The Atari 2600 in my opinion wasn’t so hot on arcade ports. Then again that’s coming from someone who wasn’t even born when the Atari 2600 was released. However, there are a few arcade ports that were done well on the system that was only really was only really made to play Pong; and that’s Phoenix by Amstar Electronics!
Granted, the game doesn’t have the graphical and audio prowess of it’s arcade counterpart. But Phoenix on the 2600 is a great port, because they got the gameplay and the feel of the game right on this!
OK, there are less enemies on screen, and bizarrely there’s a ground, coloured purple, but the game “feels” the same at it’s arcade version. The way that the bird aliens move, the way the phoenixes can take damage to their wings and slowly grow them back. The only thing the game misses are the eggs that the phoenixes hatch out of in the beginning of level 3 and 4. One thing about Phoenix that made it unique to Shm’ups at the time was that this game had alien birds as enemies, and it featured force fields! As you would imagine, the force field would protect you from enemy fire, however you cannot move around as the force field is up. In the arcade game, there was a second button to activate the force field. In the Atari version you press down on the joystick to activate it. However in both versions of the game activating the force field might not be a good idea as some enemies can make a planned shot, sending a laser to you with good enough timing so that it would hit you as the force field opens up.
The mothership is the same, minus the phoenixes hovering over it. But I always found that a pain in the arse anyway! To beat it you shoot away at the mothership, making bits of it tear apart, there’s a blue area that will always move to the right in a cycle. The idea is that you make a hole so that you can shoot the alien inside the mothership to go on to the next level.
Apart from the bells and whistles of the arcade game, having better graphics with it’s scrolling space scenery and better music the Atari port the game is actually worth playing as it’s simply just a no thrills version of the arcade game, but it doesn’t fall back on any of it’s game play at all. And in it’s case for the boss, is a little easier and better due to having less enemies. The Atari version of Phoenix is a great game worth getting, and it’s not hard to find either, so it needs to be in your Atari collection! Head over to GameGavel and grab yourself a copy today for near to nothing! It’s well worth it!
Now time to repent for every chicken strip and turkey sandwich you have ever eaten! 😛