EZ Racer's Blog

Posted on Oct 14th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (EZ Racer)
Posted under Atari 2600, pitfall, Yars Revenge, retro, HERO, H.E.R.O.

As we inch closer to the end of 2020, it's time to take a look at one of the earliest mainstream home consoles.

Released in 1977, the Atari 2600 library featured hundreds of titles, both 1st party and 3rd party. But it was also notorius for it's lack of quality control, which contributed to the video game market crashing in the early 80's. That doesn't tell the whole story, as there were many fun and memorable experiences to be had on the system, with several games inspiring whole genres in future game generations.

So what were some of the best the system had to offer? We had six participants weigh in, with some very interesting results.



One thing that stuck out on this list was how tight some of the positions were, with #12-#14 separated by 1 point, #4-#6 separated by 1 point, and 20th was decided via tiebreaker. However, as with several previous lists, one game stood out far and above the rest.

Also, I had to take some liberties when classifying the genres, as many of these games don't necessarily fit into how we categorize genres today.

Hopefully you'll join us for October's list, the Game Boy Advance. You can find that submission thread here- http://www.rfgeneration.c...m/index.php?topic=19437.0

Before we get to the top 20, a few Honorable mentions-

23. Joust
2 votes (#16, #9)

"A little bland in terms of detail, but a great game that plays very similar to the arcade version.  I put lots of time into this game as a kid and even wore out a few joystick buttons flapping."

"another fun two-player game"

22. Spider Fighter
2 votes (#12, #10)

"my favorite shmup on the 2600.  High action, frantic, and super fun. Protect your orchard homie."

21. Swordquest: Earthworld
2 votes (#16, #6)

"A very ambitious game that pushes the boundaries of what should be possible on the 2600, by presenting a variety of experiences in a basic framework."

-----And Now for Your Top 20-----

20.  Moon Patrol (44 pts)

Released- 1983
Genre- Shooter
2 lists (#14, #7)

"Nice side scroller that has great music"

"that dinosaur game when your browser can't connect to the internet, but still better than that I'm every way, Wink"

19. Seaquest (47 pts)

Released- 1983
Genre- Shoot-em up
2 lists (#15, #5)

"Yep, another shooter on the list. Earn points by shooting sea critters and enemy subs, but don't run out of air!"

18. Pole Position (49 pts)

Released- 1983
Genre- Racing
2 lists (#13, #5)

"Rad Racer style game that was pretty darn impressive on the 2600"

"Great fun racing. I like the third person view, makes it easy to play."

17. Centipede (54 pts)

Released- 1982
Genre- Shooter
2 lists (#12, #3)

"An excellent port of Atari's arcade classic, and a game that I have put a lot of time into on the console."

16. Vanguard (56 pts)

Released- 1982
Genre- Shoot-em up
3 lists (#14, #14, #9)

"An SNK arcade classic, this shooter works well on the console, and was innovative at the time."

"A cavernous, 4-way shooter that's a not a true port, but the differences really help it stand on its own.  Even has a boss battle at the end."

15. Frogger (58 pts)

Released- 1982
Genre- Action, Puzzle
2 lists (#7, #6)

"Fun graphics, and absolutely great music"

14. Super Breakout (61 pts)

Released- 1981
Genre- Action Puzzle
3 lists (#20, #13, #4)

"I have always loved these style of games from Breakout to Arkanoid.  Super Breakout is super fun, and things get fun and hectic. My favorite part is just the simpleness of it and the concentration it takes.

"pretty slow and painful to go back to now, but growing up was a lot of fun"

13. Demon Attack (61 pts)

Released- 1982
Genre- Shooter
3 lists (#16, #15, #5)

"A shining example of a single screen shooter and does something unique, and really amps up the presentation."

"Fun, I like it more than Space Invaders if we are comparing with other space shooters I have played."

12. Frostbite (62 pts)

Released- 1983
Genre- Action, Puzzle
2 lists (#7, #4)

"My first ever video game as a kid. Takes a little inspiration from Frogger and Q Bert to create it's own puzzle platforming game."

11. Missile Command (71 pts)

Released- 1981
Genre- Action
4 lists (#17, #17, #13, #7)

" The game was fun and had this grim content about nuclear annihilation which was a real fear people had at the time. It made me feel heroic when I could beat a level without losing a city. I am terrible at this game."

"another ok port of the arcade game."

"A great port of this arcade classic.  Even better if you can find a roller controller to get that real arcade feel."

"This game shouldn't work on the 2600, given the way the original arcade game works, but with some tweaks to the formula, Atari made it work."

10. River Raid (72 pts)

Released- 1982
Genre- Shoot-em up
3 lists (#20, #10, #1)

"my favorite pre NES scrolling shmup."

"nice sprites, fun fast paced action."

9. Adventure (75 pts)

Released- 1980
Genre- Adventure
3 lists (#15, #11, #1)

"just enough complexity to make for a fun little adventure finding items, escaping dragons and getting to the castle. Really unique for the system."

Not a personal favorite, but the first "swords and sorcery" game on the system that helped set the tone for future games."

8. Warlords (84 pts)

Released- 1981
Genre- Action, Puzzle
3 lists (#14, #7, #1)

"Possibly the ultimate Atari 2600 party game, with multiplayer, fast action, and loads of fun."

"The most fun that you will ever have on the 2600. This system was all about community and there's nothing more communal than 4-player Warlords with paddles!"

7. Pitfall II: Lost Caverns (90 pts)

Released- 1984
Genre- Platformer
3 lists (#11, #6, #1)

"More ambitious than its predecessor, it upped the ante of early console platform games, and took the formula to the next level."

"A surprisingly low selling sequel for such a popular entry title.  However, it's a great game that adds a broad underground element not present in the original. It also has an ending."

6. Combat (99 pts)

Released- 1977
Genre- Action
4 lists (#19, #10, #6, #3)

"It's hard to say it was a bold move for Atari to launch a console with a game that could only be played with 2 people, since it's the first major game system to launch, but Atari saw the appeal of head-to-head play immediately. Combat is a simple formula, but the amount of fun you can have with it is virtually unlimited, with multiple game modes, and another person to battle against."

"Classic, fun, competitive two player action. Many modes to play."

"This, I believe, is the first game I have ever played.  My Grandma and Grandpa had an Atari 2600 and there was always excitement going to their house so we could play the Atari.  Playing with against my brothers and my cousins in the basement of their house was a blast and really brought us all together.  Such a great game and great fun."

5. Berzerk (100 pts)

Released- 1982
Genre- Shooter
4 lists (#16, #8, #8, #4)

"A wonderful port of this arcade classic that sadly is only missing the robot taunts. Simple but fun. It starts out easy enough, but the challenge and speed really starts to ramp up as you move through the game."

"Quite challenging fun gameplay. Like the robot run amok theme."

4. H.E.R.O. (100 pts)

Released- 1984
Genre- Action Adventure
3 lists (#6, #5, #2)

"Probably one of the best titles for the 2600 that was virtually unknown during the systems hayday. Now one of the most sought-after games for VGS collectors. It's like Pitfall! on steroids with a flying backpack."

"Predating Super Mario Bros., this game was an early example of console platforming done right."

"cool little exploration action game"

3. Yars' Revenge (116 pts)

Released- 1982
Genre- Shooter
4 lists (#18, #8, #2, #1)

"This was a tough decision between this and Pitfall! for my number 1 slot.  This game is loads of fun and takes some precision shots but it is so satisfy when you get that shot to hit it's mark.  This is definitely a game that you need to play if you haven't."

"Very challenging gameplay. The amount of effort that went into the story is really awesome, of course you have to read it. But when you read the story before playing the game really comes alive."

"simple concept shmup game in the vein of Galaga, but with its own unique style."

"One of the stranger games on the system, but also one of the more intricate and [fun]. Chew away at the enemy base and fire your proton cannon once it's charged up."

2. Kaboom! (122 pts)

Released- 1981
Genre- Action
4 lists (#12, #5, #3, #3)

"Quite possibly the best paddle control game. Simple to play and pick up, but difficult to master, with a good balance of frenetic fun, and insidious challenge."

"Just a fun reflex reaction game. Looks like a precursor to a high level Guitar Hero style game when watching others play."

#1. Pitfall! (162 pts)

Genre- Platformer
5 lists (#9, #9, #3, #2, #1)

"A huge release for the Atari that's release hype would later be mimicked by SMB3 on a larger scale.  So much fun to play and finding the path for a perfect score  to finish before time runs out is still one of the coolest feats in gaming."

"The early paragon of console platform/action games. It influenced countless games in the years since its release, and remains a great experience."

"such a vibrant and interesting game on the 2600. Very impressive for its time."

"Great Fun Sound. The gameplay is out of this world, and is great for beginners and skilled players. Feels to me like I am on an actual jungle adventure while playing."

Final Thoughts

From the standpoint of putting the list together, the Atari 2600 list reminded me of when the Game Boy list was put together. For how large their libraries are, there are a handful of games that seem to resonate with a wide range of players. Also, it's always interesting to me when there's quite a bit of agreement on some of the quality games, and yet everyone's #1 vote was something different.

Once again thank you to everyone who submitted a list, and hope to get several involved with the next one, as we get back to Nintendo with the Game Boy Advance.

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My favorite list so far. Great picks, especially the Top 5. This is probably my favorite system of all time even though it is primitive by today's standards. I encourage everyone to really look into some of the more uncommon games in this library and I hope you might consider some of the recommendations on my list. I'll post that in the main thread soon.
This is a pretty good list! I'm disappointed that the 2600 port of Pole Position is on the list, and Activision's Enduro isn't, but otherwise, I think this is a pretty good representation of what the system had to offer. Keep up the good work on these lists!
This is my favorite list so far too! Definitely highlighted a few so need to add to my collection as well.
Wow, great list. I will need to put my list up. Thanks EZ Racer for putting this together

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