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|Rating:||4 out of 5|
Joust looks good on the Atari 5200. We suffered the reduced graphics on the 2600, so we were due this much improved version. In addition to a much needed facelift from the paltry 2600 version, the game play on the 5200 is good.
I aways mention the deplorable (but I try to find new derogatory adjectives) controllers of the 5200, but they are particularly bad for Joust. It's not the programming, but rather the placement. Pressing down with on's thumb, on the Atari 2600 joysticks is very intuitive and easy. The 5200's dual fire buttons - although well-meaning with 2 of them - are both on the side of the controller making them difficult for most games, but especially when playing Joust. You have to keep "firing" to stay afloat.
The Joust arcade controls used a 2-way joystick to change direction and a button for flapping to stay airborne and rise vertically. The Atari 5200 controller just isn't made for that!
Like the 2600 instruction manual, the 5200 manual gives no mention of Ostriches. We are told that "riders" are on flying Buzzards. Yeah.. whatever - they're fucking Ostriches, OK!
Your ostrich will naturally fall to the bottom of the screen - or rocky outcropping - when you stop pressing the fire button. It's actually a flap button. Jousting involves being higher than the buzzard you colide with - this makes you the winner and the other rider is unseated and leaves the screen.
I can't think of many (ok, I can' think of any) games that involve this sort of constant "firing" to maintain position. Its a very cool dynamic that makes the game fun and challenging as you need to calculate both rise and fall rates to win the jousts (collisions). Winning a joust causes the fallen ostrich to lay an egg. Collect the egg before it disappears for additional points.
A wave ends when all the Ostriches have been beaten. You may encounter an egg wave in which all the enemies begin as eggs and hatch into Ostriches. Collect as many eggs as you can! The more eggs you scoop up, the fewer flying foes you'll have to deal with. There is also a Pterodactyl wave in which the wave begins with the Pterodactyl.
Where Joust really shines is 2-player games. No taking turns. No wondering if you can grab another beer from the fridge before it's your turn. 2-player games are cooperative or combative. You decide! 2 players can work together to remove the enemies or go at each other. Very cool! Not too many games offer co-op options and no other games lets the players join forces or attack each other.
The enemy buzzard riders come in 3 forms. Bounders are red, Hunters are gray and Shadow Lords are blue. Shadow Lords are the most skilled and dangerous of the flapping enemies you'll encounter.
After the 2nd wave the Lava Troll may come out of the lava pits at the bottom of the screen and snatch you up if you're chasing an egg or chilling out. Don't linger and you have to be careful even if you're flying close to the pits. He'll get ya!
Occasionally a Pterodactyl will fly across the screen. They are very deadly, but if you can whack him on the beak, he can be defeated.
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