Halo for the Atari 2600 – Let’s Not Get Too Excited

There’s a new ‘Halo’ game in town, even if it is just about as unofficial as it gets. ‘Halo 2600’ is a neat little adventure game for the Atari 2600 that’s been making the rounds on the internet this past week. It’s fun and all, but really, it’s just not that impressive.

If you haven’t had the chance to check out ‘Halo 2600‘ yet, go do it now. It’s a pretty simple game, created by Ed Fries. You’ll be able to get a feel for it in just a few minutes. It’s nothing you haven’t played before. Move the character up and down the screen, shoot the bad guys, get keys, advance. Pretty standard stuff when it comes to the Atari 2600. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not bringing anything new.

It’s also not bringing the ‘Halo.’ Sure, you’ve got a sprite that looks like Master Chief and sprites that look like Covenant baddies, but that’s about where the similarities end. You don’t play the game from the first- person perspective, you don’t have an arsenal of weapons, you don’t get vehicles, and you don’t have a melee attack. The world doesn’t really resemble that of ‘Halo’ either.

Am I being too harsh? Maybe. But when you put up a free Flash game, you can get away with a lot more than when you’re actually selling cartridges – which Fries is.

Let’s assume for the moment that everything I picked out above was due to the extreme limitations of the Atari system. The game just doesn’t feel like ‘Halo’. Your character, who I’m assuming is in Spartan Armor, goes down in one hit. He’s severely underpowered against greater numbers of enemies who are capable of shooting faster than he can. They can shoot in eight different directions, while your character can only shoot right and left. It’s less ‘Halo’ and more of an adventure game with a ‘Halo’ skin on it.

Sure, a lot of work went into the game. It’s completely playable and on par with a good majority of 2600 games. But seeing so many people jump on this saddens me. It’s low hanging fruit, and frankly it’s more than a little bit of pandering. ‘Halo 2600’ is one of those things that’s going to sell on cartridge no matter how good it actually is, because people remember the 2600 and love ‘Halo.’

Plop a crowbar in there and you’ve got ‘Half-Life 2600.’ Change the alien baddies to humans and you’ve got ‘Modern Warfare 2600.’ Hell, you could make this game into just about anything. Change the sprites to zombies and you’ve got ‘Left 4 Dead 2600,’ or ‘Left 2604 Dead.’ This game could have been just as successful with any of those monikers. The content doesn’t matter; it’s the idea that’s selling.

I’m not saying that this isn’t a fun way to blow a couple of minutes with the free Flash download. It’s just not ‘Halo,’ and not worth actually, you know, paying for.


    • There was a little known game that was pretty similar to this for the NES, but way better. It even had a melee attack! They called it ‘The Legend of Zelda.’ 🙂

  1. I played it yesterday, killed about a whole 3 minutes with it. When I saw the title screen, I was like, whoa, awesome concept, but that is where it ended. Walk up, pick up gun, walk right, kill a bad guy, walk to the next screen then down two, pick up key.

    I am not HUGE on the whole retro scene – its pretty much limited to Mario, Zelda and Sonic. Everything else I have played, I was like, what were we thinking? I got so excited when I saw Bonk for the Wii in the retro game store, and played it a whole two minutes. Was it really that bad back then?

    I am totally with you, Dick. It was a neat little concept, and the fact that it was actually written in 2600 code, rather than just flash, was cool. But, yeah, its simple and reminded me nothing of Halo.

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