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Nope, it's not a Halo game coming for Atari's new home console, it's the old Atari home console advertising campaign.  Reach for Atari!  The graphics and gameplay and fun of the Atari 2600 was something to reach for.  Amazing how far we've come since then.  Now we've got games like Killzone 2, the Halo series, whatever new Mario game comes down the bend.  Now, in 2010, the Atari 2600 is getting a shot of life with the XBox 360/PC GameRoom, along with several Atari arcade titles currently available, and dozens in the pipeline.  For better or worse, the Atari arcade games and Atari 2600 games live on, and for those of us who enjoy some titles, being able to own these games again, not counting game emulation or garage sales is a mixed blessing of gaming goodness and gaming atrocities.  Here we'll take a look at  the titles on the 360 that we've played from Atari in both the 360/PC GameRoom and the XBox Live Arcade.

The GameRoom has been successfully launched as an XBox Live Arcade within the XBox Live Arcade.  Sort of.  So far, GameRoom is being flooded with Atari 2600 and Intellivision games from the early 1980s, and various arcade games from Konami and Atari, like Gyruss, Crystal Castles, Asteroids, Millipede, and Centipede.   For some odd reason, Asteroids, Millipede, and Centipede have seen both the Arcade versions as well as the Atari 2600 versions released.  The 2600 versions are, well, compared to the arcade versions?  They're pretty awful.  I might even add that they suck.  We did have a page dedicated to the GameRoom, but it's so far GameRoom has been a lackluster effort, so we deleted our GameRoom page.  It just didn't have anything interesting happening.   We're not holding our breath, because the GameRoom has serious potential, but needs some more diversity.  The diversity would be titles from Taito, Namco, Midway, Sega, Data East, and SNK.

Update August 2011: In case you haven't noticed, and not many have, but the XBox Live Game Room service is still around, but the releases have stopped.  No warning, no nothing.  A couple hundred titles available one minute.. those same titles still available almost one year later. Nice try, though.


Throttle Monkey! 

On XBLA, the Atari games have been given a joy that is called Throttle Monkey.  This mode is not a mode where you play with yourself while playing videogames, it's an uber-fast way of playing the game.  They overclock the game, making it virtually (well, literally!) unplayable and nauseating.  Take a game like Millipede. there's tons of stuff flying all over the screen, and it's difficult to target the bugs.

 Throttle Monkey! speeds that up by a factor of (N), and makes the game ridiculously fast and.. stupid.  Sure it's interesting to add new things to the game to spice up gameplay, but maybe invisible player or flipping screens would be more interesting than playing a game at high-high-high-speed.  Add to that, they thought the need to tie some achievements into Throttle Monkey!  I know what I want to tie to Throttle Monkey..



Asteroids / Asteroids Deluxe

The familiar heart-pounding heart-beat noise from Asteroids may sound a little off in this version, but the gameplay is definitly there. The frustration factor is medium as, like all arcade games, they were built for quick turn-around and to eat quarters. Someday they'll learn they need to tweak the engine, but for what emulation is for now, it's good.  Deluxe simply changes some rocks, alien saucers, and in the original arcades, a color overlay changed ships and rocks unnatural colors.  In the GameRoom, nothing really changes, although all of the features from the GameRoom are available. 

Battlezone  XBLA/GameRoom

XBLA Enhanced

Battlezone on XBLA looks good, and the new graphics are definitely flashy and attractive in a 1980s looking at 1990s as the future kind of way.  The gameplay feels nice and smooth, with one drawback: the AI will kick your ass.  I have no achievements, no leaderboard scores, no nothing.  This game is good but it sure does piss the hell out of me.  The Homing Missiles that show up fairly early in the game can sure suck the joy out of a fun game, and blowing them up does not give you that satisfaction of "Yes, I did it!", it's more of  "F*ck, it missed my left nut and punched me in the stomach!"

In the GameRoom, I somehow do much better at this game, and the graphics, while severely dated, work just fine.  Those missiles on the XBLA version?  They don't show up as soon in the GameRoom, and are less vicious than their coutnerparts.  You can even shoot them down in this version, as well as the UFOs!  The XBLA version makes this more of a chore than it should be.


Centipede / Millipede  XBLA/GameRoom

 Blowing away bugs doesn't get old, and adding a tracball would make it amazing on the XBLA.   There are full versions of Centipede and Millipede , access to leaderboards, and whatever downloadable stuff you can imagine (see: none).  Centipede has fleas, spiders, scorpions, centipedes, and I think a few other targets, aside from mushrooms.  Millipede has a bit more- earwigs, scorpions, inch worms, spiders and multiple spider attacks, bees, beetles, dragonflies, and mosquitoes.  Probably some other targets as well, but I've not gotten that far in the game yet.  Millipede also adds DDT, the evil bug killer that caused defects in fetuses and does other nasty things, like soften American bald eagle eggs.  In this game, it's harmless to everything but the bugs.  A giant cloud puffs out and takes out all in its area, roughly about 1 to 2 inches on the game field.

XBLA Enhanced

Both games are available separately on the GameRoom for 240 points each, with the Gold-Silver-Bronze medals, player challenges, and, of course, the cabinets to place in your virtual arcade.  Both games do seem to run smoother than the XBLA versions do, and both are recommended GameRoom downloads.

Missile Command  XBLA/GameRoom

 On the XBLA, this one is fun to play, nice to look at, hard to get used to. The developers remade this game and gave it a new "modern" look. Funny, it looks like my guns have been replaced by 1950s alien gun batteries or DOPLAR radar balls. The weapons used are also not simple lines of missile fire, they are lightning bolts (lightning bolts?). They take some getting used to, as they don't readily feel like they are as precise or have the oomph to them as they travel up to zap missiles and enemy crafts attacking your now weird looking cities. Sort of like Micronauts cities or Capsela or something llike that.

On the GameRoom, this game shows how old it is, and plays so-so.  Some classic titles live up to the hype, Missile Command does not really do it.  At least you can purchase the game and place the cabinet in your virtual arcade in GameRoom!


Paperboy  XBLA

Paperboy was a (expletive deleted) in the arcades with that bicycle controller, and true to form, is a (naughty word) on the XBLA port.  This is one title you will be glad had been removed from the XBLA.  Take the Paperboy down one of three streets, delivering newspapers to subscribers while avoiding the non-customers, who all seem to have it in for Paperboy!  You must also avoid bees, zombies, psychos, bombs, cars, wheels, lawnmowers, dogs, breaking customer windows, remote control cars, etc, etc, etc.. Sounds sort of fun, but the weird bicycle physics can bite my ass, their so bad and uncomfortable.  Paperboy is such a pain in my ass, whenever I start it, I feel I will do well, but end up eating it big time.  This game sucks various forms of eggs of varying species of creatures.  But I could be wrong, I know some people like this game.  I just think they need there ever-loving heads examined.


Space Duel  GameRoom

Asteroids meets faux-3D vector graphics, different types of enemies and asteroid-like obstacles, and those undeniable 1980s arcade sounds.  As challenging as Asteroids, and with your thrust button, shield button, and fire button, it feels like you are playing Asteroids.  Asteroids in color!  But, Asteroids.  It's a fun game and looks nice, and all you have to know is: "If you like Asteroids, you may just like this game!"

Tempest  XBLA/GameRoom

Tempest was a definite quarter eater, but the sounds, style, and play of this game outweighed the frustration seen in a title like Paperboy.  Tempest is tough and frustrating, but it's not a feel of hating how it controls, but the fact that you're just not fast enough, or good enough.  Your ship skims the outside of geometric shapes, shooting at enemies that attack from the center.  The red boomerang-looking enemies actually get to the edge with you and will begin skimming the edge as well.  Good thing you have your trusty SuperZapper kill-all weapon to help against this, but only after it's charged.  Attacking high scores is great, but there are some dopes out there on the XBLA that get insane scores.  I can easily kill two birds with one stone on this one:  if you don't like like Tempest, you won't like Space Giraffe.  Although it isn't an Atari title, Giraffe is Tempest.  Space Giraffe adds some interesting elements, some funny lines, but is more or less Tempest Redux which, by the way, was the same idea behind Tempest 2000.

XBLA Enhanced

When you journey into the Gameroom, Tempest has its awesome arcade cabinet, and the same bells and whistles that you expect.  This game is not very different than the XBLA version, although it does have the Gold-Silver-Bronze medals through extended gameplay and high scores.


Yar's Revenge   GameRoom

An old Atari 2600 game, Yar's Revenge is one of those games that old-timers like myself have fond memories of.  The title is almost 30 years old, and it definitely shows some wrinkles, but wrinkles I can deal with.  The graphics are not bad, they're old, which could make them bad, but that was semi-State-of-the-Art Gaming for 1981.  Your mission: defeat the Qotile with the mighty Zorlon Cannon!  You charge your cannon by crossing through the Qotile or by eating pieces of his base, all while avoiding the deadly, menacing Negative Sign/ Minus Symbol!  This goes on and on seemingly forever- this game does not end.   The game emulation is so precise, it even has the Freeze Game bug, showing the programmers initials.  After defeating the Qotile,  plant your mosquito (Yar?) over the black vertical line in the shrinking static of the explosion, and the game will freeze.  Call us all nerds, but that's one of those things you look for in an emulation: How true is it? True, true..

Warlords   XBLA

I never saw this in arcades, but loved it on the Atari 2600 with the paddle controls. The updated visuals look great, but I haven't purchase it yet.  The demo was maybe 15 seconds long, so I didn't get a good impression of it.  As a matter of fact, I got nothing about Warlords.  People probably have bought it and enjoyed it, and while it's not a bad game, it's not on my radar.  I believe it's also one of the many de-listed XBLA games with that copyright situation and a new copyright holder.