Atari 2600 Game Reviews: Angriff der Luftflotten (Attack of the Air Forces) through Asterix

angriffderluftflotten_quelle_3Angriff der Luftflotten (Attack of the Air Forces) aka M.A.D. (Quelle, U.S. Games, 1982)

The presence of Angriff der Luftflotten (Attack of the Air Forces) on this list brings up a key question: do I review foreign-produced 2600 games as well? This one just happened to be among a whole schwack of ROMs I downloaded several years ago. I certainly didn’t seek it out. Basically, this game is Missile Command minus the strategy, the precision targeting and overall excitement. There’s not much more to say. It’s not unplayable – it just doesn’t add much to the lexicon. Kudos, though, for replacing missiles with Kamikaze helicopters – nice touch. Angriff der Luftflotten was known as M.A.D. in its North American release by U.S. Games. D

More Info: Angriff der Luftflotten on the Atari Age database. For current listings of Angriff der Luftflotten available on eBay, click here

aquaventure_1Aquaventure (Atari Prototype, Developed 1983)

Here’s a prototype that has actually seen an official release, in this case on a few of the Atari Flashback plug ‘n play systems released over the past decade or so. Not sure why it was canned because it’s actually pretty good, albeit a trifle repetitive. Aquaventure is a deep-sea diving shooter with elements of contemporaries such as Activision’s Seaquest and Imagic’s Fathom and Subterranea. Your diver collects treasure at the bottom of the ocean while attempting to avoid or shoot all manner of poisonous fish and crustaceans. Simple to learn – hard to master: the early video game ideal. The fish are bright and colourful and the gameplay is addictive enough to warrant repeated pullings of the reset button for “just one more game.”  The only reason it doesn’t get a higher grade is because it feels a little unfinished (not surprising considering it’s a prototype). One extra objective could have added considerably to the gameplay depth and reduced its unfortunate repetition. Still, a solid effort. B

More Info: Aquaventure on the Atari Age database. For current listings of Aquaventure available on eBay, click here

armorambush_3Armor Ambush (M Network, 1982)

Reviewing two-player-only games can be difficult because, much like good old meatspace sports, the game is only as good as your opponent. It’s kind of like reviewing your own game of tennis. Still, the best one-on-one games such as Pong and Combat lay a solid foundation of functionality to which the players bring their own skill and competition. Armor Ambush does that competently if unspectacularly.  It’s basically Combat (or Tank if you prefer) with a few extra bells and whistles such as more barriers to hide behind and faster tanks. It feels a little redundant, however. Mattel’s Armor Battle for the Intellivision was necessary because that console did not have a Combat cartridge packed in with every system. Not saying that the 1977 game wasn’t in need of an upgrade by 1982, but Armor Ambush just doesn’t bring enough new to the table compared to, say, what Arkanoid brought to basic Breakout. B-

More Info: Armor Ambush on the Atari Age database. For current listings of Armor Ambush available on eBay, click here

artilleryduel_2Artillery Duel (Xonox, 1983)

Artillery Duel is one of those games where you adjust a cannon for power and angle and attempt to blow the hell out of another cannon that is usually situated across the screen. I usually like these kind of games but Artillery Duel did nothing for me. You cannot actually see the angle of your cannon, making it difficult to angle the weapon correctly. The graphics are big and blocky and boring and you have to sit through an unnecessary attract screen just to get to the game. There are far better examples of this particular subgenre of shooter out there. D+

More Info: Artillery Duel on the Atari Age database. For current listings of Artillery Duel available on eBay, click here

AStar_AtariGameAStar (Homebrew, 2006)

(Added June 12, 2018) Here’s a game that confused the heck out of me upon opening up the main game screen. My first question was what is Pac-Man doing here? This is a homebrew, so I doubt he’s here under licensing. My second was why can you only move him one direction until he hits a fruit or a wall? Not having access to instructions of any kind I had to figure out the mechanics out on my own, but once I did I realized that AStar is a puzzle game with a difference.

Designed by Aaron Curtis (whose only other homebrew credit is the awesome Fall Down – please do more games Aaron), AStar is both simple and complex at the same time. In addition to controlling Pac-Man, you can also control a block that helps you line Pac-Man up with a fruit. However, the block functions under the same physical limitations of Pac-Man, meaning you often have to think a few steps ahead in order to work the maze to your advantage. Suffice to say the game’s a delight, made even more so with bright, vibrant, gradient-filled graphics and a vaguely hip-hop inspired opening tune. AStar is available in the AtariAge Store. A

More Info: AStar on AtariAge. For current listings of AStar for sale on eBay, click here

asterix_ntsc_2Asterix (Atari, 1983-ish)

Asterix is almost exactly the same game as Taz except it replaces the Looney Toons Tasmanian Devil for the popular European cartoon character. The Asterix version was apparently released in North America but is extremely rare. Asterix is similar to Turmoil in that the goal is to move horizontally and vertically between rows to collect objects while avoiding enemies that are extremely easy to run into. The first stage can be pretty frustrating because the good objects are very similar in colour and shape to the enemy objects, but that gets better as gameplay goes on. Asterix is a fun game but gets tedious fast because, much like Aquaventure, there is no extra objective to keep things interesting. C+ B+*

(*I changed this rating on 27/01/19 because it wasn’t fair that Asterix should get a C+ when I gave Taz — which is virtually the same game — a B+.)

More Info: Asterix on the Atari Age database. For current listings of Asterix available on eBay, click here

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