5 of the Best Atari Games of All Time

Before the days of the Internet, if you wanted to get involved in sports action at home, you needed to pick up an Atari 2600 console and play one of their Real Sports titles. These were among some of the most iconic and generation defining games in the console’s library.

To list all the games that would qualify as the best games on the system would take a long time. The system had thousands of games released with many instant classics included. Games like Defender, Missile Command, Yars Revenge, Asteroids and Pitfall set new standards in gaming and influenced the entire videogame industry.

With that in mind, let’s look at 5 of the most important releases for Atari during the 2600 era. These games were chosen not just because they are great fun to play but also because they set the foundation for the games that would follow in their footsteps.

5. River Raid

river raid atari console game - top 5 atari games

River Raid is a scrolling shoot-em-up where players pilot a jet fighter over a river, destroying enemy structures and vehicles while also aiming to hit fuel tanks to refuel your plane. The game featured procedurally generated levels that meant enemy craft and terrain where randomly generated on each play through.

The game received rave reviews when it came out and essentially created the vertically scrolling shooter genre that really exploded in the mid 80’s to mid 90’s.

Games like Capcom’s 1942 series, Raiden and countless scrolling shooters on the Turbo Grafx are indebted to River Raid for setting a blueprint for plane themed shooters. These games are rather different to today’s hugely popular MMO’s and sports betting NZ sites that attract players and punters attention, but they stil delivered great entertainment.

4. Adventure

The precursor to the modern role-playing and adventure game, Adventure confronted players with a whole new world. You were dropped in a multi-screen game area that contained caves filled with treasure, 3 dragons and a host of enemies bent on ending your quest to save the kingdom by finding a golden chalice.

This game was a revelation when it was first released as before all games of this nature were text bases, making players rely on their imagination to visualise the world they are exploring. With Adventure you had primitive graphics and a real-time game world that could reward you just as fast as it can kill you.

3. Combat

Combat became the pack in game with Atari 2600 consoles after it’s release thanks to its fun and exciting two player action.

Players could pilot a variety of military vehicles and combat a second player on a virtual battlefield. Despite this game ruining many friendships, it was the first taste the world got of PvP gaming.

2. Space Invaders

What can be said about Space Invaders that hasn’t already been said? The game’s main alien villains have become instantly recognisable symbols of the retro gaming world, the sound effects were designed to ratchet up the tension while playing and the ingenious inclusion of accelerating enemy waves combined into one of the simplest and finest console games the world has ever seen.

1. Pong

Pong constitutes just about the bare minimum requirements for what can be termed a videogame. You have two paddles represented by two line and they knock a square pixel back and forth like a game of tennis.

This was all that was needed to fuel the start of an entire industry. Pong is just as playable today as it was back during its release. Just like Tetris, Pong is a simple and timeless gaming classic.