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Top 10 Worst Games on the 2600 (In my Opinion)


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Enjoyed reading this one. The topic may have been done a dozen times over, but it's still interesting to be reminded of games I'd forgotten about, and conversely to chuckle when people name some of my favorites (like Death Trap and Chuck Norris Superkicks) as the worst on the system. :)


I tend to agree that many (though not all) of the absolute worst games are to be found in the PAL exclusives -- people underestimate those. I've kept a running list as I read the thread, and right now mine looks like this:


Bi! Bi! (ROM Hunter makes a good case that this is the worst -- it's broken out of the box)

I Want My Mommy (just 2 levels of garbage gameplay)

Walker (the most depressing Atari 2600 game, with a weirdly East German vibe)

Sssnake (the first game that made me think "This is garbage" as a kid)

Custer’s Revenge (not just offensive, but a horrible game)

Fire Fighter (pointless)


I might throw a Swordquest game in there, maybe Waterworld. That entry has no nostalgia value for me, the gameplay has no appeal, and the abandonment of the contest -- the Swordquest games' only reason to exist -- was so cynical (and predictable). I'll always have a soft spot for Earthworld, though.


Beyond that I'd have to refresh my memory of the PAL exclusives, though Nightmare rings a bell as disastrously poor. One of the word games, maybe Glib or Words-Attack, might have a place as they're just kind of pathetic.


I'd want to give the Mythicon games another shot with the game variations/difficulty settings in mind; good tip earlier on that. Froggo loses points for reissuing games and hiding it with a name change, of course, and Cruise Missile is a "maybe it should be in the bottom 10" game. But Karate's ambition keeps it out of my bottom 10 -- at least they were trying to do something different.


BTW I genuinely like a bunch of maligned games, like Artillery Duel, Airlock, Star Wars: Jedi Arena, and especially Bugs which is one of my favorite twitch games on the system -- sort of my Kaboom, I guess. I also enjoyed Donkey Kong as a kid; it was limited but at least it was playable, and had those ridiculously memorable sound effects that still get used in TV shows.

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Just popping back in at the mention of terrible PAL Games.

After a brief rummage through Atarimania I have these gems to taint your emulators/harmony carts with. (With Links!)

To be honest I got all of these from a single publisher, Suntek. Admittedly Suntek lifted a good chunk of their games from Homevision, but due to Homevision's games being impossible to acquire I have to defer to these guys as the more common option.


Dragon Defender: Astroblast on its side with terrible collision, sounds, and difficulty.


Farmyard Fun: Half the name is a lie, guess which one. A mixture of Challenge from Zellers and Pac-Man with no walls. The sounds are atrocious and is an overall painful game to play.


Mole Hunter: Whack-a-mole, except you're slow as a brick and can barely hit the moles. Eventually the moles escape the holes and run around the screen, unfortunately you are the aforementioned.

Parachute: The first round is alright bar the awful sounds but the second round makes the game unplayable. The obstacles shift diagonally upward across the screen, which means they will emerge from beneath you when you're on the edge of the screen and kill you. They also maintain their positions across the screens so if you exit the bottom of the screen directly beneath where an obstacle is on the top of the screen then you're guaranteed to lose a life upon entering the next screen. Good concept, crap execution.


Treasure Island: A unique dodg'em game where you control a pirate ship and blow away obstacles with a player controlled cannon. The controls for aiming the cannon are a bit unintuitive but you can get the hang of them, too bad actually hitting anything is near impossible. A hit will only register if the cannonball hits an obstacle at the point of landing which is nearly impossible to do as everything is moving at wildly varying speeds. Luckily for you the enemy shots operate on the same logic so you can just blow past them without firing and collect the end of level reward.


UFO Patrol: Just dismal. The idea is solid, it could actually be a decent game with some serious polish. Unfortunately everything moves too fast, the collision is dreadful, and the difficulty spike on level two, where half the playfield is obscured, makes the game impossible. The game is a friggin' precision shooter, make sure the shooting is fine-tuned and that the second level doesn't make the things you're shooting invisible!


Firebug: The controls kill this game completely and utterly. Even if you can figure them out the game you wind up getting was not worth the hassle.


As far as I can tell none of these games were released in any capacity in North America, heck it seems even the South American publishers ignored these. None of them are good, the few that have decent concepts are destroyed by their terrible executions of said concepts. I will give these games credit for having, at times, very impressive graphics, not quite Xonox levels but still quite colorful and complex... at times. All of these games feel like they were programmed over a weekend by somebody who should've known better.


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14 hours ago, christo930 said:

Wasn't there RAM expansions by the time Frogger came out?  IIRC, Omega Race had 256 bytes built into the cart (RAM Plus). 

I think they started to come out shortly after?


14 hours ago, christo930 said:

For me the missing sound always took away from the PB version.  I always liked the Frogger tunes.

Yeah that's one of the main issues with the game.  

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4 hours ago, insertclevernamehere said:

I find these PAL only publishers and games a bit of a weird beast.  As someone who was born in the PAL region and didn't move to NA until 2001, I have never heard of any of the games or publishers.  Not one.

At a guess I'd say a lot of these obscure publishers were affected heavily by region. And due to their dubious legality I'd say they were also limited to very few stores. Some of them may be akin to own-brand toys and things found in dollar/pound stores, a bit like the Zellers releases, and others were likely only advertised in magazines as mail-order only. Some of the bootleggy brands were actually fairly prolific, especially in Germany with Quelle and its design subsidiaries, you can't find a single game lot on ebay.de that doesn't have one or two Quelle games in it. The possible creator of most of the games I listed, Homevision, only seemed to have a presence in France and Italy, and a pretty small one too despite how many stores they have listed in their ads. (Fun fact, according to their mailing address in their advertisements they were a Belgian company based in Brussels.) The same holds true in North America for the more established publishers, I'm sure a few folks on the forum can confirm that they never saw at least one or two well established publishers until after the fact because the stores around them just didn't carry them.


As far as I can tell you exposure to certain pockets of the library is based entirely on luck and where you live.

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On 11/30/2020 at 1:14 PM, insertclevernamehere said:

Sky Skipper, GI Joe, Tutankham, Super Cobra, SW Jedi Arena and Reactor.

Good call, totally agree. Tutankhaman (solid box art) and GI Joe are borderline unplayable. For my money, though, and for many of the same reasons, Double Dragon was the worst for me. I was so excited to play it on the 2600 after loving the NES game. Welp. The combination of inferior graphics and insultingly difficult game play made me actually hate that game. Just a disaster. 

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