Atari Poop – Stampede
The 100th annual Calgary Stampede ended about a week ago, so in “honour” of it, I’m reviewing Stampede for the 2600 this week… because that’s just how much I love and care about something like the Calgary Stampede (i.e., it was over before I even noticed it was happening). With that said, some of you might already be wondering where the hell I’ll be taking you today. I’m also be asking myself that question, so let’s find out.
Stampede for the 2600 is a “game” in the loosest sense of the word and “fun” in absolutely no sense of the word. You play as a cowboy, so right off the bat, you know this is going to be terrible. I could understand why kids wanted to be cowboys (not real cowboys, but the completely made up versions invented by movies and Buffalo Bill) back when space travel was just crazy shit Jules Verne wrote about, but once Sputnik blasted into space, anyone who still thought being a cowboy would be cool in 1982 must’ve been kicked in the face by a bull one too many times. If you are one of these people, then this game will be perfect for you.
You get to ride a horse that, though apparently faster than the other animals, isn’t that great at moving laterally for some reason. You have to lasso a bunch of cattle that are “stampeding” down a loop that just happens to be completely fenced in on both sides, you know, like a racetrack. I guess you could say that they aren’t so much stampeding as they are running around a damn racetrack, like it’s a race or something. Instead of chasing them around, I say you just get off your horse and let the stupid cattle run until they’re too tired to even attempt evading you. At that point, you can just walk up to them and do whatever you want: lasso, hogtie, brand, kick, burgerize, make love, or whatever other dumb shit “cowboys” enjoy doing to virtually defenseless animals.
Anyway, since you’re a cowboy and you aren’t bright enough to notice the cattle you’re chasing is already in an enclosed area, you have to lasso different coloured cattle, getting a different amount of points based on the colour. You start with 3 lives and you lose 1 for every cow or whatever you miss (i.e., you run past, because you’re apparently also too stupid to realize that you could just catch up to the again by running a couple more laps). If you let them get too close to you, they run back to the right of the screen.
Once in a while, a black animal will appear. You need to lasso them as well, but they aren’t running, so if you hit them, your horse has some sort of seizure. Finally, there are also skulls that appear on the track, since this is the kind of place where cattle die and their corpses are left to rot wherever it is they died. Anyway, this is what you get, over and over, ad infinitum, until you miss too many and get game over.
If terrible gameplay is your thing, then terrible sound should probably be right up your alley as well. Luckily for you, Stampede delivers in this respect as well. You get two sounds: Your stupid horse clopping along incessantly and an indescribable cacophony every time you lasso an animal or your horse has a seizure.
The sounds combined with the graphics create an experience that can best be described as mind-numbing. Worst of all, the further you get in the game, the faster the cattle run, which for the 2600 really means “vibrate in a pattern that causes the people watching to involuntarily mimic said vibrating.” I honestly feel like playing the game severs synapses and progressively makes you dumber. What I’m saying is the game is dangerous and is likely contributing to the devolution of the human race, which is perfect because this is precisely the type of human needed to produce cowboys. Don’t believe me? Well, at this year’s Calgary Stampede, a bunch of horses died in a chuck wagon race… again. How did people react? Some called for these types of races to finally be banned, while others said “No, it’s a tradition.” Apparently, it has never occurred to some people that some traditions just might be stupid. I say we gather a crowd of people in a stadium to watch as we feed these people to lions. You never know, it might be the start of a great tradition.
Anyway, here’s a picture of John Wayne wearing a Devo “Energy Dome.” It’s not as random as you might think. I believe this picture is the personification of not only this particular post, but also of all of that for which Atari Poop stands. It’s absurd, kinda funny, and asks more questions than it answers. In the future, while reading Atari Poop, everyone should hear John Wayne’s voice and picture him just like this in their heads.