Atari 2600 Game Reviews: Bugs through Burning Desire

bugs_1Bugs (Data Age, 1982)

Oh goodie – another release from Data Age. I’ve reviewed three Data Age games since I started this blog and so far they’ve all been terrible. Seriously, if you are in any way trying to convince someone that there is room for games this old in a world of Playstation 4s and Xbox Ones, do not show them any games by Data Age. Bugs is a paddle game where you shoot lizards (not bugs, strangely enough) while trying to avoid and destroy the Phylax, which is kind of the Evil Otto of this game. It’s a demanding game but it’s so one-dimensional that the challenge never leads to anything resembling fun. Destroying the Phylax is a hit and miss (usually miss) endeavour that never seems to make any sense when you actually accomplish your goal. Not only that, but you can just as easily lose a life for reasons that similarly make little sense. Not worth your time. F

More Info: Bugs on the Atari Age database.

For current listings of Bugs for sale on eBay, click here

bumpnjump_2Bump ‘n’ Jump (M Network, 1982)

It’s very important not to confuse Data Age (the perpetrators of the above atrocity among others) with Data East, the company behind the awesome arcade game Bump ‘n’ Jump. This is, of course, Mattel Electronics’ port of the game for the 2600 and for the most part they did a fine job. Bump ‘n’ Jump is wholesale vehicular destruction many, many years before the likes of Grand Theft Auto would make it a video game trope. To a jaunty little tune you set out to smash into as many other vehicles as possible by running into or jumping on them. Some cars explode on impact, while others you have to force off the road. Others are just as likely to send you careening off the road if you attempt to engage them. The real challenges, though, are the jumps over land and water which require precision timing. I really like Bump ‘n’ Jump but, for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on, not as much as I used to. Perhaps the graphics could have been better, even within the VCS’ limited capabilities. Still very much recommended. B-

More Info: Bump ‘n’ Jump on the Atari Age database.

For current listings of Bump ‘n’ Jump for sale on eBay, click here

bumperbash_2Bumper Bash (Spectravision, 1983)

If there is one electronic (or electromagnetic as the case may be) amusement that excites me more than video games, it’s pinball. To me, the true tragedy of the death of arcades is the accompanying demise of this venerable pastime. It’s important to note that video games and pinball have never been agents against each other; virtually from day one there have been attempts to replicate the unique feel of pinball in a video game context (Atari’s Video Pinball arcade machine, dedicated console and 2600 cartridge are among the earliest attempts). In turn, video games have informed pinball to the point where modern pinballs (what few there are) feature sophisticated missions and, yes, even storytelling. For the most part, virtual pinball is, for all intents and purposes, the only way to play pinball today. The fine folks behind the Pinball Arcade project have done a fantastic job of creating realistic simulations of some all-time classic pinball tables – I highly recommend checking them out if you’re a pinball fan.

Anyway, back to the review at hand. Bumper Bash is one of three pinball games released for the VCS; the others were the aforementioned Video Pinball and Midnight Magic. Bumper Bash is quite good, featuring all of the expected refinements of a contemporary pinball machine such as drop targets, rollovers and spinners. Strangely enough, though, I prefer Video Pinball – its wacky, closer-to-Pong physics and all. Bumper Bash lacks a crucial element of real life pinball that Video Pinball includes: the ability to “nudge” the table in order to push the ball in the desired direction. Bumper Bash is still a quality title and I’d recommend giving all three 2600 pinball carts a try. B

More Info: Bumper Bash on the Atari Age database.

For current listings of Bumper Bash for sale on eBay, click here

burgertime_1Burgertime (M Network, 1982)

Not too impressed with this version of the arcade classic. I wasn’t expecting the cartoon-quality graphics of the original, but it doesn’t seem like Mattel even tried very hard here. I could forgive the graphics if the game itself wasn’t so slow and sluggish; you have to position yourself on a ladder just right, in the process costing precious milliseconds. In case you aren’t familiar with Burgertime, it’s a ladder and platform game in which you oh-so-sanitarily walk across a variety of hamburger ingredients in order to make them drop and build burgers. You are relentlessly pursued by sausages, eggs and cheese that you can crush between the burger ingredients or temporarily stun with pepper. In the arcade version you could easily tell what your enemies were – here the cheese is a toothpick, the eggs are squares and the sausages look like meat abortions. The basic gameplay is all here but the pace and graphics do not do the original justice. D+

More Info: Burgertime on the Atari Age database.

For current listings of Burgertime for sale on eBay, click here

burningdesire_frontBurning Desire (Playaround, 1982)

Oh. Hello there, baby. How are you tonight? I have a special surprise for you tonight, baby. I’m going to dim the lights, turn on the TV and insert this special video game into my A-tar-ee video game player. Do you like what you see, baby? OK, before I gross you all out, I was just trying to simulate a possible 1982 discourse over Burning Desire or any of the unfortunate “adult” titles for the 2600. The only way I could ever see that particular scenario ending is with the lady in question fleeing from the premises and filing a restraining order.

So, in Burning Desire your girlfriend has been kidnapped by some band of primitives or another who are trying to make a stew out of her. It’s your job to put out the flames using certain, um, bodily fluids. That’s pretty much it. If that scenario turns you on in any way, put down your video games for a bit and seek psychological help. Pretty lame, Milhouse. D-

More Info: Burning Desire on the Atari Age database.

For current listings of Burning Desire for sale on eBay, click here

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