Atari 2600 Game Reviews: Combat Two through Condor Attack

combat2_atari_prototypeCombat Two (Atari Prototype, 1982)

I’m never completely sure whether or not to include prototypes among these reviews. I guess it all comes down to playability. On the one hand, there are prototypes like Aquaventure or Saboteur which are fully playable regardless of what the programmers may have had in mind for them had those projects moved forward. On the other you have the truly unfinished games (the McDonald’s proto, for example, is little more than a title screen) that I’m obviously not going to waste your time or my own commenting upon. Combat Two falls somewhere in the middle. It is playable, it is recognizably Combat, but it just feels unfinished and I cannot put my finger on precisely why. Maybe because it’s so similar in look and feel to M Network’s contemporary Armor Ambush, an actual completed, commercially-released product. To be fair, there was a lot of potential here – there is certainly more in the way of strategy here than the original Combat, what with trees to hide behind (as long as your opponent isn’t looking, of course) and walls and trees to blow up. I wonder why they didn’t take the opportunity to include a one-player mode, something that was painfully lacking in Combat ’77. Maybe that was the plan – who can tell with a prototype? Anyway, if you want to give it a go while legally honouring whichever fly-by-night outfit that owns the Atari trademark today, Combat Two is commercially available on at least one or more of the Atari Flashback plug and play series of standalone consoles. C

More Info: Combat Two on Atari Age.

For current listings of Combat Two for sale on eBay, click here

commando_atari_gameCommando (Activision, 1988)

Gotta hand it to Activision. There it was, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Eight and the company was still propping up the ol’ 2600 and doing a not half-bad job of it. Commando feels like a strange game for the 2600 though. Thanks to the Rambo influence in popular culture, video games had taken a military-esque turn by the late ‘80s with titles such as Contra, Commando and, well, Rambo all the rage. This is just a personal peccadillo of mine and I know I’ve harped on about the schism between early- and late-‘80s gaming in my California Games and BMX Biker reviews, but it just doesn’t seem like a fit to me even though I like those aforementioned games and this one as well. Atari 2600 Commando is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the arcade game and stands well alongside its contemporary NES port. In some ways this is harder than the NES version. Whereas the NES game unleashed Robotron 2084 numbers of soldiers on you and relatively little firepower, the Atari version offers only a few sprites but throws a never ending barrage of bullets at you. It’s much easier to fire horizontally than in the NES version, but the grenade launching system is a major pain in the ass compared to simply pressing a button on the Nintendo d-pad (seriously Atari – even in 1977 wouldn’t it have made sense to add one lousy extra button to the joystick?). Despite being a game on a system it was never really meant for, Commando is a great game featuring plenty of challenge and one you very well may want to pick up as you go about your 2600 collecting adventure. B-

More Info: Commando on Atari Age.

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

commandoraid_atarigameCommando Raid (U.S. Games, 1982)

Here’s a nice little hidden gem. Somewhat like Missile Command, Commando Raid has you shoot down fighter planes, bombers, a steadily rising number of paratroopers and (depending on your difficulty settings) bombs that will end the game immediately if they touch down. You can let a few paratroopers land on the buildings you’re trying to protect but watch out: when enough land in a single building they will start burrowing tunnels, eventually creating an underground path they will use to blow up your gun. You can choose between straight missiles or guided missiles. I’ve never quite gotten this particular quirk of so many 2600 games; in my experience guided missiles in Megamania, this game and a host of others actually make it harder to target the enemy. Anyway, that’s a minor quibble. I think this would be a great game for an Atari Age High Score Club competition when they start up again. B

More Info: Commando Raid on Atari Age.

For current listings of Commando Raid for sale on eBay, click here

gameofconcentration_atari_game

A Game of Concentration (Atari, 1978)

For some reason, number pads were something of an obsession among designers of the second and third generation of consoles. Atari had keypads that were sold separately (and along with the console in the very early days if I remember correctly) while the Intellivision, Colecovision and Atari 5200 all had them built into their primary controls. Of those, only Intellivision ever used them to any degree. As far as 2600 keypad games go, every one I’ve reviewed so far has been pretty terrible. A Game of Concentration is probably the best of the bunch so far, but it’s still not very fun. However, I enjoyed it somewhat because I’m a sucker for memory games. The object is to match sets of objects hidden behind numbers on a grid of 16 to 30 squares. Most of the game is simply trial and error as you briefly uncover each number and then try to remember what objects were behind which numbers. The game unnecessarily flashes the numbers from left to right, which is distracting. Why not just place the numbers in the squares and call it good? Like Codebreaker, which I reviewed earlier, A Game of Concentration offers some mild amusement but is still not much of a video game. D+

More Info: A Game of Concentration on Atari Age.

For current listings of A Game of Concentration for sale on eBay, click here

condorattack_atarigameCondor Attack (Ultravision, 1983)

Bog-standard slide and shooter that bears a surface similarity to Phoenix and Demon Attack but plays more like a poorly-designed Galaxian with no sense of strategy. Condor Attack goes from mind-numbing boredom to insanity just like that – the birds suddenly start firing to the point where you can hardly avoid it. That would be fine, but it just feels like such a waste of time when so many better examples of this genre (all the games I mentioned above plus many more) are out there. It’s not terrible – just aggressively mediocre. D

More Info: Condor Attack on Atari Age.

For current listings of Condor Attack for sale on eBay, click here

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