Classic Retro Video Game Reviews

Atari's Raiders of the Lost Ark -Atari 2600
Retro Gaming Review

Atari 2600 VCS console Classic Retro Gaming Video Game ReviewAtari's Raiders of the Lost Ark for Atari 2600 Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review
Title: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Manufacturer: Atari
Platform: Atari 2600
Release Date: 1982
Part #: CX2659
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
ESRB Rating: N/A

Rating: Atari's Raiders of the Lost Ark Classic Retro Video Game Review Rating
Atari's Raiders of the Lost Ark Screenshot:
Atari's Raiders of the Lost Ark for Atari 2600 screenshot Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review

Video games based on popular movies were once considered a win-win situation by the suits in charge of marketing. If a movie did well, it was assumed "any" game based on the movie would do equally well. Box art can do wonders for sales (just ask anyone in the porn biz) but gamers demand good game play which is an element not wholly understood in the 1980s when creating movie tie-in games.

Several horrible games were released based on successful 80's movies. Someone must have eventually learned the lesson: Know Your Customer! And this isn't a facet of early 8-bit gaming. Studios still rush to get tie-in video games out to support and carry on the money train. Thus we see a lot of awful games based on beloved characters and stories. Will Hollywood ever learn? Doubtful... Money - at any cost - rules their world.

Raiders of the Lost Ark Story Arc

I remember seeing Raiders in the theater as a kid in 1981 - although I wasn't so much a "kid" at the time. It was a captivating adventure worthy of the big screen. The video game tries to stay true to the story by incorporating action and puzzle solving elements.

In typical 8-bit rendering you can be assured of finding Indy decked out with his fedora and bullwhip. You begin the journey in the Well of Souls with the ark sinking down. Your goal is to locate the Ark of the Covenant which is randomly placed in one of the mesas so each game will not be the same. You'll explore temples and pick up objects that can help you along as you seek the Map Room. This is where you will find a scale model of the Mesa Field and a hieroglyph that will reveal which object you must have to unlock the secrets of the Map Room.

Raiders of the Lost Ark Game Play

You start with 3 lives to help you through a game so mired in secrecy that the game manual posts 2 warning "not to read further" if you don't want secrets (tips and tricks) revealed. Ooooh Aaaah! The Raiders theme music is nicely replicated on the start up screen, but sound is pretty sparse in the game itself.

Atari's Raiders of the Lost Ark for Atari 2600 screenshot Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review

This single-player game necessitates using both joystick controllers. The Right controller moves Indy and allows him to pick up objects. The fire button makes use of the currently selected object. If the revolver is selected, then the fire button shoots it. Sounds simple, but of courser there are some quirks.

The Left controller lets you select which object in your collection you wish to use or discard. You can only carry 6 objects so picking up a 7th object requires discarding one you already have. You select objects with the joystick's horizontal movement alone. This places a marker-dot beneath the selected object. The fire button, on the left controller discards the item and returns it to the place where it was found.

See the problem? How often, in the heat of play, are you likely to select the gun to mow down evil-doers and accidentally hit the fire button on the left controller? Whoops - there goes your gun! It's now been returned to its original location. Hope you didn't really need to shoot anyone. Alas, the limited controls of the single-button joystick make this distinction necessary. Generally, you won't want to use the Left controller's fire button too often. Just make sure you really mean it :)

Raiders takes a nice departure from High-Score Mania by removing the numeric scoring we are so accustomed to and simply displaying the final score at the end of the game as a chart. At the end, Indy will stand on a pedestal whose height is measured by the adventure points you've earned/lost throughout the game.

Difficulty Switch Settings for Raiders of the Lost Ark

The switches are not used in Raiders of the Lost Ark. And neither is the Game Select switch. If you want to get really technical, the TV Type Switch won't be used either... unless you still have a B&W TV.

Raiders of the Lost Ark Rooms & Objects

When it comes to identifying objects, you'll want to consult the game manual. This isn't due to the complexity or quantity of objects but rather their poor rendering on-screen. It's damn hard to tell one from another let alone figure out what each one is supposed to be. To add to the confusion, objects that you pick up on screen are quite differently depicted in the inventory area of the screen.

Rooms (screens) in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones is iconic and Raiders of the Lost Ark was a great film, but the game doesn't motivate us much more than to wonder if we should watch the movie again instead of playing this game.

Atari 2600 VCS console Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review
Final Judgement:

Atari's Raiders of the Lost Ark

is best experienced as a movie. Whereas they made a valiant attempt at replicating the action and mystery of the film, the game isn't nearly as captivating. And the film boasts Karen Allen who's pretty hot, but not to be confused with Margot Kidder who is apparently insane.

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