The Game: As a fearless pile of buzzard bait encased in armor, you pilot your trusty steed – who happens to be an ostrich, by the way – in an effort to impale your opponents – who also happen to be riding ostriches – before they can lance you. Other dangers include a pterodactyl who periodically arrives to thin out the ranks of on-screen warriors if things are taking too long, and platforms that disappear under your feet, plunging you into a sea of molten lava. (Atari, 1983)
Memories: Joust is an incredibly fun and addictive game with a loyal cult following, and Atari did it “joust-ice”. Many of Atari’s home versions of arcade games from this period, whether programmed in-house or farmed out to General Computer, seemed to follow a tenet of getting key graphics and gameplay right above all else, and Joust is a good specimen of that.
2600 Joust isn’t in any danger of approaching the finely detailed graphics of the arcade game, but where it does get elaborate, it does so only where it counts: on the ostrich riders and their steeds. The various platforms, the pterodactyl, and the eggs are kept simple, and the gameplay is given priority. The spirit of Joust was kept alive, and that was what really mattered.