a cavern, it’s time to go save them.

From the Manual: “We were all pretty worried about Pitfall Harry. We sent him and his niece, Rhonda, along with Quickclaw the cat, on a treacherous journey to an underground cavern. Well, not a word was heard from him–until
today. We now present you with Pitfall Harry’s diary–the journal he’s been keeping in the lost caverns. It arrived this morning by carrier condor. Typical of Harry.”

From the Box: “A call from crane, a call to danger! …Here I am, Pitfall Harry, plummeting toward the dark thunder of rushing water below…and thinking of the night David Crane called. “I hope you’re well-rested” he had said. Too rested, I said. I was ready for action. He asked if I’d heard tales of the legendary lost caverns of Machu Picchu in Peru. Or of a roaring, uncharted underground tributary of of the Urubamba River replete with waterfalls and deadly electric eels. “Yes” I said. He asked if I knew of the infamous, cursed Raj Diamond. Or of the recent robbery of gold bars from the U.S. Gold Bullion Depository in Fort Knox. And had I heard of vampire bats? Poisonous frogs? Albino scorpions? The dreaded Andean Condor? “Yes” I said. And could I still run? Climb? Jump? Could I…swim? “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.” “Good said Crane. Then you’ll do it?” “Of course” I said. If only I had known…”

The Game Play: Your goal is to find Rhonda, Quickclaw and the Raj Diamond, doing so ends the game. There is no time limit so you can take your time. For a bonus perfect score of 199,000 points you need to find Rhonda, Quickclaw, the Diamond, 28 gold bars, and a stone age rat all without falling peril to a single danger.  Red crosses in the game act like a modern day checkpoint, find one and you can “respawn” there if you fall peril to a danger. Dangers include poisonous frogs, bats, condors, electric eels, albino scorpions and pitfalls of course. There is a shaft where you can grab balloons to cross the pit, but be careful you can only let go if a bat pops the balloon, make sure the bat doesn’t hit you.

The Controls: Joystick Left/Right to move left/right. Up/Down to climb ladders, control balloon speed. Red button is jump.

Post Review: This game is a horror. I had to pull up a map to know where to go, my god this game is huge. The checkpoints are a blessing and a curse, you have to watch harry run back to the last one every time you hit something….EVERYTIME! this gets old quick. The music while fun, was starting to wear one me, it’s about the same 10 or so notes on repeat. I was also having trouble getting harry to climb ladders and not just fall down the shaft, this and a few bats I couldn’t see against the black background cause me to quit. I’m sure someone on an emulator will have a better time. Oh and did I mention watching Harry run back to the last checkpoint? Thank god for modern teleporting back. I’m not entirely amused by the game, but I’m sure some people like it, I do prefer the original. I get worse at games as I get madder, and between the few note repeat grating on me and watching harry run back every 30 seconds, I was done. Pitfall 2 has some pluses and minuses. Decide how they weigh out for you.

High Score: I had 20,000 at one point, then I hit the first shaft and quit after 5-6 falls

Pitfall II: Lost Caverns was one of the games that you could win a patch by sending in a screenshot of a high score, 99,000 or higher.

Atari 2600 Friday’s #43 – Skiing

At least there’s no abominable snowman….right? there’s no abominable snowman right? guys?

The Story: Skiing, as close as you can get to the real thing….and NO abominable snowmen.

From the Manual: “Now you can ski all year long without worrying about tight boots, cold hands, long lift lines–or whether it snows! Skiing by ACTIVISION challenges you with a wide variety of slalom and downhill runs, designed for everyone from amateur to pro. Even if you’ve never been on a pair of skis, you can be a champion skier with Skiing by ACTIVISION. Read these instructions to find out how to make record-breaking runs without getting wrapped around a tree or crashing into a gate.”

From the Box: “For one daring skier at a time. Step into your skis and defog your goggles. A wide variety of slopes – from gradual warm-up runs to high-speed Olympic thrillers – lies in wait, with never an icy patch or exposed rock to worry about. You can ski all day (or night) without getting frostbite, and you never have to wait in a lift line! See if you can get through the slalom gates in record time. Learn to jump the treacherous moguls and dodge the trees hurtling by as you race downhill. Whether your an experienced snow skier or just someone who’s always wanted to try, Skiing by Activision is as close as you can get to the real thing – without leaving the comfort of your home.”

The Game Play: Games 1-4 and 6-9 will always be the same every time, games 5 and 10 will be randomized each time you start up the game. To start skiing, move the joystick. Tap it left and right to change direction left and right all the way to horizontal. You will move fastest when your skis are pointed straight down. Slalom: Run through the gates as fast as possible, try not to hit anything or you will lose time getting back up. In slalom mode, the red button resets you to the top of the course. Downhill: Race down the hill as fast as you can, no gates to worry about. Red Button will not reset you in downhill mode and instead makes you jump.

The Controls: Joystick Left/Right to tip skis and change direction.

Post Review: It’s about what you’d expect from Atari 2600 Skiing. It is actually pretty good and feels like an early version of SkiFree, Look that up too if you don’t know what it is. Slalom was dead on. left and right alternations to get through the goals. You can move further to the side by tilting more. There really isn’t a whole lot to say here, the screenshot describes it better than any text wall can.

High Score: Slalom Course ? – 35.59

Skiing was one of the games that you could win a patch by sending in a screenshot of fast times. “To qualify, you must run slalom course 3 (Game 3) in under 28.2 seconds.”

Atari 2600 Friday’s #42 – Space Cavern

Prometheus the game?

The Story: Space Adventurers land on a planet and explore it’s caves full of dangerous aliens.

From the Manual: “You are in command of a Mark XIV intergalactic star-cruiser in an uncharted quadrant of outer space. You land on a mysterious planet riddled with a subterranean maze of tunnels and caverns inhabited by savage Electrosauri whose horns generate electro-molecular charges capable of disintegrating you and your crew. Your photon ray pistol is activated by the joystick and the fire button. The iridescent eyes of the electrosauri light the cavern walls with eerie flashes as they stalk you, their horns crackling and sizzling. If even one blast of electro-molecular energy strikes you, your skeleton will glow inside your body as the bio-molecular compounds of your body disintegrate. WARNING: Beware the savage attack of the shaggy marsupods.”

From the Box: “You command an intergalactic star cruiser that has landed on a mysterious planet riddled with smokey caverns inhabited by savage Electrosauri whose horns generate deadly electro-molecular charges. The Electrosauri stalk you, their horns crackling and sizzling. If even one blast of energy strikes you, your skeleton will glow as you disintegrate. “

The Game Play: You start with 4 men and gain another every 20,000 points, with 4 being the max at any time. The game can be played with two players, but they alternate turned. Supposedly there are 48 variations to choose from. Annnnnnnnd, that’s all the information in the manual. I’m assuming this is a shooter going by the screen shot, so lets get started I guess.

The Controls: Joystick Left/Right to move. Down to fire right. Up to fire left. Red Button to fire up.

Post Review: This game is slightly unforgiving, and somewhat easy. The enemy fire can be slightly hard to dodge, but they move in somewhat random predictable ways. I say random because sometimes they would go cray and others just move up and down in one spot. Predictable because My best ‘strategy’ was to stand almost in one spot and shoot up, left or right when an enemy appeared. Speaking of which, you definitely have to watch all three directions, but points only come from those above you. Sometime you can get hit immediately after spawning, so it’s easy to go through all 4 lives quickly depending how you play and your luck. Space Cavern, a shooter that makes you watch 3 different directions…

High Score: 4245

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