The Game: Controlling the on-screen “ramroid,” you’re up against what appears to be a malevolent bar graph. Your job is to keep the colorful bars from reaching the center of the screen from the left and right sides of the playing field; once they reach the center, you can’t eliminate them unless you’re playing a game variation where they might randomly become flashing “bonus” bars that can be eliminated with a single shot. If two bars meet at the center of the screen, they form an inpenetrable barrier that traps you above or below them. A round ends when the timer runs out (it counts down from 5000), when you’ve eliminated the last oncoming bar from the screen that you can reach, or – preferably – when you completely clear the screen of those bars. (Telesys, 1982)
Memories: This is a game that shouldn’t work in terms of being entertaining, but it does. This is a game that, by 1982, was certainly graphically behind the times, but it still works. Ram It! is a seemingly simple game that is nothing short of a maddening addiction for me – I’m always compelled to hit the reset switch again, to try and do better one more time. Perhaps the best description of it would be “Breakout from both ends,” but that just sounds wrong somehow. Needless to say, despite its complete lack of visual sophistication – the closest Ram It! comes to having even a single graphical nuance is that the direction your ramroid’s cannon is facing can determine whether or not you can slip around an entrenched bar – this game is fun.
With not much going on graphically, there’s plenty going on in the audio department – every on-screen action, from the blasting of the bars to your ramroid’s movement up and down its fixed vertical axis to the countdown of the timer, has some corresponding sound, almost music, forming a calliope that becomes a bit maddening after a bit (I could see children enjoying this game just because it makes so much noise). But the game play itself is the star of the show, and for my money, Ram It! is an underestimated pleasure of the 2600‘s library.