The 10 Best Atari 2600 Games That Make Us Nostalgic
Ah, the Atari 2600. It’s hard to believe that such a low-tech game console now has a cult following. The Atari 2600, which was released in 1977, is often considered the first home video game console. It was the first generation of video game consoles to use a microprocessor. The console has a simple graphics system that can only produce a few colors.
The first console was a joystick controller, which is now a standard video game controller.
As time passed, the Atari 2600 faded into obscurity and was eventually discontinued in 1992.
Contrary to popular belief, the Atari 2600 never lost a popularity contest to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
The Atari 2600
The original console was a runaway success. It sold between 20 and 50 million units. The Atari 2600 has been reproduced many times over, as the company has released several new versions in the past two decades. However, its legacy is still largely associated with the original console and its games.
Many people still play games on their old Atari 2600 consoles. Atari has been releasing a number of Atari 2600 games for the Nintendo Switch since March of 2018. Many of the new games are remakes of classic titles such as Rampage and Pitfall. But there are a handful of new games available as well.
List of 10 Best Atari 2600 Games
We’ve decided to compile a list of our favorite Atari 2600 games. There are so many classic Atari 2600 games, it’s nearly impossible to pick just 10. We’ve played them all. These are our 10 favorite Atari 2600 games that we still play over 40 years later.
- Pac-Man (1982)
- Space Invaders (1980)
- Pitfall! – Pitfall Harry’s Jungle Adventure (1982)
- Asteroids (1981)
- River Raid (1982)
- Frogger (1982)
- E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
- Star Wars – Return of the Jedi – Death Star Battle (1983)
- Adventure (1980)
- Centipede (1982)
#1 – Pac-Man (1982) For Atari 2600
The Atari 2600 was released in 1977, the same year that Pac-Man was also released. Pac-Man, unlike Pac-Man on the original Atari 2600, would pop up on the console. It’s also ironic that in the first “Colossal Head” scene, Pac-Man is played by the Miniboss, Spaz.
Pac-Man (1980) For Atari 2600 Pac-Man was the original video game. It was released in 1980 for the Atari 2600 and even bigger than the original. It was one of the most successful coin-operated video games of all time. Pac-Man uses a maze of colored dots, or “Pacs,” to maneuver around while trying to destroy all the Pacs.
Download → Pac-Man Atari 2600 ROM
#2 – Space Invaders (1980) For Atari 2600
Space Invaders (1980) for the Atari 2600 is one of the most well-known games in the industry. It was created by Tomohiro Nishikado and released in 1980. It was the first game to use a laser beam to produce a moving image on a television screen.
In 1980, when it was released, the game was considered an arcade-style game, but it is now considered an action-adventure game. The game begins with the player controlling a spaceship at the bottom of the screen. The player’s task is to defend the earth’s surface from waves of invading alien spacecraft.
Download → Space Invaders Atari 2600 ROM
#3 – Pitfall! – Pitfall Harry’s Jungle Adventure (1982) For Atari 2600
Pitfall! is the first 2600 game to take advantage of its graphical capabilities. It’s a fairly basic maze-like platform game in which the player explores a jungle to retrieve a magic yellow trident. The game was originally written for the Atari VCS, the Atari 5200, and the Atari 7800.
In 1983, Warner Brothers decided to port the game to the Atari 2600, which proved to be an unsuccessful endeavor due to technical limitations. A more playable version of the game was released on the Atari 5200 in 1984.
Download → Pitfall Atari 2600 ROM
#4 – Asteroids (1981) For Atari 2600
Asteroids (1981) is an arcade game developed and published by Atari, Inc. It is a best-selling video game and one of the most popular video games of all time. Asteroids was one of the first video games to use a trackball, as well as one of the first to display animated graphics. The objective of Asteroids is to destroy asteroids and saucers before they hit the player’s spaceship and to avoid being hit.
Download → Asteroids Atari 2600 ROM
#5 – River Raid (1982) For Atari 2600
“River Raid” was the first game to make the Atari 2600 famous. This is the first game to really focus on speed. The most interesting aspect of the game is that the player must fire missiles at enemies on the river in order to achieve a high score. The game became one of the most popular video games ever released. The number of versions, covers, and cartridges sold is astounding.
Download → River Raid Atari 2600 ROM
#6 – Frogger (1982) For Atari 2600
Frogger is a classic game from the 80s, in which the player controls a frog and attempts to cross a busy road, a river, and other obstacles while avoiding cars, trucks, and snakes.
This game was originally released for the Atari 2600 in 1982. It was developed and published by the video game company, Konami. In 2009, Frogger was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame.
Download → Frogger Atari 2600 ROM
#7 – E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) For Atari 2600
This classic game, which was created by Atari veteran Steve Walsh, depicts a friendly alien that players rescue after it lands on Earth and becomes trapped by light pollution. The game is best known for its unique platforming challenge, which pits the player against Gizmo, the friendly alien’s archenemy.
Download → E.T Atari 2600 ROM
#8 – Star Wars – Return of the Jedi – Death Star Battle (1983) For Atari 2600
Do you know the Death Star Battle game from Star Wars? It’s a classic game. I remember playing it on my Atari 2600 as a kid. It was one of the first video games I played. When you play the Death Star Battle for Atari 2600, you control Luke Skywalker.
But when you play the Death Star Battle for the Nintendo Entertainment System, you control Luke Skywalker AND Princess Leia.
Download → Return of the Jedi Atari 2600 ROM
#9 – Adventure (1980) For Atari 2600
The Atari 2600, as well as a few other popular consoles, were originally produced without any hard drive storage to hold game data. This meant that the game was stored on the console and you could load the game cartridge for your favorite title and start playing. You would load the game cartridge with a cartridge adapter. Thus, Adventure was one of the first games available on the Atari 2600.
Adventure is still a widely popular game for the system and is considered one of the best adventure games of all time.
Download → Adventure Atari 2600 ROM
#10 – Centipede (1982) For Atari 2600
Centipede is a classic arcade game designed by Ed Logg for the Atari 2600 in 1982.
The game is one of the first, and best, examples of a game that is built around a “boss battle” mechanic, where the player must fight a specific enemy at the end of each level.
Centipede is the best Atari 2600 game I’ve ever played. It’s been a couple of decades since I played it, and I have no idea how it will play on modern consoles, but I do remember how fun it was to play as a kid.
Download → Centipede Atari 2600 ROM
The Atari 2600 was a video game console released on September 11, 1977, in North America. It was originally sold as the Atari VCS, for Video Computer System. There were a lot of games released for the Atari 2600, and it’s hard to choose the best ones. However, I think the ones I’ve chosen are both the most popular and the best games. So, here I mentioned the top 5 Atari 2600 games.
If you are the type who just doesn’t get off on games that will max out your visual system, then it might not be the best fit. There’s more to video games than chasing pixels. After spending a few hours playing through these titles, however, you will see that they’re addictive and require you to engage in quick decision-making. You’ll learn to appreciate the simplicity of these games and the workmanship that went into them.