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Sky Diver - The Atari Times

Sky Diver

To Land Or Go?
by Darryl Brundage

June 8, 2009
Due to a certain company named "Atari" making a hit arcade game back in the day, chances were pretty good a certain company named "Atari" would bring the game to their home console(s), and Sky Diver was no exception.

Of course, the home version of Skydiver (one word for the arcade game, but two for the home version...for some reason) was simplified, and improved a bit, being less difficult than it's arcade cousin. True, there was no spelling out of "sky diver" for bragging rights, but it became easier on this version to score more points, due to the wind shifting being different, which hinders your landing strategy. (However, you didn't get those cool rip cord-type controllers like on the arcade game though; oh well, such is life...)

I don't know who came up with the idea to make a game out of sky diving, but it's an idea that you don't exactly see a lot in the video game world. Here you must press the button on your controller to launch your diver once your plane starts to scroll across the screen, then pull down to open the chute, then guide your diver onto a landing pad from there. The longer you wait to open your chute, the more points you'll score, with the highest score possible for a landing is 11 points, with a maximum score of 99 for an entire game.

There's five variations in all, having smaller landing pads, ones that move (yeah, I'd like to see that in real life!), and "chicken", my favorite, having only one pad, which whoever lands first gets the points. However, this can be difficult when the wind isn't blowing favorably in the direction you need (shown by the wind sock at the bottom middle of the screen), but then there's always the next jump...unless you wait too long and your chute won't open if you're too close to the ground, and there's no shrubbery to break your fall with...

It's kind of hard to rate the graphics nowadays, as (in my opinion) games should be judged as they were for back then (like "comparing" Space Invaders to Halo nowadays isn't fair, due to the severe differences in the two technologies). Still, I don't think they're that great, even for back then; after all, the heads of the sky divers look like barbell weights stacked on top of each other. Sounds are a little better, being adequate, but there's not many of them though: just the humming of the planes, the sound of your chute opening, your diver either going splat if you don't open your chute, and the nice sound of points accumulating when you make a successful landing. Control works out pretty well, as these factors just get better...

...especially making up for them all (for those waiting for it long enough already), though, is the total hilarity of the game: being ever so realistic (yeah, right!), once you release your sky diver, he (she?) waves their arms rapidly while twitching their legs. Yes, this is something all expert sky divers do, all those videos that you've seen your entire life with them gracefully sailing through the air are WRONG! (I think the same model that was used for Sky Diver later went on to Imagic to model for their Fire Fighter game, using the same frenzied movements while trying to get the fire fighter's attention to escape the burning building.) When they go splat, they look like a cartoon where a weightlifter fell through the floor because their weights were too heavy (backing up to my comment about the barbell heads...hmmm, sounds familiar! I see a theme here!). However, once any idiot sky diver jumps out of a plane, it's not the pilots' fault if those morons never open their chutes. It would make you wonder why so many of them smacked on the ground when going to a certain sky diving school, though.

This game can be a bit fun, especially the "chicken" variation; for only one player, though, all you can do is practice your landings, I suppose, which is why my score for this isn't sky high (har, pardon the pun), since it's pretty much a two player game. At least it isn't super rare or expensive though, so I'd see about picking up a copy if you find it somewhere for a bit of a different gaming experience. After all, there's no shooting, dot munching, racing, or explosions in this one.

You just go splat, if you're not careful.

Sky Diver

(c) Atari

Gee, I wonder what this game is about?
Try not to go splat.
Sky Diver
System: 2600
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 60%
Sound & Music Score: 60%
Gameplay Score: 70%
Control Score: 90%

Final Score: 75%

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