|Leo Salinas & John Seghers (Programmers),
Alan Murphy (Graphics)
|Originally called Failsafe
When the Atari 5200 was launched in 1982 the initial library of games
was small, but soon the 5200 had numerous sport, action, and arcade titles
to its name. However one thing the 5200 lacked was a good war game.
Since Combat was a pack-in in the early days of the 2600, Atari
knew that war games sold, and sold big. Therefore it was no accident
that Atari planned to release a game called Tank at the launch of the
5200 (shown in ads for the Video System X), but after many months this
mysterious war game never materialized. Atari needed a new game
to fill in the void left by Tank, and that game was Countermeasure.
Although the title may conjure up images of some kind of
missile war, Countermeasure is really an action game featuring tanks.
Your goal is to stop a nuclear warhead from being launched and destroying
the world (hey that was a big concern back in the 80's!). Your tank
is armed with a high-powered turret gun capable of blowing up enemy vehicles,
pillboxes, and missile silos with a single shot (now that's power!).
But all the weapons in the world won't do you any good if those terrorists
launch that missile!
To stop the terrorists from launching the missile, you
must quickly blow up all the silos on the map before the timer runs out.
However this is easier said than done since you must not only deal with
enemies along the way, but must constantly maneuver through rough terrain
which slows your tank down. In the latter levels getting to all
the silos in time is a near impossible task. Thankfully there's a plan
If time is running out you can dock your tank with a nearby
missile silo and attempt to disarm the missile before it launches.
The missile code consists of thee letters L, E, and O (gee what does that
spell?) and is three letters long. This leaves you with 27 possible
combinations to guess in a span of only a few seconds. Not good
odds. However each time you touch a supply depot you'll be given
on letter to the code in the proper position. These clues can help
you reduce the number of possible combinations and allow you to successfully
figure out the code. However sometimes it's worth letting the world
blow up just to see the cool death screen.
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of enemies standing
between you and victory:
||These guys are the absolute worst! Not only
are they quick, but they shoot fairly far and quite often. Thankfully
they're stationary, so try and approach them from an angle.
|| These slow moving enemies will start chasing your
tank after the first few levels. They only have half the firing
range of your tank so you can easily take them out (assuming you're
||Jeeps are similar to Tanks, but move
much faster. Jeeps can quickly become a nuisance if left unchecked.
||Appearing later in the game, Cruise Missiles
are fast and deadly! Thankfully these roving warheads will blow
up if they hit a tree or other obstacle on their way towards your
tank. Try and take cover if you see one coming.
Since this is still the 20th century (well at least it
was when this game was made), your tank requires fuel to operate.
If your tank runs out of fuel for any reason it will blow up and you'll
lose a life (so much for getting out an pushing!). Thankfully there
are supply depots scattered through the levels which can quickly refuel
your tank. However take note that you can accidentally blow up your
supply depot with a poorly aimed shot, so be careful. Strangely,
running out of fuel is one of the leading causes of death in this game.
While it may not be the in-depth war strategy game some
people were hoping for, Countermeasure is an interesting mix of action,
strategy, and a little luck. Also of note is that Countermeasure
is a 5200 exclusive, and was never ported to another system (not even
the Atari 400/800). This may have been due to the unique control
scheme that Countermeasure used (one button was used to rotate the turret,
while another was used to shoot), which wouldn't have been possible on
systems with only a single fire button. Countermeasure truly is
one of the sleeper hits of the 5200 and is one of the better titles for
to 5200 Software