Monday 6 August 2018

Montezuma's Revenge (Atari 2600 review)

Developer: Parker Brothers
Publisher: Parker Brothers
Released: 1984

Montezuma's Revenge is a platform game that was also released on the Atari 5200 and Atari 8-bit computers in 1984. 

Your mission is to guide Panama Joe safely through the emperor's fortress to reach Montezuma's treasure. There's three difficulty settings and along the way you can collect valuables for points, as well as tools ranging from a sword (defeats a single enemy only), an amulet (temporary invincibility), a torch (allows for visibility deeper into the fortress) and a key (opens locked doors). Gameplay involves avoiding enemies, climbing ladders and chains, running across disappearing floors and dodging flashing laser gates. Each screen introduces something new and while the room layouts remain the same in higher levels the enemies and hazards change, providing tons of replayability. Some backtracking is required, but it's never an issue due to the condensed, yet exquisitely designed size of the fortress. While the game isn't as expansive as Pitfall II: Lost Caverns (1984, Atari 2600), there's still plenty of unique, challenging areas, and I particularly like the clever interplay between the level design and items, as it's always advisable to locate the torch before heading deeper underground! The controls offer pin-point precision (some of the best I've experienced on the console) and the collision detection is spot-on. My only real complaint is that cheap deaths can occur in later levels, especially when you enter a room and an enemy overlaps your sprite immediately; at least the game is generous with extra lives which gives you more incentive to keep progressing. The graphics and animation are superb (especially the rolling skulls) and I love the La Cucaracha jingle that plays when you collect an item!

Montezuma's Revenge is an outstanding platformer that stretches the capabilities of the humble Atari 2600 in a number of exciting ways. It manages to create a real sense of wonderment, encouraging you to explore every room in search of its goodies, while providing solid controls, terrific gameplay and masterful level design.

Random trivia: Due to memory constraints, this Atari 2600 version only has half the levels found in other ports.

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