Atari 2600

Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 8

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

Stomp meWhen most people think of Atari 2600, the first thoughts that usually cross their minds are "blocky graphics", "limited sound", and "solid gameplay". You wouldn't expect someone to think "role playing game", "sprawling quest", or "end-level bosses", else you might think that person was a Scanner, reading your mind immediately after you've finished this review! Quick - RUN! No, seriously, though, that's what Starpath delivers in what will surely be remembered as one of the greatest games ever for the Atari 2600 in Dragonstomper.

You need a Supercharger and a cassette recorder to play (see the Supercharger "Collector's Corner" from DP #8 & #9), and this multi-load cartridge features three separate but symbiotic levels. The first, is a wilderness area you must explore to gain strength & dexterity points, find useful items and gold. You'll slay monsters in a rather uninspired way (>FIGHT. THE BUG MISSES. YOU KILL THE BUG. YOU RECEIVE 04 GOLD), but the battles are quick, allowing you time to explore. Once you've gathered enough items and gold to feel secure, cross the bridge to the town in the next level.

In the town you will have to use your gold to purchase the items necessary to negotiate the cave (next level). There is a trade shop where you can pick up useful items, a magic shop where you can buy spells, and a hospital where you can get drugs to keep you healthy in the cave's inhospitable environment. There are also warriors for hire in the town, although they ignore you until just before you enter the cave, so save some gold before you head down.

Next is the cave level, where traps abound! Skeletal remains lie all around. The cave walls actually have a jagged look to them (very much unlike the caves in a game of Cosmic Corridor or Dark Cavern). Torches line the walls. I remember playing this game when it first came out. The graphics were really impressive for that time! If you can negotiate the traps and reach the pit, you'll face the dragon, one of the largest characters ever on an Atari 2600 game. You'll need to throw everything you have at the dragon to defeat him. Snag the amulet and you win the game.

There's not much to put down in this game. You can just tell the designers were really into it, especially in the final sequence against the dragon. A score would have been nice, because you can have a great game and defeat the dragon easily, or a tough game where you're down to your last strength point when you win, and all you get for either victory is a little congratulatory message. Still - what a game! Dragonstomper is one of those "Top Ten" games for the Atari 2600. Well, I'm off to slay that BEETLE that killed me last game. Have at you!


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:23 PM