Since the creation of the first video game consoles, game developers’ primary objective has been providing fun and entertainment to an always-increasing number of players.
But it wasn’t until the Atari 2600 was launched in the '80s that we saw Arcades become widespread worldwide.
These games, apparently simple before our eyes accustomed to current high definition, were created with some difficulty levels that encourage players to stay sharp. It was a matter of time for people to realize the games actually helped develop some brain skills.
People tend to have specific abilities in which they excel more than the others. We always prefer to play video games where we are better, making a diversity of game concepts a priority.
The games included in this list prove how Atari 2600 developers used the console's limited capabilities to offer that variety and maybe help people train some new abilities. Of course, we are not totally sure if helping people do some brain kung-fu was one of these games' objectives, but we can surely hope so!
Atari 2600 Games That Tested our Brain Skills
Dragons, swords, secret keys, and an enchanted chalice.
All of this can be found in Adventure, described as the first fantasy game designed for consoles released in 1979. Talk about a true classic.
Sure, our main character is a yellow square in a labyrinth fighting against similarly pixelated obstacles to reach their objective.
A horror game in the early 80s?
Entombed plunges you into deep catacombs plagued with zombies. The goal is to survive this chilling maze.
Released in 1982, it was not exactly the most successful but has recently caught attention because its algorithm is indecipherable. Researchers even contacted people that collaborated in the creation of the game but to no avail.
Who doesn't like cops and robbers games? This premise may be traditional, but it is still attractive to fans of action and chase games to this day.
It is an exclusive two-player game, with no single-player mode available, which is a bit restrictive. But anyway, a blue square and a red one are Maze Craze’s characters, two cops who compete with each other to catch fugitives.
Despite its looks, this game is about driving a car while shooting your opponent and at the same time avoiding being destroyed by the attacking missiles. Not bad for such an old gem!
In Slot Racers, each successful attack on the opponent adds a point, and you need 25 to claim victory. It was released in 1978, and according to my dad, it ignited many competitive quarrels with his friends.
It is one of the biggest titles for this console and one of the earliest sagas of games ever created. Since its launch in 1982, they have released versions for modern devices, although the experience is not the same.
The main character is a brave adventurer exploring the jungle. In pitfall, you must face crocodiles, snakes, scorpions, swing using vines (with Tarzan’s cry included), and through various scenes, find the way to the treasure and then the exit.
In this 1982 game, our hero is a firefighter who must go into the flames to save trapped people in the shortest time possible.
Arriving by helicopter at a burning skyscraper, you must overcome each burning floor fast enough, so you are not trapped as well by the fire approaching from all directions.
Luckily for you, you have some sort of infinite water gun at your disposal, so as long you are good at dodging the pesky flames, you should be ok.
Egyptian mysteries are probably an endless lore source for movies, books, and newly born video games.
Tutankham is a confusing maze where a tomb explorer must face menacing creatures such as dragons and snakes and spells and booby traps to find the exit. You are not defenseless, though, as you have a trusty weapon to fend off any threat.
Secret Quest is an excellent example of how Atari tried desperately to survive despite being totally outclassed by the next generation consoles.
How? Creating a flipping awesome action-adventure game that kind of mimicked open-world exploration games like NES’ The Legend of Zelda.
However, the trusty 2600 packed a real punch by adding a revolutionary feature: passcodes!
You could stop your quest and write down a ten-digit password to pick up the mission later on. Considering many considerably more advanced games did not have that feature, the fact itself is praiseworthy.
This is an addicting one! Frogger’s concept is so fun to play that it does not need powerful graphics. Atari 2600 did an outstanding job replicating the arcade experience, as only emulating the gameplay accurately was enough.
The game’s premise is ridiculous. Most of you will agree on the unlikeliness of frogs having to cross five lanes of traffic and jump from logs floating in a river to get home.
Again the developers leverage the limited capabilities of the fantastic 2600 to create an engaging, fun, and challenging game.
Following a Frogger-like concept, it uses simplicity and cleverness to keep the player interested.
However, unlike Frogger, Frostbite includes some additional features, like changing the environment to your advantage, adding an extra layer of depth to the game’s strategy.
Before you move on
The games included in this list, successful or not at the time, initiated a whole generation of gamers. We need to take our hats off to the developers who worked wonders for a system so limited.
The Atari 2600 sits comfortably in millions of gamers’ precious memories. If you are one of those who enjoyed the moving pixels and the catchy tunes, make sure to visit the rest of our articles, you may find a couple of interesting titles there!