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Posted on Apr 26th 2011 at 04:00:00 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under Atari, Bank Heist, Atari 2600, Classing Gaming, Game Review

Game:  Bank Heist
Year:  1983
Publisher:  20th Century Fox
Developer:  Fox Video Games, Inc.
Designer(s)/Programmer(s):  Bill Aspromonte
Rarity (according to AtariAge):  5 = Rare
Controls:  Joystick
Number of Players:  1
Average Cost:  approx. $10 loose
Also Available On:  exclusive to the Atari 2600

Tagline/Description:  "Alright you guys, listen up.  This is the plan.  Lefty, you'll drive.  Mugsy, ride shotgun.  Fingers, I want you in the back with the dynamite.  Any coppers get wise, you let 'em have it!  OK now, here's the map of the banks in this town.  They're all cherries just ripe for the pickin'.  All you gotta do is stay a step ahead of the heat.  Now, you got any questions?  What's that?  What am I going do?  Boys, boys, you know I'd love to go with you, but I've got important business to attend to.  I gotta stay here and play Bank Heist so I can find out what our next heist will be!"

Bank Heist was created by Fox Video Games, a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox, in an attempt to cash in on the lucrative video game market of the early 80's.  Thought they released a few original games (Bank Heist being one of these), the majority of their games were based on TV and movie titles, which Fox owned the rights to, including: M.A.S.H., Alien, The Earth Dies Screaming, Fantastic Voyage, Flash Gordon, Mega Force, and Porkys.  Twentieth Century Fox cut its teeth in the video game industry by creating titles for the Atari 2600, and now under the Fox Interactive label, is still developing for the PC and other modern gaming consoles.

Bank Heist somewhat alludes to the film, "Bonnie & Clyde" (*see cart. label) even though it wasn't produced by 20th Century Fox.

In Bank Heist, you control a getaway car and rob banks that randomly pop up within the field of gameplay.  To rob a bank, you simply run over it with your car.  At the same time, you must avoid the "fuzz" and ensure that your movement from bank to bank is efficient enough not to run out of gas; if you are caught or your tank hits empty, your turn is over.  After each bank you rob, a cop car will appear and begin to chase you; there are a maximum of three police cars that can be on the screen at one time.  After you rob the first three banks, more will appear only after a cop car is destroyed.   

One clever feature of Bank Heist is the ability to destroy pursuing police cars by dropping dynamite from the back of your vehicle (similar to the barriers in Lock 'n' Chase).  Though it's an effective means of avoiding the "coppers," the dynamite is very inaccurate and it often takes several attempts to make it explode at the just the right time.  Luckily, dynamite drops are unlimited, so even if you miss a few times, there's no worry of ever running out.  However, using dynamite does diminish your gas a bit.   

Another way to avoid pursuing cop cars is to use one of the three passageways located at the top left, bottom left, and bottom right of the screen (the top right passage allows you to leave town entirely). The three passageways are wrap-around passageways, so when you use them, your car appears at the corresponding passageway on the opposite side of the screen (think Pac Man).  As mentioned previously, the upper right passageway leads to the next town.  It is important to note that once you leave a town, you cannot come back.  Therefore, you should be sure to rob as many banks and destroy as many cop cars as possible before leaving.  It's also worth mentioning that robbing nine banks in a town will not only earn you bonus points, but also an extra getaway car.

While driving your getaway car around and collecting points, it's important to keep an eye on your gas meter located at the upper left portion of the screen.  The higher the red level, the more gas you have left and the bar on the right side of the gas tank shows the level at which your tank will be refilled once you leave town.  If the pointer is white, the amount of gas in the tank will be refilled to the height of the bar.  If the pointer is red, the gas level in the tank will remain the same.  If your getaway car gets low on gas, it will begin to flash and warn you so that you can get out of town in time.  Robbing nine or more banks in a town will enable you to refill the entire tank.  Again, with so many added bonuses, why would you not be sure to rob all banks before leaving town? 


Bank Values:
First Bank = $10.00         
Second Bank = $20.00         
Third Bank = $30.00         
Fourth Bank = $40.00
Fifth Bank = $50.00
...and so on, for up to nine banks (an extra bonus is awarded for robbing all nine banks per town)

Points for destroying cop cars:
One Cop Car in pursuit =        $10.00          Three Cop Cars in pursuit = $50.00
Tow Cop Cars in pursuit =       $30.00

Bonus Points for Level 1:
Bankersfield = $93.00           Flat Broke = $279.00
Silver Dollar = $186.00         Heistown = $372.00
(Add $372.00 per level to these values for all other levels.)

Like several other titles on the Atari 2600 (Pac Man, Dark Cavern, Lock 'n' Chase, Malagai, etc.), Bank Heist is a maze and chase game.  Though the subject matter is much different from most of its predecessors (it's one of the few early games where you get to control the bad guys) Bank Heist borrows heavily from other maze/chase titles.  The controls of the game are solid, and like most maze titles, work well with the rigid Atari joystick.  The graphics are fair at best; the car designs are good, but there could been a bit more done by the designers to enhance the look of each town to create something other than a blocky maze.  There are only two sound effects in the game: (1) police sirens when cop cars appear and (2) the sound of exploding dynamite.  Though minimal and not impressive, the sounds work and one typically doesn't expect much more from a 2600 title.

The replay value of Bank Heist is very good, but not the best.  While trying to maximize scores on each level and progressing from town to town proves challenging, it does get redundant after several plays.  Since its price point is around $10+, I wouldn't recommend Bank Heist to the more casual 2600 collector who is looking to obtain more premium titles.  However, if you can pick the game up for a few bucks, it's worth the purchase.   

(on as scale of 1-4: 4 being the highest):

Controls:  4
Graphics:  2
Sound Effects/Music:  2
Concept:  3
Replay Value:  3
Overall Score:  2.80

**video courtesy of Highretrogamelord89**

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