Review: Codebreaker (Atari 2600)

In this review, we crack the code with the Atari 2600 puzzle game Codebreaker.

This game was released in 1978.

For most of the games, the goal is to break the code. How many digits and what numbers depends on which game you find yourself playing.

In the easiest game, you have 3 digits to guess with the numbers 1-6 to guess with. In another, you still have 3 digits, but have to work with the numbers 1-9. A third game has you cracking a 4 digit code using the digits 1-6. The final game we delved into was the 4 digit code that utilizes the digits 1-9 which, of the four, is the most difficult. The final game wasn’t something I really didn’t get to be honest, so I didn’t really bother delving deep into it.

What all four games have in common is the fact that you have 12 guesses in which to crack the code. If you guessed a number in the correct spot, you’ll earn a brown bar. If you guessed a correct number, but in the wrong spot, then you’ll earn a light blue bar. If this sounds familiar to a board game, yes, the game is extremely similar to the board game Mastermind. The big difference is that instead of colored pegs, you pick numbers instead.

If you crack the code, you win. The fewer guesses required for you to crack the code, the higher your score. The score is borderline meaningless because it resets after every game. Another thing to note is that a good deal of luck is also involved in cracking these codes.

The good thing about this game is that it definitely exercises your problem solving skills. The more clues you get, the easier it will be. For instance, if you get all light blue dots for the code 123 as well as 312, then the next guess would logically be 231 just based on a process of elimination for each individual digit. Another good strategy is to guess all 1’s on the firs guess, then 2’s on the next until you get a total of 3 brown dots. Half the battle is really just figuring out which numbers you need to use in the first place.

The only downside of this game is that the repetition sets in after a while. So, the only replay value is simply not playing this for a while, then giving it another crack a few months down the road.

Graphically, this game does accomplish the bare minimum in that there is enough information available to allow you to figure out what’s going on. Beyond that, there’s virtually no eye candy to be had. As a result, this game gets pushed closer to being a tech demo rather than a full-fledged game.

There is no music, but there is a basic set of sound effects. They do add to the game, but that’s about all I can say about them.

Overall, this game does provide you with some interesting entertainment for a little while. It is a game that does get me thinking. Unfortunately, there isn’t much in the ways of lasting appeal. Once you’ve cracked about a half a dozen codes or so, the game gets a bit boring. Still, if you want a cheap version of Mastermind, this game might be of interest. Beyond that, with limited graphics and audio, this game is simply an OK game.

3 digit 1-6 code cracked in 6 guesses
3 digit 1-9 code cracked in 8 guesses
4 digit 1-6 code cracked in 8 guesses
4 digit 1-9 code cracked in 10 guesses

General gameplay: 18/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 4/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 58%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: