Atari 7800 H-K

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Hat Trick – By Bally Sente

Hat Trick is a top-viewed ice hockey game that was released to the arcades in 1984 by Bally Sente and ported to the Atari 7800 in 1987. The game is a 2-on-2 version of hockey where the player controls both hockey players simultaneously with the joystick. The goal is, of course, to achieve the most goals and get the highest score within the span of two minutes. When the game starts, the players face each other at the middle of the rink over a yellow circle. The whistle blows and the puck slides from either the top or bottom of the screen onto the ice. Use your stick to steal the puck and press the fire button to hit it in the direction you want. The 7800 port of Hat Trick is quite faithful to the arcade original with its graphics, including the colours of the rink and players. Even the scoreboard is pretty well reproduced. The game is weak in the sounds department but where it really hurts is in the controller response. Scoring is very difficult and the players just move rather sluggishly. This may be an attempt at realism but it fails miserably. It is unfortunate because, the game does seem to be something you’d enjoy but it just doesn’t work right. Sadly, this is a terrible title that only completists need to get. If you want to play ice hockey on your 7800, grab a cart of Activision’s Ice Hockey for the 2600. That’s a far better title!

Review by TrekMD

3/10

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 Ikari Warriors – By Atari

Vertically scrolling shoot ‘em up arcade games became common after the release of Commando. Ikari Warrior succeeded where others failed because it added something that Commando lacked, a two-player cooperative mode! Controlling Colonel Ralf and Second Lieutenant Clark, the players must cross enemy territory in order to reach the village of Ikari. Crossing the jungle will be a difficult task as your enemies are well equipped with weapons and vehicles and will do what they can to stop you. Thankfully, you have a machine gun and grenades to defend yourselves but they are in limited supply, making it necessary to replenish them with supplies found in the jungle. You’ll be able not only to resupply your existing weapons but you’ll also be able to gather additional and more powerful weapons to help you achieve your goal. Also, keep an eye out for tanks as you can board them and use them on land. These shield you from enemy bullets but are susceptible to grenades. Make sure you jump out before a tank explodes if it is hit by grenades. Atari ported this game to the 7800 and they did a superb job with it. The game has excellent graphics and character animation, gorgeous backgrounds, and pretty good sound despite it not using a POKEY chip. This game shows what that 7800 is capable of from the graphics perspective as there are tons of moving objects on screen with not a hint of flicker. Ikari Warriors is another must-have in your Atari 7800 game library.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Impossible Mission – By Epyx

Impossible Mission was first released as a home computer game in 1984. The game mixes several types of gameplay that include platform, adventure, and action gaming. In it, the player takes the role of a secret agent who must stop the evil genius, Professor Atrombender, from infiltrating government computers. To do so, you must enter the evil professor’s stronghold and locating pieces of a password that, when properly assembled, put a stop to the evil doers actions. The password pieces are found in various objects through the stronghold which is itself protected by robots equipped with death rays and a hovering electrified ball. To make things worse, you have a time limit within which to complete your mission. Impossible Mission was ported to the Atari 7800 in 1987. If you own the NTSC version of the game, you truly own an impossible game to complete as the game has a bug that prevents the player from finding some of the vital puzzle pieces on some of the computer terminals. This was fixed in the PAL version of the game and there is even a hack of the NTSC version (called Possible Mission) available for those who want to try to finish the game. Impossible Mission has good graphics, nice character animation, and decent sound effects. With its puzzles, arcade-like action, and adventure elements, Impossible Mission is a game that can hold anyone’s attention. The game is, however, difficult and may not appeal to everyone. So, are you ready to test your skills and take on an...impossible mission?

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Jinks – By US Gold

When you turn on your 7800 with the Jinks cart inserted you see a title screen and a very familiar voice actually says “Welcome” followed by an interesting musical tune. This is quite impressive, since it is done using the TIA chip, and the reason is sounds so familiar is because it is the voice of the narrator from Gauntlet! The game itself is a mix of Breakout and pinball in its gameplay and it is one that you’ll either love or hate. The story goes that you are on the planet JINKS onboard your paddle ship and travelling through the planet’s fields and forests when a magical ball appears. Using your paddle ship, you guide the ball as it hits the various strange shapes that are present. Some of these shapes vanish on impact while others simply keep the ball bouncing and others yet have an impact on your paddle ship. Can you help the ball travel all the way to the opposite side of the field? Only one way to find out. The paddle ship is, of course, the paddle that you use to guide the ball through a horizontal playing field full of items that help you rack up points. Your paddle is a triangle that can be moved freely within the playing field and it can be rotated so that either the flat surface or one of the angular sides hit the ball. Once the level is complete, you go into an interlude screen where you bounce the ball to choose the level you’ll go to next. Graphics are interesting and the music on the title screen and game start screens is cool but sound is limited to beeps during gameplay. Controlling the ball is a bit hard and may frustrate some.

Review by TrekMD

6/10

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 Joust – By Atari

Joust was released in 1982 by Williams to the arcades and became an instant hit with its unique gameplay. In it, you play the role of a knight who rides a flying ostrich in an a playing field full of floating rock platforms over a lava pit. Here the knight must face enemy knights who are riding buzzards and who appear in waves of increasing difficulty. Three types of enemy knights confront your knight: Bounders, Hunters, and Shadow Lords. There’s even a pterodactyl that appears after a given time period to hunt your knight. Flying around is accomplished by pressing the fire button and it is how frequently this is done that determines the speed and height of your knight. He must be flying a bit higher than enemy knights to defeat them. Once defeated, an enemy knight turns into an egg that must be picked up before they “hatch” again. The game has five different waves: Survival, Egg, and Pterry waves are one player games and Team and Gladiator waves are two-player games. Each of these waves offers different challenges to the player(s). The 7800 version of Joust captures every aspect of the arcade faithfully and is truly a superb title for the system. You even have four difficulty levels to choose from (Beginner to Expert) to make the challenge more appropriate to your skill. The graphics are excellent, the sound is great, and the action is non-stop. Joust is not to be missed on the ProSystem’s library. Go grab a friend and get some jousting going!

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Karateka – By Broderbund

In 1984 Jordan Mechner developed a game for the Apple II where the player controls a karate protagonist who is attempting to rescue his love, Princess Mariko, from the evil Adkuma’s castle. This game was Karateka and it is a side scrolling fighting game where you have to use kicks, blows, and punches to fight your way through various enemies in order to reach the Princess. A health bar on the screen lets you know how strong you and your opponent are as the characters fight. Once the health bar is depleted, it is game over for either the player or the adversary (whoever’s bar is depleted first). In addition to the various human foes, Akuma has a trained hawk that also attacks the player but that can be scared off with a carefully timed punch. The last enemy is Akuma himself and then you get to rescue the princess but be careful not to be in a fighting stance or she’ll kick your butt! Karateka was well received on computer systems and was ported to various consoles, including the 7800. Unfortunately, the 7800 port is a disaster. The game does have beautiful graphics and fair sound but the character animation is a bit choppy. The real problem with the game is with the controls. Not only is the control scheme absurd and counterintuitive (to punch right, you push the joystick left?) but the response to anything you do is also ridiculously slow. This makes the game frustrating and anything but fun. This is one title you do not have to get for your 7800 unless you just want to have a complete collection. A hack to fix the control system would be welcome!

Review by TrekMD

3/10

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 Klax - By Atari

Released by Atari Games in 1989, KLAX was arcade game in which the player must align blocks of the same colour into rows to make these disappear. The block can be aligned horizontally, vertically, or diagonally with each formation granting a different value point. The block fall steadily from a conveyor belt that begins at the top of the screen and the player has to use a paddle to pick these up and organize them below. The paddle can hold up to five blocks at a time to allow for strategy. KLAX has 100 levels grouped into blocks of five. At the start of each level or “wave,” as the game refers to them, a specific task is given to the player (i.e., make three KLAXs, make four diagonal KLAXs, etc.). Pieces will continue to fall until this task is completed or until the player fails. You lose when you drop too many pieces or the playing area gets full of blocks. Atari ported KLAX to the 7800 and to the Lynx but only the latter saw release. The 7800 version was 99% completed but was cancelled before it could be released. Thankfully, the prototype was found by the folks from ResQsoft Productions who released the game boxed and with instructions. That was a limited run but it is still possible to get reproductions from some vendors. The 7800 version of KLAX plays quite well, has excellent graphics, and captures the gameplay very well. Sadly, the game lacks good sound effects or music (POKEY, where art thou?) which is most unfortunate. Despite this limitation, KLAX is a worthwhile title to have in your library.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Kung Fu Master – By Absolute Entertainment

Kung Fu Master started its life as a tie-in to a Jackie Chan movie titled Wheels on Meals. Because the game bore no resemblance to anything in the movie, however, Irem was able to export the game from Japan by changing the game title from Spartan X to Kung Fu Master as well as the character names. The player now controls Thomas, a kung-fu master, who is trying to save his lovely Sylvia from the evil Mr. X who has trapped her in the 5-story Devil’s Temple. Thomas must use his skills to fight the army of enemies that awaits him in the temple, which include henchmen, knife throwers, dragon balls, snakes, spinning bombs, killer moths and five different boss Masters (Stick Fighter, Boomerang Thrower, Giant Kicker, Lightning Magician, and Gang Master). Thomas can jump, squat, kick and punch and he must keep moving to reach the princess. Unlike other games, you do not have to deal with every enemy on screen to advance to the next level. This is quite important as it lets you advance more easily, though there is nothing easy about the game! The 7800 port of Kung Fu Master does an excellent job of bringing the arcade experience home. For some odd reason, your character is nameless and his love interest is now Princess Victoria. Regardless, the gameplay is just the same. The graphics are colourful and faithful to the arcade. Only missing are the stairs at the end of each level and there is animation of the enemies falling when you hit them. The game’s music is well reproduced and the sound effects work well. Overall, a really good port of the game that is well worth having.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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