Tag Archives: laser blast

Seaquest [Atari 2600] – Review

Reminds me of Sealab 2021.
Reminds me of Sealab 2021.

Seaquest is a very straightforward game. As the pilot of a submarine, the player’s sole task is to rescue treasure-divers from the clutches of sharks and enemy submarines. Shooting enemies and rescuing allies provides points for as long as a player has lives.

Taking place on a single screen, players evade or destroy waves of enemy subs and sharks as they enter view. Occasionally, a treasure-diver will float onto the screen. With six divers onboard, returning to the surface will end the “stage” and players will begin anew with a full supply of oxygen. Oh yeah, players have an ever-depleting supply of oxygen they need to be wary of.

The simplicity of the gameplay coupled with the relatively unimaginative concept of the game lead to me losing interest quickly. Not Steve Cartwright’s best.

Enemy subs and sharks need to be avoided or destroyed.
Enemy subs and sharks need to be avoided or destroyed.

With a score of 35,000 points in Activision Anthology, players will unlock the “Sub Club” patch. Originally players had to achieve 50,000 points. For me, this would be a futile effort reminiscent of scoring 100,000 points in Laser Blast. I say this because that was another game that I found less than stellar, yet I still went after the patch. I’m not going to do that anytime soon with Seaquest.

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The Activision Decathlon [Atari 2600] – Review

It's even got the Olympic theme song!
It’s even got the Olympic theme song!

Designed by David Crane and published by Activision for the Atari 2600 and a cavalcade of other platforms around 1983, The Activision Decathlon hit the market right around the time Konami’s Track & Field was hitting the arcades. Lesser known no doubt, The Activision Decathlon is a fantastic game and a sublime blast with human opponents (up to four!).

As it is a game from the venerable David Crane, there wasn’t really the question of whether or not it would be good. Thus far, I’ve only played one dud from him and that was Laser Blast, which is still a decent game. What makes this game work so well though is the simplicity of the Atari 2600. For most games on the platform, the only control option was the joystick and a single red button. As was the case, this game is easy to pick up and play and I only had troubles with one event – the pole vault, where I needed to press the button twice – once to set my pole and again to eject myself. Even then, I realized what I had to do by my final attempt.

With ten events, the game offers plenty of differentiation while not having to stray to obscure events. Most every event involves rapidly flicking the joystick back and forth while some, as mentioned, require a button press or two. Easily the most difficult event is the 1500-meter race. It takes about four minutes of flicking the joystick/analog stick back and forth. The same motion done for four minutes doesn’t sound so tough, until you pass the 100-meter marker and are hit with a wave of deflation realizing what you’re in for. All events, even that one, are simple and fun so this was a blast to play in the competition.

Run Forrest, run!
Run Forrest, run!

Unlockable in Activision Anthology are three patches. The bronze, silver, and gold medal patches are unlocked with 8,000, 9,000, and 9,400 points respectively. Not included in the compilation was the original commercial featuring Kim Kardashian’s stepfather, Bruce Jenner.

Laser Blast [Atari 2600] – Review

Almost had all of the sticker removed.
Almost had all of the sticker removed.

Up for discussion today is yet another David Crane game, Laser Blast. It was published by Activision for the Atari 2600 in 1981 and in a sense, flips the player’s role in the fixed-screen shoot ‘em up that was so popular in this era.

Rather than controlling an Earth defense force of some type, protecting our home planet, Laser Blast has players controlling the invading aliens. Flying UFOs and destroying the enemy artillery is the task at hand, but after a few rounds the game grows extremely stale. Screens are comprised of three moving enemies and with them destroyed, the player flies to the next screen, with the same makeup. Rinse and repeat forever. There is no end and it makes a good score attack game, but the gameplay is just so tepid. The best thing about Laser Blast is the ability to control the UFO after it has been shot down, enabling players to kamikaze the ground targets.

After being shot down, players can kamikaze the ground forces.
After being shot down, players can kamikaze the ground forces.

There are two patches and a commercial to unlock in Activision Anthology. The commercial comes after losing all lives while the patches require 10,000 and 100,000 points. 10,000 isn’t too bad but 100,000 requires a half-hour or so of formulaic shooting. It’s easy to get, but there are better things to spend time on. Unfortunately I realized that after getting the patch.