Atari 7800 D-G

Alien Brigade Ė By Atari

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 Dark Chambers Ė By Atari

Originally designed by John Palevich in 1983, it was released in 1988 for the 7800, the original name of this game was ďDandyĒ. It first surfaced in the APE (Atari Program Exchange) and saw a release for many home computers. What is not so well known though is that Atariís own Gauntlet arcade game was a kind of sequel to this title, which is evident when you play this game as there are many similarities. Your main character is quite obviously Questor the Elf and the object remains the same, to make your way to the exit. Rather than numbering the levels in this game they each have a letter from A-Z (26 levels) and much like Gauntlet after you finish them they just repeat only harder. The game does actually start off rather on the easy side anyway so I suggest actually starting on hard difficulty or you will quickly get bored. Once in a level itís your mission to make your way to the exit. Along the way round each maze like level you can pick up objects such as food, treasure and potions. Of course each level is infested with ghosts, skeletons and various other ghoulish creatures which can be shot or avoided. The look of the levels changes as you go on and the graphics here are generally quite nice however the sound is really poor, well what there is of it. If you are a Gauntlet fan then you really should have this great maze crawler in your collection.

Review by The Laird

8/10

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 Desert Falcon - By Atari

Sega's Zaxxon was not only a massive hit in the arcades but also created a whole new genre - the isometric shoot 'em up. Desert Falcon takes that winning formula and expands on it. Throwing away the generic space theme this game is set in ancient Egypt, a world full of sand, pyramids, hieroglyphics and the giant Sphinx. You are the falcon in question and must fly through the deserts of North Africa shooting down enemy birds, landing to blow away the scarab beetles and then battling against the boss - a giant Sphinx! There are hieroglyphs dotted around the landscape and these act as power-ups. Collecting them in different orders and combinations has different effects and its great fun working out which are the best. One of the first things that hits you about this game is the wonderful graphics. There is tons on screen with absolutely no flicker, loads of detail and a great 3D effect. A special mention has to go to the Sphinx its self that looks amazing when you first see it. Also and very unusually for a 7800 game this game also has great sound without a pokey! There is great background music and also really good sound effects. Desert Falcon is not only an accomplished shooter but also, in my opinion, one of the best games available for the system.
Review by The Laird

9/10

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 Dig Dug - By Atari

I think itís always been well established that Dig Dug contains one of the weirdest plots and concepts of any game in history. But I also think that its pure quirkiness is part of what made the original Namco arcade game such a massive hit. I mean you are a little man who runs around under ground with a giant air pump blowing up dragons and big bloopy things, dodging falling boulders and collecting the magic fruit that grows down there, makes perfect sense doesn't it? Well this strange mix of Boulderdash, Pacman and erm some game where you blow air is just as good on the 7800 as it was in the arcades. There are difficulty levels, a 2-player mode and all the original levels here which combined with the colourful graphics and decent sound make this one of my favourite 7800 games. For me Dig Dug still holds just as much nostalgia for me as games like Pacman, Space Invaders and Asteroids. It also still holds up just as well today too in the gameplay department and is tremendous fun. So what you waiting for? A new magic air pump to arrive?.

Review by The Laird

9/10

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 Donkey Kong Ė By Atari

Itís pretty interesting that because of an old licensing agreement Donkey Kong ended up being released at about the same time (in the US and Europe anyway) for Atariís 7800 and Nintendoís own NES console, along side 2 other Nintendo games in Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Junior. This pro-system version, like most of the others, only features 3 of the original 4 screens but they all look pretty much arcade perfect. In fact in both the graphics and gameplay departments there is little to choose between the NES and 7800 versions. Itís in the sound department that this game really falls down, out of tune music and horrible sound effects do their best to try and ruin the whole experience. It is no wonder that this game was recently hacked by somebody to add POKEY generated sounds for the release of the 7800 Expansion Module. I also think this version plays just a little too fast but all said and done this isnít a bad conversion of the classic on a machine that is badly lacking in decent platform games.

Review by The Laird

7/10

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 Donkey Kong Junior Ė By Atari

One of the 3 great Nintendo games converted to the 7800, Donkey Kong Junior, is especially notable as being the only game to ever star Mario as the bad guy! The evil fat plumber has captured Donkey Kong and is keeping him in a cage at the top of the screen. As his son (Diddy Kong?) you must go and rescue him by traversing a series of dangerous screens. You must use a combination of jumping across platforms and swinging on vines to reach the top. You can collect various fruits for a bonus but be aware of all the objects and enemies that Mario is chucking at you! This 7800 version is really well done is pretty much identical to the NES version. The graphics are well drawn and very colourful. The sound has both music and sound effects and is a much better effort than the first game. The gameplay is simple but fun and offers a good challenge, especially on the hardest setting. My only complaints are that it is a bit short and you will learn the screens off by heart after a few plays. If you are a Mario fan then this title is well worth picking up.

Review by The Laird

7/10

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Double Dragon - By Activision

Quite easily one of the most popular arcade games of all time Technos' Double Dragon set a whole new standard for scrolling beat 'em ups and gave the inspiration for many more such as Final Fight, Ninja Gaiden and the Streets Of Rage. You take the part of either Billy or Jimmy Lee on a mission to rescue their kidnapped girlfriend (yes they both share the same one, they must be very close!) from the machine gun totting Willy. Along the way you beat up many opponents from street brawlers to prostitutes and the massive Abobo who chucks you around like a toy. Among the many moves at your disposal you have; headbutts, flying kicks, elbow smashes, you can also pick up weapons to fight the bad guys with such as knives, baseball bats and even a kinky whip! Best played as a 2-player game you help each other out right up until the end of the game where having defeated the boss you must fight each other to win the girl! The 7800 version is quite easily the most accurate 8-bit version you are gonna find of this game. It may well be lower res than the Master System and doesn't have as good music as the NES version but it doesn't suffer from flicker like those versions, is totally faithful unlike the NES and is also 2-player which the NES version isn't. It has the same Tia music as the 2600 version which no bad thing for once as this is easily the best music you are ever going hear produced by that chip and features all of the classic arcade soundtrack. The nice colourful graphics also look very similar to the original. I will confess that it doesn't play quite the same as the arcade game which is a bit of a shame and it is pretty hard but fans of the original will get a lot of enjoyment out of this!

Review by The Laird

9/10

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 F18 HornetĖ By Absolute Entertainment

To this I still struggle to fathom how with such a relatively small library the 7800 ended up with 3 flight simulators, a genre that should have stayed on the home computers. To be fair F18 is probably the best of a bad bunch but itís still not a game that is going to make anyone rush out and buy a 7800. The first point I have to make about this game is with regard to the huge manual, it totals 20 pages! Seriously I am not kidding, what casual console is going to take the time to read through all of that. The other problem is that you really do need to, as mastering the complicated controls and nuances of this game are key to any success. I do have to say though that from a technical point of view this game really cannot be beaten. The 3D graphics are stunning, even in that small window, and really do show the power of the 7800ís Maria graphics chip. I am sure there are some people out there who will enjoy this game are willing to spend hours learning the game but for the rest of us who like to pick up and play much more fun can be had elsewhere.

Review by The Laird

6/10

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Fatal Run Ė By Atari

Another one of those games that saw simultaneous versions released for both the 2600 and 7800 it plays much like the Atari arcade game Roadblasters. In fact, given that it came out in 1990 the same time as the Lynx version of Roadblasters, it seems really strange they didnít just use that license. The game is set in a Mad Max like post-apocalyptic world where you are driving from city to city trying to save humanity or some such guff. Your car is armed with guns, missiles and oil slicks that can be used against the other cars on the road. There is a little scanner so you can see what cars are up ahead as well as behind you. By taking out the other cars you earn money and this can be used to repair your car and upgrade it when you get to the city. What stands out most about this game is that it looks fantastic. Not only does it give a great sense of speed but also the road has hills and turns that you can actually see winding into the distance. The most impressive part is though when you get to the city. You get a little sequence where you watch out your car window as different people wave at you and some even die in front of you and turn to gravestones! Definitely the best racing game on the system I would say this vastly under rated title is well worth picking up.

Review by The Laird

8/10

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Fight Night Ė By Accolade

You know when you get those games that look simply awesome from the box and still screenshots but when you actually play them they totally suck arse? Yep, I thought so we have all been there. Well Fight Night is once such game, I really really wanted to like this game but itís just terrible. Itís basically a cartoon like boxing game, kind of like Punch Out but viewed from the side. You have all these great comedy boxers to choose from that pull some brilliant faces when they are hit, but this is where the problems start. The hit detection is beyond bad and seems to be more luck than judgement. This isnít helped by some of the most spasticated animation I have ever seen in a video game. Add to this some terrible sound and an energy bar that seems to re-fill at will and you have one steaming pile of crap. I suggest you all steer well clear of this unplayable mess.

Review by The Laird

3/10

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Food Fight Ė By Atari

Considering all the many classic arcade games Atari released itís an absolute disgrace that Food Fight was never as successful as games like Asteroids, Missile Command and Paperboy. It didnít get hardly any home ports either but thankfully Atari chose it as one of the release games for the 7800 and it still stands up today as one of the systems best games. Strange, wacky and incredibly fun itís hard to actually work out which genre Food Fight belongs in. There are elements here from all sorts of hit games that come together beautifully. The idea is to make your was from one side of the screen to the other and eat the ice cream cone before it melts. However there are a bunch of evil chefs who are trying to stop you. Thankfully the screen is littered with food you can pick up and throw at them to stop them! They can also do the same to you though so stay on your toes. I love the cartoony look of the graphics, the sound is surprisingly good and the gameplay is near enough unbeatable. Food Fight is one of the first games that should be added to any 7800 shopping list.

Review by The Laird

9/10

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 Galaga Ė By Atari

Galaga is the sequel to the groundbreaking Galaxian and was first released in the arcades back in 1981. It was every bit as popular as its prequal and spawned yet more sequels and clones. Galaga is pretty much the earliest example out there of what we now know as the vertically scrolling shoot Ďem up. It uses a constantly moving star field in the back ground to simulate scrolling and the enemies arrive in attack patterns as opposed to the fixed formation of Galaxian. There are also now very distinct stages that differ from one another rather than just repeating the same level over and over with increased difficulty. Enemies still swoop and dive-bomb you in a kamikaze fashion just like the first game but do this within their own attack patterns rather than just a random fashion. This means itís easier to learn the game, much like a modern shooter. There are also enemies that require several hits and as well as shooting back at you they are armed with a new weapon Ė a tractor beam! When they engage this weapon it locks you in and sucks you up so you lose a life. Other new features include a 2-player mode (in turns) and the unique ability to use 2 lives at once, giving you 2 ships on the screen at once. The 7800 version of Galaga makes a few small changes from the arcade original. Firstly the screen is the full width, rather than the long TATE layout of the original. Also your ship looks completely different! Other than that though itís almost identical and thankfully it plays brilliantly. Both graphics (ship excluded) and sound are decent. Galaga fans and old school shooter aficionados will really dig this 7800 conversion.

Review by The Laird

9/10

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 GATO Ė By Atari

GATO is a real-time submarine simulator that was originally published by Spectrum Holobyte in the 1980ís for several platforms including the Apple II and Atari XE Game System. It simulates combat operations aboard the GATO-class submarine USS Growler in the Pacific Theater of World War II. GATO was the first ever submarine simulator for a home computer. The player was tasked with chasing the Japanese naval forces across a 20-sector map while returning for re-supply as necessary from a submarine tender. The islands on the map were randomly generated and not based on real-world geography. Combat was conducted using a screen with a view through the periscope along side various gauges and indicators to help you. The original game had multiple difficulty levels, the highest of which even required the player to translate mission briefings transmitted only as audible Morse Code! Atari had begun a port GATO for the Atari 7800 back in 1987 and put together a simple demo, but it doesn't appear the game ever got beyond that stage. This demo consists of just four screenshots that you can cycle through by pressing the fire button. No idea why anyone bothered to put this on a cart as itís totally pointless for anyone but a hardcore collector.

Review by The Laird

2/10

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