Adventure (Atari 2600) review
"When one thinks of the Atari 2600, odds are that the words ''Role-Playing Game'' will not immediately spring to mind. After all, this incredibly simple video gaming machine was far more suited to simple arcade-style games where the primary goal was to stay alive until the game's speed exceeded the player's reflexes, such as members of the Pac-Man and Donkey Kong family. More complex games with set goals (such as Adventure, Haunted House and Riddle of the Sphinx) were produced far less freq..."
When one thinks of the Atari 2600, odds are that the words ''Role-Playing Game'' will not immediately spring to mind. After all, this incredibly simple video gaming machine was far more suited to simple arcade-style games where the primary goal was to stay alive until the game's speed exceeded the player's reflexes, such as members of the Pac-Man and Donkey Kong family. More complex games with set goals (such as Adventure, Haunted House and Riddle of the Sphinx) were produced far less frequently and often were lost among the glut of crudely translated arcade games and cheap attempts to capitalize off popular movie licenses (E.T., anyone?).
But, as Adventure proves, even the most simple of systems can create a being of pure beauty --- a game that could arguably be considered the inspiration (or at least some sort of influence) for games such as The Legend of Zelda and any other game in which concepts such as mapping terrain and finding the correct use for items are of equal or greater importance than having hair-trigger reflexes.
The premise for this game is simple -- due to the dastardly deeds of an evil wizard, your castle's magical chalice has been stolen. You must control a brave knight (appearing as a small square) and bring the chalice back to your castle, braving whatever dangers lie in your path.
The primary obstacle to solving this mission are the three dragons (Yellow, Green and Red) enlisted by the wizard to make sure the chalice remains in his possession. Also, you potentially will have to worry about a bat that loves to either take items and fly off with them or trade the item it is holding for another one. This immortal critter can be either a positive or negative influence in the game. If it drags off a dragon that has been chasing you all over the game's world, that is positive. However, if it takes the sword or chalice away from you at a crucial time, then you probably won't be overly grateful for the visit by your winged friend.
To combat these obstacles and negotiate the various mazes this game is loaded with, there are a number of items that you may use to help in your quest. Dragon giving you grief? Kill it with the sword. Lost in a maze? Use the bridge to scale gaps. Can't get in the castle? Well, there has to be an appropriate key somewhere.
Also, certain items may either attract or scare off one or more of the dragons. However, you may only carry one item at a time --- which means you had better not be caught with the wrong item at the wrong time. After all, if two dragons ambush you, a sword is more effective than the Yellow Key...
Where this game truly shines is in its replay value. There are three levels of challenge, with the third level being far superior to the other two. While levels one and two are exactly the same each time you play them (with two having a larger world and more obstacles than one), the third level is different each time you play it. Using the ''large'' world map that the second level has, the third level places each item, dragon and the bat in a completely random location. You may start a new game only to find the ferocious Red Dragon right beside you. Or maybe, the Chalice will be right on the beginning screen with you --- but you'll have to find the Yellow Key to get into your castle. With a near-endless number of quest possibilities, this mode of play is quite addicting and definitely plays a huge role in this game getting the superior rating that it boasts.
And let's face it --- this game does nothing to be undeserving of being rated a ''10''. When compared to other games of its general era, Adventure has to be considered a paragon of excellence. I would even go as far as to say this is one of a slim handful of Atari 2600 games that actually has the ability to stand the test of time and be considered entertaining even today -- regardless of how technologically challenged the Atari 2600 is compared to today's gaming systems.
Community review by overdrive (January 26, 2004)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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