Atari 7800 V-Z

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 WASP! - By Mark Ball

Wasp! started its life as nothing more than a demo as programmer Mark Ball’s first attempt at writing a game for the Atari 7800. It is also the first game for the console written in C programming language. The story of the game is set in The Enchanted Land where it is the annual Mushroom Soup Festival. You want to participate in the festival, so you’ve headed to the woods to collect muchrooms to make your own special recipe of soup. Unfortunately, you accidentally stumble upon a nest of Giant Killer Wasps and the wasps are not happy so they make a line straight for you. You must now avoid the wasps while you try to collect the mushrooms for that soup! Wasp! is a relatively simple game for the 7800. The goal of the game is to survive as long as you possibly can while collecting the mushrooms that appear on screen and avoiding the wasps....and that’s al there is to it. There are no power ups, no traps, no nothing else to alter the level of challenge of the game. Even the wasps themselves don’t change much of how they behave, making the game fairly easy. The game does have gorgeous graphics with large character sprites that are nicely animated and may even remind players of Robotron in how it is set up and because of the “tunnel” transitions every time a level is completed. It would have been great if the game had had difficulty levels to choose from or some way of making things harder over time.

Review by TrekMD

5/10

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 Water Ski – By Froggo

Water Ski is the second of Froggo’s game releases for the Atari 7800 and it is one of the most rare games for the system. That means that, not only will have you have a hard time finding this game, you’ll also be paying plenty for it. So, is it worth it? Let’s find out. The goal in Water Ski is to control a speedboat with a skier in tow to get to the end of the level while avoiding the various objects (ie, rocks and logs) in the Pharonna River. You also want to try to get the skier onto the ramps that appear through the river as jumping on these will give you a total of 10,000 points each! Sounds easy enough? Don’t bet on it! The game “only” has three levels to play through but, given how difficult it is, three is plenty. By level two you are facing sharks (don’t ask me how they got into a river) and alligators in addition to the other dangers already in the river. Finishing a level gives you a 50,000 point bonus and, believe me, it is well deserved. Water Ski uses an interesting control system where the joystick manoeuvres the boat and the right and left buttons control the skier. It does take some getting used to but it works quite well. One or two players can enjoy the game with the two-player option having one player in charge of the boat and the other in charge of the skier. Water Ski has some really nice graphics with large sprites that are colourful and detailed. The theme music on the title screen is horrible and in-game sounds are mostly the boat engine’s soft revving. Water Ski may be difficult but it is a fun and original game.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Winter Games – By Epyx

To follow up on their excellent Summer Games title, the folks from Epyx also created a game based on the Winter Olympics, calling this game Winter Games. The computer version of the game had a total of eight different events but, for reasons unknown, the Atari 7800 conversion only sports four events: Biathlon, Speed Skating Ski Jumping, and Bobsleigh. As with Summer Games, there is a nice opening ceremony followed by an options screen with six selections that allow the player to choose the number of events to compete in (Options 1, 2, and 3), practice one event (Option 4), the number of joysticks to use (Option 5), and a replay fo the opening ceremonies (Option 6). Up to eight people can play and select from several countries to represent. An awards ceremony plays after each event but there are no closing ceremonies at the end of all the events. Winter Games boasts some really impressive graphics on the 7800 with smooth animation of the player characters. The snow covered vistas are really well rendered and look great. Most of the events require rhythmic movement of the joystick to get the best score and only biathlon feels a bit long. In this event you are skiing on the mountain slopes and have to stop at shooting ranges along the way. This feels a bit repetitive but it still works fine. Ski jumping is faster and is probably the best of the events in the game. Winter Games is overall a very good game for the 7800 and one that you should consider adding to your game libary.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 WORM! - By Mark Ball

The Snake game concept is something that started all the way back in the 70's and showed up in the arcades with various implementations. There are two main variants of this game formula: a two-player version where one player tries to get the other to run into an existing trail and a one-player version where the player eats objects with the head of the snake resulting in an ever-growing snake body that makes controlling movement much harder. Surround on the 2600 is an example of the first formula while Worm! on the 7800 is an example of the second formula. Here you play the role of a worm called Brian who must move through a garden in order to eat flowers while avoiding mushrooms as well as walls and his own body. Eating a flower makes Brian’s body longer and this continues to happen until you die. The flowers and mushrooms appear in random order each time the game starts, so there is no pattern to the movement. As the game advances, Brian’s body is longer with each new level and his speed also increases to raise the difficulty. A menu included before the actual game starts lets the player choose the speed of the worm (slow, normal, fast, or turbo), the length of the worm (short, normal, long) and the flowers to be eaten (some, most, or all). The option buttons can also be used to change the number of lives (left) or to add 10 mushrooms to the playing field (right). Worm! has nice graphics, good sound effects, and addicting action that will have you trying this over and over and over in order to beat your score.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Xenophobe – By Atari

Someone at Bally Midway must have been a fan of the Aliens movie franchise when they came up with this game. In this 1987 arcade game, the player must clear starbases and ships that have been infested by aliens before they completely overrun them. The game uses a screen view that has been split into three to allow up to three people to play simultaneously while also allowing them free movement in each station. This was unique to this title and was one of the things that made it appealing to players. Your character is beamed into each station and must walk through the entire facility to clear it of aliens. You can use several weapons in the game, with varying degree of destructive power: punch (when you have no weapon), phazer (you start of with this gun), laser pistol, lightning rifle, gas gun, and grenades. Each of these weapons also varies in range, requiring a different strategy to use them. The 7800 port of Xenophobe does capture the arcade experience but has to make some adjustments. The screen is split in two, rather than three, which makes sense given the TV screen it has to work on and the fact that you only have two controller ports on the console. The graphics are less detailed than the arcade but they look quite good and the actions is just as fun. The one player game can feel a little slow but have a friend join you and things get much better. Unfortunately, you don’t get the character selection like on the arcade and each player character just has different coloured clothing on. The game is an excellent port and one that ought not to be missed if you own an Atari 7800.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Xevious – By Atari

Xevious is a vertical scrolling shooter game that was first seen in the arcades in 1983. In the game the player controls a ship called the Solvalou that is equipped with a forward laser-like weapon and bombs for ground targets. As you travel over what is supposed to be the surface of Peru destroying alien air ships and ground facilities with the goal of saving Earth from invading aliens called Xevians. Apparently, the Xevians are the original inhabitants of Earth and they’ve come back to reclaim “their” world while cleaning it of the pests that are humans. Well, these pests have no intention of leaving what is now their home, so the battle begins. As the player clears each level, a boss waits at the end in the shape of Andor Genesis motherships. The 7800 port of Xevious manages to capture the arcade experience very well and may even be considered more difficult than the original. The crosshairs that are used to target ground alien facilities appear closer to the ship on this version compared to the arcade and this is felt to add some difficulty to the game. Atari included four skill levels that can be selected on the title screen (from Novice to Expert) to give everyone something appropriate to their skill. The graphics have been adapted to the TV screen but they are faithful to the arcade and even the game sounds and music have been retained. Xevious is a very good port of the arcade and one that is exclusive to the 7800. If you have the 7800 joypads, I recommend you use them instead of the joysticks, however, as it will save you from getting cramped hands!

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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