Atom Smashed was to be the first game released by Jerry Lawson’s Video Soft, but for some reason it was never released. Jerry Lawson was better known for developing the Channel F system for Fairchild, but was also quite active in the 2600 scene. Video Soft developed a number of games for both themselves and for other companies. Oddly only the utility cart Color Bar Generator ever saw the light of day, and even then it was in very limited quantities.
Atom Smasher is an interesting shooting game in which you take on the role of an unnamed astronaut brave the dreaded Atomic Arena in what has been dubbed that galaxy’s deadliest game (sounds a bit like Thunderdome in space). Atom Smasher actually consists of two distinct screens which adds a bit of variety to the game:
On the first screen and a friend (or computer opponent) try to see who can blast the most atomic particles using your army regulation Atom Smasher Blaster. On the sides of the arena are moving doors out which the particles must be shot. Successfully guiding these particles out the doors is a bit of a challenge, not only because they tend to move around, but because if they touch you your atomic structure will begin to degrade. If you take five hits you will melt completely, so try to be careful when blasting those particles. The longer you wait to blast the particles out, the larger and harder to avoid they will become, so try to get rid of them as soon as possible. You and your opponent can also be stunned for a short period of time by shooting each other.
After you successfully blast all the particles out of the arena you will be taken to the second screen of the game. Here you must simply survive until the level ends, but that’s not an easy task. For some reason your man is glued to the sides of the arena wall and can only move up and down while avoiding the deadly atomic particles. To add to the challenge a bit, your condition from the first screen carries over to this one. So if you didn’t do so hot on the first screen you’re going to have loads of trouble on this one. After a set period of time you will be taken back to the first screen to do it all over again.
Atom Smasher is an interesting game, and probably would have been a decent hit had it been released as planned. It is not known what caused Video Soft to abandon the game market, but the state of the industry at the time may have had something to do with it. If there's any place Atom Smasher falls down it's in the sound department, the sounds range from passable beeps to ear splitting screechy tones. While this isn't a deal breaker, it makes the game a bit of a pain to play with the volume up. Atom Smasher also is a bit difficult to play against the computer as it seems to take great joy in constantly stunning you rather than shooting the particles.
Atom Smasher sports a number of interesting features such as a left handed control scheme and an option to have the computer challenge itself in a sort of demo mode. While this may seem mundane these days, this was very interesting stuff for 1983.