Ads are gone. We're using Patreon to raise funds so we can grow. Please pledge support today!
Google+   Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | DS | PS3 | PS4 | PSP | VITA | WII | WIIU | X360 | XB1 | All
Barnstorming (Atari 2600) artwork

Barnstorming (Atari 2600) review


"Steve Cartwright, of Activision brings us the focus of our discussion today, Barnstorming. This was Cartwright's freshman effort for Activision, and it turned out pretty well for him. Steve Cartwright went on to have an incredible career in video game programming, and this game was a brilliant start. Cartwright really knew how to coax maximum performance from the Atari 2600. "



Steve Cartwright, of Activision brings us the focus of our discussion today, Barnstorming. This was Cartwright's freshman effort for Activision, and it turned out pretty well for him. Steve Cartwright went on to have an incredible career in video game programming, and this game was a brilliant start. Cartwright really knew how to coax maximum performance from the Atari 2600.

In Barnstorming, you take the controls of an old school biplane, and attempt to pilot it through a series of barns. You are hindered in this effort by tall windmills that temporarily stun your plane and flocks of geese which will slow you down. It is a simple concept, but it is masterfully executed by Cartwright and Activision.

Barnstorming is very graphically advanced for it's era. The colors are bright and vibrant, the barns and windmills are sharply defined, and the geese have a very fluid ''flapping'' animation. Your biplane is very highly detailed, with visible wing mounts and fixed landing gear. The simulated propeller rotation is a very nice graphical trick done by merely causing pixels to blink out of sequence, but the effect is fluid. There is a sunset in the background that is stunning for the abilities of the 2600. Other Activision designers were so taken with the sunset effect that they reused the code in other games. Barnstorming should be required study for people who intend to produce games on the 2600, as far as graphics go.

Activision clearly went with the ''less is more'' approach when adding the sound. The hum of your plane motor is ever present, increasing when you accelerate. There is a variation on the hum as you fly through the barns that is probably intended to approximate what the motor would sound like in an enclosed space. It doesn't succeed on that front, but they make up for it with a nice simulation of the Doppler effect that would occur if you flew a plane through a barn. Activision wisely resisted the temptation to include a ''geese bumping'' sound, which could have made the sound in this game pretty annoying. As it stands the only really annoying sound is the crash noise you get if you bump into a windmill or the side of a barn, and crashes are supposed to be annoying.

There is no score in Barnstorming. Rather, you compete for the best time to complete a course. I always enjoy these sort of games, since it allows you to compete against yourself, and try to improve your best time. While there is no “official” two player option for Barnstorming, you can take turns trying to beat on another’s best times for a course. On this front, I’d have to say there are better two player games on the 2600. (See my Armor Ambush review if you’re looking for a game to play with a buddy.)

There are 4 different courses on the Barnstorming cartridge. 3 of them are predetermined routes, and the 4th is a randomized course. This enhances the replayability considerably, although, the randomized course is the longest course. It would have been nice to have randomized courses of varying lengths. You also have the option to raise or lower the clearance of the barns with the difficulty switches. This doesn't really add much to the challenge factor, but it might break up the monotony once you can play through the predetermined courses blindfolded.
Barnstorming is currently available on the ''Activision Anthology'' collection for the PS2, and also appears on the ''30 Classic Games'' collection for the PS1. Of course, ''Barnstorming'' alone is not enough to justify the purchase of either collection, but it might justify a rental, and who knows, you may find a few other enjoyable classics on there as well.

Rating: 7/10

ddsilver's avatar
Community review by ddsilver (January 01, 2004)

A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.

More Reviews by ddsilver
Basketball (Atari 2600) artwork
Basketball (Atari 2600)

The “Launch 20” for the Atari 2600 contained 5 sports titles (6 if you consider Flag Capture a sport). 25% of the initial release catalog was dedicated to sports gaming. That’s not a surprising number here in 2004. We can go back to the launches of the X-Box and Game Cube and see that sports game development was a h...
Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600) artwork
Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600)

Kicking off my series on the Atari 2600 “Launch 20”, we lead with Air-Sea Battle. Now, in order to be objective when reviewing Atari 2600 titles, you have to become somewhat of a time traveler. That is to say that it’s not fair to compare Air-Sea Battle to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It’s not even fair to compar...
Math Gran Prix (Atari 2600) artwork
Math Gran Prix (Atari 2600)

Atari made up for their edu-tainment disaster ''Basic Math'' with the excellent ''Math Grand Prix.'' This title takes the premise of ''Basic Math'''s quiz structure and applies it to an auto race.

Feedback

If you enjoyed this Barnstorming review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Site Policies & Ethics | Contact | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2014 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Barnstorming is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Barnstorming, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.