Atari 2600 Sinistar would have been terrible

Originally published at: Atari 2600 Sinistar would have been terrible | Boing Boing


What’s the point of the game without the Sinistar saying “I LIVE”, “RUN, COWARD”.


If you aren’t afraid of Sinistar they are not doing it right.


That was a sweet game, one of the first sit-inside video games, along with the Star Wars trench runner.
The cockpit really gave you an immersive feel even with pretty primitive controls and graphics.

I never was very good at it, no matter how many quarters I plunked in at the student center. I don’t think I ever destroyed more than two heads, maybe not even two.


never saw Sinistar before. I can only imagine hearing his voice all over the arcade would have become pretty annoying lol


that is . . . hideous.

the best 2600 games had a kind of elegant simplicity that brought the most fun elements of a game forward and then abstracted more irrelevant details into the background. missile command is one that really showed off that approach, bringing the playability and tension of the original to the console. q-bert and space invaders also showed off that style of console porting.

that . . . thing they were going to call sinistar . . . no. just no.


Sinistar is one of the cabinets i long to own, along with Defender. but omg, Sinistar could not be beat for the sheer terror it created in me once he was alive and hunting for you. i have audio files of his emotes that i shuffle in with our music library. RUN, COWARD! RUN, RUN! and then that howl he gives, omg.


Moon Patrol

Williams made the BEST games.


while i would agree that williams made some great games and, although i loved robotron 2084 over most other games from its time, i feel i must offer three games from companies other than williams that belong on any list of the greatest games:

tempest from atari
qix from taito
and donkey kong from nintendo.


Oh, I wasn’t saying they were better than other companies or creators. I like your list, but it’s missing classics like Pac Man, Space Invaders, etc… I guess I would say that I think the Williams games rarely missed and were definitely my favorites.

If I could afford it and had the space I would have cabinets of Defender and Robotron in my house.


I was upset at the time that I got an Intellivision for Christmas instead of an Atari. In hindsight, it was a superior machine. They COULD have pulled of Sinistar with their Intellivoice module.


Every 2600 port was a heroic effort. The system was ridiculously primitive even for its time. This version of Sinistar is clearly underbaked, but maybe there’s some magic someone could pull off to make it work. If a modern fan effort tried to make a 2600 cart of it they might be able to do something better. Sadly the synth voice stuff would probably not fit on a 2600 cart. You would probably have to settle for some beep bloop sound effect instead, but that’s the sort of thing that 2600 players were used to.

The fact they got something like a minimap on a 2600 is nothing short of amazing.


First time I played Sinistar in the arcade it was a sit-in machine, and I nearly crapped myself the first time Sinistar came after me.


I used to go to an arcade that Sinistar on one side and the Black Knight pinball game on the other. It was loud. I’m sure the security guard heard both voices in his sleep at night.


Absolutely agree, but just for the record Moon Patrol was Japanese-made and Williams only licensed it for N. America.


To be fair, the Llamatron port to Amiga and probably Spectrum was pretty playable.

Two mysteries on that board:

  1. There’s an RS232 port on the PCB.
  2. The sound circuit supports stereo sound, but the software makes no use of it.

I love playing “guess how much RAM an Atari 2600 had” with younger programmers.

The answer is 128 bytes.

The ROM cartridges were typically 2K or 4K in size, although some later games used bank-switched cartridges typically with mutliples of 4K.

There was no frame buffer for graphics. The entire display had to be created one scan line at a time in real time by poking values into control registers, so those ROM cartridges consisted largely of code just to draw each display frame, with a little bit of time to do all the game logic during an NTSC vertical retrace interval.

The best Atari 2600 games were carefully designed around all these limitations. Almost any port of a game from a more capable system was at best a crude approximation of the original.


But those membrane buttons and disc thigy, and the stiff rubber side buttons.

possibly the worst game controller in the history of game controllers.

Why yes, I DID have one and yes, I WAS resentful of my Atari-having friends, for one reason and one reason only:



Sinistar! Oh man, the good old days, back when the best way to grab the most quarters was by giving kids PTSD.

wipes tear from corner of eye I still remember how my fingers would flex involuntarily for hours after running out of money.