The 10 Worst Atari 2600 Games (E.T. Is Not One of Them, Duh)

Yeah, sure, it’s been done, but it’s never been done right, and in this case it’s being done again because we’re deleting the original blog.  So yes, this is a rewrite of a previous article, but everyone loves these things.  However, in this case, there isn’t a proper ‘top ten worst’ list for the Atari 2600. They all include the usual, which typically is based on public opinion, not actual gaming. If you see E.T The Extra Terrestrial mentioned, look away. Yeah, you heard me, that’s actually a good game. Go read the manual like everyone says they don’t. To do a list like this, you need to be familiar with the system, like honestly familiar. If you simply checked out some Youtube videos of some screaming idiot and read some 12-year-old-written reviews on Gamefaqs, you really don’t have a clue. Before we begin, there are a few things to mention. 

First off, I will not be considering any PAL releases because I can’t play them on my Atari, and I didn’t grow up with them since they weren’t released in the US. Second, this list is based on three levels of suck: concept, design, and playability. I don’t care how well something sold, that’s a different issue altogether. If a game was overproduced and it caused Atari to fold, I really don’t care, it doesn’t apply here at all, and how could it? The games here are being judged on the merit of their existence qua game. Are there a ton of E.T. carts buried in the sands? Yeah, but that’s not a reason to call it the “worst” game on earth. Was Pac-Man the “worst” arcade translation in history? No, and it’s not really that bad of a game either in comparison to the shit in this legit list. 

I also thank the wonderful resources and people over at AtariAge, easily the greatest video game site and forum on the Internet. If you’re a fan of the system and have never heard of it, check it out, that’s where these images came from. A certain member there pointed gave me a bit of help with some historical details, but in general all of the information here is coming from personal experience.  By the way, if you’re a retro fan, you should check out Albert’s (site head) store for some of the awesome homebrews he offers. Also, I’d like to thank Youtube’s Highretrogamelord89, who recorded all of these videos (except one) and gave us permission to use them within the blog. Let’s hit it, starting with the least vomit-inducing. 

10. I Want My Mommy

 Just the title of this is an entire article, probably a novel of absolute horror. I Want My Mommy was Zimag’s foray into children’s video games. Nothing new, there are several for the Atari 2600. Some are geared more towards “learning,” but a few were gameplay-oriented. I Want My Mommy took that direction, and really it isn’t that horrible. The problem is the execution. First off, it looks like hell. What you see in the video below is supposed to be a teddy bear avoiding ‘dream demons.’  Second off, the label art and title are demeaning. Why does it matter? Well, being this is for kids it deserves the lowest spot. Can’t really judge the gameplay because it’s supposed to be easy. Sorcerer’s Apprentice is easy, too. Thing is, it’s cool to play. This isn’t, and the fact that it glaringly reveals it’s for children would make any kid cringe. This is “Kid Stuff,” says right on the label! Did you get me Sorcerer’s Apprentice? No, I got you something better, I Want My Mommy, it’s for kids! What a horrible way to make the little ones remember their place in the world, with ‘mommy’ in the title and blatant wanting of said mommy. The damn teddy bear is even crying. Would you really want to own that?  Would you really want your friends seeing this in your collection back in the day?


9. Mr. Do’s Castle

This shocking title deserves a spot, especially since it’s the absolute bomb of the Parker Bros. Atari 2600 library. You’re not going to find another high-quality company’s game sucking as hard as this one, with full swallow. Based on a charming arcade game of the same name, Mr. Do’s Castle is easily the worst arcade port in history. Pac-Man for the 2600 usually gets it, but the reason is based on the status quo. Actually, it’s a playable game. Just because it doesn’t look like the original and was a bummer port, doesn’t mean it’s horrible. But Mr. Do’s Castle takes this to a new level. Not only does it look bad, but all of its difficulty comes from asinine programming. Check out the sprite movements in the video below.  That indistinct blob is Mr. Do, and just watch him swing that hammer! Is that what he’s doing? Too bad he doesn’t seem to stinking hit anything! Another problem is horrid collision detection. It takes forever to figure out. Mr. Do disappears when climbing ladders, he never seems to knock blocks correctly, and the icons are so abstract it’s impossible to discern their hieroglyphic meaning. It needs to be experienced to truly see, but Mr. Do’s Castle for the 2600 is easily the worst arcade port ever made. There is no way to reach beyond what it’s accomplished, and it came from the hands of the same company that released Frogger. The only thing they got right was the soundtrack, which is finely programmed. If the soundtrack was like the rest, this game would have easily fallen around number 4 on this list. It’s also kind of hard to find, so if you want it, you sick bastard, you’re going to have to pay a bit to get it.


8. 3D Tic-Tac-Toe

 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe is one of those games that gets ragged on quite a bit and it sure as hell deserves it. The fact that anyone thought this was a good idea makes you shake your head until your neck breaks. Imagine: “Hey, I have this idea for a game where it’s tic-tac-toe, but it’s like four stacked levels in “3D” (quotes absolutely required)“. Does that sound cool to anyone? The thing about some of these board-to-video-game conversions is it’s more fun to pull the real game out. Though it’s easier to throw in a Checkers cartridge so you avoid the whole set-up, you can’t toss the pieces in the air and throw the board out the window.  We need the ability to command physical control over our game pieces.  But, either way, Tic-tac-toe just doesn’t make any sense as a concept for an Atari 2600 game. All it takes is a piece of paper and pencil. This probably explains the fact that they “hyped” up the play by adding four stacked “3D” levels of tic-tac-toe madness with extra squares. Problem is, it’s a pain in the ass, like a full fist covered with spikes and broken glass. You can either play against another human, or you can play against the computer. It’s pretty smart, so that’s cool, but there are two main problems. First off, when you get enough Xs and Os on the screen, it’s mindnumbing. Second and most important is the computer in advanced levels will take upwards of 20 minutes to make a move. You read that right, it even says so in the manual. If you want a real challenge, you can expect it to last pretty much all damn day, literally. The cover art is hilarious too, did they really think anyone would get the idea the artwork conveys when the title involves ‘tic-tac-toe’? No, never. I actually don’t know anyone who owned this game back in the day. Thank God.


7. Fire Fighter

 Hey, wait a minute, this game is cool! No, I know what you’re thinking, and it’s actually Towering Inferno that’s on your mind. Totally different game. You’d think the guy who programmed Asteroids would make another winner, but this one proves wunderkind is an overused term. Fire Fighter is an odd game, and it actually could have been pretty cool. The graphics are tight and you can tell exactly what you’re looking at down to the poor little victim in the building and the way your fire fighter moves. The controls are smooth, though a bit awkward at first, and it’s easy to play. But then you realize what it’s about, and that’s where this one goes down in flames.  Fire Fighter involves saving people in a burning building and putting out a fire. Problem, the game is simply timed, there is no scoring system, nothing to beat, nothing to strive for. Your goal is to fight fires in the shortest amount of time. Even cooler is they actually go out on their own whether you blast them with water or not. Fire Fighter is here in the list because it’s one of the world’s most boring experiences and offers no real incentive to play. It almost feels like it was made for children due to the weak gameplay and lack of challenge. If you’re interested in going for gold and getting the shortest time, by all means, take this one with you to the psych floor.


6. Space Jockey

 Space Jockey is the perfect example of a genre beaten into the ground and then brought back to life to start it all over again. The guys who made this were actually a subsidy of Quaker Oats, so that’s probably enough for most people to stay away. This is their worst, in addition to being one of the worst shooters in history, if not the granddaddy, dictator extraordinaire of them all. Space Jockey, to be fair, looks pretty good and it’s even got ‘NEW Improved Video Graphics’ written right on the box, whatever in the hell that means. Plus, its concept isn’t exactly stupid.  You’re controlling a UFO that’s apparently attacking the Earth, as evidenced by the helicopters, trees, and such. Wait, you get points for non-moving objects that can’t even attack? Oh well, that’s okay, let’s play! And play…and play…and play and play and play and play and Christ what in the living flames of Hell is this?!!! Space Jockey suffers from one major and important thing, it’s monotonous. Beyond monotonous. This game is so monotonous it would make a metronome explode. Space Jockey offers no challenge whatsoever, and it just keeps going! It never freaking stops! All you can do is shoot, shoot, shoot some more, dodge some pathetic enemy fire and keep on going. There aren’t any new enemies, their attack patterns don’t change, they don’t get any more difficult, and it doesn’t matter if you let them pass by. Space Jockey, like many games on this list, had potential, but it blows it in the worst possible way. This slot almost went to Laser Blast, which has a similar sense of monotony, but what saved it was real challenge.


5. Flag Capture

 Flag Capture is basically a video game version of capture the flag, or well, sort of, actually no, not at all. Basically, this is something of a precursor to Minesweeper. Your goal? Find a flag. How? Via clues that appear when you click on squares.  That’s actually a decent idea, really, for the kind of power the Atari 2600 had. The game is for one or two players, but it’s doubtful you’ll find anyone to share in that experience. Other two-player games, such as Air-Sea Battle, at least have the ‘dude I’ll kill you’ factor when things get crazy and too many drinks have been downed. Flag Capture, well, it’s just boring, there’s not much else to say, just look at the video below and you’ll know.  The clues are a little too vague, such as telling you how many squares separate you and the flag. If you get ‘5’, yeah, it doesn’t help much, and random bombs that end your turn are annoying as piss. Not to mention the absolutely depressing one-player experience it offers, which includes the irritating ‘moving flag’ option where, you guessed it, the flag continues to move around and you end up basically idiot-manchild-mashing the button until you find it. Another reason I put this here is the artwork. Seriously, talk about false advertising. Atari games early on had some suspicious art, but this one is probably the best example of how deceptive it was at times. Where are the pirates?!  Where is this cool ship with the canons and the flags and there’s swords and, who in the Hell made this and where do they live so I can end them?


4. Bugs

 Poor Data Age, they never really got it right except for Frankenstein’s Monster, which is one of the greatest and most overlooked games on the Atari 2600.  What about this one, hmm? Most Data Age releases were trash, and some like Sssnake are typically on lists like this. Bugs, however, is easily their worst. Just listen to this story from the manual: You have been sent to investigate a life form that has been detected on a long-dead planet. Passing through the deadly Cosmic Tunnel, you land on the barren planet’s surface to find an underground world ruled by a race of intelligent Super-Bugs! Honestly, that sounds like a potentially cool game, but Bugs definitely does not deliver. Basically, you control a little aimer and have to kill the “bugs” as they move up the screen. Some of these bugs look suspiciously like salamanders, some have no heads, and others look like sticks… Next problem is the design. Where in the hell are the bugs coming from? Shooting them is boring, but of course Data Age threw in a further annoyance called the ‘Phalanx’. It’s basically an enemy aimer of sorts that comes from the side. If it hits your aimer, you lose a life. What sort of strange dimension are these aimers battling in anyway? Isn’t this the aimer on my ship? Where does the Phalanx really exist? I’ll leave that one for Sartre. But the big issue with this demon spawn aimer is that you shoot from angles, so the only way to hit it is pretty much when it appears on screen. Add to that the fact that Bugs speeds up after about ten seconds, and you just have a disaster. It’s totally unplayable, it’s the definition of it.


3. Karate

The Atari 2600 has plenty of cool head-to-head games where ass kicking reigns. Combat, Fishing Derby, there are plenty of them. Karate, Dolan pls, that’s easy! Who wouldn’t want to play a cool game similar to Activision’s Boxing but with the addition of foot attacks? Seems like an easy victory, but somehow Froggo managed to FUBAR this one up beyond recognition. Well, let’s give them some credit, they simply wanted to cash in and didn’t actually have anything to do with the programming. Then again, the sad attempt to make a buck on this is appalling. Really, just watching the video is enough to see how horrible this game is, check it out below.  The controls are actually quite easy to figure out, but man, what a horrible mess of the remains of human existence. The translation of character movements into sprites does not work, at all. They look to be suffering from scurvy, and there’s pretty much no real collision detection. This effectively kills any strategic elements. I personally enjoy how you get to the edge of the screen and the program immediately warps the players back to the middle. What in the Hell just happened?  What kind of powers do these karate men have that they do not use in the ring?  Are they gifted with the bizarre X-Men power that enables them to warp back into the ring but nothing more?  Please, someone tell me. There really isn’t any real strategy, either, easy controls aside. It’s basically just button mashing, which is the direct antithesis of what this type of game should be like.


2. Star Ship

 Nice box art, looks like about a million forgotten sci-fi novels. Who wouldn’t enjoy this, right? Stars and ships, finally brought together, joined as one for the game of your dreams.  But think about this title. Is the ship made of stars? Does the ship carry stars within its cargo bay? Play Star Ship and you too can answer these questions! I didn’t even know about this terror until I found a copy at a garage sale. Considering Bob Whitehead (Stampede, Private Eye, etc.) programmed it, the situation becomes doubly depressing. That’s the essence of this game, deep-seated, empty, vast depression.  Depression from which no man, no being in the universe, can survive. Prepare thy Prozac, commander.  Star Ship is the bare minimum. It offers the most abstract, empty graphics you’re ever going to see, and the gameplay throws you into the doldrums in a few seconds. Think Star Raiders but without an actual game. There’s absolutely no strategy and the main game simply involves killing as many enemy ships as you can within a time limit. Other options involve dodging objects like a true star ship captain. And the two-player options, awesome! One lets you control the ship and the other guy gets the guns. Apparently, Atari actually removed this game from their stock later on, simply because it was so pathetic. When the company that made such a bad decision with E.T. takes a game off the shelves, best stay away. Trust me, this is the bare minimum. Probably the most simplistic and boring game in the system’s entire library.

1. Fire Fly

 Here it is, my friends. If you don’t agree with this pick, seriously, play it. Find it, learn about it, and then play it. Fire Fly is easily the worst game for the 2600 and probably the worst game in the world. Mythicon and what it represents is one of the reasons for the video game crash, and when you see Fire Fly you’ll understand. They came in trying to be the ‘low end’ guys by selling games at the price of $9.95, which apparently worked at first, but then people realized what they were doing. The issue was all three of their titles are essentially the same code, just altered slightly to make “different” games. However, Sorcerer actually has a little going for it. Fire Fly, holy living, breathing Hell. First off, get a load of the story they put behind this one, that link takes you to a huge bunch of text that’s seriously from the manual. Makes it sound cool, doesn’t it? Just look at this horrible box, look at the video below.  Honestly, how did anyone think this could possibly be published? The “music” is irritating, there are no sound effects, your character is easily the most indistinct sprite in history, and the gameplay is non-existent. Each screen brings a new enemy that the manual tries desperately to explain, but nothing actually means anything. This is one of those things that leaves you utterly dumbfounded. You figure I’d have something clever to say, some sort of silly metaphor to explain it, but you don’t need any of that. Fire Fly is its own metaphor, it’s its own definition, it’s own explanation. What’s Fire Fly like? Just answer Fire Fly to that and you understand everything. Bad day? This day really Fire Flies. This game stands for everything wrong. It’s even beyond the worst evil you could imagine. This is stuff that’s going to be banned in Germany for at least another two-hundred years. Best part? Look at the upper left corner of the box.  What does it say? This is the first frikken game?! They planned more in a series, further Fire Fly titles, at least in theory?! Someone find them and put and end to the madness, go back in time even!


So, you made it this far, but it’s doubtful your sanity level is anything near what it once was.  Your only recourse is to educate yourself, take the time, please, and find the good in the Atari 2600 library.  Aside from what you see above, the system is likely the most important advancement in video game history.  The graphics were awesome for their time, the gameplay often groundbreaking, revolutionary, and even today some of the most standard concepts in games started with this old system.  So don’t let this list fool you, aside from the suck, the 2600 is awesome, and because it was so awesome everyone wanted involved, and sometimes it just didn’t turn out so right.

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Idiot Comment War Zone

45 Responses to The 10 Worst Atari 2600 Games (E.T. Is Not One of Them, Duh)

  1. Greatest article on the 2600 games I’ve ever read lulz!!!

  2. It’s nice to read a “worst of” list for the 2600 that wasn’t written by an angst-ridden 14 year old.

  3. E.T. was a fun game. I think what people really hated about it was going from one screen to another and falling into a pit. If someone could make the pits further away from the sides of the screen, I think that alone would make it a game most would like. As it is, I like the game as it is.

    • Stanley Stepanic

      Well, true, sure, but the thing is you quickly learn where those particular spots are and you avoid them. But yeah, it was like an epiphany when I realized what all the symbols meant and such.

  4. Compared to some of the new home-brew games being created for the 2600 nowadays, it really is a shame that so much garbage was created for the system. I had FireFly in my collection (along with another Mythicon game equally as bad… Star Fox, I think)… I did play it to death (ya gotta take it off of the ‘smiley face’ level for it to have any merit whatsoever… and even then its as close to none as you can get)… I will say it’s nice to see a list that doesn’t include E.T. and PacMan (I actually liked E.T. when I was a kid; compared to many other Atari games it had a lot of depth- you really did need a manual to get the most out of it. 2600 PacMan has always sucked, though… even more so that I now have a copy of the homebrew Pac-Man 4K… that is AMAZING in comparison).

    Anyhoo, I enjoyed the article! I look forward to many more!

    • Stanley Stepanic

      Some people have their complaints about it, like the merit of Star Ship for example, but I tried to balance a few factors (as I mention in there). The big thing is I grew up playing many of these games and I’ve played through the entire NTSC 2600 library, so I’m very, very familiar with the better games out there. ET always annoyed me. It’s not a great game, sure, but the worst, far, far from it. Once you understand it it’s actually pretty enjoyable.

  5. Jason aka Superjay

    I think *Burgertime* needs to be added in the top 5 here because the graphics and super agonizing slooooooooooooow game play sucks!!! in addition, the egg looks like a huge white square which unfairly wiggles/jolts back & forth blocking your path and the pepper spray seems to come out like 1-2 seconds after you push the button for the pepper spray. And it’s like impossible to get several ingrediants on parts of the burger components to have them “go for a drop” as they take up too much room (except for that little stick-like baddie that chases you….I’m STILL trying to figure out what kind of food baddie component that stick is!!! Grrrrrrrrr! I do believe it is in the manual though. But the music is at-least waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than the unfair slow gameplay. R.U.N.A.W.A.Y from this Atari 2600 game!!!

    It’s overall sooooooooooo much better on Colecovision, NES, Intellivision, Atari 7800 (under Beef Drop), and Playstation.

    • Stanley Stepanic

      I agree on the graphics, but in terms of play Burgertime is a decent port. Is it the best? No, but based on the general system capabilities they did an okay job with it. Mr. Do’s Castle proves how bad a port can really be, and Burgertime is NOWHERE close to that.

  6. Worst port is Tempest. I realize that’s technically a prototype, but it does exist. It’s horrid.

    I’d also nominate the Swordquest games for worst.

    • Stanley Stepanic

      Can’t even include that one, and you said it yourself! A prototype is called such for a reason, it’s not nearly finished. I’ve played that one, yeah, it’s awful, but couldn’t include it here because I was looking only at NTSC released titles. Swordquest games, hype, sure, not the greatest, sure, confusing, sure, but still playable overall and really not the worst of concepts considering the time.

  7. Space Jockey was a great game! All of these games are repetitive, even Yar’s Revenge. Like a lot of these games, you relied on getting a higher score. Nothing but fond memories of Space Jockey.

    • Stanley Stepanic

      Foolish underling! Do you not see?! Yes, but the problem with Space Jockey is it has no difficulty curve, IT JUST KEEPS GOING! That was my problem with it, though many like you have fond memories of it, for some strange, perhaps sick reason. Hhaaha, thanks man!

  8. Great article Stanley. Since I had been delighted by Imagic’s Atlantis and Dragonfire, I was about to buy Fire Fighter back in the days, then at the very last I chose Moonsweeper. Yep I was lucky, for Moonsweeper is such a cool game, but I didn’t realize how lucky I had been till I played Fire Fighter on emulators almost twenty years later. Thanks for the enjoyable reading, warm greetings from Italy!

    • Stanley Stepanic

      Yeah haahah, Moonsweeper is by far better than Fire Fighter, and many others. I’m working on a top 10 list, but it’s much harder. That will probably be in it. It’s like Solaris without all the manual reading.

  9. I don’t think that Space Jockey is one of the worst Atari 2600 games. It’s always been my favorite game that was made by U.S.Games/Vidtec. It’s not one of the greatest Atari 2600 games but it certainly isn’t one of the worst.
    U.S.Games also made Gopher. That really was one of the worst Atari 2600 games and I’m surprised that Stanley Stepanic didn’t include it in his list of the 10 worst Atari 2600 games.

    • Stanley Stepanic

      Yeah I’ve heard that from some. Thing is this, please read carefully what I considered here. Games were judged on several levels, Space Jockey has no real difficulty to speak of, so it ends up becoming an endless point collection, similar to Raft Rider. It never goes anywhere, and you don’t feel so good for allowing it to go further than it should. Gopher, actually, I did consider, but it saved itself because it actually has a difficulty progression and in spite of not being a great game, is still an interesting concept and easy to play. It just gets a little tedious later on, but it’s certainly not the worst. This wasn’t an easy list to make, took a lot of time to think about, games to play again, stuff like that, but no way Space Jockey is getting past my hate!

  10. Mr. T's disembodied head

    Double Dragon gets my vote. Even considering system limitations it was poorly done. With 16 KB ROM, Activision’s backing, and 12 years of available hardware and programming knowledge, I don’t think it’s out of line to expect better. Instead, the game reinforced why the console crashed the market in the first place. Luckily, by 1989, the NES was firmly established with each generation of games being better than the previous. But, to me, Double Dragon is the “silent E.T.” in terms of disappointment and disillusionment with the console. Compare this twilight title with Kirby’s Adventure for the NES in terms of what’s possible once ROM space is cheap and most of the console tricks are figured out.

    • Stanley Stepanic

      Hahah nice name… Have to agree with you there, however keep in mind how difficult this list was to put together. In spite of difficulties, if you compare Double Dragon to Front Line or something like Commando, it’s actually a respectable port, in my opinion. Each of those games was severely limited, but were still enjoyable to play, especially Front Line. Double Dragon isn’t a great game, sure, but like ET, for example, it’s still playable and there’s a charm to it once you get things going. The games on this list in particular I tried to make sure were so damn bad there was simply no excuse or reason to play in the first place.

      • Mr. T's disembodied head

        To quote Brian R. from the Atari Age thread that led me here, “With all the shovelware that was released for the 2600, plus games that maybe once were OK but to today’s tastes are considered unplayable, the 2600 is going to have a ton of ‘worst’ games.”

        I’m not surprised to see Double Dragon is not on the list. The game is pretty obscure coming so late in the console’s history, beyond the point where most people realized that production was active. And you’re right that it’s not objectively the worst game, though I think it’s in the ballpark if you consider rising expectations for the time period and the technology that could have been included on the cartridge but wasn’t.

        Years later I watched playthroughs and strats on YouTube and I still got angry at the game even though I wasn’t playing it and the YouTubers weren’t losing.

        Sneak ‘n Peek is another candidate of mine. It doesn’t even qualify as a “game” in my opinion. The outside house art makes it somewhat redeemable, though. I know that’s supposed to be a kid’s arm, but it’s awfully low…

        • Stanley Stepanic

          Yeah, I know, again, it was really tough to put this together, but as I said I took a number of issues into consideration when I did it. No, don’t get me wrong, I own DD, I even own NTSC Mangia for crying out loud, so I know what it is. It’s not that it’s obscure or later-run, it’s that it’s still a playable game in many respects in comparison to, say, Fire Fly. I’m sure there are other reasons for why it wasn’t the best port. I also considered Sneak, but since it’s a children’s game with a very clear objective, and since the layout and graphics are actually pretty good, I didn’t include it. For children’s games, well, I think it’s obvious that I Want My Mommy wins out on all fronts.

  11. GOOD 2600 games? I can think of a few off the top of my head.

    Pressure Cooker
    Space Shuttle: A Voyage Into Space

    Pitfall’s fun, but I have to be in the mood for it; the basic gameplay is great, but I’ve never bothered to sit down and work out the best route to get all of the treasures.

    And I actually kinda like 3D Tic Tac Toe. It’s a bit more challenging than the 2D version at least.

  12. I agree with most of this list. I have all 3 Mythicon games and I noticed, even back in the 80’s, that the games are all similar so it makes sense that the CODE was the same with some stupid alterations. But this list is not accurate, there are even worse games out there for the 2600. I know, I have several hundreds of them.

    • And what, sir, would you suggest be put on this list? I’d be curious to hear it. Keep in mind, as I said in there, this was very difficult to put together. There are certainly other games, but keep in mind the factors I weighed to make final decisions.

  13. Thank you for a great article, Stan… very informative, and so hilarious that I was laughing hysterically while reading it. Trust me, if the programers of any of these games reads this article, they will feel shame forever!

    One game that totally deserves to be included is Colecovision’s version of “Donkey Kong” for the Atari 2600. All of their ports for the 2600 were massive buckets of suck, but “Donkey Kong” may have been in a class all its own. Only Mario looked remotely like his arcade counterpart (with some emphasis on the word “remotely”). The Donkey Kong sprite looked like a half formed cookie dough cut out that was sculpted roughly in the general shape of a gorilla, the head being nothing more than a triangular mass with roughly hewed eye and mouth holes (I don’t recall anything resembling a nose). The sprite only moved in accordance with the direction of Mario’s running!

    It had only two of the arcade’s four screens, with both the graphics and game play constituting only a bare bones replica of the familiar set up. It had no music effects, with all of its audio limited to the generic beeping sound of Mario’s running and a deeper ‘beep’ when he jumped over a barrel or firefox. No fireballs on the first board, btw… the oil barrel at the bottom left of the screen was on fire, if that’s what you can call an immobile splotch of color in the rough shape of a flame, so the programmers at least gave us that much. I probably shouldn’t mention how Mario’s sprite moved like he had a load in his pants, but I already did, and I only wish I was making that up.

    I would suggest that you look up the programmer for this version of the game and end him, Stan, but I think the rep he/she gained from designing this crapfest and being forced to live with it is sufficient punishment for several lifetimes.

  14. Oh, I figured I would be remiss if I didn’t include a link to this mini-review of the Colecovision renditions of “Donkey Kong” for both the Atari 2600 and its own far superior game system. I don’t want anyone who hasn’t seen the Atari 2600 version of “Donkey Kong” from Colecovision to simply have to take my word for it that it truly belongs on any list of the worst Atari 2600 games of all time!

  15. Marcilene Damasceno

    Queria ter visto aqui o Demom Attack

  16. While the list is a good one it is also proof of how difficult it is to compile such a list. I would disagree quite strongly with 2 of the entries.

    3D Tic-Tac-Toe is a decent game. It provides a good challenge and is a commendable attempt at a 3D display. The AI puts up a decent fight and the 2 player mode is there for completeness. It does what it says on the box and doesn’t try to be anything more than that.

    Flag Capture is a really early puzzle game that is a clear ancestor of Minesweeper. Sure some of the variations are just too hard (the moving flag ones) but there are some decent 2 player games in here with turn-based and simultaneous options. The noise it makes lets it down but the game is quite competitive and I , and my daughter, found it to be quite fun.

    The branding on the box is misleading but these game came out at a time when packaging had to do an awful lot of work is selling these early primitive games.

    Overall a good list though, and all credit giving a shout out to Pacman and ET which are decent games for their time; especially given the time was allocated to their development because of corporate greed.

  17. Three of these (Star Ship, Flag Capture, and 3d Tic Tac Toe) are on the latest Flashback 5 console from ATgames. Other terrible games from this collection include: Stellar Track (which should definitely be on this list), Hangman, Slot Machine, the prototypes for Save Mary, Wizard, and Tempest, and the homebrews from Homebrew Heaven. I just hope ATgames can add better ones to the collection if there will be a Flashback 6.

  18. Double dragon is pure crap. Unfortunately there are many fanboys who defend , for me, double dragon is the second worst game ever … ( Fanboys saying “no” in 3 , 2, 1 … )

    • It’s definitely weak, but there are worse games for the 2600. For what it is, and considering what they tried with it, it could have been much worse. Far from a good port, but not Fire Fly material. Ugh.

  19. The “best” part of Fire Fly and probably all the Mythicon games IIRC is that when you die, it flips you the bird.

  20. I don’t think the author ever played ‘Kool-Aid Man’. You got it for 5 bucks if you sent in a bunch of proof of purchase labels from Kool Aid packets. You had to keep the ‘thirsties’ from drinking all the water out of your pool or some garbage. lol. I waited weeks for that dam piece of crap to come in the mail.

    • Stanley Stepanic Stanley Stepanic

      DON’T TEST ME. I own it for sure, I actually enjoy that game, though it’s far from perfect. The intro is awesome.

  21. I think Atari Video Cube was pretty horrific. It was completely joyless on every level. I get that the Rubik’s cube was a craze, but so was the pet rock. I was excited because It was initially a fan club release, so I thought would be extra special. Yeah, I was wrong.

    • Yeah that one… This was a tough list to put together for sure, but what kept me passing on Cube was the fact that there is SOME play factor to it. It’s not entirely awful, and you have the collectible factor of the original going for it, so I passed on it.

  22. What about Zimag’s Dishaster? Once I played it and wow, all you have to do is stand near the shaking plates, no button pushing required, just moving from left to right each time you see a plate shaking.

    • Stanley Stepanic Stanley Stepanic

      Yeah this was a tough list. I had to balance playability with presentation, including art and such. Dishaster has a little charm to it, in my opinion.

  23. Yeah most of these games are fairly indefensible, in fact i own MOST of them. Bugs, Firefly, Flag Capture, 3d Tic-Tac-Toe, Star Ship and Space Jockey. The only one that I will defend is Star Ship, and for the exact reason stated, It’s BORING. I played this game late at night and I was out like a light. This game is Chill.
    I am surprised though that Star Fox by Mythicon wasn’t on this list or any of the other Data Age games, with exception to Frankenstein’s Monster.

    Man… there’s a lotta crap on the 2600, and I own most of it…

    • Stanley Stepanic Stanley Stepanic

      Hahah I guess you got that then, use it for an easy method for sleep. Yeah, well don’t forget, the Mythicon games are all essentially the same code, just with sprite changes. Sorcerer is at least kind of a cool idea and the artwork is cool, and Star Fox makes some sense. Firefly is just ridiculous. The amount of time they put into the story should have been put into the game. The sprites are nonsensical, and it’s easily the worst out of all their games. It was tough with those Data Age games, but Bugs is definitely the worst of them, it’s almost unplayable.

      • One game that I only found out about recently, was Space Chase by Games By Apollo. It has got to be one of the most boring and lackluster vertical scrolling space shooters I’ve ever seen. Dull monotonous graphics. All the enemies are the same, and movement is choppy. This game is the opposite of Star Ship, this game just makes you angry and it makes me want to destroy that cartridge.

        I also hear from the unlearned that Activision didn’t make a bad game for the system. I usually counter them with Laser Blast or sometimes Freeway. What do you think of those two?

        • Stanley Stepanic Stanley Stepanic

          Freeway has this fun charm to it that works well with younger kids, and it’s mindless. Something about that traffic hum, too, but yeah, it’s a pretty simplistic game. But at least it’s playable. Laser Blast I always found overrated. Not bad, but far from awesome and it gets WAY too difficult WAY too fast. As far as an Activision bomb I always go with Oink because though it’s a cool idea it becomes impossible at later levels. Space Chase is definitely up there on the boredom scale, but it still has some play factor going on, and the attempt at creating this sort of forwards scrolling was kind of a novel, though aborted, approach. Tough list to put together for sure, and I’m working on one for what I consider to be the best games for the 2600. That’s even harder!

          • I look forward to your best of list and yes I really must agree with you on oink! I completely forgot about that game.
            But if your going to make a “best of” list for the 2600 you might want to make two separate lists for the best arcade ports, since the console was stuffed full of them and best original games. It would take a lot longer but it would bring much more variety to your list I’m sure.
            Or even perhaps a “best of” Homebrew list but that may be wishful thinking since ROMs are pretty hard to track down without buying all the games to review.

          • Stanley Stepanic Stanley Stepanic

            I already considered this. I’m going to go with the original library during the system’s original timeline. Won’t be considering homebrews, thusly, but arcade ports will be simply part of the potential list. I need a challenge!

  24. Pingback: Video Game Fanatics 24/7

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 Characters Left You Crazy Plebe

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.