Barnstorming is another quality Atari 2600 title from Activision. It was designed by Steve Cartwright, who also designed Megamania, Seaquest and Hacker. The creation myth for the game is pretty simple. Cartwright stated that he was inspired to make the game after seeing a bi-plane pulling an advertising banner while driving home from work. In the early eighties, this was enough to kickstart the creation of a game and in 1982 the game was released. Reviews were generally favorable.
Any they should be. The game looks amazing. You have a beautiful sunset in the background a colorful plane to control and farm obstacles that look realistic. Compelling gameplay is a bonus.
In the game, you take the stick of biplane and try to fly through a series of barns in the shortest time possible. All the while avoiding hazards like weather vanes, windmills, and geese. These things won’t destroy your plane, but they will slow you down, adding to the time you need to complete your flight.
The game has four level or games. All of them increasing in difficulty with more obstacles and barns to clear. The first three levels are static though, they do not change. So you could memorize them and eventually guarantee a successful flight. Level 4 is random, so you you can never predict your course as you try and get through its 25 barns.
Here are the four levels and the numbers of bards you need to clear on each.
- Level 1 is Hedge Hopper (10 barns)
- Level 2 is Crop Duster (15 barns)
- Level 3 is Stunt Pilot (15 barns)
- Level 4 is Flying Ace (25 barns)
Like all Activision games, if you did well enough, you could take a photo of your TV and send away for the Flying Aces patch. To qualify in Barnstorming you would need 33.3 seconds on level 1, 51.0 seconds on level 2, or 54.0 seconds on level 3. Level 1 was by far the easiest to qualify on and was a the level my friends and I played most as a kid. Always trying to outdo one another and shave a little bit more time off.
Barnstorming is an outstanding title. While gameplay might get a little repetitive after a while, the experience is consistent. It was great single player game to play in a group. Short time is what matters in Barnstorming, so you could easily pass the joystick around as player after player failed to break the fastest time. So if you have a good group of friends over to play some Atari this weekend, why not fire it up. It is guaranteed to be a crowd-please.