Rob Fulop

Atari 2600

Review by Joe Santulli



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missilecommand.gif (2110 bytes)I would have to say that of all the game designers there have ever been, Rob Fulop has created the games "most likely to delight while in a drunken stupor". That isn’t to say the games aren’t delightful while completely sober (they truly are), but Fulop’s use of flashing/fading effects, smoothly moving objects, and high intensity color palettes make the games even more fun when you’ve "got a few in you". I recently hosted a small party and had some friends over. They couldn’t get enough of Missile Command or Cosmic Ark. Then again, maybe that WASN’T the booze talking.

I have to start with Missile Command. To this day, I have yet to play a home conversion so UNLIKELY to be done well on an inferior piece of hardware, yet the Atari 2600 version of Missile Command still rocks!

This was the first Atari 2600/VCS game I ever purchased, and for quite awhile it was the only game I played. The game was designed to show off the positives of the Atari 2600 (the flashing effects of an explosion, for example) while avoiding the weaknesses (there is only one missile base). Some designers would try to go balls-out on arcade features and wind up with a mess of a game. Fulop recognized the limitations of the VCS and programmed accordingly. If you haven’t played this one in awhile, try it again – not only will it bring back memories, but you won’t be able to put it down.

The VCS version of the game is missing the jets that streak across the screen dropping little presents on you, and you’ll never see a missile split into two, but you’ll hardly notice that once the action heats up. The "smart" ICBM’s are as smart as ever, and the game just has the pace and purpose of the coin-op down pat.

cosmicark.gif (2894 bytes)Cosmic Ark is one of those games that you don’t hear people reminiscing about, which surprised me a little. It’s like two games in one. The first game is an all-out test of your reflexes, similar the classic arcade game Space Zap. Your "ark" remains fixed in the center of the screen surrounded by a hypnotic starlight effect (trippy even while sober). Asteroids appear from each of the four sides of the screen, and you simply have to react by pressing the joystick in that direction to counter the asteroid with return fire. You’d think this would be a pretty easy task, but eventually they’re coming at you so fast that any kind of mistake – or hesitation – will cost you a ship.

Survive this wave and you move along to the planet surface where you try to capture two "beasties" in a tractor beam and transport them aboard the ark. You have a limited time to do this, the creatures move about erratically (and intelligently away from your beam). In later stages, a rising and falling laser beam pressures you to move quickly or lose precious time.

demonattack.gif (2168 bytes)The game is brilliant and colorful. Like Fulop’s well known shooter Demon Attack, the game seems to hit a peak – and if you’ve mastered it, you can play on and on. Sure.

Demon Attack was one of the first third party titles available for the Atari 2600, as well as a debuting game for the company called Imagic. At its core, Demon Attack is similar to Centuri’s Phoenix, where your ship is being attacked by a horde of space birds that can split into two when hit, fly erratically, and have deadly weapons. In fact, there was a lawsuit filed against Imagic stating the same. Fulop and Imagic won that one.

Demon Attack, like Missile Command, was a game that sold consoles. Fulop had other memorable Atari 2600 games: he designed the very early Atari title Night Driver, the Imagic fish adventure Fathom, and his own independently produced Cubicolor.


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Last updated: Sunday, September 26, 2004 12:04 PM