21 Unexpected Games to Love for the Atari VCS
A downloadable book
The Atari Video Computer System, aka VCS, later renamed the Atari 2600 after its model number (CX2600), was the first popular programmable home video game console.
The VCS wasn't the first in any area except one: it was the first really popular
programmable home video game console. Sales of the VCS were gigantic. Atari would ultimately move 30 million units, and the machine remained in production until 1992. It lasted a venerable 15 years, and survived long enough to compete against the SNES. And it did all this with a hardware set that could at best be described as ludicrous.
This is generally a book of reviews of interesting Atari VCS games, but there are some important caveats. For inclusion, the most playable version of the game has to be for the VCS. For example, the VCS port of Missile Command is a very good game. But the arcade version is much better: it has three bases instead of one adding a touch more strategy to it, it has missile "matchbooks" that let you use one explosion to touch off others, there are more and more varied types of enemies, and it's generally just a better game overall. You're about as likely to be able to play the VCS or Arcade versions these days, so, why not play the arcade one? This also rules out a host of arcade conversions. In a few cases, the stars of programmer skill and hardware capability combine in such a way that the version on the lowly Atari VCS, a machine with 128 bytes of RAM and ludicrously primitive display capability, is actually a competitive version, and sometimes it is superior in one or more ways. Two games this is true for is Asteroids (whose game variations provide interesting ways to play the arcade doesn't try to match) and Space Invaders (the two-player co-op versions of which make it actually more interesting than the arcade).
This is a book of such games. Reasons to scour eBay for tapes, or else drag out an emulator. Gameplay doensn't go obsolete, but some games do become, ah, less accessible over time. Here are 21 that don't.
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