I am not a great fan of this type of repetitive shooters that do not give the player much variety.
However, some blanket statements were thrown as fact, and in the name of truth and fairness, I must question those statements.
Lockett said that this Atari version is a MILLION times better than the C64 version. A million times, really?
Pretty similar gameplay, pretty similar games, only a few real differences, and that becomes a MILLION-fold somehow? Care to explain how you calculated that?
Ugly is a matter of opinion basically, so anyone can say this about anything, and it doesn't mean anything, without a proper explanation - which Lockett didn't of course give, because it's much easier to just throw empty hatred-filled blanket statements caused by the bitterness that Atari wasn't as popular as the C64, and that it couldn't stretch its capabilities as far as the C64 could in certain directions (although it did magnificently in others).
But how is 'ugly' defined in this case?
The camel actually has more resolution and definition, and better animation - it even actually 'dies' when you shoot it, but on the Atari, it just changes to lines that fly off screen (a lazy programming trick instead of real animation). To my eyes, higher-resolution objects are prettier than lower-resolution objects, if they look similar otherwise.
The background color effect is neat on the Atari side, but the colors are pretty dull in my opinion. I mean, what is that putrid color supposed to be? And the Atarists often accuse the C64 for being 'brown and purple', and yet praise this game? Really?
On the C64 side, I see nothing too ugly - there's a realistic and atmospheric starry sky-effect, the mountains have more resolution and definition than the Atari side (although they lack the shading-effect, but this only makes them look more distant, which brings more atmosphere and realism to the game). Of course if you have conditioned your eyes to alway EXPECT the gimmicky raster-effects, anything with a solid, realistic color is going to look ugly.
The spaceship is also bigger, has more colors, and of course bigger resolution than on the Atari side. Same can be said about the lasers, and pretty much anything in the C64 version. Even the tiny camels on the 'radar portion' look like camels, instead of smashed potatoes. So, what's ugly about that?
I think the game actually has its own charmic atmosphere, and the graphics contribute largely to it. A starry night is surely more atmospheric and pretty than a dull-looking and gimmicky raster effect.
When you say it's slow, this is actually a GOOD thing. The Atari 800 version is way too fast. It's difficult to control the ship, when it keeps flying all over the place with the slightest touch, and it's difficult to even keep the camel in view! You never feel like you are fully in control, but instead, struggling and fighting AGAINST the controls.
On the C64, you feel like you have total mastery of the spaceship, and although the game's specific control method is still a bit tricky, at least now you can keep the camel in view and the craft actually obeys your moves. On the C64 side, if you die, it's your own fault, but on the Atari, you never know what the heck is going on.
(Unless you are an caffeine-overdosed amphetamine-using-teenager)
And what's dull about the C64 version? The better and more imaginative soundworld? The better gameplay? It's easy to just throw these adjectives out there, but would you care to actually explain what you mean by them? Not so easy, now, is it?
Or maybe you can admit that you just spew C64-hatred because you are biased and don't want to face the facts, and want to praise even these mediocre, dull Atari games for their gimmicks even when they suck compared to the C64 version..
In any case, this is a very simple, dull game to begin with, and ALL versions are pretty much "fun for two minutes, and never again"-type deals.
To put these games in order:
- Atari 2600 version
- Commodore 64 version
- Atari 800 version
Although the Atari version was called "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back". It's still better and way more playable, despite lacking the oh-so-cool raster-effects.
Another odd thing I noticed about the Atari version - as neat as it supposedly is, the ground seems to be moving 'forward', but the pyramids never get any closer, so .. are they, like, flying pyramids or travelling pyramids or something? Or are those lines on the ground something else (like the programmer's ego wanting to show off his latest trick)? I don't know, but at least the C64 version, realistically, doesn't have them.
There are Atari 800 games that are better than the C64 versions, but this is not one of them. If you like raster-effects more than playability, then sure, no contest. But if you prefer playability and atmosphere to gimmicks, then the C64 version wins hands down (between the Atari 800 and C64, that is - the Atari 2600 version is still the best).
Then there are games that are only slightly worse than the C64 version or pretty much on the same level, but Atarists are always quick to give a biased judgment in the Atari's favor on them.
To list some of the better games:
- Rescue on Fractalus
- Koronis Rift
- Alternate Reality
- Elektra Glide (although the C64 version is imho pretty good in its own way)
There can be no question that those games are better on the Atari, and shouldn't ever be even touched on the C64 side, if one wants a good gameplaying experience.
But don't go calling the C64 version of this simple game ugly and dull without explanations, or your statements have no merit. This Atari version could be said to be ugly and dull (mainly dull because of its dull color scheme without variation, dull-looking spaceship and too fast gameplay, which makes the whole experience dull) way more objectively than the C64-version can.
Neither version is a masterpiece, though, because this game is not very deep in any case.