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Artillery Duel (Atari 2600) artwork

Artillery Duel (Atari 2600) review


"The creators of Artillery Duel, Xonox, were most noted for their gimmick of “double ender” cartridges. The “double ender” cartridge looked more or less like two Atari cartridges fused end to end, and you could insert one side or the other depending on what game you wanted to play. Two games for the price of one, as it were. There were various combinations, and Artillery Duel appeared no less than 3 times in the Xonox collection coupled with the lamentable Chuck Norris Superkicks..."



The creators of Artillery Duel, Xonox, were most noted for their gimmick of “double ender” cartridges. The “double ender” cartridge looked more or less like two Atari cartridges fused end to end, and you could insert one side or the other depending on what game you wanted to play. Two games for the price of one, as it were. There were various combinations, and Artillery Duel appeared no less than 3 times in the Xonox collection coupled with the lamentable Chuck Norris Superkicks, and the passable Spike's Peak and Ghost Manor. Unfortunately for Xonox, and for anyone unfortunate enough to have spent actual money on these games, the games were mostly horrible.

The concept behind Artillery Duel has been around since early video gaming. You and your opponent each operate an artillery cannon, and take alternating turns firing on one another. You adjust the trajectory and power of your shot, accounting for wind, and blast. You score a point for hitting your opponent. First one to ten or highest score after an elapsed amount of time is the winner.

There's nothing wrong with the concept. It can be fun for a couple of rounds. Somehow, Xonox took this age old concept and crapped it up.

You really know your video game experience is going south when you first power on your 2600 with Artillery Duel in the console. If video games had outtakes, these graphics would be the outtakes from Canyon Bomber, which was not famous for it's realistic portrayal of canyons. Yes, somehow they managed to come up with graphics worse than Canyon Bomber. Then, they chose two different shades of blue to represent the sky and the mountainous background. It has the effect of making it seem like you're playing “Underwater Artillery Duel”.

But, bad graphics you can work around if the game itself is fun, and not two paragraphs ago I told you that the concept behind Artillery Duel was, in fact, a fun one. Well, Xonox, working in the top secrect Xonox laboratory, used the defunistrator to drain all the fun from the game. They added a pointless time limit for you to configure your shot. To make it worse, you cannot disable this time limit, and the time limit is the only configurable option in the game. (You can set the time limit for 15 or 30 seconds.)

The sound in this game was conceived by highly trained Xonox engineers who hate their customers. You get the shot noise, which is a generic ''bang'' sound effect that everybody uses followed by the “accelerating jet noise” from Combat for what seems like 9 hours as your shot slowly crawls to the general vicinity of your opponent. When you finally hit your opponent, you are treated to the world's most annoying sound as your opponent slowly sinks to the bottom of the screen. (Hrm. Maybe they are supposed to be underwater.)

This game is ugly, annoying, and most offensive of all, no fun. It was released in 1983, amid some pretty decent games, so there’s no excuse for churning out a game this bad.. I played a public domain software version of this game on an Apple IIe in Mr. Rheeling's 7th grade algebra class. Rest assured, that primitive version of Artillery Duel blows this “supercharged” version out of the water. (There's that water again. I really think it's “Underwater Artillery Duel”.)

The concept of artillery dueling games alone saves this one from getting a 1. Xonox itself gets a zero for screwing up what should have been a slam-dunk decent game. Stay far, far away from this game. Friends don’t let friends play Xonox games.

Rating: 2/10

ddsilver's avatar
Community review by ddsilver (December 24, 2003)

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