Friday, August 17, 2012

Atlantis And Cosmic Ark For Atari 2600

Hi everybody, Mr. Glitch here with another classic game review! Before I begin, I'd like to say thanks to John Teti for mentioning me in today's Keyboard Geniuses
Today, I'm reviewing two Atari 2600 games released in 1982 by Imagic, a short-lived 3rd party developer responsible for some of the most impressive-looking and imaginative 2600 games.


Your goal is to defend Atlantis by shooting down the rainbow-colored Gorgon attack ships as they fly across the screen. You have at your disposal three gun emplacements: one in the center of the screen that shoots straight up, and two on either side that shoot up and across in an X pattern. Pressing the joystick button by itself fires the center gun, while holding left or right on the joystick and pressing the button fires the guns on the periphery. Since the bullets from those guns fly diagonally across the screen, it's harder to hit your target, but you get twice the points for each hit.

Each Rainbow-Gorgon you miss drops down a level until it gets low enough to vaporize one of your seven installations with its death ray. They target your center gun first, leaving you with only the outer guns to defend yourself. However, score enough points in each wave and you'll earn back an installation, starting with your center gun. There are no power-ups in the game, but if you manage to hit the small fast fighter ship, its explosion wipes out every other enemy on screen and nets you 1000/2000 points. When all your installations are destroyed, the Atlantean survivors escape in a saucer to join the...

Cosmic Ark

Yes that's right, it's an actual sequel to an Atari game! In Cosmic Ark, you play a giant flying saucer tasked with rescuing endangered space critters from each planet you visit.

The game has two parts: In part one, your ark, in the center of the screen, must defend itself from meteors that conveniently attack from one of the four cardinal directions. You zap the meteors by pressing the joystick in the direction from which they approach. If you take a hit, you lose some energy. 

In part two, your ark hovers above a planet and dispatches a small shuttlecraft to beam up the two beasties running around the bottom of the screen. The planet's defenses slide up & down the edges of the screen, periodically zapping any shuttles foolish enough to be caught in their line of fire. You have a short amount of time to catch the critters and return before alarms go off and your ark gets bombarded by more meteors. Your ark then returns to space, blows up yet more meteors, rinse repeat. However, if you suffer too many hits & run out of energy, your ark explodes spectacularly, and the Atlantean survivors escape in a saucer to join... Hell I don't know--the Yars.

Both games have impressive sound effects and detailed, colorful graphics. Both games are also of the play-till-you-die variety and they get very difficult very quickly. If you can manage more than fifteen minutes a game, you're a better Glitch than I. Though Cosmic Ark gives you more to do, I prefer Atlantis. Its shooting mechanic is reminiscent of the arcade Missile Command, and the scoring is just fair enough to give you a fighting chance of earning back your last precious Atlantean outpost blown up by those damn Rainbow Gorgons. Both games are easy to find, dirt-cheap and well worth picking up to round out your 2600 collection.

Thanks for reading Mr. Glitch's classic game reviews. Next week, we fire plasmorbs over the horizon in Ballblazer!

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