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Bermuda Triangle (Atari 2600) artwork

Bermuda Triangle (Atari 2600) review

"Tin foil hat not required"

Bermuda Triangle (Atari 2600) image

If there's one thing I love about "generation one" video games, it's that developers back then didn't care about plausibility, realism, or factual accuracy. Only in an Atari 2600 game can you sail a mini-submersible from the ocean surface to the abyssopelagic zone in mere seconds to recover lost artifacts, all whilst avoiding tremendous squids and megalodon-sized sharks, and resurface just as quickly. Let's also not forget that your "mini"-sub, the research vessel from which you originated, the aforementioned underwater fauna, and just about everything other sprite you encounter are all roughly the same size. I'm not sure how that works... Nonetheless, you're not going to see me slate the ancient title Bermuda Triangle for refusing to ground itself in reality. Heck, if anything, I say toss in more insane content. Where are the killer sea bears? Laser-shooting orcas? Why not include an occasional cameo from the Greek monster Cetus?

Basically, Bermuda Triangle is a scrolling shooter with nods to the classic score-attacker Defender. You could, if you wish, spend all of your time chumming the water with blasted bits of your fallen foes, but there's little fun to be had in such an endeavor. That's why the game features peculiar icons that hang around on the ocean floor, which are the previously touchced on artifacts. Submerging to the bottom and colliding with the earth summons your tractor beam, which nabs the next artifact it comes into contact with. One can't be too careful, though, as a mysterious underwater civilization has planted bombs for you to accidentally scoop up. Snatch one of those puppies and it'll be your meaty chunks clouding up the deep instead of your opponents'.

Bermuda Triangle (Atari 2600) image

Having secured an artifact, your objective is then to reach the surface and bump into your research vessel to score beaucoup points, again being ever so vigilant that you don't cross paths with enemies along the way. Most creatures won't kill you upon collision, but will steal your treasure and momentarily stun you. Sail into a mine, though, and... yeah, it's the same result as with the oceanic bombs. Even when you've reached the surface you still need to take heed, because an antagonistic ship might trick you into meeting with it instead, thereby stealing both your goods and your life.

Even when you think you're properly exercising caution, the game pulls a couple of dick moves now and then. The worst is the seemingly erratic motions of the mines, which tend to shift direction right as you're attempting to pass them. It's thanks to this that I attempt to kill the explosives on sight. Worse than that, though, and probably the most common way to lose a life, is when a mine floats into you right as it's spawning. Your adversaries appear from the left side of the screen, so hanging out around that region is suicide. Despite your best efforts, though, you could easily fall victim to a newly created mine because they tend to travel at such insane speeds that no evasive maneuver could prevent your demise. I'm glad to report, though, that this isn't a common occurrence, so it's not hugely demeaning factor.

As far as antediluvian score-attack titles go, Bermuda Triangle is almost everything it should be. It's fast-paced, owing this not only to the presence of speedy opponents, but also the implementation easy, tight control response. This is helpful, but because accuracy is a must. Your foes sport tiny hit boxes, but with a little practice they shouldn't pose too much of a threat.

Bermuda Triangle (Atari 2600) image

Because the game moves so quickly, it's also pretty addictive. I've caught myself trying to outscore my best runs more than a few times, which is something I haven't done with an Atari 2600 title in ages. Usually, I play these games between more modern products just to give the old brain a flush, so to speak. Bermuda Triangle, however, has become a minor obsession of mine in the last few weeks, and has taken on a more important role than that of a mere gray matter cleanser. I wouldn't say it's become a full project, but it's definitely eaten up more of my free time than the last couple of 2600 discoveries I made.

It's not very often that I uncover an obscure Atari 2600 game that I enjoy, so Bermuda Triangle has given me reason to rejoice, as well as cry myself to sleep. Now that I have reinforced my habit of plunging into unfamiliar old school games, it's likely that I won't quit doing so, in some cases much to my torture. Games like this one are the reason I delve into somewhat uncharted territory, and they're also the reason I miss out on AAA titles and stunning indie releases. Have I played Dragon Age: What? Never heard of it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some more searching to do under the radar.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (January 23, 2015)

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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