Every so often a game comes out that redefines a genre for an entire generation. To be sure, Atari’s Adventure (developed single-handedly by Warren Robinett) will be sure to go down in history as the greatest, most influential game the medium has ever known. Watch out, Skyrim, you’ve met your match.
In Atari’s Adventure, you play as Sir Pixel Block of Blockington. Sir Pixel is on a grand adventure (natch!) to recover pixel castle keys and a pixel chalice, and slay three terrible, dangerous pixel dragons. The player must explore of the depths of richly colorful mazes and catacombs. The pixel keys open up the castle gates, and the player must defeat one of three dragons, Yorgle, Grundle, and Rhindle. The dragons each have their own unique personalities and are some of the most well-designed, most emotionally-charged characters in the history of fantasy fiction. Once the evil creatures are defeated in a whirlwind of thunderous pixel motions, the player can recover the pixel chalice and begin a new journey on a more difficult setting.
Atari’s Adventure features some of the most intense gameplay this side of Pong. Players will find themselves in sweat-inducing battles with grizzly pixel dragons and a trying desperately to avoid key-stealing pixel bats. The game’s controls are extremely deep, but very easy to master. Sir Pixel can pick up and manipulate virtually anything in the environment (as long as it’s a key or sword or magnet) by simply running into them and pressing a single red button. When battles with dragons begin, the player must tilt the controller’s single joystick toward the enemy without being struck. These battles are so fast-paced and intense that the game never even asks the player to press the controller’s only button. It’s really quite dramatic.
Adventure features eye-melting visuals that will surely challenge even the beefiest GPUs. The game’s system requirements of 4 KB of memory and a 1.19 MHz 8-bit MOS enabled CPU are what dreams are made of. Most of us can only hope for a system like this right now, but just know that one day we will all be able to play this game at maximum settings.
The yellow and red and green and blue and black and purple and brown walls of the castle mazes and the yellow and red and green and blue and black and purple and brown walls of the catacombs are deeply rich and detailed. The one thing the developer got so right was to make each castle and catacomb completely different, unique experiences. One castle maze is such a totally yellow experience, while the next might be a completely red experience. I really hope the rest of the video game development community grabs hold of this idea and implements it in every future game from now on and forever.
Atari really went all-out with Adventure’s audio. Never have bleeps and bloops sounded so dramatic, and never have they carried such immense weight and meaning. You might mistake the ferocious roar of a dragon with a particularly nasty fart, but that’s where you’d be so wrong. And, no, that grand, triumphant cadence when you conquer the game is not your clock radio having a seizure; that’s the sweet, sweet sound of ultimate victory.
I did not experience any bugs, glitches, or crashes. Computer code has never been so stable.
I know it’s only early April, but I think we can safely consider Atari’s Adventure Game-of-the-Year material. Adventure is far more intense than BioShock Infinite, and it would take a literal act of God – a miracle – for Sleeping Dogs to even come close to this masterpiece. You must make it a priority to play this game soon.
I did not quite get into Sir Pixel’s back story, but the development and emotional story arc of the three dragons is worthy of Tolkien.
A perfect balance of tilting one stick and pressing one button. Ingenious!
The best use of color since Crayola, unfortunately only NASA computers can run it on max settings.
The most realistic 8-bit sounds this side of Pac-Man.
FINAL SCORE: A