Air Raid for the Atari 2600

Air Raid is one of the more expensive Atari 2600 games. Since I do not have thousands of extra dollars laying around, I decided to give the game a shot via emulator. While that is less satisfying than being able to handle the original hardware, the game itself isn’t bad.

No instructions exist for the game, but I was able to find a scan of the of the original box, which helped me to understand what is going on. The box art actually has typos in it, I decided to fix those for readability.

The quiet pre-dawn sky is suddenly filled with enemy bombers. Can you save Manhattan from your lone command post? You watch as the sky scrapers around you are reduced by each hit until, after 12 hits, nothing but rubble remains. You fire fast and furiously to protect the falling city. Can yo withstand the deadly onslaught? With this 8 variations of play, this debut thrill packed action game by Men-A-Vision, will bring many of hours of exciting challenging play.

Pretty epic sounding! It is a shame I didn’t stumble on this game when it was available, this is exactly the type of marketing that appealed to me. Combined that with the game’s cool T-shaped handle and light blue casing and it would have been a home run.

On the box they also note that while playing the game, you should rotate your joystick. So that the fire button is in the lower left hand corner. Weird, but okay.

Gameplay on Air Raid is smooth and challenging. The bomber shots at the skyscrapers are hard to time and you will need to move quickly in front of the shot, take your shot, and move out before getting hit. I feel like I was much better at that when I was a kid. Nowadays it leaves me in a sweaty panic. Still, while it is twitchy, it makes for compelling gameplay in small doses.

The graphics are decent. Although their choices are a bit abstract. One of the things shooting at you looks a little like a stealth bomber, but a lot more like Star Destroyer. The other things they throw at you look sort of randomly chosen. One of them is most certainly a UFO. Since this game is purported to be a hack of another Atari 2600 game, Space Jockey, these are probably just holdovers from that title.

I am not sure how that fits into the mythology of the game. That manual must have been very interesting.

Sound is mostly action related. So no background audio. This isn’t bad, just a little jarring until you get used to it.

Air Raid doesn’t win any awards, but its an interesting game from MenAvision. This was sadly their only game and it sold very poorly, which is why we never saw more from them. That is a shame, the bones of this game are solid, even if it was a hack.

I generally try to play all my Atari games on original hardware from the original cartridges, but that just wasn’t possible with Air Raid. It is just amazing that we live in a world where games that might have disappeared can be shared on files that are smaller than the this post.

If you have some time and access to an emulator, give Air Raid a try. It won’t give you many of hours of exciting challenging play, like the box promises, but it will entertain and challenge you.

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