Atari 2600 – Planet Patrol


If you look at this cover while the sun is shining you might actually go blind.

Which would kinda suck because you’d miss this sidescrolling shooter by Spectravision.
A game that deserves attention because of the single fact that instead of flying right or up, you will actually fly left.
This fact may sound boring but it’s really unique.

There isn’t much of a story here.
You’re on patrol in your fighter jet and you have to find and destroy enemy fuel depots.
No idea why.
I suppose your enemies are terrorists of some sorts.

This is how a typical round goes down:
First, you have to shoot enemy aircrafts.
They fire back (duh) with slow missiles that you need to dodge.
After that, three fuel depots pop up.
They are totally defenseless, so shoot away.
Hold your breath a bit longer because now you have to maneuver through a short minefield.
I know it stupid because you’re in a plane but hey, video games.
The dangerous part is over and a landing field will appear.
Line up and wait for a cute little refueling truck.
Yes, your jet needs fuel but to be honest, it never becomes a problem.
It’s more of a gimmick.
Following that, you face off against faster enemies.
There’s also a day and night cycle.
At nighttime, you should fire constantly in order to see.
Rinse and repeat until you’ve lost all lives.

Planet Patrol is really pretty.
The colors are bright and vibrant and I love all the little details like clouds and mountains in the background or the friendly refueling truck.
The game gets really hard after two or three stages but it never felt unfair.
Controls are responsive and even the “night rounds”, which I usually dislike, are totally manageable.
Btw, the day and night cycle is really smooth. Sweet!
Gameplay is also fairly advanced for an Atari 2600 game with all the different ‘stages’.

Sounds all great, I know, but what really bugs me are the few enemy types.
There’s actually just one.
The jets always look and behave the same for the whole game.
Sure, they get faster but it gets really monotonous after a while and drags the whole experience down quite a (little) bit.

Planet Patrol is a surprisingly good game that even when it gets stale is still better than many of its rivals thanks to its varied gameplay and good looks.






2 thoughts on “Atari 2600 – Planet Patrol

  1. You weren’t kidding, Planet Patrol has some great visuals. While I haven’t had much experience with the 2600 library, most of the games I’ve played so far have looked pretty bad. Maybe they had nice sprite work, but then the backgrounds would be random assortments of color or just plain black. Or everything would be made up of squares, making it hard to tell what anything was supposed to be.

    But I instantly knew what I was looking at when I booted up Planet Patrol, something I’ve rarely had the opportunity of experiencing playing the 2600. The transition from day into night particularly stood out as I had no idea the hardware was even capable of such a graphical feat! Though I didn’t appreciate the seizure inducing colors when I cleared a stage, haha.

    I can’t wait to see more 2600 post from you, as I expand my horizons and learn about the generation of gaming I missed out on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the great command.
      I’m still amazed by some games for the Atari 2600. Like how they managed to develop a game or art piece like “Escape from the Mindmaster”.
      Like having freat graphics is one thing but having a distinct artistic vision for said graphics in freaking 1982 is mindblowing.

      Liked by 1 person

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