Blog:Ode to Air Raid
Good Friday indeed...for two reasons! The first I won't get into here. The second is Air Raid for the Atari 2600. That is, someone found the ultra-rare box for what is already one of the rarest games on the system and is now selling it and the cartridge on eBay.
Thanks to the timing of all this, there was rampant speculation that this was an April Fools' joke, even after Albert of AtariAge verified in-person that the box is real (not to mention all the photos that were taken). It's not as if a box has never been seen before.
With its baby blue cartridge and "T-handle," Air Raid is shrouded in mystery. According to the box, publisher Men-A-Vision was based in Los Angeles, but you'll be hard-pressed to find any news articles or any other record of it. Who programmed the game? Was Men-A-Vision planning on releasing more games? Why so rare?
As for the game itself, Air Raid is, at its core, a hack of the more well-known Space Jockey. But whereas the enemies in Space Jockey scroll from right to left, the aircraft in Air Raid come hurtling down from the top of the screen. And you're not just shooting the bad guys (as in Space Jockey). You're also defending two buildings that scroll beneath the player. If they're destroyed, you lose. It's an interesting twist that adds a bit of challenge.
Air Raid has eight variations of gameplay. (Space Jockey has 16.) There are no instructions to clarify what the difference between each of them is, but they are similar to the ones in Space Jockey. Some allow the player to control their missiles and/or have the enemies move randomly.
With all the recent hoopla, I finally decided to take Air Raid for a whirl. Quite simply, I liked it. There is one glaring problem, however - the collision detection. It's not uncommon for bullets to pass right through your foes. The enemy must have more advanced technology than we anticipated.
Video of Air Raid:
For comparison purposes, Space Jockey:
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