The Good, the Bad & The Ugly of Atari 2600

The Atari 2600 made a lot of games, I mean a lot.  And given the technical limitations it has compared to today, when looking back, there can sometimes be a huge gaming disconnect.  Well, I’m here to steer you right from wrong on games that still have value and merit and were ahead of their time and which ones are just plain awful.


The Good:

Star Wars Jedi Arena: Just in time for the new movie to drop, I checked out this early SW game. It’s basically the training scene from A New Hope where Luke is first learning to use the Force.  You control a blue lightsaber and are opposed by a red one; the training droid is flying around trying to zap you and need to deflect his blow to the red saber.  It’s a bit weird getting used to at first, but once you do it’s pretty fun.  We were actually in character doing it, and would much rather use the Force than have a blaster at our side.

Plus, it plays the Star Wars theme at the top of the game!  And the training droid’s graphics and sound effects are pure Atari-Awesomeness.


Playability/Controls- 6       Graphics- 6.5        Music/Sound- 9.5      Replay Value- 7     Originality- 8.5    Final: 75%

Pole Position: Everybody knows this one.  Pole Position is the first racing game that actually felt like controlling a fast car in a race.  You have a fully realized track, with obstacles and other vehicles.   The sound effects are badass and hit harder on your stereo system than a Connor MacGregor knockout punch.  Just play this and experience the OG of all racing games.  Forza should be thanking Pole Position in a speech somewhere.


Playability/ Controls-  8.5       Graphics- 6       Music/Sound- 6.5     Replay Value- 7     Originality- 5.5     Final: 67%

Real Sports Volleyball: Okay let’s get real; I mean Real Sports; Atari has a whole line ofthese games that is an update from most of their original line of sports games, which looking back , are almost quite unplayable.   This one though, is true volleyball action.  I don’t know how many of you played volleyball as a kid but it’s a pretty fun, physical sport.   The game tests you in the same way.  It’s a challenging game because you’re goal is to knock this ball over the net but you only get a shadow to hit your mark from and the hit detection has to be nearly dead on.  I got into this one big time.


Playability/Controls- 8.5         Graphics- 2.5       Music/Sound- 1.5     Replay Value- 9     Originality- 7      Final: 57%


The Bad:

Kool Aid Man: Game begins with a cut scene that takes you back to childhood and fills your lungs with sugar.   Kool-Aid Man busts through a wall and is all smiles moseying on to his next destination. Next thing you know, (best I can tell) you’re fighting off alien heads that are trying to put giant straws into a huge glass of Kool-Aid and suck all the colored nectar out of it.  The controls are atrocious and once or twice I did actually transform my bouncy icon into the esteemed Kool – Aid fun-party and take out some heads, but other than that , I didn’t know what was happening but I know I didn’t like it.


Playability/Controls- .5        Graphics- 3        Music/Sound- 5.5     Replay Value- 1    Originality- 6       Final: 32%

Catmouse: A Pac-Man variant where you’re a cat running from mice.   Let me see if I can sum up my confusion with one statement:  ?

Why are you afraid of the mice and running from them?  What are you collecting in this maze?   Why are the damn mice so much faster than you?  Why are there no pellets to actually take out the mice out?  I can’t figure out who thought any of this would work.


Playability/Controls- 4.5       Graphics- 5       Music/Sound- 3      Replay Value- 5.5        Originality- .5       Final: 37%


The Ugly:

Homerun Baseball:   Ugh.  Awful, static graphics.  A green background constitutes the field itself.  Red outlined characters for players.   Awful mechanics.   Just don’t.  There is 1 million baseball games out there; don’t do this to yourself.


Playability/ Controls- 0       Graphics- .5       Music/Sound- 0    Replay Value- .5    Originality- 0    Final: 2%

Boggle: It’s Boggle.  Everyone knows how to play Boggle.  Except this is the worst possible version ever.    A black screen shows the letters which are harder to see than actually playing the board game version.   You know what, just play the board game.   You could find it at a yard sale for $2.


Playability/ Controls- 1        Graphics- 0     Music/Sound- 0     Replay Value- 2    Origniality- 1     Final: 8%



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