Break time! Demon Attack for the Atari 2600

[Break Time! is a series of posts about video games that Rick has spent entirely too much time with over the years.]

If you’ve glanced at this series before, you’ll know that I’m a game collector, and have a decent library of Atari 2600 titles to choose from. Most of them aren’t worth pulling out in 2007, but there are still a few that still manage to be fun.

Demon Attack, by Imagic, is one of the fun ones.

[Demon Attack attract mode]
Demon Attack’s attract mode***

The premise of Demon Attack is pretty simple. You control a ship at the bottom of the screen, and your mission is to shoot wave after wave of flying “demons”. The demons? Well, their mission is to destroy you by any means possible.

Part of the fun of Demon Attack is that the game is very simple to play – yet there’s a bit of variety. As is the case in almost all of these games, the aliens get faster as the game progresses. Demon Attack also varies the aliens and their tactics a bit.

First, the aliens change their appearance and how they shoot at you – varying between beams and small clusters of bullets (the small clusters seem a little easier to dodge).

[Demon Attack aliens]
Another variety of aliens

The first few waves of aliens simply die when you blast them. Later on, each alien will split into two smaller ones.

[Demon Attack aliens … these split!]
Still more aliens. These aliens split into pairs of smaller ones when you shoot them!

These smaller aliens are not just hard to hit. They have an entirely new tactic. If you shoot one member of the pair, the other member dives at your ship. In later waves, dodging these little guys becomes extremely difficult.

[Demon Attack’s kamikaze aliens]
If you shoot one of the pair, the other one tries to dive into your ship!

Like Dark Cavern, Demon Attack is surprisingly intense – and a nice test of your reflexes. It is simple, fast, and fun – well worth looking at if you have an old Atari 2600 or an emulator around.

***An arcade-like attract mode is somewhat uncommon for Atari 2600 games. Often, game coders didn’t bother with them on the machine, or would show a nearly static screen with cycling colors!

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