Written by  :  Apparatchik (18)
Written on  :  Jul 15, 2004
Platform  :  Atari 2600
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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A very basic, yet entertaining game with more surprises than you might think.

The Good

This was one of the first game cartridges that I bought for my old Atari 2600. What struck me was how different this game seemed from all the typical arcade games of the atari system. The game is simple; you must recover a golden chalice and bring it back to the golden castle where you start. Opposing you are 2-3 dragons who try to eat you and an annoying bat that steels stuff from you. The trick is that while you can kill the dragons with a sword, the bat is invulnerable. The layout features 3 castles with interiors, plus catacombs and mazes.

For its day the layout was pretty impressive. While the maze was well lite, the catacombs were dark and you had to feel your way round. Also the dragons, each a different color, had bits of personality. The red dragon, for example, was always aggressive, while the green and gold ones where more interested in guarding key items.

There were lots of interesting little items to use to help in your quest, including the aforementioned sword, a bridge to cross into otherwise inaccessible areas (such as in the white castle, keys to castle gates, and a magnet to extract items embedded in the wall.

There were two settings and both a basic and advanced game. For example in the first setting the dragons would run right into your sword, while in the second they would run. This was important as you could only carry one item at a time, including the chalice, so having the sword around to fend off dragons may be difficult if you are transporting something else. Also, as mentioned above, there was no defense against the bat, who always wants to trade items with you. Sometimes its a handy trade, and sometimes, he trades a live dragon for your sword. I usually would lock him up in a castle I no longer needed to visit.

Lastly, the designer of the game, Warren Robinett, put in a hidden puzzle that will ensure his name for posterity

The Bad

The graphics are very basic. You are a square; the sword is an arrow and so forth. The dragons and bat are better done. There is minimal sound - usually the biting of the dragons as they try to eat you, and yes you can end up in their stomach!

Lastly, although there were some variations, overall the game could become dull after repeated play. As I pointed out above, I found a trick to deal with the bat and you can just hunt down the dragons first before going for the chalice, which was always either in the black or white castle, though sometimes you needed the magnet to pry it from the wall.

The Bottom Line

A rare treat for the Atari 2600 that will provide fun and some challenge, but is now more a nostalgic piece for most people than anything else. Nevertheless, if you are into old fashioned adventure games then this little gem might well be for you.