Released in 1977, the Atari 2600, also known as the Atari VCS, started a whole new wave of video games. A lot of people credit the 2600 with making in-home gaming more popular and setting the groundwork for the ever-growing video game industry, even though it wasn’t the first one.
Even though it didn’t have as much computing power as a microwave does today, the early Atari library still has a few must-play games. Of course, most of the best 2600 games were simple, mediocre copies of popular arcade games. But they still have an undeniable appeal that hasn’t faded.
One of the best-selling games on the console was Pitfall by Activision. put the publisher on the map and showed how much fun these small arcade ports could be.
Pitfall! is a jungle adventure for the ages. The goal is to get through 256 screens and get 32 treasures in twenty minutes. It was a high-score race that many kids in the early 1980s might remember. Even though the controls were hard and the graphics were blocky, it was still fun to play in 1982.
Almost every Atari console made before 1982 came with a free game called Combat. Most people who grew up with the console probably remember playing with their friends and siblings in the game.
Two players take control of what could be called tanks and drive around a single-screen course, trying to blast each other to oblivion. There is a lot to like about how easy this game is to pick up and play, even though it might be too simple for people these days. Playing this game with two or three of your friends can still be a lot of fun, even if it’s been decades since you last did that.
3. Kung-Fu Master
In 1984, the Atari 2600 game Kung-Fu Master was released. It was based on the Jackie Chan movie Meal on Wheels, which came out the same year. Kung-Fu Master was an innovative game for its time, and it looked a lot like 1985’s NES game Kung Fu. It had five unique levels, and each level had a boss.
Because Kung-Fu Master is still a high-score game, the level-based structure and combat were ahead of their time. With a single-button controller, the combat was as complex and nuanced as possible. It’s worth going to see it today, just to think about how important it would have been for early game developers.
4. Pole Position
Compared to the arcade version of Pole Position, 1982’s Atari 2600 version of the game was not very good at all. That said, trying to show a real-world environment with any sense of depth on a console was a big goal. The game’s port, on the other hand, deserves credit for keeping the original’s look and feel even though the hardware it ran on was very limited.
Pole Position, even though it’s very boring, is just as fun on Atari’s machine as it is anywhere else. In Pole Position, players are racing to beat a time limit while shifting gears and trying to stay on the track. This makes the game feel more real than almost any other simple Atari port.
Warlords is an adaptation of the arcade game Quadra Pong. It is a very rare example of an Atari 2600 game that could be played by four people at the same time. Warlords was a party game before party games were even a thing. Players had to defend their part of the screen by bouncing a ball back at other players and try to be the first to break through their defenses.
Warlords is a crazy mix of Pong and Breakout that must have been a lot of fun in the early 80s. Even though it’s a little stiff and simple, there’s nothing better than playing a few rounds of this game with your friends.
It was released in 1984, and it’s not often talked about in the Atari 2600 library. That might be because it came out in the middle of the mid-80s video game industry crash. It’s also a shame that it’s not more popular. Atari fans should definitely check it out.
H.E.R.O. wants players to go down into a mine and rescue miners who have been trapped. In order to do this, they use things like fireworks and laser guns. H.E.R.O. was a game that was way ahead of its time. It had 20 unique levels and gameplay that wouldn’t be out of place on a NES.
7. Space Invaders
The Atari 2600 port of Space Invaders isn’t as good as the arcade version, but it’s still a good way to play this classic video game. It may be a little more blocky and a little less responsive than the original, but it’s still a full-featured, faithful version of one of the most well-known games ever made.
Space Invaders is a game that takes advantage of the console’s small size. It’s a quick, exciting game that can be played for a few minutes at a time. It doesn’t have the kind of story or multiplayer that we’ve come to expect from games today, but the simple elegance of the title makes it always appealing.
8. Asteroids (1981)
In the game, you can move in all directions. If you think it looks like someone is looking for marshmallows in space, that’s because it wasn’t very cutting-edge when it was made back in 1979.
All of us wanted to be Han Solo after the first two Star Wars movies were so popular. This gave young space fans the chance to go on asteroid-smashing adventures.
Spaceship: You must fly around and blast Asteroids while avoiding flying saucers as you do this. If you hit a space rock or an alien blasts you, you die. It’s that easy…
Bloomin’ asteroids wouldn’t make a lot of tiny asteroids or fall below the screen to show up at the top a second later, so it would be easy.
To move, the spaceship needs the player to press the thrusters. The spaceship can drift in one direction for a while, leaving you to shoot everything in sight.
During its life, the original arcade unit sold more than 70’000 units. Asteroids went on to become one of the most popular and best Atari 2600 home games.
9. Crystal Castles (1984)
The remake of Haunted House for the Wii has been out for a while now. Some of you might have played it. When you look at the screenshot below, it’s hard to believe this was a game at all.
The weird thing is that it’s still fun to play even though it’s simple.
There are ghosts, spiders, and a thing that looks like a furry beach ball with eyes in the house where the story is taking place.
The game ends if you get hit by monsters or ghouls more than nine times. When I first played this game, I died a lot.
There are three floors and a basement to play through. Players can use one of three items in each room as they go through them.
When you want to find out what is in each area, you have to light a match. Monsters can blow it out if they are near.
So if you want a game that makes you want to wet your pants, this isn’t it.
Then again, if you’re looking for a brain-teaser with weird monsters, then this might be the game for you!