Friday, January 29, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Spider-Man (Atari 2600)

Retro Game of the Day! Spider-Man (Atari 2600)

Spider-Man for the Atari 2600, by Parker Brothers. Released in 1982.

Sigh. Every time I bring up one of the 2600 games it is bittersweet. On the one hand, a lot of these games are so old and primitive that they really look like absolutely nothing at all - screens composed of rudimentary, primarily colored shapes with some incredibly abstract representation of a scene being played out. On the other hand, the memories of those long-ago days reminds me just how fascinating and novel the idea of playing a game on your own TV at home once was. Further, having a recognizable comic-book hero like Spider-Man as the protagonist was icing on the cake!

A simple game amongst simple games, the object was to get Spidey to the top of a building to disarm a bomb before the timer went out. Not merely able to crawl up the side of a building with his hands, you'd need to shoot short webs and slowly pull yourself up bit-by-bit. You could also perform horizontal swings (to catch "bad guys" or disarm smaller bombs). Climbing wasn't easy, as you'd need to blast your web onto a solid patch of concrete (trickier than it sounds) to keep mobile - otherwise, you would lose grip and fall.

Very rudimentary, but at the time it was pretty enjoyable. Spider-Man's sprite was about as decent a representation of the super-hero as one would expect given the limitations of the system - and the villianous Green Goblin, who guarded the super-bomb at the very top, was definitely cool looking as he floated on his glider. The only real letdown of this game was that it didn't feature any combat - if you could at least blast the Goblin with a web or something it would have been really satisfying. But what was there (climb, dodge, collect) was still enjoyable.

A cute game to go back and look at now, it is always interesting to plumb the depths of home videogaming from 2 decades ago, when a lot of this stuff was still in its infancy. I don't expect most people would get much of a charge of playing this now, but at the time it was pretty hot to have this for your Atari!

1 comment:

  1. I had an Atari 2600, and I've been a Spider-man fan as long as I can remember, but I don't recall playing this one (I DO remember Superman, though - shiver). I can see how this would be hard to play any more, especially given the wonderful 3D adventures Spidey has had since his turn on the PS1.