Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Top 30 Vertical Shooters for the Atari 2600 #6

Demon Attack

Here he goes again.  Demon Attack is clearly the best vertical shooter on this list.  It is the best game in the Imagic library (maybe some day I'll tackle that notion), and maybe the best game for the VCS.  Well, that may be true, but it don't wash around here.

Demon Attack is great.  Of that there is no doubt.  It is one of the best classic-style vertical shooters out there.  The enemies are diverse and difficult to battle.  The graphics, while minimalistic, are bright and interesting and Demon Attack provides all of the challenge you could ever want.  When I originally built this list, I had slotted Demon Attack all the way down at #15.  (GASP!)  But then I played it some more.  I think I was discounting it on the simplicity of its game play and not giving it enough credit for the level of complexity in the challenge and the diversity of the enemy targets.  So I moved it up to #10.  Then I played it some more and realized that I had underestimated just how much this game raises the bar for standard vertical shooters.  Games like Space Invaders, Phoenix (once rated higher than Demon Attack), and even Megamania come just a bit short of what Demon Attack offers.

Initially, Demon Attack may appear very standard, but play a few rounds and it begins to reveal its secrets.  The solid enemies split in half.  The smaller enemies dive bomb you when separated from their twin.  Later enemies are tiny and virtually impossible to hit.  When the lower enemies shoot, their missiles rain down upon you with little room to move.  The game is far more difficulty and has far more going for it than a cursory glance might reveal.  Early on you'll be able to stockpile extra lives.  You will need them because the game becomes mean.

It would be easy to get angry or frustrated with Demon Attack considering the challenge it presents, but you cannot because it also looks incredible.  The various demon enemies are extremely well drawn and colored.  They look like neon-colored nightmares blinking their way toward your demise.

After playing game after game, I realized my mistake.  Demon Attack is clearly one of the best vertical shooters out there.  It has everything you want in a great standard shooter and it makes the genre shine on the VCS.

My Top Demon Attack Score: 44,745 (the exact same as my Astroblast score, weird)

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