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CONSOLE: Atari 2600 DEVELOPER: Activision PUBLISHER: Activision
RELEASE DATE (NA): 1982 GENRE: Horizontal Flight
// review by Stingray

As fun as painting a barn.

Barnstorming was an airplane stunt show that became popular in the 1920s. Early aviators showed off their tricks and stunts in simple bi-planes, some of which where leftover military training planes. The famous pilot Charles Lindbergh began his career as a barnstormer. This profession took off in a series of one-upmanship style until several notable accidents led the U.S. government to enact safety regulations, which led to the downfall of barnstorming as a profession.

Atari, as only Atari could, took this wonderful and amazing profession and boiled it down into a really bad game where you pilot your own bi-plane through barns. Barnstorming was released in 1982 by Activision. Activision! C'mon, man. You are responsible for my favorite Atari game and then pull out a pile of heaping junk.

In this thrilling adventure you have four levels from which to choose. In level one, you need to fly through 10 barns. In levels two and three, you need 15 barns and in level 4, a whopping 25 barns. Levels 1-3 are a standard repeating level while level 4 is randomized which is good because after the two minutes needed to memorize the first three levels you'll need something to fill the five minutes that you can actually stand this game.


There was no point in getting two screenshots.

What do you get for flying through these barns? Massive amount of points? Nope! This game is a time attack. You must pilot your plane as fast as you can through the barns. There are obstacles in your way to slow you down. In addition to the barns, which can slow you down if you hit the roof instead of flying through there are windmills and ducks. Yes, ducks. Poor, innocent ducks... Hitting any of these obstacles will slow you down or stop you outright which will make your game last longer. Please don't hit anything.

One redeeming feature of this game is the sunset. It was a pretty impressive feature to map the different colors of the sunset in the limited memory of the Atari 2600. Good job, Activision, use up all your resourses on graphics instead of gameplay... hmmm... that sounds like a few games made now. Maybe this game was ahead of its time and held the test of time better than I thought. Nah, it still sucks.

The controls are smooth and you can speed up your plane by hitting the Fire Button, but that does not make up for the severe lack of gameplay. The repetitive gameplay is monotonous and extremely boring. This game will hold your attention for a whole five minutes, and that may be stretching it.


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