Review: Montezuma’s Revenge (Atari 5200)

In this review, we braze the dungeons in the Atari 5200 game Montezuma’s Revenge. We find out how well this adventure game plays.

This game was released in 1984. It was released on multiple other platforms as well.

You play an explorer. The goal is to make your way to the bottom of the dungeon.

Along the way, you’ll encounter a number of enemies. These include rolling skulls, spiders, and stationary snakes. You are on a one hit kill basis, so everything is deadly here.

while enemies can be a real threat, the dungeon itself can prove to be the most deadly thing in this game. You need to navigate various floating platforms and avoid large gaps. The Fire can also prove to be quite challenging.

In addition to this are disappearing energy-like floors and energy-like chain walls. The floors often fall away to certain death while touching the flashing walls will also kill your character. there are even conveyor belts than can complicate jumps as well.

Some parts of the dungeon can prove helpful. There are sliding poles and hanging rope that can help you make it up to otherwise unreachable platforms. There are also ladders that can improve or complicate situations. Some spiders also climb the ladders.

A particularly notable element is the item system. You can hold up to 6 items at a time. Oddly enough, you can’t collect gems while holding on to 6 items. There are keys you can collect. They come in different colors. Those colors are silver, bronze, blue, and gold. These colors correspond to the color of the locked doors they unlock.

In addition to this, you can collect temporary invulnerability. These items look like clubs and will allow you to be immune to enemy attacks (not traps or pits unfortunately). This can help you move past platforms protected by enemies more easily.

Additionally, you can collect knives. Each knife will defeat one enemy. As long as you have a knife, you’ll defeat the next enemy you touch. Unfortunately, it also uses up the knife, so use them strategically.

The final item of note is the torch. This is a special item that sticks with you all the way to the end of the level. The lower parts of the dungeon is pitch black. This makes navigation virtually impossible. However, if you collect the torch in the dungeon, you’ll be able to light up these areas. No limit in time with these torches. They will last you all the way to the end.

If you complete the dungeon (difficult to do), you’ll fall through a bonus area where you can collect as many gems as possible.

Gems are basic items that will earn you points. In fact, many things you do will earn you points. Collecting keys and items will earn you points. Killing an enemy will earn you points. Even unlocking doors will earn you points. All this will add up after a while. For every 10,000 points, you earn a free life.

In total, you have 6 free lives to work with. If you lose all of your free lives, you’ll be able to continue where you left off once. Your score will reset, but you get another full set of free lives to help you continue. unfortunately, you’ll only get one continue. After that, it’s game over and the game resets.

There is actually a lot to say positively about this game. The item system is a great addition to the game. It really gives a lot to adding a certain amount of depth in this game.

The locked doors also gives this game a great puzzle element. It forces you to trouble shoot your next move in a critical way.

Another great thing about this game is the fact that the dungeons are pre-made. This allows players to learn the dungeon more and more each attempt. While memory work certainly helps in this game, it isn’t a requirement. You can rely on skill to get you through a lot of what you see. Very little relies on just randomly picking the right path like a few other games did.

The quantity of game here is also very impressive. I was already nodding in approval going through level 2 at the size of this game. As it turns out, there are 9 levels in the entire game. Essentially, you can spend hours playing this game and still find something new to explore.

Having said all that, this game isn’t perfect. I’m not a huge fan of the way this game handles jumping. It all seems to quick for my taste. While I can’t complain about how high or how long you jump in this game, it is the speed that is kind of annoying.

It would have also been nice to have a password system to skip to the level you got to in a previous run. If you’re going to have so much to explore, you might as well have a checkpoint system in place so that it doesn’t become too frustrating after a while.

Other then that, this winds up being a very solid game. The amount of space you explore is impressive. It’s not randomly generated. The item system works very well. While the jumping leaves a bit to be desired and the lack of checkpoints of any kind is annoying, this game still works very well.

Graphically speaking, this is a great game. The only problem I have with the graphics is the bleak background. The black background is only broken up by the blue sky background during bonus levels. Otherwise, it’s always present. The lighting effect is nicely done. The constantly changing color pallet of the brick to indicate your depth also works very well. The characters and enemies are nicely drawn on screen. Movement of some enemies are very smooth. A very solid effort here if you ask me.

The weakest part of this game is the audio. If you collect items, you get a jingle. Unfortunately, that is all you get for music. The sound effects worked pretty well. So, I would say the audio is only passable.

Overall, this was a joy to play. It isn’t irritatingly difficult, but it does challenge you. The amount of dungeon that is in this game that you explore is impressive. The item system is great. The locked doors system also adds a lot of dynamic play into this game. While the jumping isn’t perfect and there are no checkpoints to be had, I still give this game a thumbs up. The graphics are pretty solid, though the black background is a little bleak. The audio is probably the weakest part of the game with only a jingle and a handful of sound effects. Still, it’s passable. A game that gets a thumbs up from me.

Furthest point in game: Three screens away from making it to level 3.
High score: 52,450

General gameplay: 23/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 84%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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