Atari Poop – Missile Command
At this point, some of you will be looking at the title of this article and thinking: “Here comes another article about how yet another 2600 game is amazing, ahead of its time, and the greatest thing in gaming ever.” Well, think again. Missile Command is one of the least interesting games you can find for the 2600, and for a console whose catalogue consists mostly of Pong clones, that’s saying a lot.
First of all, what is up with those colours?! It looks like someone put a lot of research into which colours are most likely to spontaneously put someone into a coma and decided to build a video game around them. Mission accomplished! At least the visuals, as terrible as they are, compliment the aural diarrhea they used for sound effects. Here, have a quick listen:
Fine. I will admit that the “bwoowoowoowoowoow” at the beginning is a little cool, but the rest of the game is pretty much just an endless cacophonous barrage of those “explondsions.” That crap only stops once once you finish the level. Luckily, it’s at this point that you get to hear the same sound you hear in countless other 2600 games that involve you protecting things from other things that move towards those first things I mentioned: The sound of those things (the first things) that remain being counted.
As for the gameplay, there isn’t much to describe. You move that flashing-but-not-really-flashing rectangle/line around with the joystick. Let’s call it the cursor. The trigger makes yet another, though smaller, rectangle/line fly up from what appears to be a massive pimple in the bottom-middle of your screen. Once it reaches wherever the cursor was when you hit the trigger, it causes the tiny rectangle/line to multiply like a fast-growing tumour. From what I can gather, your goal is to stop someone from drawing lines from the top of the screen all the way down to the various smaller pimples you have strewn about the massive pimple by having the lines crash into the tumours.
Obvously, this is all one big metaphor for the Cold War (or facial hygiene). I mean, come on, the name of the planet you’re protecting is “Zardon”, which is an anagram for NORADZ (the “Z” is there because Ardon would have sounded stupid). The people of Zardon, according to the booklet, live in a clichéd Utopia that is one of the last peaceful planets in the universe. The place is devoid of violence and crime. They are hardworking and the planet is rich in resources. Seriously, I’m not making this up.
The booklet has nothing to say about your enemies from the planet Krytol, which isn’t even an anagram for anything (damn lazy writers), other than to say that they are warriors. Nothing more. Apparently, they are out to destroy and seize the planet from the Zardonians for some reason. In other words, Zardonians are perfect and Krytolians are assholes. Seriously, the whole plot would have been more interesting and unique if they’d gone with my whole pimple idea.
Anyway, I’m just glad that at least Atari has never turned this into a movie. It’s the only possible thing that could make me hate this game more.