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Cafeman's Blog - 7800 Dungeon Stalker


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I posted this in the AA store, too.

Dungeon Stalker snuck up on me. I wasn't prepared for its amalgamation of excellent gaming ideas! At first glance, it looked like a simple 7800 port of INTV Night Stalker. But I feel that DS is more interesting and more fun than the original Night Stalker. DS is a static maze shooter with gameplay tweaks that evoke fond memories of Berzerk, Wizard of Wor, and even INTV AD&D. You can get the usual AtariAge high-quality box , manual and artwork with it .

There is a clever mix of unique creatures. Some enemies aren't deadly but temporarily stun you. Some shoot. Some creatures' shots disappear mid-screen if you kill them; but other creatures' shots keep going even if they are vanquished. Some are faster than others. The Spiders don't shoot, they are easy to hit. But they will stop and build little webs in the maze, which can significantly impede your ability to quickly traverse the maze and reach a safe corner! On the other hand, The Bats are tiny, your shots can miss them if you don't aim dead-center. These kinds of gameplay mechanics give the game endless chances at strategy and fun. The game even provides opportunities for extra treasure, lives, and invincibility if you can grab them. Fun stuff.

I enjoy how your shots are actually arrows, and you have to refill your quiver periodically. The creates even more judgment calls in gameplay. Should you spend 4 of your arrows to break up a spider web? Or just fight your way through the web (or take another maze path) to reach safety? If you play on Novice, you have no webs and unlimited arrows. That's fun for a while too, but you are missing a lot of the real game so I play on Standard or higher. My end-of-game rankings are getting better with each try!

Finally, I will mention the AtariVox. If you don't have it, you'll still enjoy Dungeon Stalker. The default game sounds create a suspenseful mood, with the "heart beat" sound increasing in volume when you run out of arrows. But include the AtariVox and you will be in retro gaming HEAVEN. Seriously! "Now Entering THEEE DUNGEON" the Vox announces at the beginning, and I get that goofy grin that only a (grown?) kid with a new game can get. Much work was put into the variety and amount of Vox voice phrases that you hear. Plus, the Vox saves your high scores which is awesome. The AtariVox makes Dungeon Stalker, a fun and fresh maze shooter, into an undeniably must-own experience!

To my initial surprise, the AtariVox plugs into Joystick 2 and needs its own speaker. I used a 1/8-to-RCA and plugged that cable into my TV . The 7800 sounds (like all my games) are fed directly into my Onkyo Sound system. Works and sounds great!

I rated 7800 Dungeon Stalker 5/5 stars.

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