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Every Atari 7800 Game Reviewed
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Like every other subject, people's opinions widely vary on video games. But in terms of the 7800 library, there's a semblance of solidarity. The enthusiasts normally agree on what's the cream of the crop titles and what's the worst of the worst. But there exists a handful of games that sometimes see uncanny vitriol... so pointed, so bombastic... that it borders on shameful mendacity. I feel like these nine games get an unfair bad rap. Some of them are terrific, and some are just OK, but all are worth a second look.





Pole Position 2 (3.0 Fair)

Atari's pack in game was no Super Mario Brothers, but this venerable racing game is very playable. It looks pretty good, features the qualifying lap for all four arcade courses, and is challenging to boot. The handling is not the best, but it is not horrible, either.





MAIN CRITIQUE:
How was this suposed to compete with the NES's pack in games, Super Mario Brothers & Duck Hunt?

RETORT
It wasn't, and it didn't. It got its ass kicked. But 4 decades later.... what does it matter now? Just play a racing game, and chill already.







Double Dragon (2.5 Weak)

This seminal beat 'em up game has always had a special place in my heart... yes, and even its weird 7800 cousin. I have even done articles and videos on the 7800 DD... that's love, baby. True, its move set is limited- there are no grapples, the graphics look freaking weird, and gameplay is quite odd, but ALL stages and enemies are present in this port and 7800 DD features one of the best bosses and endings in the library. If your mind is right, the game is very playable, and its a challenge to beat.


MAIN CRITIQUE:
This game is so ugly compared to the arcade and NES version.

RETORT
YOUR MOM'S UG... wait... I'm a Christian, I need to calm down. It is ugly. I always thought that this game should have been tweaked a bit and released as a new IP. Like "Buck and Mike take on Sin City"... ya know... something butch. Then people could have been like "Oh wow! What a fun little beat 'em up!" But comparing the 7800 port to the incredible arcade machine is not fair to this lil ole game. It's not even as pretty as the NES version either, BUT it also doesn't flicker like crazy like the Nintendo version. There is a graphical improvement hack that has been released and can be played on emulators that may shut up some haters now, because the guts of the game are OK.







Planet Smashers (3.0 Fair)

As far as original SHMUPs go, there is a lot to like about Planet Smashers. There are warp codes, cloaking, the earth shield, and power ups galore. People hate on this game, and I see the games they like. They should be ashamed of themselves. This game features an intimidating final boss, end screens, and ads for Alien Brigade.



MAIN CRITIQUE:
This game is boring with terrible sound.

RETORT
I'll give you the audio one... the audio is terrible in this game, I can't defend that and I don't wanna. But I think this game features a nice challenge and is the only beatable SHMUP in the library. Turn down the TV, turn up the jamz... enjoy Planet Smashers. It's good!







Tower Toppler (4.5 Excellent)

When I see this game get ragged on, I just shake my head. This title has the best graphics BY FAR of any of the licensed games. It has a likable main character, level selection, a great bonus stage after each tower, an out of this world challenge, a tree hugger's dream video game mission and beautiful parallax scrolling. It's a puzzle/ action hybrid that is unlike any other game on the system. Prosystem Noobs don't realize that this was the best game on the system that wasn't an arcade port for YEARS. This was my go to game. LAY OFF.


MAIN CRITIQUE:
This game is too difficult and confusing.

RETORT
I guess you are lame and dumb. HA! Grow a set.







Fatal Run (2.5 Weak)

OK... Fatal Run is not good. BUT! There's something about this Mad Max/ macabre cross country race against time that created a soft spot in my heart. Nice touches abound, including the infamous death parade, where hordes of town folk explode into head stones(???) if you took your sweet ass time getting into town. This game features the best licensed ending in the library, eight James Bond like car weapons/ gadgets, and has a nice password feature. Just try to beat the game, for crying out loud! The world NEEDS YOU, HONEY!


MAIN CRITIQUE:
Dull.

RETORT
It is dull... and I would argue, that's the charm. There's 32 cities to endure... and if this situation was happening in real life, it would feel alot like Fatal Run: Horrific Doomsday Monotony.







Desert Falcon (4.0 Very Good)

I think Desert Falcon is a good game. It's basically Zaxxon in the desert.... WITH MAGIC! You know Zaxxon is bad ass, and this game is very comparable. There are mini-boss sphinxes at the end of each level, greed inducing bonus stages based on point multipliers and shiny gemstones and a neato hieroglyphics super power system where you can become invincible, kill everything on the screen, or even ground your bird for a short time... PLUS MUCH MORE. Desert Falcon is a beautiful title.


MAIN CRITIQUE:
Enemy flight patterns are too confusing and the game is exhausting.

RETORT
Go play Kirby's Epic Yarn and ask mom when she's bringing you your grill cheese and tomato soup. Hey....... I want some of that........







Ninja Golf (4.0 Very Good)

Many people love this silly as sports/ fighting hybrid. In fact, it may be the Atari 7800 killer app in the new millennium. However, some bag of dickweed dorks pipe up and act like they discovered electricity when they claim "HEY! GUYS! NINJA GOLF'S FIGHTING GAMEPLAY IS SHALLOW... AND SO IS THE GOLF ELEMENT, TOO! C'MON!!!!" Get over yourself. This game is fun. It's funny. It's from 1989. Shut up and enjoy it.


MAIN CRITIQUE:
Limited moves makes the fighting portion grow old fast

RETORT
I dunno, I think if you are saying that, you are not playing to win. Your goal should not be to fight, but to evade action. So, the secret of the game is hitting the ball in a direction that you will go, to make it easier on your ninja. The golf element has nothing to do with golf. Its only there to aid you in your fighting. YOU are creating your own path to the boss by hitting the ball where you want to run. Running along the line that you created should be strategic, limiting the number of engagements your ninja has to deal with so he can endure to complete his ultimare goal: Defeat the 9th hole dragon.







Dark Chambers (3.0 Fair)

Early 80's fantasy games were never my cup of tea. Not a big Dungeons and Dragons guy, either. So I don't know how to judge games like this... I LIKE SKYRIM? Is that good enough, nerds? Dark Chambers was a precursor to Gauntlet. People seem to rave over Gauntlet... and they dog Dark Chambers. I play them both and think they are both about the same damn thing. We have brightly colored mazes, a bunch of them in fact, monster mobs, smart bombs, ham sammiches, pistols and hordes of treasure. Two players light it up at the same time and rake in that paper. I mean... its a dungeon crawler.


MAIN CRITIQUE:
Slow moving, plodding, lack of difficulty

RETORT
I'm not gonna argue with you... but its a dungeuon CRAWLer. Maybe I am ignorant to the genre, but all of these games seem about the same to me. There's fun to be had here, don't let them ruin it for you with nerd snobbery. Level "Y" is actually buck wild. The unfounded hate on this game actually gave me the idea for this article.







Choplifter! (3.0 Fair)

Choplifter! (No need to shout, ma'am) offers a unique, albeit quick one player challenge, and by today's standards feels more like an elongated mini game than a full blown title. And that's where the confusion comes in. You see, there are different Choplifter! games in existence. The 7800 version is based on an old Apple II version, and its vastly superior to THAT train wreck. The problem is that people have played the Sega Master and arcade versions (oddly Sega ported a compter game to the arcade - one of the first times that has ever happened), and the Sega versions are definitely more elaborate and flashy. The 7800 is a fantastic version of the old computer game... but she is the nerdy girl in the movie before the make over. BAD NEWS: She never takes her glasses off or lets her hair down. And she gets killed. And then she poops her panties. Everybody saw.


MAIN CRITIQUE:
This version is a bare bones cash grab that is vastly inferior to the Sega Master System version.

RETORT
And part of that is true... but babies, its two different games, really. This was bad for the 7800 back in the day, because this version cannot hang with the Sega version that takes you to outer space, for crying out loud. The 7800's version of Choplifter! (QUIT YELLING! PLEASE!) is not gonna tickle your fancy for hours like Rikki & Vikki, Bentley Bear's Crystal Quest, or Tower Toppler... but this version of Choplifter! (PLEASE STOP!) is a pretty good port. The problem is public perception is confused. THIS AINT THE FANCY ONE... ITS THE OLD ONE. Trying to grab a perfect score in this helicopter rescue game is tough to do, but the carrot on the stick is tantalizing. Replay value is high with this guy... and if it rhymes ----------- its troo.



***Artwork provided by Nathan Strum from the Failsafe label contest at Atari Age.