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Armor Ambush (Atari 2600) artwork

Armor Ambush (Atari 2600) review


"M-Network, the not-so-secret identity of Mattel Electronics, makers of the Intellivision, brought several Intellivision ports over to the 2600. Today's subject was a port of Intellivision's answer to Atari's Combat, Armor Battle. Although this port, retitled Armor Ambush, doesn't come close to achieving the depth of gameplay provided by Armor Battle, it is still an excellent port, and definitely provides some much needed depth to the Combat formula. "



M-Network, the not-so-secret identity of Mattel Electronics, makers of the Intellivision, brought several Intellivision ports over to the 2600. Today's subject was a port of Intellivision's answer to Atari's Combat, Armor Battle. Although this port, retitled Armor Ambush, doesn't come close to achieving the depth of gameplay provided by Armor Battle, it is still an excellent port, and definitely provides some much needed depth to the Combat formula.

M-Network attempted to wrangle as much detail as the Atari 2600 was capable of providing. The tanks themselves are a small step up from the tanks of Combat, but are still nothing to write home to Granny about. The playfield is a randomly generated field of open fields, paved roads, thick brush, and water, populated with buildings. The types of terrain are represented with very basic differently colored pixels, but the creativeness with which these elements are combined provides a much more vivid background than many other games of the period, and certainly trumps the stark mazes of Combat.

Audio is the Achilles heel of many 2600 titles, and Armor Ambush is no exception to this rule. The very rudimentary tank engine and shot noises are the only sounds found in Armor Ambush. I advise a selection from your personal CD collection during sessions of Armor Ambush.

The gameplay is where Armor Ambush really shines. Had Mattel just settled for the graphic improvements, slapped the ever present score bar on the top and marketed this as ''Combat II'', it still would have been a pretty good game, but they really upped the ante here. Both you and your opponent command two tanks at once, switching between them by pulling down on the joystick. This adds some very strategic elements, as either the active or the inactive tank can be targeted by your opponent, and it makes moving and strategic positioning a HUGE factor in this game. Furthermore, you and your opponent start out with a total of 25 tanks, and the last man with tanks left is the victor. Every time a player loses both his tanks, the number of tanks remaining for each player is shown, and play resumes on a new map. So, between the dual tank strategy and the constantly changing terrain, you have a game with a depth of gameplay that holds up pretty well even by today's standards. This isn't Advance Wars or anything, but, for it's time, it was a remarkable achievement in video gaming.

When talk turns to the games of yore, people are quick to bring up the blockbuster titles, like Pitfall, or the notoriously horrible games, like E.T. Very little discussion goes on about games like Armor Ambush, which gave an early display of exactly what the 2600 was capable of in terms of gameplay. M-Network proved that strong concepts could be achieved on the limited hardware of the 2600, and also showed that larger graphical concepts could be relayed to the player through limited graphical resources.

Now, if you've got a buddy, a 2600, and a case of beer, Armor Ambush could be a good way to kill an afternoon. Just make sure you agree on what CDs you’ll be listening to beforehand.

Rating: 8/10

ddsilver's avatar
Community review by ddsilver (December 23, 2003)

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