Atari 2600 Game Reviews: 3D Tic-Tac-Toe through Air Raiders


3D Tic-Tac-Toe (Atari, 1980)

Fan consensus seems to be that this is an awful game; a relic of the VCS’ pre-Space Invaders early days when Atari seemed to be at a bit of a loss as to what to do with this whole “video game” thing. 3D Tic-Tac-Toe is not a great game, but it’s also nowhere as putrid as its detractors make it out to be. The game features four levels of tic-tac-toe blocks – you can get four in a row either on individual blocks or in a variety of combinations across the blocks. Getting the hang of all the potential combinations can be surprisingly challenging, giving the computer an edge in one-player modes. Would I have bought it for $20 back in 1980? Probably not. Would I spend a couple of bucks for a cartridge on eBay today? Sure. C

More Info: 3D Tic-Tac-Toe on the Atari Age database. For copies of 3D Tic-Tac-Toe available on eBay, click here


Acid Drop (Salu Ltd, 1992)

From one of the very early 2600 games to (reportedly) the very last commercially-released cartridge. Acid Drop is essentially Tetris for the 2600, with the difference that each set of three blocks can be manipulated to create a number of block elimination scenarios. According to this site (one of the few resources on the game online), it’s similar to Sega’s Columns, a game I’ve never played so I cannot verify that claim. It’s at best a “might play again” – nothing particularly remarkable. Compared to hardware-stretching contemporaries like Solaris, it seems pretty primitive, almost closer to a ‘70s release graphically. D

More Info: Acid Drop on the Atari Age database. For copies of 3D Tic-Tac-Toe available on eBay, click here

 adventureAdventure (Atari, 1980)

There’s not much that can be said about this game that hasn’t already been said. Graphically crude with depth of gameplay for miles, Adventure is pretty much the Methuselah of video game RPGs and is still a heck of a challenge to this day. Game One is a breeze but I’ve never been able to beat any other game variation (that stinking bat). (Update: I finally beat variation two — twice — a year after I wrote this. My finest hour.) While enjoyable, I do not regard Adventure as highly as most. Graphical disadvantages can’t be helped but that doesn’t excuse the often obnoxious colour palette (has orange with grey ever been a good idea?). And maybe I just suck, but I also find frequent mobility issues, especially when it comes to moving the bridge. Still, a solid B+.

More Info: Adventure on the Atari Age database. For copies of Adventure for sale on eBay, click here

adventuresoftronAdventures of Tron (M Network, 1982)

Tron was a film that was ahead of its time and one that seemed to go over the heads of the largely computer-illiterate audience of 1982. Unfortunately, this tie-in game is very much a part of its time; specifically the era’s avalanche of substandard games designed to siphon hard-earned allowances. For a game based on a movie with so much fodder for great video game ideas, Adventures of Tron is very weak indeed. It’s a cat and mouse platformer where you jump and use elevators to avoid a variety of robotic baddies while collecting some sort of flying mcguffin. It’s fairly challenging but the challenge doesn’t lead to anywhere resembling fun. Mattel could – and often did – do better. F

More Info: Adventures of Tron on the Atari Age database. For copies of Adventures of Tron for sale on eBay, click here

airraidcartAir Raid (MenaVision, 1982)

According to the Atari Age website, MenaVision’s (sounds like a gay porn company NTTAWWT) Air Raid is an “unbelievably rare” VCS cart. As you begin your 2600 collecting adventure you will quickly learn that many of the rarest titles were limited, promotional releases or quick cash-ins like this one. Air Raid is an indistinctive slide-and-shooter. As far as I know, it’s the only 2600 cartridge with a pull-out handle – a wholly unnecessary contrivance considering no one had any problem removing cartridges from the system in the first place. It is kinda neat though and I can see why it would be hotly sought-after by collectors. Just don’t waste your time on the game inside. F

More Info: Air Raid on the Atari Age database. For copies of Air Raid for sale on eBay, click here


Air Raiders (M Network, 1982)

When most Atari fans think about their favourite third-party game developers, they tend to focus on Activision and Imagic. Lost in the shuffle is Mattel’s M Network; the Intellivision manufacturers’ brand for its Atari 2600 lineup of titles. For the most part, M Network did a fine job of bringing Intellivision titles to the 2600 as well as a few original concepts. Air Raiders is one of the latter. A first-person flight simulator (one of the first), the game has players engage in dogfight action including taking off, shooting down enemy planes and refuelling. All of these activities are as realistic as they can possibly be on the 2600, so keep a close eye on your instruments. While not entirely my cup of tea, Air Raiders is a nice change from the omnipresent slide-and-shooters that comprised so much of the console’s vast catalog. B

More Info: Air Raiders on the Atari Age database. For copies of Air Raiders for sale on eBay, click here

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