Video Pinball

Video PinballBuy this gameThe Game: Pull the plunger back and fire the ball into play. The more bumpers it hits, the more points you rack up. But don’t let the ball leave the table – doing so three times ends the game. (Atari, 1981)

Memories: I’m just not a huge fan of video pinball simulations – see my review of Thunderball! for Odyssey2 if you have any doubts – but having tried out Atari’s Video Pinball, I can say that it’s more fun than Thunderball! Itself a home version of one of Atari’s late 70s arcade titles, Video Pinball offers some finer graphics than you’d expect from the early waves of VCS titles. Read More


DragonfireThe Game: Introducing the ultimate in home security systems: a huge fire-breathing dragon. No keypads or extra power sources necessary! The amazing new dragon will repel any looters from the castle he’s guarding by belching See the videounpredictable barrages of fire across the castle drawbridge. And even if an intrepid looter does gain access to the castle, the dragon will fend off the unwelcome visitor’s attempts to grab the castle’s treasure with an endless hail of fireballs, toasting the looter on contact. If the looter should happen to grab all the treasure – which is highly, highly unlikely due to the rugged design of the dragon – an escape hatch will appear and he’s free to try his luck from the drawbridge again. But it’s very unlikely that any looter will survive a second attempt…which is actually rather unfortunate, since you’re the treasure hunter in this game. (Imagic, 1982)

Memories: An addictive little number, this Dragonfire. Granted, the Intellivision version of this game looks fancier – well, compared to the 2600 cartridge, almost every other version of Dragonfire has a little more audiovisual flair. Read More


MoonsweeperBuy this gameThe Game: As the pilot of a super-fast intergalactic rescue ship (which is also armed to the teeth, which explains the absence of a red cross painted on the hull), you must See the videonavigate your way through hazardous comets and space debris, entering low orbit around various planets from which you must rescue a certain number of stranded civilians. But there’s a reason you’re armed – some alien thugs mean to keep those people stranded, and will do their best to blast you into dust. You can return the favor, and after you rescue the needed quota of people from the surface, you must align your ship with a series of launch rings to reach orbit again. (Imagic, 1982)

Memories: The coolest Imagic game ever, Moonsweeper kept my attention for hours and hours, just trying to beat the bloody thing. Read More

Star Voyager

Star VoyagerSee the videoThe Game: Patrolling the space lanes isn’t easy – ever noticed how many regions of space are teeming with hostile aliens? Your tour of duty aboard the Star Voyager is no different. Using a simple radar device for guidance, you have to track down alien ships and destroy them before they can return the favor. However, you have a limited energy reserve with which to accomplish this task. Alien hits on your ship will significantly deplete your energy, and firing your own lasers also gradually bleeds your ship dry. The only opportunity you have to replenish your energy is to defeat all the aliens within range and pass through a stargate. When you run out of energy, you’re out of luck. (Imagic, 1982)

Memories: This fairly simple first-person space shoot ’em up – less complicated than either Star Raiders or Activision‘s Starmaster – was one of the best attempts of its era at a 3-D game on the 2600. Read More

Star Wars: The Arcade Game

Star Wars: The Arcade GameSee the videoThe Game: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…you mean to tell me there’s someone out there who doesn’t know this story?! You’re an intrepid X-Wing pilot participating in the last-ditch Rebel attempt to destroy the Death Star – before it destroys the Rebel base on Yavin III. TIE fighters try to intercept you, but you can destroy them (as well as use your own lasers to blast their incoming fire out of the sky). Then you move in to attack the Death Star itself, with its incredibly hazardous system of gunnery towers and bunkers. (Parker Brothers, 1984)

Memories: Just think of it as the original X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. In one of the strangest licensing deals in early home video game history, Parker Brothers snagged the rights to adapt Atari’s Star Wars arcade game for Atari’s own home video game systems. (If you’re wondering how this worked, it’s because Parkers had the rights to all home video games based on the Star Wars properties – so Atari couldn’t do its own cartridge version.) Read More