Non-traditional shooters are great because they open the format to all kinds of new possibilities. Blasting aliens and space ships is fun, but can feel a bit confining. Then a game like Plaque Attack comes along and breathes new life into the genre. And who better to bring you such a game than Activision.
Plaque Attack pits you, a tube of toothpaste, in defense of a mouthful of healthy teeth. Your enemies, all of the evil cavity causing foods that are so wonderfully delicious. To stop these delightful delicacies from rotting away the chompers, you'll have to blast them with your toothpaste. Don't fire indiscriminately however, as you are only as strong as your tube lasts. The more you shoot, the more your tube rolls up. When you run out of paste you lose a life. The various foods will march in and attack the teeth. If they touch a tooth, it will begin to rot. You can still shoot the food and stop the decay, but hesitate and the tooth will be lost. Fear not, you can earn extra teeth in defiance of nature and replace teeth that are lost. You can even stockpile reserve teeth (we'll call them wisdom teeth) for replacement later.
The food zooms in from either above or below alternately and attacks the teeth. All you have to do is blast it away before you end up with an empty set of gums. Sounds pretty easy, but Activision pulled out all of the stops in terms of difficulty for this one. You will do pretty well for some time, but then the game speed ramps and ramps quickly. Before you know it, food will come flying by faster that you can react and you'll find yourself guarding one last tooth hoping against all hope that you can last long enough to get a reserve tooth. But you can only hold out for so long. Eventually, you will lose that tooth.
Plaque Attack is great because it challenges even the best gamer's reflexes and hand-eye coordination. You can get really good at Plaque Attack and still get crushed in a single round of flying cheeseburgers. The game is hard, but never really frustrating and therefore extremely replayable.
I love Plaque Attack for being such an oddball concept and for being so challenging. It is truly one of the best vertical shooters for the Atari 2600, but is often overlooked.
My Top Plaque Attack Score: 59,800