Game Reviews: Blueprint through Bowling

blueprint_2Blueprint (CBS Electronics, 1982, ’83)

Blueprint is a hidden gem in the Atari 2600 library that I have just recently discovered. Based on the 1982 Bally Midway arcade game of the same name, Blueprint is a multi-objective memory game. The game starts with pieces of your weapon being scattered in houses throughout a neighbourhood. Your goal is to collect these pieces in order, place them on the blueprint, and then shoot the bad guy before he catches your girl. It sounds easy, but trust me, it’s not. The game places the components quickly and it takes a sharp eye and mind to see and remember which houses they entered. To make matters worse, if you enter a house without a weapon piece, you’re given a bomb you have to dispose of before it blows you up. Shooting the enemy takes some careful timing as your bolt flies at a very slow velocity. The memorization component reminded me of Adventure; otherwise, I can’t think of anything else like Blueprint in the 2600 collection. B+, give or take a third of a letter grade depending on your tolerance for memory games.

More Info: Blueprint on the Atari Age database. For current listings of Blueprint for sale on eBay, click here

bmxairmaster_3BMX Airmaster (TNT, Atari, 1989)

It feels strange reviewing certain kinds of games that came this late in the 2600 life cycle. Although it’s gratifying as a fan of the system to acknowledge its decade-and-a-half lifespan, it’s hard not to be a little retroactively embarrassed at the desperation involved in trying to translate late-‘80s video game trends onto this venerable piece of ‘70s hardware. BMX-style games are definitely more of a product of the Nintendo/Sega era of gaming (most notably in California Games, which was also released for the VCS), an era markedly different from the 2600’s heyday in terms of marketing, attitude and – most crucially – graphics. And as much as TNT attempts to push the hardware as much as it can, the VCS’ inherent graphic limitations inhibit the kind of fluidity you need for such a game to completely succeed. Having said that, once you master the control scheme and are able to see the various stunts in spite of the graphics, BMX Airmaster offers a great deal of fun. You score points by successfully completing a number of different aerial stunts on the half pipe, quarter pipe and ramp jump. Best to keep things simple until you master speed and control or you’ll consistently find yourself a Circus Atari-style splash on the pavement. BMX Airmaster is a very fun (and very rare, especially in its Atari version) title that is worth giving a try, but you’ll probably want to experience this kind of gameplay on its third-gen contemporaries at some point. B-

More Info: BMX Airmaster on the Atari Age database. For current listings of BMX Airmaster for sale on eBay, click here

bobby-is-going-home-1983-bitcorp-palBobby Is Going Home (Bitcorp, 1983-ish)

Not a lot of information out there on this game in terms of where or when it was released or much of anything really. Bobby Is Going Home is simply that; you guide Bobby home by avoiding a variety of moving and stationery obstacles. The box claims the game features 256 screens (hey, just like Pitfall) although any given game includes only a few. The Pitfall comparison is apt as it kind of plays like that game on Quaaludes; it is VERY slow. That’s a shame, because Bobby Is Going Home includes a cool gameplay feature that would be a highlight in Super Mario Bros games (in raccoon mode) of the future: the ability to control yourself in mid-jump. Whoever programmed this game had the right idea, just terrible execution. D-

More Info: Bobby Is Going Home on the Atari Age database. For current listings of Bobby Is Going Home for sale on eBay, click here

boing_1Boing! (First Star Software, Xonox, 1983)

You know how I just told you that Bobby Is Going Home is like Pitfall on Quaaludes? Well, Boing! is like Q*Bert on methamphetamine, and while I would never encourage the use of illicit substances, in this case that’s a very good thing. Boing! is a colour-changing game on a five-by-five grid of blocks. Your nicely-animated bubble can go up, down, left and right (but not diagonally) while avoiding the needle and the bubble popper. The bubble popper can be temporarily stunned by the needle, giving you a much needed break. Each five-wave level features a slightly different mode of gameplay. In the first, you can complete the blocks in any order you wish. In the second, you have to complete each horizontal row one at a time. In the third, you complete the odd and then even rows. The last three are cube-reversal levels similar to some levels of Q*Bert. There’s plenty of variety and challenge in Boing! and for my money it’s an even better game than Parker Bros’ already superlative port of Q*Bert. A hidden gem. A+

More Info: Boing! on the Atari Age database. For current listings of Boing! for sale on eBay, click here

bowling_1Bowling (Atari, 1978)

Bowling and video games are a natural fit. After all, where were you most likely to find coin-op video games back in the day (aside from arcades, of course) than your local bowling alley? The bowling game on WiiSports is the best couch multiplayer game of the past decade in my opinion. OK, Atari Bowling isn’t nearly as sophisticated as that, but it’s still pretty fun. In some variations you can even control the ball in both directions as it rolls down the alley; I guess that’s to emulate the fancy-schmancy bowlers who can pull off such moves in real life. Despite the questionable mechanics and side view, I find it funny that my typical scores in Bowling roughly match those in my real life game. A fun game that’s easy to find. B-

More Info: Bowling on the Atari Age database. For current listings of Bowling for sale on eBay, click here

One thought on “Game Reviews: Blueprint through Bowling

  1. Pingback: Atari 2600 Game Reviews: Combat Two through Condor Attack | Woodgrain Wonderland

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