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Atari 2600 Game of the Week - Stargate (aka Defender II) CX26120

by Atari, developed by Bill Aspromonte (Programmer) and Andrew Fuchs (Sound), released 1984

Defender is one of the great classics of all gamedom, so what did it need? A sequel, of course!

I'm not going to get into the whole Defender II / Stargate thing - for the purposes of my life and this review, we're going to use it's God-given name, Stargate.

The arcade game added a few elements to the Defender mix: inviso, some new enemies, and, of course, the stargate.

The stargate gave you a quick escape route, and allowed the really skilled player a bevy of bonus points by flying into the gate with humanoids in tow - more than four, and you warp four waves forward.

Activating inviso not only makes you invisible for as long as you hold it (and as long as you have any left) but any enemies that you fly through are destroyed, with no damage to you. Kind of a spiffy stealth / shield system!

Of course, we're here to talk about the 2600 port of Stargate, so let's get to it!

Like most of the later games by Atari, the graphics are much sharper than previous games, and the flickering is almost gone - which is a credit to the programmer's creativity and skills.

The Planet looks like it shoud, and with the exception of your ship - most characters in the game are multi-colored, and look a lot like their arcade counterparts!

All the enemies are here, and are done pretty well. They are missing some animation, but that's to be expected on the 2600, and Stargate had a lot of animation compared to nearly every other Williams game.

The ship doesn't disappear when you fire, like it does in Defender, which is really nice!

So, how do you control all of those functions?

Don't ask!

An excerpt from the manual:

Use Two Joysticks! Plug a joystick controller into BOTH controller jacks for this one-player game. Use the left controller for manuevering your ship and firing on the aliens.

Use the right controller to activate SMARTBOMBS and INVISO, and to jump to HYPERSPACE. Press the fire button to activate SMARTBOMBS. Move the joystick forward to activate INVISO; move it back to activate HYPERSPACE. If you run out of SMARTBOMBS, pressing the fire button will activate INVISO. Once you run out of INVISO, pressing the fire button will send you into HYPERSPACE.

What a double-edged sword, huh?

It's nice to have actual controls, and in theory, you can get away with only using the second button, as they did a great job of having new functions activated when your other items run out, but it is a bit cumbersome without some sort of mechanism to hold the controllers.

Especially with a fast-paced game like this.

Still, I like it better than the Defender method, which required you to fly out of the play field to activate you secondary weapons.

I play Stargate all the time, and I normally skip the extras and just use my normal firing - but the big weapons are there if you want them.

This is one of my top ten favorite Atari 2600 Games of all time - great gameplay, lots of action, and lots of fun! - check Stargate out!

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

Comments? Questions? Answers? Email me!