Atari 2600 – Raiders of the Lost Ark


Fun fact: it’s based on a movie by the same name.

Atari spent big money to get the rights to Indian Jones and E.T. in 1982.
Like 50 million bucks or something and we all know how this went.
Anyhow, Raiders was made by the same guy, Howard Scott Warshaw, who also developed Yar’s Revenge and E.T.
This action/adventure game sold really well (for obvious reasons) and was/is critically acclaimed (for reasons I don’t understand).
Let’s dive right in!

You are Indiana Jones and you’re on a quest to find the Lost Ark.
Raiders consist of thirteen screens, filled with enemies (snakes, flies, thieves), merchants and puzzles.
To solve this game you have two options:

  • Go in blind and try every item you find on every object.
    Fail miserably and go with option B.
  • Read the manual or a walkthrough and do exactly as you’re told.

I’m not even kidding.
Most of the puzzles are ridiculous.
Just an example:
You’re trapped in a dungeon and you have to whip or shoot a certain spot to break free. After that, you have to walk to a specific place on the right wall to enter a secret room. Here you have to wait until 6 ‘o clock, collect the gold and grab the Ankh.
This Ankh will teleport you to a plateau and then transform into a freakin’ grappling hook (!) that you need to reach another secret room.
I love how they tried to push games in a more sophisticated direction but that’s just silly.
Adventure did it better four years ago and Dragonstomper was on a whole ‘nother level at the same time.
Well, once you’ve found the Ark, which takes about 15-30 minutes, Indiana Jones steps on a pedestal that lifts him to a certain height, depending on how well you did.
You can then play again.
Everything stays the same except for the location of the Arc.

Let me start with the things I like.
There’s a nice rendition of the movie theme at the start. Very cute!
You also have a nice inventory that you can fill with many items.
You even need the second controller to select an item because the original controller was kinda lacking in the button department.
I also enjoy how some items work.
Like the timer that turns into a “real clock” when selected or the flute that plays a melody and makes you immune to snakes and flies.
Oh, there’s also that one puzzle where you have to wait for the sun to show you the treasure spot.
There great stuff here.


But also pretty sh**y stuff.
The graphics are butt-ugly.
Everything is huge and out of proportion, characters look slightly human or not human at all and the developer chose the worst colors possible.
How about a lush green instead of this disgusting snot-green?
Also, who thought of these thieves?
There’s a part in the game where you have to maneuver through a horde of thieves and every time they touch you they steal an item and if you’re unlucky that means game over. Great.
I already said that the puzzles suck and that you need a guide and that obviously bothers me most.
Because it feels like I’m not even playing the game myself.
Someone has to tell me to press a certain button at a specific time. That’s just lame.
You can probably watch a Youtube-video of the whole game and have the same experience.

Atari went for something new and exciting but failed pretty hard.
Raiders isn’t the worst game ever or anything…its just really frustrating to a point where I don’t even care anymore.
Sometimes simple is better than complex.
Skip it!





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