Atari 7800 Games/ Software


The 7800's built in game, and a reasonable place, if there is one, to start a game review section for the 7800. In short, the 7800's version of Asteroids is probably the best version you'll ever play. It might not have the amazing weapons of Blasteroids, or the graphics of Stardust. But gameplay wise it is absolutely spot on. The inertia is well implemented and the control of the ship feels excellent, unlike the slightly flawed 2600 version. It simplistic graphically and isn't pushing the 7800 anywhere near it's limits. The sounds that issue from the game are the gaming of equivalent of listening to white noise for days. But who cares? This is great! There are some additional features such as competitive and team play which adds a whole new dimensions to the game and make things far more sociable. All in all one of the best home versions of asteroids you'll play.

Zogging Hell Rating: 9/10


Joust is a title apparently ubiquitous across all Atari systems. The 2600, 5200, 7800, Lynx, ST and 8bits all had a version, as did the Falcon with its Killing Impact. Even the Jaguar was scheduled to have to have a version in the form of a lovely looking texture mapped 3D game called Dactyl Joust. The 7800 isn't quite up to that but it does put in a pretty decent version of the original arcade game. The idea behind joust is to fly around a platformed environment knocking opposing riders off their mounts. Er yes now the mounts. They're kind of large ostriches. The whole thing is a tad reminscent of that scene from the film Labryinth actually, where the heros take on the weird puppets in the village. I'm not sure I should admit to seeing Labryinth but there we are. Not David Bowie's finest moment... and what was with those ball things he kept manipulating? Er yes all very suspect, as was his enfatuation with a school girl. In fact the more I think about it, the more I suspect that I may have been corrupted as a child...
Anyway on with the review. So flying around sounds easy does it? Well this is achieved by pressing the fire button to flap your wings. Gravity and inertia play their part as well and if your not careful you go flying all over the place. To knock off an enemy rider you need to hit them at a slightly higher height than they are, so you need to be precise with your wing flapping. Hit them and the rider turns into an egg which you need to grab before it hatches, and releases the rider to attack you again. Take to long and the infamous Buzzard, a hard to kill horrid thing that flaps all over the place at high speed, is introduced. As you progress through the levels the amount of enemies increase, the platforms decrease and the ground is burnt away by lava, making the game increasingly difficult. The 7800 version include a simultaneous two player mode as well, as if things weren't complicated enough. Joust may not be the prettiest of games, but it makes up for this by being one of the most fiendishly addictive ones. I have to rate as one of the greatest games ever made as well and this conversion is pretty much spot on...

Zogging Hell Rating: 9/10

Pole Position II

The original Pole Position was probably the greatest early driving game created. This sequel is pretty damn good as well. The graphics are quite nice and the controls suitably responsive. There are none of the ridiculous blocky cars that plagued the 2600 version. Sound is a bit naff (as unfortunately seems to be the way on the 7800), the usual racing engine noise and a cheesy theme tune about all you get. It plays well but it lacks any real incentive to keep you playing. Winning a race seems to get you nothing. Your high score is just totted up and that's that. For some reason this seems more disappointing given that this is a later generation of console. Only having four tracks is a bit limiting as well, particularly given the similar look of the tracks. It's still an essential purchase though for the 7800 fan, as it's about the best racer for the system..

Zogging Hell Rating: 9/10

The Games: Winter Edition

This and the 'Summer Edition' seemed to get onto every computer format available in the 80's. They were never really classics; but they sold well. This version is a real mixed bag. It's basically a collection of sub-games that vary drastically in quality. The tobagan racing isn't bad, as is the ski jump. The skiing and shooting section is a right old dog though. The graphics are hardly an improvement on the 2600's era. Sound isn't all that bad at all though. This game is at best average. So there.

Zogging Hell Rating: 6/10


Probably the finest of the early vertical shoot 'em ups, Xevious was an arcade smash and set the bench mark for shooters for several years. The original arcade was a pretty good looking affair, which unfortunately the 7800 can't quite match, that's not to say it isn't as close as it could be though, and the graphics are not bad at all. The frenetic action never lets up as each level merges into the next. The level changes are fluid, so you don't notice it happening. Unless you die when you are sent back to the beginning of the level you are on. One of the innovative features of Xevious when it came out were the mixture of ground and air based opponents, and you are equiped with a short ranged weapon to take on ground attack vehicles and gun emplacements. Unfortunately this means steering perilously close to your chosen target, and also taking your eye off the ever present air threat, so it can be a real challenge to survive a bombing run.
It's hard to know what to write sometimes about these early shooters as they lack many of the bells and whistles of what was the most dominant genre in games for almost ten years. They were the the FPS of their day and like Wolfenstein they are not looking as swish as they once did. Xevious is a fairly pure shooting experience though and can be appreciated as such. The 7800 version is a reasonable job and is well worth adding to the collection.

Zogging Hell Rating: 8/10


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