Atari Poop – Communist Mutants From Space
Any of you kids grow up with an Atari 2600 AND a Starpath Supercharger? No, it’s not the name of some spaceship in a Star Wars movie. It’s the name of a third-party add-on meant to give the 2600’s capabilities in a fairly convoluted way. First you put the cartridge/adapter with a wire sticking out of it into the cartridge slot, then plug said wire into a cassette player’s earphone jack, which is where you’d actually put the real game as they were all stored on audio cassettes. One of these very cassettes had quite possibly one of the most insane video games ever made. I suppose you should expect nothing less from a game titled “Communist Mutants from Space.”
The plot (created by Joseph MacCarthy, as with the rest of the game) is an absurd amalgam of culturally insensitive garbage, stereotypes, and just plain absurd nonsense; in other words, regular Cold War stuff. This is, and I swear it’s the truth, what the game’s manual has to say about the plot:
“Your mission: Vaporize the mutant warriors before they overrun your home planet. About the enemy: The evil ruler of the planet Rooskee has launched a diabolical attack. A cunning Mother Creature, filled with irradiated vodka, transforms helpless slaves captured on peaceful planets into bloodthirsty COMMUNIST MUTANTS.
The Commie Mutants attack like crazy! Wipe out wave after wave of them, and they keep on coming. And the more you vaporize, the nastier they get. You’ve got trouble.”
In case it wasn’t clear enough for you, let me run it by you again. Mother Russi…uh, I mean Mother Creature, an evil alien who has gone crazy due to drinking too much irradiated vodka, is the ruler of planet Rooskee. Since she’s gone crazy, she decides to attack peaceful, innocent, most likely capitalist countr…uh, planets to enslave the populace and turn them into communist mutants, who she will then use to attack more planets.
You control an F-86 Sabre and try to shoot down
MiG-15s over the skies of Korea communist mutants as they hatch and descend to attack you. It reminds me of a game like Galaga, except that the Mother Creator is constantly replacing all the mutants you destroy, so you should shoot her down first if you want to clear the level. It is also reminiscent of Space Invaders, but the pace is MUCH faster. The mutants come at you quickly and erratically, making for some very tense video gaming.
The game also has a bunch of weird/neat options. You can choose whether or not you get to use a shield (Shield) or slow time (Time Warp) once every level, have your bullets penetrate multiple enemies (Penetrating Fire), and even control your shots after you’ve fired them (Guided Fire). It’s actually kind of fun to play around with the different options and see what works best for you. Not surprisingly, this freedom is supposed to reinforce your appreciation of the freedoms you enjoy in a capitalist democracy, none of which would be possible with communism.
This is usually the part where I would tell you that the game was used as a propaganda tool to trick kids into hating communism, or something to that effect; however, the game is, well, good, so it just as likely could have had the opposite effect. Also, nothing I can make up about this game could come close to being as crazy and ridiculous as the facts about this game, so I won’t bother.
Anyway, if you ever come across the Starpath Supercharger, you now know it has at least one decent game. Have any of you ever even played a game with the Supercharger? I hadn’t even hear of it until a guest columnist wrote about it over on 1Up.com. Let me know in the comments.