Atari 7800 D-G

Alien Brigade – By Atari

screenshot

 Dark Chambers – By Atari

Dark Chambers was originally designed in 1983 and called “Dandy” but was released on both the 2600 and 7800 with the name Dark Chambers. This game is actually a predecessor to Atari’s arcade hit Gauntlet and shares many commonalities with that game. In Dark Chambers the player plays the role of an elf (two elves in the two-player simultaneous game) who is traversing this underground world in search for treasure. A total of 26 different chambers (marked with letters A-Z) are found in this underworld. Survive them all, only to start again at a higher difficulty level. Within these chambers there are various creatures who will do all they can to stop the elf from garnering treasures: zombies, skeletons, wraiths, wizards, and grim reapers. Zombies are the weakest enemy and explode when you attack them. Grim reapers are the most powerful. All the monsters transform into a lesser monster until they are destroyed as zombies. Spawners are spread through the chambers from which the monsters appear. Destroy these to stop the monsters from appearing. You also must avoid deadly poison that drain your energy. Not everything is bad, though. There are power ups in the form of guns, daggers, and shields to help you in your adventure. Dark Chambers boasts really nice graphics on the 7800 with plenty of enemies, nicely rendered mazes, and bright colours. Though there is a beautiful title screen with some eerie music, there is no in-game music and sounds are minimal. The one real issue with Dark Chambers is that the gameplay is slow. Things do get more crowded in the upper levels, however. Any fan of Gauntlet should enjoy this game. I know I do. Overall a good title for the system.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

screenshot

 Desert Falcon - By Atari

In the world of isometric shooters, Zaxxon was king and it inspired games in similar style. One such game was Desert Falcon for the Atari 7800. Rather than space, this game is set on the sandy lands of Egypt where you are in search of treasure. For you, see thieves plundered the Pharaoh’s tomb years ago taking gold, silver, and gems with them. Sadly for them, the guardians of the treasure pursued the robbers which resulted in the treasure being scattered on the desert. You are now in search of this treasure and you must travel, as a falcon, over air and land to collect the treasure. Be weary, though, as the guardians are still protecting the pharaoh’s riches and they will attack any who try to take it. Use your arrows to attack the various flying enemies and land creatures as they head toward you. Keep an eye out for hieroglyphs on the ground for combining these will grant you new powers such as invincibility, speed, and the ability to freeze your enemies. Make through a section of desert alive only to be faced by the grand protector of the treasure, the Howling Sphynx. Defeating it takes you to along of riches where you can freely take as much treasure as you can within a time limit. Desert Falcon is a fascinating title for the 7800. The game does use isometric graphics that look gorgeous and it has surprisingly good sound. Judging your and your enemies’ height is a bit difficult but the game is still plenty enjoyable. The hieroglyphs on the ground add strategy as you have to pick them in the right combination to get the desired power up. Overall, a very good game for the system.
Review by TrekMD

8/10

screenshot

 Dig Dug - By Atari

Dig Dug was another successful arcade title released in 1982 that had a very unique formula for its time. In the game the player controls the titular character who has to dig through the ground to eliminate monsters that live there by either dropping rocks on them or by inflating them until they explode. Though the premise was weird, the game caught on well and became a hit that saw ports to home consoles. Atari’s conversion of the game for the 7800 is excellent and brings a true arcade experience home. The weird premise is complemented by weird enemies. Fygars are green dragons that breathe deadly fire and Pookas are these red tomato-like monsters that wear goggles. Both of these monsters appears in various numbers within caves underground that Dig Dug can reach. These creatures can also change into “ghost” forms that let them travel through the ground into any open tunnel within the play area. This means that they can chase after Dig Dug before he even reaches for them. Dig Dug can inflate them to destroy them but he has to be careful not to partially inflate the monsters as they’ll simply deflate and come after him again. Once two rocks are dropped, a bonus item appears in the middle of the maze (usually a vegetable) for several seconds. Pick these up for big points. Also be sure to capture the last monster before it manages to escape above ground. The 7800 port of Dig Dug has gorgeous and colourful graphics with well detailed characters and good sound. This is really a fun game and a classic that should be in every 7800 owner’s game library.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

screenshot

 Donkey Kong – By Atari

In 1981 Nintendo revolutionized the arcade rooms by introducing a game about a giant gorilla and a plumber. That game was Donkey Kong and, to this day, it is one of the most recognizable and enduring titles in video game history. This was the game that introduced the world to Mario (though he was called Jumpman at the time) and it was a game that immediately saw conversions to just about every home console of the time. Atari ported the title to the 7800 and, in doing so, created what is undoubtedly a very good adaptation of the beloved arcade title. As with many home versions, this port of Donkey Kong has three of the four arcade screens: girders, elevators, and rivets. All of these screens are a faithful reproduction of the arcade levels, though Pauline is located in a position lower than she was on the arcade. The barrels, fireballs, and firefoxes are all here as well and are animated very much like in the arcade. Where the game falters is in the sound department as it is crippled by TIA sound. Atari chose not to add a POKEY chip to these carts and that severely limited what could be done with sound effects and music. For some the sound effects are so horrible that they don’t want to even play this version of Donkey Kong. I personally overlooked the issues with sound for years as the only other version I had was the 2600 port. Besides the sound, the games is missing the intermissions from the arcade (How High Can You Get?) And some of the animation when the levels end. Nonetheless, the gameplay is quite faithful and makes it well worth playing.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

screenshot

 Donkey Kong Junior – By Atari

Given the success of Donkey Kong in the arcades, Nintendo promptly worked on a sequel to the game and in 1982 they released Donkey Kong Junior. Here the player takes the role of Kong’s son as he attempts to rescue his father from the “evil” clutches of none other than Mario. Mario must have captured Kong after rescuing Pauline and has him caged and it is up to Junior to set him free. The game has four different stages in which Junior must climb and jump through vines or chains while avoiding enemies such as Snapjaws, Nitpickers, and Sparks. The enemies can be destroyed by dropping fruits that appear on the vines but most of the time they have to be avoided. In the final screen, Junior must push keys to locks at the top of the screen so that Kong can be freed. When the screen is completed, an animation shows Kong falling to Junior’s hands before the action starts all over again. Atari’s conversion of this classic for the 7800 is well done and it does include all four screens from the arcade. The graphics are nicely done and are full of colour with well animated character sprites. Game music and sound effects are hindered by the lack of a POKEY chip, but they do a fair job for the most part. Donkey Kong Junior does bring the arcade gameplay home rather faithfully and this is what it is all about. Definitely a title any fan of Donkey Kong Junior needs to have in their 7800 game library.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

screenshot

 Donkey Kong XM – By Tep392

Atari’s port of Donkey Kong was pretty good but it was missing certain details from the arcade game and had TIA sound that left much to be desired. Enter Tep392 with Donkey Kong XM, a version of the game designed for the upcoming 7800 XM Module that addresses many of the shortcomings of the original port. This version adds POKEY sound (borrowed from the 8-bit version) and that alone makes a world of a difference. Other changes include the addition of a more arcade-like title screen, the addition of the intro screen in which Kong climbs up the building carrying Pauline, the “How High Can You Get?” screens in between levels, Kong beating his chest (with sound) as you try to rescue Pauline, Kong escapes with Pauline at the end of each level, the addition of the entire cement (pie) factory screen (Kong moves from left to right on the top level as in the arcade). In addition, the graphics and colours have been updated on all screens to better match the arcade, a menu screen has been added to select various options, the score area has been updated to match the arcade, character sprites have been improved, the AI of the firefoxes and fireballs has been updated to be arcade perfect, the hammers have been moved to the correct positions, and barrel tossing and bouncer patterns have been updated to match the arcade’s. Two difficulty options are available, Novice and Arcade, and you also can select whether to play with the American or Japanese sequence of screens. In short, with all these changes, Donkey Kong XM is probably the ultimate home version of Donkey Kong for a retro system.

Review by TrekMD

10/10

screenshot

Double Dragon - By Activision

Considered the first successful beat ‘em up arcade title, Double Dragon follows the martial artists Billy and Jimmy Lee as they fight their way through the Black Warrior gang’s territory in order to rescue the lovely Marian. The pair will face a variety of gang members as they advance through gang territory and they must kick, punch, and jump their way through them while also using weapons (baseball bats, knives, and whips) they can either find or take away from defeated enemies. There are four different areas for the players to cross: a city slum, a factory, the woods, and the gang’s hideout. Each of these areas has a boss that must be defeated, including the gang leader, Willy, in the final stage. Activision’s port of the title for the 7800 manages to capture the essence of the arcade fairly well but it is far from perfect. The game can be played with one or two (simultaneous) players, just like in the arcade, and all the same stages can be found here. You also have seven different fighting moves you can use (punch, elbow punch, jump, kick, jump kick, reverse jump kick, and head butt). Unfortunately, the game graphics are not as detailed and the backgrounds tend to be static. Activision chose not to add a POKEY chip to the carts either but the TIA sounds actually do rather well with the arcade musical tune and sound effects being reproduced better than expected. Overall, though, it is the faithfulness to the arcade’s gameplay what makes this game a very enjoyable title on the 7800.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

screenshot

 F18 Hornet– By Absolute Entertainment

Flight simulators were often created for computers with ports done to consoles at times. Such is the case of F-18 Hornet, a game where the player takes the role of a Top Gun pilot with the goal of completing four different missions. You start off on a training mission through the China Lake Naval Weapons Station. Successful completion of the training session then has you assigned to dangerous missions over enemy territory. You must control the F-18 Hornet through take-offs and landings on an aircraft carrier, bombings, strafings, and air combat scenarios. Before going into a mission, you are given details of your orders. After completion of the mission, you are given a rank assignment based on your peformance. F-18 Hornet is not for everyone as the action is slow and complicated. There are lots of controls to learn and a 19 page manual that must be read in order to play the simulation. The game does have some impressive graphics with well simulated 3D visuals from the pilot’s cockpit. The mission briefings take place on a screen with a world map that points to the location of your mission. Game sounds are a bit rough but they do the job. If you are a fan of flight simulators and you own an Atari 7800, you need to have this in your game library. It really is well done for fans of the genre. Casual players, though, may want to avoid getting this title. Personally, I’ve enjoyed this and I’ve even had some fun disobeying orders and just going on kamikaze flights!

Review by TrekMD

7/10

screenshot

Fatal Run – By Atari

It is the year 2089 and Earth has become a post-apocalyptic world after a comet collided on the planet, poisoning the atmosphere with deadly radiation. Humanity may die of the effects of the radiation are not reversed. Enter the scientists from the protected fortress of Albagon who have developed a way vaccine against the radiation effects and a way in which to reverse the effects of the comet fallout. You are being sent on a mission vital for the survival of mankind, a mission that will take you through various cities and landscapes on a specially equipped car so you can deliver the vaccine and reach the rocket launch area to deliver the cure for the world. Unfortunately, there are henchmen on the roads that will stop at nothing to stop you from accomplishing your mission. Can you survive their attacks and save Earth? Fatal Run has a fancy storyline for what is a driving combat game on the 7800. The game has 32 levels that you must complete before you reach the launch site. As you travel to the different cities on your way to the launch sites, you’ll have to use your weapons to blow up the enemy vehicles on the road. The game action does get repetitive so it is a good thing that every fourth level gives you a password to save. That lets you come back and continue so you can complete the game in more than one sitting. There is an actual ending to the game, so going all the way to the end is worth it. Graphics are good and colourful. City stages give you a look from the driver’s window (which can be good or bad, depending on how fast you made it there) and there are shops for weapons before leaving the cities.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

screenshot

Fight Night – By Accolade

Fight Night was originally released to home computers in 1985, with the adaptation to the 7800 seeing release in 1988. The game is a multi-event boxing simulation where the players selects between a training even, a main event, a sparring match, or a tournament. Each of these events allows has the player do different tasks: in Main Even, you’ll fight against a series of eleven contenders of increasing skill; in Training, you’ll develop your skills for punching, footwork, and timing; in Sparring Match, your fighters practice in a match against the computer, and in Tournament you and a friend can pit your fighters against each other. There are various moves you can use in the fights but the control scheme can be a bit confusing and takes some getting used to. The game does have some really nicely rendered fighters and there are 12 for you to choose from. Hell, they are even animated so that it is often even funny seeing their expressions when they get hit. This, however, does not make a winner of this title. Collision detection is very poor and the actual character animation is horrible. Couple this with an energy bar that refills magically on your opponents and you have a game that is a total stinker. This is very unfortunate because the game did have potential. To add insult to injury, game sounds are horrible. Sadly, this is a title that is best avoided. It’s too bad that Atari didn’t create a RealSports Boxing game for the 7800 expanding on what they did on the 2600. I’m sure that would have been better than what Imagineering did when porting this title to the console.

Review by TrekMD

2/10

screenshot

Food Fight – By Atari

Who doesn’t like ice cream? Are you willing to fight for it? Well, Charley Chuck is as he attempts to get to a melting ice cream cone while avoiding four nasty chefs in the game of Food Fight. Food Fight was released to the arcades in 1983 by Atari and it was ported to the Atari 7800 in 1986. Though the game was not a huge arcade success, it certainly is a superb game that Atari 7800 owners can be happy to enjoy. In Food Fight the player controls Charley Chuck as he must cross to the opposite side of the screen in order to reach an ice cream cone. Unfortunately for Charley, is chased by four chefs (Oscar, Angelo, Jaques, and Zorba) who pop out of manholes and who use food from various piles to throw at Charley as he heads to his precious ice cream. Charley must avoid falling in the manholes and he can also use the food on the playing field to attack the chefs. When Charley reaches the ice cream, he opens his mouth wide to swallow the whole thing before moving into the next level. One interesting thing is that if Charley has food in his hand at the end of the level, he keeps it at the start of the next level. Food Fight is lots of fun with fast action, great graphics and animation, and cool music and sound effects. If you make a great play to reach the ice cream cone, you are treated to an instant replay of the action. Another cool think is seeing any leftover food when you end a level literally fly into your score for bonus points. Food Fight is an absolute winner on the 7800 and a must have title!

Review by TrekMD

9/10

screenshot

 Galaga – By Atari

Galaga was a sequel to Galaxian that was released to the arcades in 1981. The game was a fixed shooter that took the formula of the original to a new level by changing how the enemies appear on screen and adding other elements. When the game starts, the screen is blank and then the enemies fly in formation, which gives the player a chance to destroy them before they form at the top of the screen. Once the enemies complete their formation, they start bombarding the player’s ship and that level is not completed until all enemies are destroyed. To make things more interesting, the enemies can capture the player’s ship in a tractor beam and carry it in attacks. Shooting down the enemy with that captured ship, released the ship and gives the player double firepower. This is quite helpful for clearing the screen but also during the bonus stages. Atari ported the game to the 7800 and brought all the arcade action home, though some visual compromises were made. The player’s ship is smaller than on the arcade version and has a different design that is simpler than the original. The enemy sprites are colourful and comparable to those of the arcade in design, though their colours are not as bright. Nonetheless, the gameplay is perfectly captured and there are three different levels of difficulty for players to choose from. Despite making use of the TIA chip, all of the arcade sounds are reproduced fairly well, so the ambiance is well preserved.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

screenshot

 GATO – By Atari

GATO was a submarine simulator that was released to home computers in the early 1980's by Spectrum Holobyte, including the Atari XEGS. The game was the first submarine simulator for computers and it was meant to simulate the combat scenarios of World War II where GATO-class submarines were employed in the Pacific Ocean. The goal was to chase Japanese ships in a 20-sector map with islands that are randomly generated by the program and that are not based on real geography. Combat scenarios were carried out using a periscope view screen that also included gauges with important information about the submarine’s functions. The computer version had various difficulty levels and, at the highest difficulty, it even required the player to translate mission briefings that were transmitted in actual Morse Code! Atari must have liked having simulators on the 7800 because they started to work on a version of this game for the system in 1987. A demo of the game was put together that includes six different screens: a menu screen with level selection, ships log, and a refuel and repair section; what looks like an engineering screen, a radar screen, a map screen, a periscope and instrument screen, and the actual ship’s log. This demo is available in cartridge but it is nothing more than a collector piece as it is not playable. By pressing the fire button you simply move through the different screens and that’s about it. It may be a piece of video game history but it is not an actual game.

Review by TrekMD

1/10

Next Page: Atari 7800 H-K