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Name this Game - The Atari Times

Name this Game

Sweet, sweet mediocrity
by Ethan C. Nobles

September 22, 2006
Name this game? Okay, I've got a few suggestions. How about "Monotony?" Then again, "Generic Video Game" is appropriate. Better yet, how about "Save Your Money?" Truth be told, this isn't a terrible video game. But, it sure as heck isn't a great one, either. Name this Game is just another run-of-the-mill title for the 2600. Nothing more and nothing less. You'll have some fun with it for a time, but it gets old in a hurry.

Name this Game, released in 1982, was, evidently, little more than a marketing ploy by U.S. Games Corp. I should mention that U.S. Games Corp. is a division of the Quaker Oats Co., which everyone knows was just brimming with Atari enthusiasts. Why should I point that out? I don't know. I just think it's funny. U.S. Games had a contest in mind, see, and folks were supposed to grab copies of this game and - you guessed it - think of a name for it. Unfortunately, the contest was more exciting than the actual video game.

In Name this Game, the player controls a diver defending his treasure from crazed sharks and an octopus. The diver is trapped on a horizontal plane and has to fight but one shark at a time. The shark descends toward the diver and is replaced by another determined critter when it's shot. The diver is also harassed by an octopus, which drops its tentacles toward the player, but isn't really in a hurry about it. The slow-moving tentacles can also be blasted. The diver has an air supply to worry about, but it can be replenished by a friend who drops an air hose from a motorboat. I learned to hate that "friend" after a few games of this because he's got an idiotic smile painted on his face. Obviously, he was having more fun driving his boat than I was playing Name this Game.

The graphics aren't bad at all. The black octopus is huge and bit intimidating as it dominates the screen. The sharks are only one color, but they look pretty darn good. The motorboat looks fairly colorful for a 2600 game, although its grinning captain drives me nuts. The diver is crudely drawn, but he doesn't look bad, either. Screen flicker is kept to a minimum, and the illusion this is a "deep sea" game is maintained well enough.

The sound is the typical "bleep, bleep" stuff we've all grown to love (or loath) in Atari games. The only thing that really sticks out is the off-key theme which plays at the first of the game and from time to time and the "filling" sound made when the diver grabs an air hose (it reminds me of the noise made in Activision's excellent Seaquest game when the submarine surfaces for air).

The control is fine, too. The player only has to move right or left and shoot, and the controls are quite responsive.

So, decent graphics, average sound and good control. Sounds like it could be a pretty good game, right? Wrong. The gameplay is monotonous as can be. There aren't stages "per se" -- the action will pause from time to time, indicating a level has ended. A new level starts up which is exactly like the old one, only a tiny bit faster. That might not be a problem, but blasting the same sharks over and over and warding off the lazy octopus gets old in a hurry. The game is fairly easy at first and you'll probably get board and switch Name this Game off before things get fast and furious. There's just not enough to do in the game and not enough challenge here to keep you interested for long.

And, to make things worse, this game can be fairly hard to find. Shelling out more than a couple of bucks for this thing will disappoint most Atari fans, I'm afraid.

Name this Game

(c) U.S. Games Corp.

Can't think of anything else to call it, eh?
Shoot the shark!
Name this Game
System: 2600
Publisher: U.S. Games Corp.
Genre: Shooter
Graphics Score: 80%
Sound & Music Score: 75%
Gameplay Score: 70%
Control Score: 85%

Final Score: 70%

Reader Comments for Name this Game

rating/test by Darryl B. on 2006-09-22 17:17:14
Hi Ethan. Just thought you had rated this game a bit too high, so I gave it a 55% myself ;) I'm also testing this out to see if this stuff's working (hi Greg!).
Eh, I like it anyway by Deadman on 2007-03-02 11:12:39
I bought this game in the Summer of 82 and played it for hours. It's so easy to look at it now and say how boring it is, but remember back in the day, anything "new" was still "new". Luckily, I bought it with some yardwork money on sale for $9.99 so it didn't set me back too far. Today, I'd rate it about the same that you did, but back in 82, my friends and I played it until we couldn't focus anymore, so I would have rated it higher then.

By the way, anyone know if this game was ever named??
Overseas... by Darryl B. on 2007-03-02 13:21:44
I think the game was released overseas as "Octupus" (big surprise!).
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