Review: No Escape! (Atari 2600)

In this game, we see if you can bring the roof down in the Atari 2600 game No Escape!. We find out if this action game is worth a play.

This game was released in 1983.

The goal of this game is to defeat the enemies on screen. If you defeat the wave of enemies, you advance to the next wave.

The enemies may occasionally fire a shot down at you. Get hit and you lose a life. You can fire upwards, but if you hit an enemy, the enemy will re-animate. If you’ve defeated another enemy, then an additional enemy will re-animate as well.

The challenge of this game is to fire past the enemies and hit the roof. If you hit the roof, a small piece will fall down. If it strikes and enemy, it defeats the enemy. If it strikes you, then you lose a life. If it strikes the floor, well, that’s one less piece of roof you can use.

Enemy movements alter between waves. The more waves you beat, the more difficult it is for enemies to be struck by falling pieces.

For every enemy you defeat, you get 1 whole point. While this is virtually nothing, there is a more efficient way of scoring points. If you defeat every enemy in the wave, then you’ll get a bunch of points based on how many remaining pieces of ceiling there are.

I figure you get about 6 free lives. Strangely, the number of lives you have left is denoted by a bar instead of a number.

You can clearly see what the developers were trying to go for in this game. They were trying to combine the aspects of a standard top down shooter and the strategy elements of Breakout. As I’ve found out from years of video game reviews, this kind of strategy to building a game doesn’t necessarily make for a better game. While it may help to make a more unique style of game, it isn’t necessarily always going to be a mind-blowing success.

One positive in this game is that the game does serve to challenge, but not necessarily frustrate the player. It is also fairly straight forward to figure out as well. These two aspects alone are definitely positive signs.

One downside to this game is the fact that hitting enemies has so little impact on the score overall. It puts so much emphasis on beating the wave as a whole instead of trying to defeat enemies. Each enemy is worth a mere one point while tallying the remaining parts of the ceiling can push the score well into the hundreds and even into the thousands of points. It’s such an odd thing to see.

Contrary to what I was suspecting about this game, the game doesn’t actually get all that repetitive after a while. The variety of movements between each wave is surprisingly effective at keeping things fresh in the game. Still, did the developers have to turn the number of free lives into a bar?

Generally speaking, this is an alright game. It’s nothing to jump up and down and get all excited over, but it is an alright game. The life bar is strange and the points are weirdly weighted. Still, this game is much less repetitive than you’d think it would be and it’s simple to figure out, yet it also challenges the players. So, decent all around.

Graphics is where this game suffers quite severely. While the enemies and the character are decently drawn out, that’s about all the positive points that I can find. The big problem here is the shots. Your shots are a single pixel dot. Enemy shots are three or four pixel long lines. They’re nearly impossible to see and affect gameplay. The ceiling pieces are small and become excessively small one pixel long lines when you hit them. Combine that with the stark black background and it becomes a pretty sore spot.

There is no music in this game. The sound effects are fairly basic. Nothing exciting here.

Overall, this is a pretty average game. While it tries to combine action with puzzle elements, it didn’t necessarily produce anything mind-blowing. The different wave movements do provide some nice variety. Still, the score weight and life system is pretty strange. The graphics are pretty weak and the audio isn’t any better. Nothing to get excited over.

Furthest point in game: Made it to wave 4 a couple times.

General gameplay: 18/25
Replay value: 6/10
Graphics: 3/10
Audio: 1/5

Overall rating: 56%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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