Company: Atari
Model #:
Mike Feinstein & John Mracek (GCC)
Year: 1982
Based on the 1980 Centuri coin-op.


While you may be familiar with the arcade classic Phoenix, do you know the story behind the game?  According to the instruction manual, the phoenix was a legendary bird known for it's great beauty and long life span.  When a phoenix dies it builds a next out of aromatic spices and sets itself on fire, after which a new phoenix will emerge.  However due to the effects of radioactive fallout, the phoenix has mutated into a metallic bird of prey (I hate it when that happens!).  Now these once legendary creatures serve an evil alien overlord who is trying to drain earth of all its resources, and only you can stop him.  Metal phoenixes?  Radioactive fallout?  Alien overlords?  I don't know about you, but I'm seriously starting to wonder what these guys were smoking!


While Atari's marketing department was busy experimenting with mind-altering substances, the programmers were working hard on one of the best arcade to home translations the 2600 ever saw.  It's simply amazing how GCC managed to squeeze all five stages into one 8K 2600 cart.  Let's review the stages now shall we?


Stage 1

Often referred to as the first "Mini Phoenix" wave, this stage features a number of small birds flying around in formation.  These birds will attempt to dive-bomb you with a hail of lasers, and occasionally try a suicide attack.  This stage plays very similarly to Galaxian, but with fewer enemies on the screen.  Another important difference is that your ship is armed with a force field!  This force field (activated by pulling down), can be used to absorb lasers or to fry a kamikaze phoenix.  However the force field will only last a few seconds and needs a short time to recharge, so use it wisely!  Destroying all the birds will advance you to stage 2.


Stage 2

This stage is very similar to stage 1, but for some reason you now have rapid fire.  By holding the fire button down your ship will constantly shoot at a high rate of speed.  Why Atari did this I don't know, but don't look a gift horse in the mouth.  Actually don't look any horse in the mouth; it's not very hygienic.


Stage 3

This is the first "Big Phoenix" stage.  Here you will encounter seven large phoenixes, which fly back and forth across the screen.  Each phoenix is made up of three segments (left wing, right wing, and body), which can be destroyed individually.  If you shoot a wing, the Phoenix will lose some of its firepower, but still be active.  The only way to kill a phoenix is to shoot the center "body" segment, otherwise after a few seconds a wounded phoenix will regenerate any lost body parts.


Stage 4

Pretty much the same as stage 3, except the phoenixes are red and are much more aggressive.  You'll be using your shield alot on this stage.


Stage 5

This is it; the alien mother ship is in sight!  Now you only have to figure out how to destroy it!  The mother ship can take quite a bit of punishment, so it is nearly impossible to destroy.  So forget the mother ship and aim at the alien overlord at the soft creamy center (mmm. alien overlord.).  After drilling a hole through the bottom hull, you'll encounter a moving blue band.  This band is similar to the moving shield in Yar's Revenge, so you'll have to wait until the same spot comes around again to punch a hole through it.  A good way to do this is to blast the band at the edges of the ship where there is little hull protecting it.  One direct hit is all it takes to destroy the alien overlord, so get crackin'!  Oh did I forget to mention that the mother ship is constantly raining down fire on you?  Be prepared to trigger your shield at a moments notice.


Phoenix is a decent space shooter with an interesting bird theme.  The wide variety of stages keeps the game interesting unlike similar games such as Galaxian.  However Phoenix will long be remembered as the game which caused Atari to sue Imagic for copyright violations.  Apparently Atari felt that Imagic's hot new game Demon Attack was a wee bit too close the Phoenix.  Imagic won the lawsuit, which opened the doors for shady companies to pump out a whole bunch of bad clones.  While there may be "some" similarities between the two games, I think Atari was just afraid that Imagic had made a better game.  What do you think?



Version Cart Text Description
327-01 Phx 327-01  
?????? Phoenix EPROM Cartridge Final Version


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