|Originally called Air Battle
If there's one game genre the 2600 could never seem to do right its
plane games. Every attempt from Radar Lock to F-14 Tomcat all had
the same problem. In an attempt to get as realistic as simulation
as possible, the programmers had made the games way too complicated for
the simple control scheme of the 2600. Thankfully Air Raiders seems
to buck that trend, opting to go for a straight dogfight shoot 'em up
rather than an overly complicated simulation. It is thought that
the unreleased CBS game Wings would have followed a similar approach.
Air Raiders is the only Atari 2600 game produced by Mattel that is 100%
original. All previous games were based on existing Intellivision
games (although Kool-Aid Man played very different). Since this
game was specifically designed for the 2600 it played to its strengths
rather than those of the Intellivision. The result was a very nice
first person shooter that plays surprisingly well.
As you might expect, you start the game on a runway. Press
the fire button to start your departure, and after four seconds pull back
on the stick to gain altitude. Now that you're in the air the real
fun begins, this would be a good time to look at your plane's gauges.
The dot on the bottom bar represents your current position, and the red
area in the middle represents the heavy flak zone. Make sure you
stay out of this zone unless you want to be cut to pieces! Your
ammo gauge shows your remaining ammo, while the bar above your position
indicator shows your remaining fuel. Your altitude gauge shows your
current altitude, which is critical because the higher you go the fewer
enemies you'll find. The hits gauge shows the number of planes you've
shot down (naturally).
If you've made 10 hits or more you can land to restore
your fuel and ammo. To land simply go down to an altitude of 0 and
watch for a runway to appear (this takes about four seconds). Push
down when you see the runway until the plane touches down, then let go
of the stick. Your fuel tank will be filled, and you will receive
an amount of ammo equal to the number of planes you shot down. After
you're done refueling, simply take off the same way you did at the start
of the game.
This is one case where simpler is better. Air Raiders
easy to learn and intuitive controls make it a game everyone can enjoy,
not just those who like fighter simulations. The original run of
Air Raiders carts had the difficulty switches reversed from the standard
settings (A = Hard and B = Easy), so another batch was quickly manufactured.
It is unknown whether or not any of the original run of carts was
shipped, so you may want to check your cart. To date no carts from
the first run have been found.
to 2600 Software