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Atlantis (Atari 2600) artwork

Atlantis (Atari 2600) review

"Atlantis obeys Atari 2600's golden rule of keeping everything simple while maintaining a fast pace."

Atlantis asset

On the screen sits a quiet underwater city. The peculiar structures belie a peaceful technocracy, but the cannons above sea level suggest something less than peaceful. You hit the 'fire' button, then hit the deck. Star Trek-esque ships invade your airspace and threaten you with DOOM. Your first instinct is to grip that joystick and move, baby, move. Nothing happens. We're accustomed to sprites or cursors moving at our command, and that's what Atlantis prays on. You don't have a complex counter-missile system like Missile Command, nor do you have an air force to combat the death from above. You are immobilized, faced with a grim disadvantage. You might feel the urge to panic, but you must stay alert and focused to take out the interlopers.

Your only defense rests with three cannons, one sitting dead center and one on either far side. To activate the side cannons, you have to move the joystick in the corresponding direction. This may sound like a downer, that all you can do is shoot, but what more do you need? Atlantis obeys Atari 2600's golden rule of keeping everything simple while maintaining a fast pace.

With a rudimentary sense of timing, you can easily wipe out the first few waves of ships. You probably won't even need the side cannons. As you advance, the speed picks up. Timing becomes tighter, precision more important. Let a ship slip by and it'll return with a nasty vertical laser, destroying one of your structures. The first to go is usually your central cannon, and from there you're forced to use the side guns. As ships slip by, they'll destroy more pieces of your city until until you are forced to flee.

Atlantis screenshotAtlantis screenshot

Atlantis gets wicked frantic. Eventually you cannot keep up with the speeding ships unless you're either a genius or an android specially programmed to rock at timing-based games. There are special ships you can shoot that will wipe out everything on the screen, and that really helps. Even with said ships, it doesn't take long for the difficulty to escalate, and you'll find most of your sessions don't last much longer than a few minutes.

Even as a kid, I didn't have an especial love for this game. I popped it in to cleansed the old palate. It provides quick and simple action, and sometimes that's all you need. However, the game is so simple, with sessions so short, that it's difficult to stay focused on it for more than a few plays.

Atlantis achieves what it sets out to do. I can't argue with that. Its developer knew to keep things simple, and provides us with decadent basic action packed with enough explosions and destruction to keep drooling fools like me interested. It still feels like there's room for another concept or two, but adding them wouldn't have killed the game's basic feel.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Featured community review by JoeTheDestroyer (May 14, 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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I'm sure all five people interested in this game will be thrilled to know it isn't terrible.


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