Atari 2600: Adventure – Retro Review

Adventure Banner

Developer – Atari Inc.

Publisher – Atari Inc.

Designer – Warren Robinett

Developed in 1979 by Atari and Warren Robinett, Adventure provided the catalyst needed for developers to create some of the greatest video game series ever made, including the Legend of Zelda and The Elder Scrolls. However, regardless of how much influence it has had on modern developers, I did not get any enjoyment or satisfaction out of playing it. Perhaps I’m being biased, since this game was before my time and I was introduced to the medium when there were much higher standards in place, but I found flaws that I believe could have been addressed at the time and they weren’t.

adventureThere is some small basis in visual diversity, as most areas in the game are colour-coded, which was commonplace for home consoles of the day, but my biggest gripe with how the game looks is in the main character, which is simply a square. I’ve always thought that if the developers could get the dragon sprites to look vaguely like dragons, then they could have got the player character, who was presumably a human, to look even vaguely like a human. I realize that imagination played a much more significant role in gaming due to the technological limits of the day, but this is ridiculous. Games like Berserk and pitfall had much better looking character sprites than this. An interesting thing about the visuals in the game however, is that there is one of the first examples of a video game Easter egg included; a border in the black castle stage saying “Created by Warren Robinett”. This was a particularly risky thing to do, since at the time, Atari didn’t credit developers with the making of their games, but Robinett left Atari before they were able to discover it.

Even for the time, I found this game to be far too dull and unimaginative to be enjoyable. The combat system is extremely primitive, and I also found a good number of game-breaking glitches whilst playing. Keys must be collected in order to unlock each area of the game, but it is possible for keys to accidentally merge into walls, and the player will not be able to retrieve them again, making the game unplayable upon this happening.

adventure_color_cartThough the control scheme is simple enough to grasp, the main button on the Atari 2600 is made to be completely redundant, since it has the same effect on an item as what would happen if the player were to simply come in contact with it using the directional stick. To me, it doesn’t bode at all well that the developers couldn’t find an alternative use for the main button in a game, whereby there were plenty of options open to them, even for the time. Its especially puzzling, since the button was used in many other games of the time to attack, and this game’s combat system is largely unrefined.

Despite the fact that this game is extremely unimaginative and boring to play, it is still owed respect to any fan of modern open world adventure gaming, since it has inspired the creation of so many classics over the years. Without Adventure, there would be no Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age or Shadow of the Colossus. Though I did not enjoy this game in the slightest, I can at least express appreciation for what would be released in the future as a result.

Updated Scores 2In summary, though the likes of Legend of Zelda were born from the ashes of Adventure, I did not enjoy playing this early Atari 2600 game at all.

It was Ed Koch who once stated “in action, be primitive; in foresight, a strategist”.

To me, that sums up the approach that Warren Robinett took towards developing it. You might find some enjoyment out of it. The game has it’s moments but the bad outweigh the good which in this case puts it in the retro bargain bin.


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