I thought it would be fun to go back to Atari Flashback Classics Vol 1 this week. After all, there was no way that I’d end up with a game that I had even less to say about than Pong, right? Little did I know that I was about to stumble onto a game with so little going on that I actually longed for Pong’s cheating computer player.I want to be super clear. I don’t hate the Atari 2600 or other early Atari games. I grew up with a 2600 in my house. It was my first exposure to video games and the port of Donkey Kong was my first time seeing anything related to Nintendo. I spent a ton of time with games like Pitfall, River Raid, and Adventure and would gladly go back and play them today. But instead, I got stuck with a game I had never played before and kind of wish I could go back to that being the case.
Dodge ‘Em is a game where you drive a car around a square track collecting dots. It’s pretty similar to Pac-Man, except there’s no power-ups and instead of ghosts, there’s a single other car who’s hellbent on driving straight into you. You earn points by collecting dots, which like a lot of games from this era, is the only objective. According to the instruction manual that you can load up before starting the game, collecting all the dots on the stage will reward you with an extra eight points. I can’t say that this I know how accurate that is, however, because I never managed to get all the dots.
Within the square track are four lanes, and you can only pass into another lane at certain intersections. You’ll have to change lanes to not only collect more dots, but also to avoid the enemy car. That car is always thinking one step ahead of you though, and it’s really easy to get trapped. Maybe if there was some way to turn around, it would feel more fair, but it might also be too easy. As it is, I died a lot and didn’t have any fun.
Graphics are kind of weird thing to talk about in these old games. There’s not really a whole lot going on here. The background is pure black and the track is simply red lines that turn at perfect 90 degree angles. Your car could just as easily be a bug or a turtle, but thanks to the instruction manual, I know for a fact that it is a car. I know that complaining about visuals is kind of silly on the Atari 2600, but when you compare it to something like Pitfall, with easy to make out ground, trees, scorpions, alligators, and more, it’s easy to be disappointed.
The collection that Dodge ‘Em is included on, Atari Flashback Classics Vol 1, is great, however. I’m not going to go into a full review, but a lot of care clearly went into repackaging these games. One of the cooler aspects is that you can pull up an Atari 2600 console to flip the different switches. This allows you to change modes or reset the game, just as you would on the actual console. There’s not a lot that you can do with that in Dodge ‘Em, you’d mainly only use it to switch to multiplayer, but it’s great that it’s present.
Dodge ‘Em is a bad game. I recommend checking out the collection that it’s included on, but when you do, maybe pass on that one game. There’s still another 49 games left, so it’s not like you’re really missing out.