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Atari 2600 Game of the Week - Joust CX2691

by Atari, Developed by ?, released 1983

Atari really didn't do too well when it came to licensing great arcade properties for home system development.

Most of the big games were won by Coleco and Parker Brothers, except of course for the Atari arcade games.

The notable exception to this is the relationship that Atari had with Williams Electronics.

Defender, Stargate, Moon Patrol, and today's entry, Joust, were all great arcade games that Atari brought home to the 2600 and later systems.

Joust is the story of a gallant knight on a flying ostrich who must battle evil buzzard riding knights to the death.

The game begins with 6 platforms and solid ground to walk upon, but very soon the ground opens up to reveal a lava pit (complete with lava troll) and platforms begin disappearing, making skilled flight very necessary.

The controls are smple, and work perfectly with the 2600 joystick - the stick controls left and right movement, and the button flaps your ostrich's wings.

The faster you flap the faster you'll rise - stop flapping (or flap slowly) and you'll drop.

The character that's higher on the screen when a collision occurs wins, so you want to be the one on top.

When Joust was released, the programmers at Atari were really hitting their stride, pushing the 2600 VCS to its limits and really succeeding at games that would have been compromised severly only a year before (Defender vs. Stargate or Pac-Man vs. Ms. Pacman).

It was quite clear that the programmers worked very hard at the translation of Joust, the gameplay feels right, and all of the different waves are here.

The egg waves are a little different - the eggs float across the screen and transform in mid-air instead of landing - but it doesn't detract from the gameplay at all.

If you linger on the board for too long, the pterodactyl will appear here too, and he's just as seemingly impossible to kill as in the arcade.

The flap sound is spot-on, and the rest of the sounds, while 2600-ized, work well.

Just like the arcade, the real fun comes when you play with and against a friend, you still get bonus points for killing your friend in the gladiator waves, and more bonus in the cooperation waves.

This was another of the few cartridges I actually bought (instead of receiving as a gift), and I played it hard then as I do now.


This game is a real gem, and yet another fantastic addition to your collection!

You can get the ROM and 2600 Emulators at the Classic Gaming Game Vault.

Comments? Questions? Answers? Email me!