The Best Atari 2600 Games That Are Still Worth Playing Today

Best Atari 2600 Games
By | June 15th, 2021 | Categories: Retro Gaming

Atari was one of those companies that spearheaded the notion of playing video games at home. Granted there were already at-home consoles before it that started that trend such as the Magnavox Odyssey, it never really took off and wasn’t considered to be a commercial success since it only sold 350,000 units during its release. Atari gave the people the idea that it was possible to play other games within a machine-not just Pong (people were obsessed with Pong back in the day). When the Atari 2600 was first announced, there was a lot of hype towards it being the “next generation” during that time. In its lifetime, the Atari 2600 sold around a whopping 30 million units and was regarded as the most successful video game console. Or at least, until Nintendo stole their thunder when the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) came along. Looking back, the Atari 2600 was a childhood favorite for many who grew up in the late 1970s. There were many that were regarded as the best Atari 2600 games released for the home console, some of which are still worth playing even today.

The Rise and Fall of the Great One

The beginning of Atari was quite the iconic one. Their first break was a game called “Pong” where players compete in a game of table tennis set with one another. It was quite the breakthrough and represented the DNA of what video games are. Following up with the Atari 2600, they instantly became a juggernaut within the video game industry and rose the ranks. Atari is largely credited for building a home console market and was once regarded as the head honcho in all things gaming, but regrettably, the Video Game Crash quickly pulled the plug not just on Atari, but for the whole video gaming industry as well.

Many companies went bankrupt and in the case of Atari, it marked the end of its journey. They tried to reinvent the wheel with the Atari 7800 which was an impressive console, but alas, it never gained traction. In 2003, Atari Games filed for bankruptcy and officially ended its reign of being the best.

Top 4 Best Atari 2600 Games

Now, without any further ado, here are our top 4 picks for the best Atari 2600 games that you

  1. Ms. Pac-Man: Okay, the Pac-Man game in the Atari 2600 wasn’t exactly the best. The port was poorly done and the visuals were muddy and stale. Weirdly, Pac-Man partner, Ms. Pac-Man, had the better port of the two games. Everything was stellar and crisp; almost everything that was in the original arcade version was in the Atara 2600 version, save for the intermissions. Considering how much was chopped off from the port of Pac-Man to home consoles, Ms. Pac-Man managed to save the day thanks to the successful jump from arcade cabinets to consoles.
  1. Q*bert: Q*bert was a rather bizarre game in many people’s eyes when it first came out. Sure puzzle games weren’t exactly new, but Q*bert something unique that not everyone caught on at first. The entire game revolves around the character called Q*bert. Built with an axonometric third-person perspective in mind, the goal within the game is relatively simple. By jumping around the blocks, Q*bert can change the color of the blocks into one color. That sounds easy enough, except for the part where the player also has to avoid a whole host of enemies such as Coily the snake. It’s a pretty weird game at first glance, but Q*bert is a lot of fun to play even today.
  1. Dig Dug: Also present in other consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System and Famicom, Dig Dug got its big break with the Atari 2600. It was released in 1982 and developed by Namco. Players play as the gardener and blow up the pesky enemies under the ground with their handy dandy… air pump? There are also rocks that they can use to their advantage by timing the fall of the rocks to the enemies, but they can also crush the player themselves if they made a wrong calculation. There are also versions of Dig Dug for other Atari consoles such as the Atari 5200 and Atari 8-bit family, but the game’s popularity spiked during the area of the Atari 2600.
  1. Pitfall: It’s impossible to not at least talk about Pitfall if someone is concocting a list of the best Atari 2600 games of all time. Pitfall is one of the bestselling titles for the console and it put Activision, the publisher, on the map. While Pitfall in the Atari 2600 was merely a port of the arcade version, that doesn’t mean that it’s less entertaining. Players will have to navigate through more than 200 screens to collect 32 pieces of treasure, all of this in twenty minutes. Face-paced, full of danger, and arguably one of those games that’s perfect to speedrun, Pitfall was the real day back in the day and is still worth playing even today.

In A Nutshell

The Atari 2600 was the company’s most successful console, and while Atari crashed and burned right after that, the fond memories and nostalgia that players hold for the games that are housed in the home console are still there. Not all games can make the list. There are a lot more great games that weren’t talked about such as Joust, Space Invader, and many more, but only a few can be labeled as the best Atari 2600 games of all time and still playable today, even with its outdated controls and graphics.

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