ATARI VCS/2600 VideoSoft
By Daryl Lytle
Back on December 15th, 2010, Scott Stilphen announced that not only had 6 "long lost" Atari VCS prototype games by VideoSoft been found, but that 100 boxed copies of each were available to buy! In February of 2011, I wrote up reviews of all 6
games (which can be found on this site - links are at the end).
Of the three non-3D games, they claim that two of the three - Atom Smasher and S.A.C. Alert - are complete. I consider all three of three non-3D games complete. The game, Depth Charge was supposed to also have a second level that was similar to Sega's Sub Scan 3D (minus the 3D). This game can stand on it's own as a completed game. You can make your own decision on this. All three non 3D games were fun. I enjoyed them and I will continue to play these games for quite some time.
As far as the 3D games are concerned, first and foremost Genesis 3D is a great little game. The 3D was decent, and it was in the same game play vein as Tempest. This is the only 3D game that was also considered completed. It has a decent replay value because it was challenging and fast-paced. It was a lot of fun to play the Ghost Attack 3D game. I really wish this title would have been completed back in the early 80s, but I'm really happy the fact that the people who put this together went ahead and made a menu driven 16K multi-cart and put all three levels on it for the sake of completeness. That made it worth the hefty price tag it carries. There is a little replay value with this title. The third 3D title, Havoc 3D, would have been a great title had it been completed. Unfortunately, due to the fact that you can only play this game once and have to reset it, it doesn't give it a lot of replay value. The 3D games are a really cool set of games/demos. They are more of a novelty set of games, something different and fresh.
As for the 3D effect, I find that if the room is dark and I sit approx 7 feet away from my 36-inch regular CRT TV, I can see the 3D effect. There are so many things that can play a factor in 'seeing' the 3D effect, (or messing it up), so it's not going to work for everyone. Many things play a factor in getting the 3D effect to work properly. People's vision (or lack of), the type of screen you are using (CRT, LED, LCD, Plasma, Monitor), brightness and contrast of the screen you are using, and the brightness in the room. It took me a while testing different things to get this right with the different games, so I don't think of this as something that will work for everyone. Some people are going to try one title, it may not work for them and they are going to throw the game in their collection and say, "The 3D sucked; it didn't work". That's to be expected. If you aren't willing to try some different combinations, you may have issues. In all fairness, this isn't exactly Disney/Pixar's REAL3D that you see in the theatres these days. It was tricky to see the red/blue 3D in the theaters back in the 70s and 80s (I remember Creature from the Black Lagoon this way) but it did work.
Still, I believe these titles are absolutely worthy of any collector's shelf. I know that they are steeper in price individually as opposed to other titles, but purchased as a set, not so much. If you buy as a set it's the equivalence to buying a $35.00 game and paying $5.00 priority shipping, per title, (or $40.00 a title shipped), which isn't that bad. If your budget doesn't allow for it, grab one or two or wait for the ROM images to be released.
I would like to thank all of the people who made these titles available to the public possible after being buried for all these years. A find of this magnitude (címon SIX titles!!!) is a once in a lifetime thing. Especially considering that the people who programmed these titles, Jerry Lawson to name one, is a classic gaming icon and did a lot of good things for the CG community. These were the first 2600 titles to attempt a blue/red 3D effect and for the technology they were working with at the time, this isn't all that bad. As for the question of, "Why didn't they finish the other titles before they released them?" Who wouldn't have wanted that to happen? But that isn't as practical as it sounds, that alone could have driven the cost up even more and taken years more to release. I can appreciate it being released as the original author left it at the time. As far as Iím concerned, we got four completed games and two playable demos. I, for one, am a very happy camper. I purchased two complete sets (#5 and #99) - one for the collection and one to play.
Check out my reviews of each game, and 2600 Connection's video footage of each:
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