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No Escape! (Atari 2600) artwork

No Escape! (Atari 2600) review


"I found myself playing session after session, hopelessly addicted to something so archaic, so simplistic. The furious pace and wicked challenge kept things interesting, and the peculiar enemy designs piqued my interest. I had to see what abomination awaited me in the next round, had to know what abilities it brought to the battle. Most of all, I had to know if I was good enough to survive."



No Escape! assetI enjoyed a revival of my love for Atari 2600 about a year ago. This time around, I wanted to venture into the furthest reaches of its library and play lesser known titles. I wanted to see if the 2600's underbelly was as interesting as the NES's or Game Boy's. What I found were a lot of ho-hum titles and shameless, subpar clones. I came to the conclusion that most, maybe even all, obscure 2600 games were not sleeper waiting to be discovered. I turned away heavy-hearted, stopping only at one final interesting title: No Escape!. I thought that nothing with an exclamation point in its title could be that great, but then I saw the cover art: a man grasping a sword while riding Pegasus. Either this game was going to be awesome or incredibly lame. I bit my lip, as I do when I think I'm going to regret a decision, and fired the game up.

Devilish music ushered in a horde of vicious Furies. There I stood, playing the part of the Greek hero Jason, armed with mere pebbles against an army of chthonic goddesses. Encasing us were the walls and brick ceiling of Aphrodite's temple. The goddess herself, not pleased with her temple being used as a prison, gave me a little advantage. You see, Aphrodite loved the games Demon Attack and Breakout, so she thought she'd cast a little spell and combine the two games. She enchanted the bricks in her temple, making them loose. A simple strike from a stone would send a brick down, and anything nailed by said brick, even a Fury, would be annihilated.

The first of the Furies floated back and forth across the screen, showing no signs of aggression. I did as the instruction manual asked, tossing stone after stone at the ceiling and watching the bricks squelch Fury after Fury. Timing was a huge factor. I had to make sure my stone didn't connect with a Fury before hitting the ceiling, or else two more spawned in its place. I also had to factor in the drop speed of the brick in relation to my enemies' positions and movement speed. After a few sessions, it became second nature.

No Escape! assetNo Escape! asset


The first slew fell with no resistance. Another group materialized, only these ones could fire back. With each level, the new slew of creatures came with a new ability. Eventually they swayed in a less predictable pattern, throwing my sense of timing off. The Furies in level six, who resembled centaurs, were able to guide their shots to me. I had to stay on my toes, watch the skies, watch my shot, watch the Furies. Eventually it became a game of 'screw it.' By level six the game is so frantic that I tossed stones without any regard for timing or placement, and raced to and fro in the hopes of dodging the next-to-unavoidable enemy projectile. Even with button mashing, I managed to take out most of my enemies.

I found myself playing session after session, hopelessly addicted to something so archaic, so simplistic. The furious pace and wicked challenge kept things interesting, and the peculiar enemy designs piqued my interest. I had to see what abomination awaited me in the next round, had to know what abilities it brought to the battle. Most of all, I had to know if I was good enough to survive. Even though later stages became quite hairy, even cheap, the challenge didn't scare me away. It was manageable enough that I could still live or die by my level of skill more so than being cheated out of a win.

No Escape! didn't fully change my mind on obscure Atari 2600 games. It did, however, make me realize that there are some great ones out there, and that all I had to do was dig. I haven't done much hunting in that library lately, but maybe in a year or so I'll come back to it.*

*Read: Expect to see more reviews for odd games with crappy box arts in a year or so, most likely consisting of several 3/10-5/10 ratings.

Rating: 8/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (May 17, 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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JoeTheDestroyer posted May 17, 2012:

Thus concludes my wave of Atari 2600 reviews. All of my old GameFAQs reviews are now here, completely rewritten.

I'm going to take a short break from reviewing. I'm going back to work on Monday, and I need some time to see if I can fit reviewing into my schedule of working full time and being a dad. When I return, I plan to hit a few select games (EvilQuest, Orcs and Elves, and Deus Ex) before redoing most (as in all but one or two) of my old NES reviews. Thanks for reading, everyone!
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zippdementia posted May 17, 2012:

Do you have access to SNES games, Joe? I'd love your take on Secret of Evermore.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted May 17, 2012:

My SNES isn't hooked up, and it's at my parents' place. However, I do have SoM downloaded via Virtual Console. I am planning on reviewing it eventually.
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zippdementia posted May 17, 2012:

I think you saw "Secret of Mana." I'm talking "Secret of Evermore"
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JoeTheDestroyer posted May 17, 2012:

D'oh! Yeah, I saw Mana. I have a copy of Evermore, and wouldn't mind replaying it. Maybe I'm about due...

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