GameHounds Replay: Adventure

In: GameHounds Replay by Dave "Holy Goalie" Gardner

26 Apr 2011

I’d like you all to take a break from the hectic life of today and take a trip back in time with me to an era where there were no cell phones, only rotary phones and payphones. No blue ray or DVD choice only VHS or BetaMax. And instead of 16:9 or 4:3 ratio you had color or black-and-white. A time when video games were in their infancy.

In this new series for the Gamehounds website I will handpick several old video games and review them as I would any other video game, trying to be as fair as possible keeping in mind when this game was made and the technology that was available to the programmers and creators at that time.

Today, I will look at the game originally released on the Atari 2600 — Adventure. I’m reviewing the game as I’m playing it on the Atari Flashback 2, however I did have the privilege of playing this game on the original console back in the late 70s.

The object of this game is to return the enchanted chalice to the gold castle. Traveling through mazes and dungeons, you must navigate your way through the kingdom to find the keys that open the castles, locate this chalice, and return it to its proper place in the castle. Standing in your way: Three ferocious dragons — a yellow one, a green one, and the dreaded red one that is the fiercest of them all.

In your quest for the chalice there are objects in the kingdom to help you on your way. There’s a sword that will slay the dragons, a bridge that allows you to take shortcuts through the mazes, and a magnet that will attract all inanimate objects. You can only pick up one object at a time and you do that by bumping into it, and you can put down an object by pressing the red button.

Don’t bother trying to use a GPS when navigating through the kingdom, as the layout is very bizarre. This may have been a design flaw or may have had something to do with the limitations of the system itself. The screen will change every time you leave and enter a new area, but you only get confused if you try to create a mental map. Instead, leave mental breadcrumbs to find your way around.

The first thing I enjoyed about this game was the feel of the joystick. This game was released as part of the Xbox Live Game Room, and though I love the Xbox controller, there really is no other way to play this game except with the original joystick. It makes all the difference. I didn’t give this game the respect it deserved at first, thinking I could cruise through this game on level one, but the dragons kept eating me. Okay, new plan: Let’s get serious.

I first sought out the sword so I could kill the dragons, then with all the enemies down I would hunt for the chalice without any resistance. It wasn’t as easy as I remembered it, but after a few tries I successfully completed the game on level one. This is the simplest of the three levels with only two castles and the kingdom being much smaller. Level two adds a hidden maze and a white castle (no, not the burger place) and also a black bat which flies at will throughout the kingdom picking up and dropping objects, including living and dead dragons. So it is possible that that the bat will take the sword from you and replace it with a living dragon, putting you in harm’s way immediately. It may even take the chalice from you right before you enter the gold castle to complete the game.

In level two, all of the objects start in the same location, whereas in level three, the top level, the objects will appear at random places throughout the kingdom each time you start a game. There is one added difficulty switch, which I actually didn’t remember until I read the directions: The A-B switch. The B setting is the easier of the two, in which the dragons will hesitate before biting you. In the A setting, the bite is much quicker and harder to escape.

In a time when coin-op games were all the rage (Pac-Man, Space Invaders), this game was billed as one of the first “adventure” games, and  it paved the way for games like Oblivion and Dragon Age. Though your character is just a square, your sword is just an arrow, and the dragons look more like ducks, this game truly earns itself a place on the mantle of classic video games. It was also the first game to be credited with what we call today an “Easter egg,” as the author created a special room with his name in it.

I enjoyed playing this 30-year-old game more than I thought I would. There’s even an Adventure 2, which I will tackle next.

Replay score 9/10

Developer/Publisher: Atari
Released 1979
For Atari 2600; reviewed for the Atari Flashback 2; Also available on Xbox 360 and Games For Windows LIVE via
Game Room
Sales to date: More than 1 million copies on the Atari 2600

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2 Responses to GameHounds Replay: Adventure



April 26th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Ah….. memories!


Holy Goalie

April 27th, 2011 at 8:15 am

yeah reviewing this was as much fun as playing it again.

I was amazed at how much fun it still is.

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