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Amidar (Atari 2600) artwork

Amidar (Atari 2600) review

"Anti-Pac-Man... No wait, that was Munch Man, a game that didn't suck."

Amidar (Atari 2600) image

Despite the system's age and my level of experience with its library, I'm still stumbling upon Atari 2600 games I never knew existed. For instance, I had no idea there was a port of Konami's arcade title Amidar on the platform. As with any 2600 port, I have but one recommendation: approach with caution. With the exception of a couple of games, most such titles tend to be stripped down or slower versions of their coin-op counterparts, intended mainly to capture the basic ideas of the games they represent. Amidar is no different...

I'm not saying that 2600's Amidar is a totally sloppy iteration, as it does a fair job of aping the game's core concepts. In it, you assume the role of either a gorilla eluding tribal hunters or a paint roller attempting to give malicious pigs the slip--it's Japanese, don't ask. All of this transpires on a grid with oddly shaped boxes. Running along a line changes its color, and completely encasing a rectangle nabs you some bonus points. Should you fill in all lines on the labyrinth, you will advance to the next stage. It's basically Pac-Man, except you're creating a chain rather than making dots disappear.

As you can imagine, your foes can be pretty troublesome, but not overwhelmingly so if you know what you're doing. Unlike other Pac-Man clones, the enemies here tend to run erratic patterns. They don't chase you down very often, which is nice for a change. Too often, games of this nature feature adversaries who are programmed to pursue you, which is cheap because you can't match speed with them. Amidar at least gets this right, thereby granting you a fighting chance. Also, by pressing the fire button, you can infuse yourself with temporary immunity to your opponents. However, you can only perform this ability three times per life, so you have to be wise about using it.

Amidar screenshotAmidar screenshot

Unfortunately, the 2600 version of Amidar lacks some of the old school cabinet's charm. Understandably, the game doesn't have a soundtrack or even a brief fanfare. This was part of what made the original release so adorable, and it's a bit of a letdown to not see at least some kind of quick tune to ring in the start of a new game. Worse than that, though, is the game's speed. Hell, if anything kills this port, the slowness would be it. The game thrusts you into a massive maze, where you slowly creep from one intersection to the next, and the process for completing a stage is just about agonizing. It took me well over five minutes to finish the first level, which is honestly more time than I'm willing to devote to the game.

The payoff for such a long wait also isn't worthwhile, either, because the stage design never changes. Level two may as well be the first one all over again, except with swapped sprites. Level three pretty much is the first stage all over again, except with slightly faster enemies. That the developer couldn't be bothered with including at least one variant labyrinth is perplexing, especially when you consider the awesome port for Ms. Pac-Man, which has a few different mazes.

The bottom line is that Amidar on Atari 2600 is worth skipping. I'm not only saying this because it doesn't live up to its arcade predecessor, but because it doesn't make the best use of its genre's elements. It's a slow, tedious title that seems to have been cranked out to make a quick dollar off the fans of the original and anyone who might enjoy a Pac-Man clone. Even if you're a 2600 junky, leave this cart at the thrift store and grab Ms. Pac-Man instead.

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (December 27, 2014)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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