Review: Missile Command (Atari 2600)

In this review, we go on the defensive in the Atari 2600 game Missile Command. We find out how well this action/survival game plays.

This game was released in 1981. It is a port from the arcade game. We previously played two other ports of this game. One port we tried is the Atari 5200 version. We found that one to be a great game to play. In addition, we played the Game Boy version. That game did OK with us, but it wasn’t particularly amazing either. So, we thought we’d try this version to see if it measures up.

Since this game is so similar to the 5200 version, we thought it would be best to focus this review on the differences between the two games.

In this version, you get a bonus city every 10,000 points instead of 100,000 points. While that makes the game sound easier, there are no multiplier bonuses as you progress to the next wave. So, when it comes to getting bonus cities, the difficulty comparison really depends on how far you go in the 5200 version. If you are talking about wave 1 or 2, this version is significantly easier. If, however, you are talking about wave 6 or 8, then the 5200 version is easier.

There are seemingly no attacks that change course, so just making a blast zone right in front of anything will likely hit any incoming fire.

Another difference of note is the fact that you are limited to how frequently you fire. So, you have to take into consideration your firing rate while strategically destroying the enemy fire.

Beyond that, there is not much that is significantly different between the two versions in the realm of game play.

Since this version was released earlier and on a lower powered system, you can easily figure that the graphics are not going to be as good. While this is true, the quality is surprisingly not that much lower. The game is still very much playable and just about everything can be identified. The only strange part in the game I found is the fact that the cursor is a flashing underscore. It looks like it was meant for you to type something in for some reason. Beyond that, I really don’t have much to complain about the graphics. It’s pretty good for the time.

There is no music, but the sound effects are pretty well done. The effects works really well to give you a normal experience of what this game is like.

Overall, this version retains almost everything that makes this game exciting. The increasing waves and the ever increasing speed of the missiles gives players that white-knuckled action. the first few waves allow players to get the hand of the controls and the difficulty curve continually challenges the player to keep the game interesting. The scoring system is quite straight forward and the game is easy to understand. The graphics are quite good for a home console game at the time and the sound effects really deliver that authentic feel to the game. A recommended game to be sure.

Furthest point in game: High score: 34,225

General gameplay: 22/25
Replay value: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 84%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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