Top 25 Atari 2600 Games

For this week's Ranked!, we decided to rank out favorite Atari 2600 games. Here are our Top 25:

25. Jungle Hunt
24. Spy Hunter
23. Dig Dug
22. Gauntlet
21. Joust
20. Mountain King
19. Pole Position
18. Q*bert
17. River Raid
16. Donkey Kong
15. Night Driver
14. Asteroids
13. Berzerk
12. Haunted House
11. Combat
10. Super Breakout
9. Defender
8. Centipede
7. Yar's Revenge

6. Frogger
Back in the day my parents wouldn't let us get an Atari 2600, but my neighbors across the street got one, so some afternoons before Voltron we'd run over to play a little Atari. And yeah, Space Invaders was pretty cool but it was Frogger that really grabbed me. Thanks to the evil geniuses at Konami, I graduated into dropping many, many quarters on Frogger at birthday parties at places like Chuck E Cheese and Showbiz Pizza. Frogger was one of my games. And then we finally got it at home on my Apple II+ thanks to Sierra On-Line (holla if you remember Roberta William and the Sierra games my nerds!). I'm pretty sure that game might have been the first time I cursed. Because it looked so simple: move your frog across the road, across the grass, and across the river into a home base. In practice, it was devilishly difficult. The stupid race cars that would mow you down. The hard to see lawn snakes. The timing in the river. STUPID DAMN FROG MOVE ALREADY! God I loved that game. --Archphoenix

5. Kaboom!
Kaboom! was a paddle game and a very simple one at that: a criminal dropped bombs that you had to catch in your three buckets of water. Miss a bomb, lose a bucket. Lose all three buckets, GAME OVER. This game was tricky, but it could be beaten. Even though as the game progressed and the bombs dropped at a breakneck pace, there was still a pattern to be seen, a method to the madness.

Rumors began circulating at my middle school of a young child in Nepal (or maybe it was Poughkeepsie) reaching 10,000 points and "beating the game." None of us knew what it meant, but we knew we had to try. On one particularly special spring day, it was my turn at the paddle in front of our 13-inch black and white TV.

After a few minutes, a hush fell over the room. I had over 9,000 points and two buckets remaining. I hit the button to continue the game, inching closer and closer to the magic number.

Finally, I hit 10,000 and my friend yelled, "HIS FACE CHANGED!"

His Face Changed!

His face changed.

His face changed?

That's it?

Yes, I "beat" the game that day. Did I get some cool alternate ending, a song and dance number, the code screen? Nope. I was treated to the bomber giving me an 8-bit O-face.--Chris

4. Space Invaders
Did you know that if your parents go through a messy, kid-alienating divorce and you develop an addiction to drugs early in life (eat your heart out, Drew Barrymore: I got the jump on you) that you can find deep, deep solace in getting baked with Kim [REDACTED]'s older brother* and playing Space Invaders for three hours every Thursday afternoon while Kim goes to Girl Scouts or some shit? Did you also know that when all the parents involved find out, they will be infinitely more freaked out and punish-y about the fact that you were sitting on a bed in the master bedroom while no adults were present than they would be about the weed? Never mind that your eyeballs never left the screen and your hands never left the joystick because you were absolutely mesmerized with the goings-on beyond the fourth wall.

Thank you, Space Invaders, for keeping me off the streets and in the master bedroom of an upper middle-class home. Your chunk-chunk-chunk rhythmic alien marching was as comforting as the heartbeat in a womb, and the sense of victory I got from saving the planet by blowing aggressive pixelated interlopers away helped me to feel a semblance of control over a life that was careening in a myriad of ways. --Jett Superior

*honestly nowhere NEAR as creepy as it comes across written out like that

3. Adventure
I remember the first time I faced the red dragon. My hands were clammy around the joystick as I guided my dot's arrow towards the beast. Mess up here and it's back to the start. I moved forward and thwarted the mighty 8-bit beast, and my thirst for action-adventure games began.

There would be no Call Of Duty without Adventure. No Halo. No Grand Theft Auto. Adventure was the great-grandfather of all adventure video games. The premise was pretty simple, as were the graphics. You were a dot (knight) carrying an arrow (sword) trying to return a goblet-type thing (the enchanted chalice) whist defeating dragons. But the gameplay was addictive and sometimes frustratingly maddening. (Remember having to pass through a wall using a magic bridge?) For a seemingly simple game, Adventure was pretty sophisticated and would offer a glimpse of the future of gaming. It was the first game to have a hidden easter egg. It was amazingly popular. If you had an Atari 2600, you probably had an Adventure cartridge. --Daddy Geek Boy

2. Missile Command
I grew up playing video games in the days when arcades were everywhere. In fact, coin-op video games in that era were almost literally on every corner--every pizza shop, grocery store, convenience store, and deli had at least one. I dropped a lot of quarters in the arcade but, like every kid in those days, I wanted to be able to bring those games home. In the days before arcade games became affordable enough to fill my basement with them, that meant the Atari 2600.

The 2600 (or VCS as it was known originally) didn't start out as such a popular game system. It wasn't until Atari came up with the brilliant idea of grabbing the home console rights to the most popular arcade games of the day that everybody wanted one. When I saved up my paper route money and bought a 2600 and the Space Invaders cartridge, I was (for a short time) the most popular kid on the block.

None of the home versions of coin-op games were perfect (and some were pretty bad), but there were a handful that were both faithful to the original game and fun in their own right. The best of the bunch in my collection was definitely Missile Command. Playing with the joystick as opposed to the trackball that was found on the coin-op version took some getting used to, but the control system was pretty well implemented. There was also the fact that the arcade version had three fire buttons--one for each missile base. This figured heavily into the strategy of the arcade game because you had to decide which missile base to use based on the amount of distance your shot had to travel to take out the oncoming missiles you were aiming at. The 2600 only had one fire button, so the missile base selection was automatic. This made the game easier to play. That was fine with me, because--although I love the game--I suck at Missile Command.

The other thing that the Missile Command cartridge had was a choice of difficulty levels. I usually played on the setting that was closest to the arcade difficulty. There was one time, however, that I wanted to see how long I could play the game in a single marathon session. One Sunday morning, I set the cartridge on the most basic difficulty and started playing. About 8 hours later, I finally gave up. I could have kept going another 8 hours easily...I just decided I'd rather watch TV for a while rather than playing it.

I sold my 2600 back in the '80s, but when I got another one a few years back, I made sure that I picked up a copy of Missile Command for my collection. I've got the real thing in my basement now, but it still kicks my ass. It's nice to go back to the 2600 version from time to time to show those ICBMs who's in charge. --Dave

1. Pitfall!
For me, the Atari 2600 years can be split into two eras: Before Pitfall! and After Pitfall!. Before Pitfall! was marked with relatively simplistic, blocky games that roughly emulated my favorite arcade games. But when Pitfall! arrived--with its bright colors, multi-screen puzzles, and Indiana Jones aesthetic--it was like a veil was lifted from my eyes. Why settle for ricochet tanks or paddle balls when you can leap over rolling logs and jump on crocodile heads? It was the moment for me when video games went from "cool" to "AWESOME!"

What's not to love? It virtually invented the "platformer" genre of video games (where you run and jump from ledges and ropes). It actually had a definable goal--32 treasures in 20 minutes--and required a great balance of skill and patience. I remember my screams when I the tar pit unexpectedly opened up beneath me, and my frustrations backtracking when a tunnel was blocked by a wall. But the joy of timing your jumps so you swing over crocodiles without landing on the scorpions is still there for me. In a recent video game, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, I found my character (Wolverine, I think) suddenly and surprisingly transformed into a pixelated version of Pitfall Harry and forced to jump across the same quicksand to save Jean Grey. The first word out of my mouth, 28 years later? "AWESOME!"

But don't just take my word for it. Let young Jack Black tell you all about it! --CroutonBoy

[image 1|image 2|image 3|image 4|image 5|image 6|image 7]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...