Artillery Duel for the Atari 2600
Artillery Duel was originally written for the Bally Astrocade by Perkins Engineering. It was released by Bally in for that system in 1982. A year later, Xonox published ports for the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, and VIC-20. It was published in multiple times as part of Xonox’s duel-ender cartridges, which were cartridges with two game on it, on on each end. Artillery Duel was also published on its own.
It is a clever game, but not very fast paced. In the game you are one of two artillery emplacements. Your mission? Destroy the enemy artillery emplacement. You have a limited time to make your shot. In addition to time, you need to take a three other things into consideration when making your shot. According to the manual:
Barrel Angle – Push up your joystick to increase the barrel angle and down on the joystick to decrease the angle.
Powder Level – To increase the powder charge used in a shot push up on your joystick. Pull down on your joystick to decrease your powder level.
Wind Speed/Direction – The instrument labeled (W) indicates wind speed in MPH. Watch the little white flag or the movement of the clouds to determines wind direction.
Shot Countdown – The numbers displayed at the bottom center of the screen indicates the number of seconds remaining before you must fire – 30 seconds for Captain and only 15 seconds for General.
Once you have this all nailed down, you take your shot and hopefully you hit. If you don’t, it is your enemies turn and they have the same 15 or 30 seconds to take their shot. This is where things tend to fall apart for Artillery Duel.
It is an interesting game with lots to consider. Add to that it solid graphics and sounds and you should have an amazing game, but its not. The game is just so slow. You would think that would give one time to trash talk , but it is too much time for a quick zinger and the process for shooting is so thoughtful that it feels rude. I ran out of insult material before the second shot was taken.
That slowness extends into everything about the game. You make your shot and the enemy emplacement slowly sinks to the bottom of the screen, then some of your soldiers slowly march out in celebration. It is excruciating.
Artillery Duel is a great idea and is quite challenging. Unfortunately while they built a game system, the elements just don’t work to make a fun game. The game is worth trying, you will be impressed by the creativity that went into it. After the first try though, I doubt you will be returning to it.