Barnstorming [Atari 2600] – Review

Special thanks to GameFAQs user kirbyparufo for uploading an autographed (!) box shot.
Special thanks to GameFAQs user kirbyparufo for uploading an autographed (!) box shot.

Barnstorming is the first game designed by Steve Cartwright, the fifth member of Activision’s design team – their first hire in a sense. Released for the Atari 2600 in 1982, Barnstorming takes a simple concept and flies with it.

As the pilot of an old-school biplane, the player is tasked with flying through a set number of barns littered amongst windmills and flocks of geese. A time attack game ultimately, the goal is to fly through 10, 15, or 25 barns as fast as possible. Crashing into windmills and flying through flocks of geese slows the biplane down and in the first three games these obstacles, like the barns, are located in set positions. The fourth game mode is comprised of random object placement so it can’t be overcome with sheer memorization.

The objective is to fly through a set number of barns in as quickly as possible.
The objective is to fly through a set number of barns as quickly as possible.

Barnstorming was another fun concept in video game form that was executed superbly. As I’ve played through Activision’s Atari 2600 catalog chronologically the audio/visual quality of their games has consistently improved and this game was no exception. An impressive feat considering this was Steve Cartwright’s first professional output. Completion of the first stage in under 30 or so seconds unlocks Barnstorming’s commercial in Activision Anthology. I flew the coop on this game before I unlocking it so adding this hyperlink is my first time watching the commercial.

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