We’ve covered classic games plenty at MakeUseOf, with articles about SNES games you’ve probably never heard of, NES games that command extremely high price tags on the open market, and even some Sega Genesis games that are worth big bucks. The one system that has been sorely neglected is the Atari 2600.
This is the system that led to the rise and fall of the home gaming console in the 80s. The problem with the system, at least now, is that the games are hard to go back to. NES games still have a certain amount of depth to them that makes it easy to enjoy them. 2600 games, on the other hand, are generally incredibly simple. However, there are a few games that have stood the test of time. You will need to go into them understanding that these are where video games started, so you should not expect modern gameplay mechanics. As long as you start them with the right frame of mind, you will have a blast with these incredible Atari 2600 games.
Like many 2600 games, this one started as an arcade game. It features top-down car combat, and it’s just good, wholesome fun. The arcade version is certainly better from a visual standpoint, but the addicting and classic gameplay are in tact on the 2600. It’s a moderately rare cart, but you should be able to find one for under $20, which is not bad at all. It’s available on NES as well, so if you want a more modern look, you can seek that out.
This is an incredibly fun game where you move a crosshair across the sky in an attempt to shoot down missiles. The simple and addicting gameplay lends itself well to going back now because the basic visuals do not detract from the gameplay experience at all. This is a common cart, so you can grab one for just a $2 or $3. Who doesn’t love playing a fun game for cheap?
Raiders of the Lost Ark
A licensed Indiana Jones game from the Atari 2600 that is actually good? This is shocking, but alas, it is true. Now, the game will feel a little dated compared to modern action games, but the simple gameplay is still really fun. Add in the interesting mechanic of using two controllers at once to play, and you have an experience that is worth a trip down memory lane. Best of all, you can get this cart for under $5, which is a steal!
This game has seen a release on a million platforms, but I think the 2600 is the version you should be playing. In the game, you are tasked with navigating a deadly jungle and avoiding the perils hiding within. The game is intense and timed, which adds a lot of enjoyment to playing through it. It’s simple, and it’s fun, and that’s all you can really ask for from a video game. You can snag this one for under $5, so it won’t break the bank. It’s also very common, so it won’t take very much effort to find one.
Frogger is an absolute classic. You try to get the frog safely across a busy street and a river. Why can’t the frog just swim across? I don’t know, but I am willing to let this “plot hole” slide because the game is just so fun. Visuals don’t matter in a game with such a simple premise, which means it’s the perfect kind of game to play in the modern era. The market value of Frogger on the 2600 is about $3, so you can find it for really cheap.
Most people consider Ms. Pac-Man to be the finest version of the game where a little yellow circle eats a bunch of dots while avoiding and occasionally eating ghosts. I am one of those people, and I think the 2600 is the best place to play the home version. It does not look as good as the NES and other home console versions, but I think that’s part of the charm. This is another cheap cart that can be acquired for under $4. Even all these years later, it’s worth every penny as this game just never gets old.
If you haven’t heard of Space Invaders, where have you been for the last 30 years? This game has been around forever, and you could argue that it is one of the most important games in launching the success of the home console. If you want to go back and see where it all began, it’s still as fun as it ever was. You can easily find a 2600 cart of Space Invaders for under $4, so there is no reason not to play it!
What Atari 2600 games do you remember fondly? Do you long to go back and play them again? Hit the comments section below and let your voice be heard!