Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top 5 Worst Atari 2600 Arcade Ports

We recently looked at the top 5 Nintendo games; but before Nintendo, there was Atari.  In the early 80s, game makers for the Atari 2600 took great arcade games and imported them over to the Atari.  However, the Atari 2600 versions had to be scaled back, often with unintended and crappy consequences.  Here's the worst of the lot.

5: Donkey Kong - We got used to Donkey Kong tossing barrels at our Mario while we tried to climb ladders to save a princess.  Atari gave us a ginger bread man rolling film reels at our (not too bad looking) Mario while trying to save something that looks like a yellow fish on top of a blue-and-pink blob resting on yellow dots.  And this is the least offensive game on this list...

4: Zaxxon - Fly your space ship in a 3-D landscape of launching rockets, buildings and silos, laser cannons, explosions, and more!  Unless you are on the 2600, in which case you apparently play a different game altogether where you control--hell, I don't know, a peach-colored mushroom?--through a monotone field of putrid green while avoiding giant purple things (pretty sure it's a radar dish) and purple/pink Volkwagon Bugs!  So lame--this would rank higher if it had been more popular.

3: BurgerTime - In the 80s, kids enjoyed making video burgers by stepping on giant burger ingredients--buns, lettuce, patties, etc.--whilst simultaneously avoiding creepy, undulating hot dogs and condiments who inexplicably do not want you to finish your kitchen duties.  Atari 2600 used this to turn a generation of kids against working in fast food.  In this offering, yellow rectangles fell on top of other yellow rectangles when your white hieroglyph moved over them (it in no way "stepped" on them) while avoiding the dreaded white squares, red squares, or horror of horrors, the red blob-thing!  A stupid game made much, much worse by Atari's execution.

2: Pac Man - Everyone played Pac Man.  Everyone remembers what it looked like in the arcade--bright orange, pink, red, and powder blue ghosts with big googley eyes; red cherries; cool Tron-esque walls (yes, I know Pac Man pre-dated Tron by 2 years); and big, round power pellets.  How did Atari do?  Not even close.  The elegant round power pellets were reinvnted as dull yellow squares.   The dots reincarnated as hyphens.  The maze was different.  The game invites questions--why did you do this, Atari?  And why does Pac Man have an eye?  And why doesn't his mouth open like a pizza slice instead of a vice?  And why are the ghosts all one color?  And why... forget it.

1: Rampage - Easily the most egregious offense committed by Atari in the port arena was to trick unsuspecting kids into thinking they'd be able to play Rampage at home on their 2600.  Rampage was a huge hit.  In it you controlled one of three monsters with the goal of tearing down buildings, eating people, smashing cars, and occasionally punching your friend who is controlling a different monster.  Remember how if you "died," your monster would shrink back to human size, but would be a naked little man or woman?  Remember eating your friend's monster after it shrunk back to human size before your friend could get a new quarter into the machine?  You don' if you were only exposed to Atari's joyless, soulless, depressing version.  The picture speaks for itself:

And there you have it.  Please share your thoughts below.  I know I left a bunch out...

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, or via email by using the links below, giving it a +1, or "following" this blog.


  1. What? no honorable mention of Duck-Hunt?

  2. Oh man, I spent way too long finding the screenshots and putting them together, yet this is one of the lowest ranked posts. That sucks...