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Dishaster (Atari 2600) artwork

Dishaster (Atari 2600) review


"I can't really dredge up much on Dishaster except my apathy towards it. Mediocre titles may not score as lowly as a terrible games, but at least the terrible ones have given me something to remember. Sometimes it's better to be a lower number than stuck somewhere in the middle, lost in limbo."



I tend to be a risk-taker in regards to obscure intelligent properties. I don't mind digging to find a great piece that no one has heard of, just as much as I like let the world know about it. Unfortunately the process sometimes burns me, especially when I find a piece so awful that I must talk about it. In either case, it makes my job as a reviewer easier. But then you have a game like Dishaster, which is neither great nor terrible. Games like this are difficult to discuss because passion and apathy are horrid bedfellows. This is not a game that will excite you, nor will it earn your disdain. It'll leave you numb, but sometimes numbness is worse than disdain.

Dishaster follows the unremarkable adventures of a circus plate spinner. I've said this many times before: Atari 2600 was about imagination, a large part of which consisted of role playing. When plugging in an Atari game, where you weren't average Joe Schmoe gamer anymore, but a space ace, a cop, an Olympic medalist, a hungry orb-shaped creature with ghosts on his tail... Of all the interesting and risky occupations available in a circus, why would anyone want to role play as a plate spinner? Why not a lion tamer or an acrobat? I'm sure this only plays a small factor in Dishaster's obscurity, second to the fact that it was developed and published by a small time company, Zimag. Despite that, what few people who spotted this game in stores had to have been underwhelmed by the premise, if not scared off by the creepy cover art.

Dishaster asset


I mean, look at it. It pretty much says, "Hey boys and girls, how you would like to play as a complete imbecile?"

Those who fought off the preliminary nausea found a mostly harmless title--apart from the insanity-inducing drone of the repetitive "circus music." Dishes appear one after another on various poles in the area, which begin to wobble after a short time. That's when you take action, shuffling to a plate in peril and getting it spinning again by holding down the fire button when lined up with its respective pole. Fail to save a plate and it'll drop, spurring you to run and snatching it before it hits the ground. Let a plate break and the clown gods will not be pleased with you, and will shave a fraction of your lifespan off in response. Let enough drop and you will leave the big top in a body bag.

I'll be honest in saying that despite the uninteresting premise, it isn't bad at first. As you play longer, racking up points for each second you survive, plates will go awry in greater frequency. It becomes a frantic race to keep the plates from falling, darting from one pole to the next, doing your best to tone out the aural irritant belching from the speakers. However, this moment of glee ends in exactly 2.53 minutes, regardless of the difficulty setting. This is where you realize that what's before you is about as vanilla as it gets. Worse yet, it's downright tedious With the number of plates demanding your attention, one after another after another, the game becomes laborious rather than frantic or fast-paced.

Dishaster screenshotDishaster screenshot


Changing difficulties doesn't save the experience or make the game any more engaging or addictive. Play it on easy and you'll never lose, as each plate will give you ample time to get it spinning again. Even if one should fall, it's unlikely you won't be able to catch it unless you intentionally dawdle. Even a person without fingers could pass this test with flying colors. Crank up the difficulty a scratch and you'll feel like you're putting in a shift at a menial labor job. The plate drop rate is ridiculous, as plates will shift more quickly from wobbling to dropping. In some cases, you'll barely get a breath in before a plate falters and falls. This especially becomes irritating when two plates on opposite ends fall simultaneously, and your character can't walk fast enough to nab them both. This phenomenon happens every game. You're required to lose a life. Once you realize this, you become indifferent to mistakes because most of them are unpreventable. C'est la vie. Once you see how ludicrously it rains porcelain on higher difficulties, you become indifferent to ultimate failure. You figure it's bound to happen eventually, no matter how much you step up your game. One end of the difficulty spectrum bores and the other desensitizes.

When we're either easily bored of or desensitized by a title, we tend to brush the game aside and forget about it. When asked about the game's positive qualities, we might say, "Well, it's not terrible." But 'terrible' would be something. If you ask me, I would rather find a game terrible than unremarkable. I could talk a friend's ear off for hours if he brought up titles like Silent Assault, Action 52, or Shadow Man on PlayStation. I can't really dredge up much on Dishaster except my apathy towards it. Mediocre titles may not score as lowly as a terrible games, but at least the terrible ones have given me something to remember. Sometimes it's better to be a lower number than stuck somewhere in the middle, lost in limbo.

Rating: 4/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (April 04, 2012)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Feedback

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zippdementia posted April 04, 2012:

That cover is hideous. I've never seen anything like it on a videogame cover. It's worse than the original megaman cover which at least had lasers.
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zippdementia posted April 04, 2012:

It is even worse than the second megaman cover in europe:
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zippdementia posted April 04, 2012:

One type: ludicrously it rain porcelain. Should have an s on that rain.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted April 04, 2012:

Thanks, Zipp. Nice catch.

The cover art is the stuff of nightmares. Almost as terrifying as the girl in the Math Gran Prix cover.

And XD @ that Mega Man cover. That's just awful. Mega Man looks like Shia LaBeouf.
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zippdementia posted April 04, 2012:

I enjoy the floating head to the right of his shoulder. Looks like a Terry Gilliam film.
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Masters posted April 04, 2012:

Hard to beat this.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted April 04, 2012:

Sweet crap! I think my four-year-old niece drew that.
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pickhut posted April 04, 2012:

It... it looks like the guy is pleasuring himself. o_O
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zippdementia posted April 04, 2012:

Holy shit, Dungeon Explorer. Wow, I remember that.

Still think Joe's Dishaster is the worst. I think it's that arm ripped out of the body and flopped over her head. I wouldn't be able to own this game.
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bloomer posted April 05, 2012:

It's even the name 'Dishaster.' When I read it, I don't think of a pun made out of 'Dishes' and 'Disaster'. I hear someone stricken with a speech impediment, and who is also an imbecile, like that girl on the cover.

That Dungeon Explorer artwork was also great for a laugh.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted April 05, 2012:

bloomer:
That's precisely how I feel whenever I say the name aloud. It's part of the reason I never discuss that game with anyone. I feel like an idiot saying Dish-ass-turr.

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