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Air Raiders (Atari 2600) artwork

Air Raiders (Atari 2600) review


"I've written a great deal on the subject of M-Network games. It was a minor secret that M-Network was really an arm of Mattel that existed to port Intellivision hits over to the Atari 2600. However, there was one M-Network title that was an original design for the Atart 2600. That title was Air Raiders, and it really shows what Larry Zwick and the Blue Sky Rangers were capable of programming, regardless of the medium in which they were working. "



I've written a great deal on the subject of M-Network games. It was a minor secret that M-Network was really an arm of Mattel that existed to port Intellivision hits over to the Atari 2600. However, there was one M-Network title that was an original design for the Atart 2600. That title was Air Raiders, and it really shows what Larry Zwick and the Blue Sky Rangers were capable of programming, regardless of the medium in which they were working.

Air Raiders is a combat flight simulator, and is possibly the best combat flight simulator available on the Atari 2600. You take control of a plane in first person view, engage the enemy, and land occasionally to refuel and reload. While this is all very simple, it provides a great deal of enjoyment.

The gameplay is where Air Raiders really soars. After taking off, you are required to search the skies for enemy aircraft to engage. Of course, the enemy aircraft are normally only found flying in the dangerous "flak zone", which is indicated by a red section on your instrument panel. Being struck by flak results in your losing several thousand feet of altitude. Of course, the enemies are only found in the lower altitudes, where a flak hit could have devastating consequences.

While hardly a visual tour-de-force, Air Raiders' first-person perspective does manage to convey a sense of flying an aircraft. Enemy planes are always seen in profile view flying in a delta formation, until fired upon. The sky is spartan, a blue expanse containing only enemy planes, your reticle, and occasional bursts of flak. The ground is dark green, solely so you can distinguish it from the sky.

Alas, Atari and it's sound problems. It is very difficult to think of many Atari games with any sort of decent sound or music. (Pitfall II may be the academy award winner in this department.) Air Raiders also suffers from the sound problem. There is no music, and the only sound is that of your engine, your cannon, the sound of flak exploding, and a strange "dive" noise that results when you take a flak hit. None of these sounds are intrusive, and only the "dive" sound is truly incongurous to the game.

I enjoy playing Air Raiders quite a bit. The challenge is there for an experienced gamer, and a new player can pick it up and manage to have a few successful rounds, before needing to master the more minute strategies of Air Raiders. As far as the collector's market goes, Air Raiders is a very common find at the flea markets and thrift shops, and can be had for as little as $.25. For the retrogamer, I think you will find yourself returning to Air Raiders more often than you think.

Rating: 8/10

ddsilver's avatar
Community review by ddsilver (October 26, 2004)

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