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What is the #1 Atari Game? - The Atari Times

What is the #1 Atari Game?

And #1 goes to...
by Gregory D. George

August 14, 2002

1. Adventure

There is no denying the fun and excitement of this classic 2600 game. No game has been able to match the sense of wonder we all felt when we were first chased by the red dragon. No amount of Kool-Aid would calm us down when the bat stole the life-protecting sword. And nothing could ever match the feeling of accomplishment when the enchanted chalice was returned to it's rightful place in the gold castle.

Adventure holds the distinction of being the first game with an Easter egg. Finding the invisible dot and slipping through the black barrier became an accomplishment for many an Atari player. Today, Easter eggs are a requirement of video games.

Thanks to the creativity and ingenuity of Warren Robinett, Adventure truly is a memorable game worthy of being the greatest Atari game of all time.

Version: 2600

Why Atari 2600 Adventure is such a fun game
by Warren Robinett

First of all, let's not forget the game that directly inspired me -- the original text adventure game (also named "Adventure") which was created by Don Woods and Willie Crowther. They invented the idea of moving from room to room, carrying objects that you could use to get past obstacles, and creatures that moved around and did things in the game world. Their game was pure text -- the user typed text commands and then received text descriptions of the room he or she was in, and the objects being carried.

My main breakthrough, I think, was figuring out how to do this kind of game -- rooms, objects and creatures -- in the video game medium -- with animation, color, sounds, and joystick controllers. There are 3 powerful ideas in this that were, at the time, different from how most video games were done.

  1. Exploring a large space (in this case, the network of rooms).

  2. Objects that the player could pick up and move around, and which functioned as tools to do things in the game world.

  3. Creatures which moved around on their own, initiating actions. ("AI's", in modern terminology) Putting these elements together in a video game produced what we now call an action-adventure game, which has shown, over the last few decades, that it is a very fertile genre.

At the time, game designers were trying to figure out what you could do that was cool with this new medium of interactive computer graphics, so I think you could now say that I discovered one of the "sweet spots" in the medium.

Of course, all the details were important -- what the objects and creatures did, and what they looked like, how the game world was laid out, how the controls worked. I dug out a list I made once for myself of why I thought Adventure worked well. Here it is.

(I think I speak for all Atarians when I say, "Thanks Warren!")

Curmudgeon Gamer Bashes the List!

Reader Comments for What is the #1 Atari Game?

atari top games list by rude dog on 2007-08-23 14:53:20
you gotta be kidding ..... especially the number 1 haAHHAHAHA
atari games by rude dog on 2007-08-23 14:57:10
all games atari made for the 2600 and others are crap and look like a bunch of blocks
the only good thing they did was the jaguar it had potention but lost in the war against the others
Top Atari Game by aquaria_girl on 2007-09-23 08:25:04
I read somewhere that Adventure was dubbed the best atari game, which I found hard to believe as IMO it ranks right up there with ET in the worst games.
I knew it in advance... by technoshock11 on 2008-01-13 11:35:41
Why is that in EVERY single system, the "best game award" ALWAYS goes to an adventure-type game? I mean, Adventure for the A2600, Zelda for the (S)NES, Monkey Island for the Amiga, Final Fantasy (XII?) for the PlayStation...
Though I would definitely NOT say that it sucks as much as ET, it's exaggerated, to be honest I don't find it that special. OK, I'm not a fan of this type of game at all, that's probably why I don't like it. But... ;-)
Gameplay>>>Graphics by blur on 2009-02-12 19:15:13
Wow...so much love here. Adventure is actually a true classic, in my opinion, and I played it quite a while before reading this feature. It may not be the best game for Atari (mind y'all, I think it is Top 10), but it is different from the billion shooters on the Atari (many of which are really good, actually).

Worst game for the Atari? The obvious Pac-Man and E.T., sure, but try Sssnake. It sucks (or sssucks if you're into pun-esque jokes, which I'm not). And as for the Atari graphics being "a bunch of blocks," what do you expect? The Atari existed in the early 80s, and those graphics then were a revolution (and they did improve on the same system, as time went on).
Star Raiders II by B on 2014-02-21 00:01:21
How did Star Raiders II not make the list?
Atari top 20 by nick on 2014-06-11 15:27:33
I agree with the number1 slot going to adventure it means we got metroid later - at the time it was awesome - where's space invaders tho!
If you would like number 1 by Raymond Trice on 2014-10-07 23:25:42
Since this is the number one game I was dining around and I'm a put it on eBay since I have 3 of the top 20
where is my fave!? :) by karter on 2015-01-28 15:15:41
Personally I'd put Sea Quest on the top spot for the atari 2600. I was playing the game when i was 8-9 years old (its only a gues as it has been quite a long time- somewhere between 1983-4) and i'm still playing it now. :)
Haunted House by Dave on 2015-03-12 13:09:30
Where's Haunted House on this list. That was by far my favorite game on the Atari 2600.
Adventure by Mark on 2016-12-31 20:31:27
Adventure is the best game hands down. No other Atari game comes close. Spent many hours playing it. Exciting to discover the hidden room with the hidden dot. Cool article thanks
Adventure by Darin Cardin on 2017-02-11 17:08:20
Adventure was the best by far. It was on another level than other games of that time.
Adventure by Kailer on 2017-12-01 22:17:31
Not only one of the best Atari games but also one of ( if not the) best video games of all time! It was so uniqe, it was one of the first games to not have a scoring system or a timer.
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