The Game: Commanding a fleet of ships, you use their combined firepower to wipe out an onslaught of alien ships (which, perhaps not at all surprisingly, are firing back at you). It only takes one hit to lose one of your own fleet, and when your fleet is completely wiped out, the game is over. Until then, do as much damage to the enemy armada as you can. (Sega, 1983)
Memories: I always had a certain fascination for the arcade game that inspired this somewhat hard-to-find 2600 cartridge, but it seems to have lost something in the translation…oh yes, the split-second control required to play the bloody thing, that’s it. Somewhere in the definition of “frustration” must be “playing Tac-Scan on the Atari 2600.”
The beauty of the arcade game was its fast action – the enemy ships came at your little fighter fleet fast, and it was your job to move faster. But in this translation of the game, you simply can’t move faster – rather than zipping through space and turning on a dime, it’s more like you’re turning a great ship in the ocean, which leaves you vulnerable to attack. I like the idea of playing the game with the paddles instead of the joysticks, which brings it a bit closer to the arcade experience, but it still – to borrow a phrase from Douglas Adams – steers like a cow.
This game is worth collecting more for its relative rarity, but it probably won’t pay for itself in fun.