Beside the Atari was a shoebox containing nine game cartridges: Combat, Space Invaders, Pitfall, Kaboom!, Star Raiders, The Empire Strikes Back, Starmaster, Yars’ Revenge, and E.T. — Ready Player One p. 102
Combat is one of the quintessential games for the Atari 2600. Bundled with the platform until 1982, it was one of the games you could be sure that all your friends had. Not only that, it came with 27 different games, including tank vs tank, biplane vs biplane, and jet vs. jet, each with various complications like barriers and guided projectiles.
In each game, players (up to 2) control a military craft of some kind. The first few iterations feature tanks that navigate a variety of solid barriers to try and kill one another. Each hit sends your enemy spinning – in the case of the tank games, this makes setting up subsequent killing shots even easier. It can be exceedingly frustrating to be on the receiving end of one of these bullet storms, but it’s also hilarious.
Well, my 9-year-old self thought it was hilarious.
As a kid, my friends and I played the hell out of this game, especially the tank variations, which included options for straight and guided bullets, invisible tanks and invisible bullets, and “tank pong” options that required you to bank a shot off a wall before claiming a kill. I can’t tell you how many rainy Saturdays we spent playing this game; suffice it to say, it was a lot.
It holds up well. Sure the graphics are ancient by today’s standards, but that’s part of the charm. So is the bullet storming of your enemies until they bounce through walls – my 50-year-old self still loves that, and unsurprisingly, my 15-year-old son did as well.
The Ready Player One Replay is an ongoing exploration of the games that inspired the novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Love it or hate it, there’s value in revisiting our geeky roots.
- My High Score: I blew up my son’s tank. A lot. And then he did the same to me. A lot.
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