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Revisionist History (Homebreviews)

Nathan Strum


Well, I warned you. Hang on... this might get a little bumpy! icon_ponder.gif


I've gone back through all of my homebreviews, and re-scored everything based on a 1/2-point increment scale. The idea behind this is that with the sheer number of homebrews now available, a five-point scale simply isn't fine enough to really distinguish one game from another. The biggest problem is that it resulted in too many games getting a 5/5, which should indicate a perfect or near-perfect game, but on a five point scale almost has to include really good games that aren't at the absolute top.


I've also taken this opportunity to apply hindsight (which as we all know is 20/20) to the games, and move games up or down the list, based on how well they've held up over time. In some cases this boils down simply to whether or not I've ever bothered dusting them off to play them again. In other cases, as some newer titles have been released, they've surpassed older ones that may, at one time, have been at the top of the heap. For the most part, I've tried to score games together based on if I think they're better, worse, or equivalent to surrounding games in the list. This list will likely continue to change in the future as more games are released, and more hindsight is gained.


And of course, if anyone has questions (or complaints icon_wink.gif ) about why a specific game moved up or down the list, I'll answer in the comments below.


2600 Reviews are listed above, 7800 reviews are listed below. All reviews are for homebrew games, unless otherwise noted.


2600 Homebrews


5/5 - The best of the best. Recommended without any reservations.

4.5/5 - Excellent, just shy of being at the top.

4/5 - Very good, but with minor shortcomings. Generally good replay value.

3.5/5 - Good, but lacking some depth and replay value.

3/5 - Fair, but significant shortcomings or too derivative of other games. Below-average replay value.

2.5/5 - Marginal. Poor controls, concept or execution.

2/5 - Poor. Weak gameplay. Weak replay value.

1.5/5 - For curiosity seekers or completists only. Almost no play value.

1/5 - Essentially unplayable. Lacking anything resembling fun.

.5/5 - No value whatsoever.

7800 Homebrews









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I have to disagree slightly on a couple of scores considering my games. I'd give Seawolf the full 5 and lift Crazy Balloon into the 4.5 cat. Gunfight is way overrated though and worth a 3 at best :)

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I agree with most of these, even the carts with my games on them. You must have known I started working on a DPC+ version of one of my games so it has better graphics :)


However, Fall Down is surpising to see among the other 5/5 entries. Also, although Sticky Notes is rated appropriately, you really need a zero just for that other game.

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I ranked the games based on several criteria, approximately in this order:

  1. How much I enjoy playing the game
  2. How often I re-play the game
  3. Playability (controls, accessibility, complexity)
  4. How balanced is the gameplay (speed, difficulty, progression)
  5. Presentation (graphics, sound, level of polish)
  6. Innovation/uniqueness

Some games are weighted more heavily in some categories than others, just depending on how outstanding they happen to be (or not). But the top two definitely get the highest consideration.


A game can look amazing, but if it's no fun to play, then I can't honestly recommend it to others (Marble Craze being a prime example, where the only things saving it from an even lower score are its presentation, and a grudging acknowledgement that there are some people out there who really like it).


Other games (most hacks and Space Invader clones) are hurt by the fact that they're not offering really anything new. However, Missile Command TB completely transforms that game, so that's a rare exception.


Seawolf is an excellent homebrew to be sure, but I can't honestly group it in with the 5's, since for me, the number of times I've gone back to play it is significantly less than the others. I've made a concerted effort to reserve 5/5 for very few games in this list. It's going to be really difficult for new games to get that score here. However, in future AtariAge store reviews, 5/5 will continue to apply to a somewhat broader range of games.


Crazy Balloon is a game that I just can't get into all that much, and don't go back to play very often. Oddly enough, I actually play Gunfight more than Crazy Balloon. It's fun for a quick pick-up-and-play shoot 'em up. Plus, it has head-to-head two-player gameplay. But Crazy Balloon is a better game. So their scores roughly evened out.


Fall Down gets a 5/5 because it's fun. Pure and simple, it's one of the funnest homebrews out there, and again, has great head-to-head gameplay.


As for "that other game" ;) , I decided to use a 10 point scale, which precludes adding a zero, and most other online rating systems require you to give something at least a 1/2 point. This whole exercise was done in part with the hope that Albert might update the store someday with a 10 point scale. (Admittedly, I think that's a long shot at best.)

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I find these scores to be fair overall, including the 4 for Four-Play (nice pattern there).


The last three Holiday Carts have been consistently good. If someone ever decides to take up a new one they'll have some big shoes to fill.

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Indeed. They may even want to take a longer development cycle. ;)


(I completely missed the fact that I gave Four-Play a 4. Although what does that say about Climber 5 and Colony 7? :ponder: )

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I gave my list of games to Albert, but told him not to rush. He's got other things to do, and so do I, so it's at the bottom of my list of priorities right now. I'm thinking by October I might start reviewing games again. It has to be something I want to do, and right now, it isn't.

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