Ahh, Atari 2600 Bank Heist, another game that I picked up in the 1990s, but left in a giant box for a decade and a half. Looking just at the Cart Art, I think I am going to like this game. I am not sure why. Maybe I just love the idea of an old timey bank robbing game. So I am not sure why I never played it. My only explanation is that I just didn’t see the game (too lazy to sort out my collection?) Well I remedied that last night and I am happy I did. The game, while not visually stunning, is a fun little maze romp with some interesting gameplay elements.
When I first fired the game up, in that moment before anything started happening, I noticed some things. First I would be controlling a car, makes sense as a getaway vehicle (a chariot pulled by goats would be cooler, but this game sadly has nothing to do with Norse Gods), and secondly, the game is a maze game. I started moving around, but had no idea what was going on at first. Their were 3 white things in the road (which I would later discover were some sort of representations of the banks I was robbing). Grab those icons and cops are on your tail. Kind of cool.
I keep moving around trying to avoid them, but nothing was happening and I was running out of gas. I stop the game and look up the manual. OK, I got it now. You garb the bank and then you drop dynamite out your car to blow up the cop cars that are chasing you and you need to time those drops to hit them. Mac and Cheese! This game is actually really cool.
Keep blowing up those cops and hitting banks and eventually a tunnel in the maze will open and you can drive off to a new board to repeat the process in a different maze. But remember to always keep an eye on your fuel gauge. Oh and the cops move faster and more randomly, which means they become very difficult to hit with dynamite. So the game gets more challenging as you move along.
A few issues with the game. The graphics are a bit bland. You know the type, a static straight line maze of uniform color. The vehicles, although they look like cars, do not really look like the cars from the time period. They actually look more like SUVs. As a bonus though, the wheels on the car spin, which is impressive for the time and adds a minor bit of unnecessary realism to the game. Graphic problems in a game like this I can get over that real easily, the gameplay is that decent.
What I could not get over was the ever present wail of police sirens whenever a cop car is present. It has that sing songy dental drill in the brain quality that is guaranteed to make you reach for the volume knob on the TV (no, I do not have a knob on the TV I play on, but I thought that sounded more legitimate in a retro sense). After 20 minutes of playing the volume on the TV was completely turned down (muted). After all I knew the cop cars were in the maze. There is not place for them to hide, so why do I need to hear them the whole time?
Atari 2600 Bank Heist was surprisingly good. I know that some of the other offerings from 20th Century Fox for the Atari were of mixed quality, but this one delivers. If it only had a hint of something more in the graphics department and a little more thoughtfulness in sound design I would give it 5 stars, but as it is, I give it a solid 4.