Friday, February 1, 2013

The Top 30 Vertical Shooters for the Atari 2600 After Party

The Big Wrap-Up!

Thank you to everyone for reading along this month as we have counted down (or up) the very best vertical shooting games for the Atari 2600.  The VCS is an incredible gaming console that gets pigeon-holed by its age and perceived limitations, but if this list shows us anything it is that pigeon-holing this system is extremely unjustified.  The games on this list demonstrate the versatility of the 2600 and its ability to showcase a variety of games within a well loved genre.  From simple games like Space Invaders and Galaxian to games as complex as Solaris, the VCS has the power to create an amazing arcade-worthy experience.  One of the greatest things about these kinds of projects is that it allows me to explore libraries of video games and discover incredible games I had never played or heard of before.  During this project, I discovered Glacier Patrol, Espial, and Guardian.  Three games I now need to add to my collection.  These projects also give me a chance to dust off a few games I haven't played in a while and give them another go.  Over the course of this project I have set six new personal best scores, many on games I don't play as much as I maybe should.  Creating this list has been a lot of fun for me, the Atari 2600 being one of my favorite video game console from childhood, and I hope that you have discovered some new games or maybe rediscovered some old favorites along the way.  Thank you to everyone for reading along.

For those of you late to the game, below is the complete list of The Top 30 Vertical Shooters for the Atari 2600.  Rather than link them all here, you can find a handy-dandy listing on the right side of the blog.  You know, over there ----->
1. Beamrider (Activision)
2. Solaris (Atari)
3. Millipede (Atari)
4. Plaque Attack (Activision)
5. Fantastic Voyage (20th Century Fox)
6. Demon Attack (Imagic)
7. Astroblast (M-Network)
8. River Raid II (Activision)
9. Spy Hunter (SEGA)
10. Espial (Tigervision)
11. River Raid (Activision)
12. Megamania (Activision)
13. Phoenix (Atari)
14. Wabbit (Apollo)
15. Galaxian (Atari)
16. Centipede (Atari)
17. Shootin' Gallery (Imagic)
18. Deadly Duck (20th Century Fox)
19. Glacier Patrol (Telegames)
20. Guardian (Apollo)
21. Communist Mutants from Space (Starpath)
22. Space Invaders (Atari)
23. Buck Rogers and the Planet of Zoom (SEGA)
24. Zaxxon (Coleco)
25. Crackpots (Activision)
26. Carnival (Coleco)
27. Name this Game (US Games)
28. Threshold (Tigervision)
29. Spacechase (Apollo)
30. GORF (CBS Electronics)

And finally, because I am a bit of a dullard, I present you with the game that I forgot:

Worm War I
20th Century Fox

I cannot believe I forgot this guy.  He's not the greatest shooter out there, but he is most definitely a vertical shooter for the Atari 2600, the most basic criteria for this project!

In Worm War I, you wage war against giant worms in a tank as you traverse an endless field of colored blocks.  Yeah, that's about all the story the instruction manual gives you; don't accuse me of summarizing.  The playfield scrolls vertically as you march toward your Lumbricus terrestris foes and the blocks that make up your world.  Your tank is invulnerable except for its need for fuel.  Run out of it and you are dead in the water, game over.  As long as you can blast worms and blocks out of your way, you can virtually play forever.  Contacting worms or blocks severely drains your fuel so you must be careful.  Every so often a refueling pagoda (straight from the instructions) will show up.  If you shoot it you will lose the chance to refuel and everything on the screen, except you, you will be destroyed.  Bad idea, though, because you are going to need the fuel.  The worms come at you in increasing waves until you have faced six on-screen at the same time, then the game resets with deadlier worms and more blocks.  You can speed up your attack on the worms by pressing forward or slow down by pulling back on the controller.

Worm War I presents a decent challenge, but the only real difficulty comes in not shooting your fuel pagodas and not scrolling too quickly so that worms and blocks are on you before you can blast them.  I've not been playing the game terribly long, but I can already see that the difficulty maxes rather early in the game.  There is a variation where the worms are only visible for a brief time, and while that adds some definite challenge, that is not the main game they give you.

Had I been more attentive, I blame the late placement in the alphabet and the fairly bland name, I probably would have ranked this game somewhere in the low twenties or late teens.  The concept is interesting and the challenge is there, if a bit minimized.  The game looks ok, the worm effect is nice, but the sounds are dreadfully reminiscent of Pac-man (shudder).  My main issue is with the lack of vision.  The base game is good, but it lacks any kind of depth and the difficulty maxes too quickly to have much replayability.

Worm War I is a decent game, but ultimately pretty unspectacular.

1 comment:

  1. © 2014 Best PC Vertical scrolling shoot 'em ups!