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Combat - The Atari Times


Crush the competition with Combat!
by Darryl Brundage

August 7, 2003
Wow, NO ONE'S done a review on COMBAT? Well, *I* shall then, although it's a bit surprising, since, if you're as old as I am, this game CAME with your Atari! It was also the very first 2600 game, and if you have the original text label version like I do, that's displayed on the end label of the cartridge itself: "01 Combat," it reads.

Anyhow, yep, as the title itself says, this ain't no puzzle, platform or sports game (ok, it sort of goes into the sports category, I guess [snicker]), it's a flat-out, shoot-'em-up warfare game, and one of the finest two player games ever made, especially since it weighs in at only 2 K of memory, right? Yes, I do believe it does...

Combat can't be described as to only being one way: there are several variations to it, and it's scenarios takes place on either the ground or in the air, the first of which involves tanks. Most of the tank games involves you and another player maneuvering through a maze in order to score as many hits as possible against your opponent before the two minute and sixteen seconds worth of gametime ends (and by the way, what's the DEAL with this 16 seconds thing?! That's a bit weird...). Variations of the tank scenario involves regular shots, guided missiles, "billiard shots" (i. e. shots that must hit something first before a hit can be scored against your opponent), shots that bounce off of walls (heh, my favorite, especially since the shots go pretty far, and if you think you've missed your friend, the shot could bounce off of something and hit him anyway! Too bad this couldn't be practical with Saddam nowadays; we would've nailed him by now...) and tanks that are invisible until they shoot or get nailed by a shot.

Then there's several variations of air combat, including jets, biplanes, two to three ships in a squadron (that are all controlled at the same time), and one interesting game pits one bomber against three biplanes (and guess which is the bigger and easier target to hit?). There are also clouds that you can take cover in for a second or two, which can throw your opponent off, which is good, especially if he/she has a really short attention span...

Even with the (aforementioned) different variations, the controls only change slightly depending on which scenario you pick (i. e. pushing forward and pulling back on a controller will increase or decrease the speed of your jets in the flying games, but pulling back has no effect for the tank games, since you can't back up your tank), they are easy to learn, and everything responds pretty well, although the tanks creep a bit slowly (which can be annoying at times) and I personally tend to forget that the controls are different for the biplanes as well (moving a joystick right and left doesn't TURN your plane right and left, which I forget a lot), so I usually get my butt whupped on those games (and therefore don't play them as often, heh).

For the most part, the graphics aren't that great (although this WAS *the* first game for the 2600) -- looooove those big, blocky clouds for some of the air combat games, guys! -- and neither are the sound effects, as there's not many of those either, but THE biggest problem with this game is that it's two player only. So if you're alone, it's going to be a bit dull, unless you want to get a feel for the controls and think of what could possibly be a good strategy against another player, once you dig up a volunteer from somewhere. However, until a certain little game called Joust came along in the arcades a few years later, this was one of the best two player games out there, hands down (in my opinion), especially with 27 game variations to keep you busy with.

So, in closing -- and to quote the thrash metal band Exodus -- Combat is definitely "good, friendly, violent fun," in the days before violence in video games became a bad thing.


(c) Atari

I hear even poor Ethiopian kids have this game.
Tanks. Probably the most played game of Combat.
The bi-planes are slow, but you can always hide in the clouds.
The jets game can get fast and frantic!
System: 2600
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 60%
Sound & Music Score: 65%
Gameplay Score: 85%
Control Score: 90%

Final Score: 85%

Reader Comments for Combat

Not a favorite game of mine by Randy Johnson on 2014-07-24 19:32:46
I've never liked this game. It's two player only. If somebody else doesn't play it with you, it sucks. It would've been much better if it had been 1 or 2 player like Air Sea Battle.
I got this game and Pac-man free when my mom bought me the Atari 2600. I actually liked Pac-man better. Yes, Pac-man sucked but at least it was a 1 or 2 player game. Unlike Combat, a 2nd person wasn't required to be able to play Pac-man.
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