I have always enjoyed paddle games for Atari. Maybe because they were simple to play, or maybe because they provided some variety and that there weren’t that many of them. Of course, it was a paddle game that started the home video game market…Pong! Pong was developed by Atari engineer Allan Alcorn in 1972 and a home version was released by Atari/Sears in 1975. For the 2600 (VCS), one of the earliest game cartridges was Video Olympics (1977) with fifty different variations of Pong.
Other great paddle games for the 2600 include: Breakout, Super Breakout, Circus Atari, and Warlords. Warlords is a simple, but fantastic game and is an awesome party game as up to four people could play at the same time. Darrell Spice Jr. has updated the Warlords concept with his homebrew game ‘Medieval Mayhem‘. This game has improved graphics and sound, but has the same great Warlords game play!
Another outstanding paddle game, developed by Activision, is Kaboom! If you take a look at my ‘About’ page, you will see me with some friends playing Kaboom! circa 1982. I can remember playing this game over and over!
If have a 7800 and like paddle games, your only option was to play the 2600 classics. Recently, however, a new paddle game ‘Crazy Brix‘ has been developed by Bob DeCrescenzo. Crazy Brix brings the Breakout concept to the 7800 with some cool twists. A couple of new things are having two balls to ‘juggle’ and having the ‘Brix’ patterns change. In fact, if you get through the first few levels, you will really enjoy some of the patterns at the advanced levels!
One of the problems with paddle games is not the games, but the paddles themselves. The original Atari CX30 paddle controllers have a tendency to become ‘jittery’ after a short time. Best Electronics has been able to source replacement potentiometers for the CX30’s and I recently purchased a pair of upgraded paddles from them. I have to say that these upgraded CX30’s are awesome…very smooth and jitter free!
Another potential option are the new paddle controllers from AtGames. I am not sure what the quality of these will be, but they should be widely available soon.
In summary, if you want a change of pace from joystick games, pick up some paddle games from your local retro game shop or the new ones that I mention in this blog!