Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cover to Cover: Imagic 1982 Catalog (pp. 8-10)

We're doing a brief cover-to-cover review of the 1982 Imagic game catalog; we've perused the Intellivision offerings, and now we're flipping the fold-out brochure over to take a look at the Atari 2600 lineup.

First, there's the rest of the promo for the Numb Thumb Club, the reverse side of the mail-in flyer we looked at last week, showing off some more of Imagic's unique photo/painted box art:

This side provides a few more details about the Numb Thumb News, which appears to be the typical house-organ sort of publication, intended to thank fans of the company's products and encourage them to buy more.  The club's slogan definitely has a vintage video gaming ring about it:  "Where sore thumbs are a way of life."  The Atari 2600 joystick was notable for putting odd pressures on the firing digit, and I for one am grateful for advances in controller design over these past thirty years.

Then we get into the Atari 2600 games, with a number of classics:

Rob Fulop's Demon Attack really put Imagic on the map; it was fast-paced, colorful, and intense at a time when Space Invaders was still the high-water mark on the 2600.  Atari would later release an official Phoenix game, but Imagic's simple action game still impresses with its graphical variety and carefully ramped-up challenge.  After Imagic went under, Activision bought the rights and has continued to market Demon Attack, on cartridge during the Atari 7800 years, and in the recent Activision anthologies for newer platforms.

Star Voyager was the also-ran in the let's-put-Star Raiders-on-the-2600 sweepstakes -- Atari's official adaptation and Activision's Star Master sold more copies and are better-remembered today.  But this version of the Atari 400/800 classic is also impressively executed, another example of talented programmers squeezing incredible results out of the venerable 2600's simple but highly flexible design.

Page 10 (as I've chosen to number these unlabeled pages) features a few more obscure Imagic titles:

Trick Shot was another Imagic launch game, a pool adaptation that's visually slick and manages a reasonable approximation of billiard ball physics on the 2600, no mean feat in and of itself.  Video game pool has never done much for me personally, but in the days when Checkers and 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe sold for $30, I'm sure this cartridge found an audience.

Riddle of the Sphinx is a "graphic adventure" in the only fashion the 2600 could accommodate -- the player wanders through vast and similar screens, fighting off enemies, accessing status screens by flipping switches on the console itself, and looking for special items and cryptic clues that might possibly add up to some sort of solution when the right treasure is randomly accepted at the right location.  The Atari Swordquest series would follow a similar pattern later on, with more graphical and gameplay variety, but Imagic's offering focuses on strategic depth and a degree of action.  And digging.  Lots and lots of digging.

Next time, we wrap up our look at this brief brochure.

No comments:

Post a Comment