The Top 5 Atari 2600 Games

The Atari 2600, revolutionary, ahead of its time and most importantly loads of fun. No longer did we ask mom and dad for chutes and ladders, parcheesi or hungry hungry hippo. Now we had an interactive experience in the palm of our hands, literally!

#5. River Raid – Activision – 1982


This game was very addicting. You controlled an airplane in a top-down view over a river and gets points for shooting down enemy planes, helicopters, ships and balloons.

The really cool factor was that the player could refuel by flying over fuel stations while shooting down enemies and avoiding obstacles. The graphics were excellent for its time as well as the game play.  The long river gave us non-repeating levels with increasing challenge and zero load times.  Can this ve released on VC please???


#4  Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – Parker Brothers – 1982


Let’s face it, At-At walkers were the coolest enemies on the face of the universe. This game lets you play the role of Luke in his snow speeder while he attacks these amazing “things”. The game-play solid, graphics – excellent for its time. Luke would have to attack the nose many times, while the At-At would start turning pink until it explodes. There was also a difficult sweet spot to attack that would destroy the At_At instantaneously. My only gripe was the lack of tow cables in the game, but as we know that surfaced many years later in Shadows of the empire.

# 3 Pitfall – Activision – 1982

David Crane became a household name after this title made its way to homes via the 2600. The game sold over 4 million copies for the Atari 2600 and I could remember playing countless hours of the game at our cousins house. The graphics, game-play, challenge and even the sound effects while you swing across on your vine made the game very exciting.

“The player must maneuver a character known as Pitfall Harry through a maze-like jungle in an attempt to recover 32 treasures in a 20 minute period. Over the course of these 20 minutes, Pitfall Harry would have to tackle dense forests, snakes, bats and insects.”

#2 Enduro- Activision – 1983

What an exciting game this was, this was the first game that made you feel as if you were actually driving a racing car. The object of the game is to be in an endurance race and to pass a certain amount of cars each day as to continue the race the next day.

This game included various elements which would make repeat gaming fun. The player would have to drive through the night, where he would only be able to see the oncoming traffic’s tail lights which would limit his reaction time to dodge. Then the road would be affected by the weather and snow would cause the player to be cautious when turning to avoid skidding. The feel of the game was unprecedented, it really felt like you were driving in snow when you controlled the car. This one is a masterpiece!

# 1 Keystone Kapers – Activition – 1983


This is my favorite Atari 2600 game of all time. The gameplay was “Capcom-esque” You can control the officer throughout the screen with the utmost precision.

Inspired by Mack Sennett’s slapstick Keystone Cops series of silent films, the object of the game is for Officer Keystone Kelly (the user) to catch Harry Hooligan before he can escape from the department store.

The elements that made this game legendary were:

1. The use of the escalators (in the dept store)

2. The use of the elevators (Rolling Thunder was probably inspired by this years later)

3. The map feature shown in the bottom of the screen which indicated where the enemy was located within the dept. store

4. The speed in which the constable can maneuver, he was able to run fast!

5. The joy of finally nabbing that crook!

Well folks, that wraps up my favorite 2600 games. Yes, I picked many or almost all Activision games. Oh well, they were light years ahead of the pack in the 80’s. They just made better games, that is the only way to slice it.

Yes, I omitted the obvious big ones, like Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Popeye and Frogger. Those belong on a top 10 list if anything, these were the creme of la creme.

Agree? Disagree? Let’s hear what our readers have to say!

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