Review: Joust (Atari 5200)

In this review, we prepare to do battle on our space ostrich in the Atari 5200 game Joust. We find out how well this action game plays.

This game was released in 1983. It is a port from the arcade game. Previously, we reviewed the Atari 7800 port of this game and found it to be pretty good. So, we thought we’d give this port a try.

Since there are so many similarities between this port and the 7800 port, this review will focus mainly on the differences between the two games.

The biggest difference is that the novice levels contain fewer opponents. Unlike the swarm you get in the 7800 right away, you start off facing a mere 2 opponents in the first level. This, I find, allows the game to be much more approachable to new players.

Another difference is the fact that the eggs don’t hatch. Instead, they are merely items you pick up for points. This makes the game a bit easier on top of it all.

One final difference of note is the fact that the lava doesn’t change at all. All that happens is the bridges fall away after a few waves. As an additional difference, there are no hands that reach out of the lava to attack anything that moves.

Otherwise, this game still features the famous momentum effect. It also still contains the constantly evolving levels as you make your way to new waves. You even have the egg bonus levels to help pad your score. For every 20,000 points, you get a free life.

Graphically, given the nature of the 5200 compared to the 7800, things are a little blockier. Still, given the year, the graphics aren’t that bad.

There is no music in this game. There are some pretty decent sound effects, but that is it.

Overall, this game is pretty good for its time. There are some minor things that have been removed such as the lava changing and containing enemies, and the hatching eggs. Otherwise, there is a lot this game retains that makes this such a hit. This includes momentum, and the continually changing landscape in between waves themselves. The graphics are still pretty good. Unfortunately, there is no music, but the sound effects are pretty decent. Definitely a game worth playing.

Furthest point in game: Died towards the end of wave 14
High score: 85,200

General gameplay: 20/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 72%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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