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Armor Ambush Review

Developer: Mattel Electronics Publisher: Mattel Electronics
Release Date: 1982 Also On: Intellivision

Only a short time after this title’s release, Atari faced serious problems in the home console market with the rise of home computer popularity and the slew of bad systems and games that appeared. Finding a good game around this time isn’t easy to do, most of them are total crap and a few are just average. Armor Ambush would be one of the latter.

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Graphically, Armor Ambush is pretty impressive but nothing to get excited over. You have a wide variety of terrain features, obstacles and some neat looking tanks to play around with. In addition, each level is randomly generated, so the coding that went into it is probably fairly impressive. However, Combat came out in 1977, and this game really isn’t too much of a jump from that. All they really did was add some terrain. You otherwise have the same exact game, and in fact this was what the unreleased Combat 2 was intended to look like.

The sound in Armor Ambush is just fine, right on par with the majority of Atari 2600 games. You have your tank sounds, explosions, bullets and that’s it. Works great, but again, considering when this came out and its obvious similarities to Combat (pretty much identical, in fact), you’d think they would have added a bit. Thus, I’m not going to score too high in this category. I expect a little added to a game that’s otherwise a copy of the original classic.

So how about the gameplay? Well, as you may assume from the above, Armor Ambush is basically a straight Combat clone. The great thing about Combat, aside from its simplicity, is that you have so many stinking game variations to go through it’s a wonder they crammed it all onto one cartridge considering the programming skills at the time. Not to mention variations on how sprites appear, if they appear, bullet movements and so forth. Armor Ambush only offers two tanks attacking each other with one bullet variation. Straight shot or riccochet, that’s it. No points for incentive, no computer to play against, just eliminate twenty-five tanks and you win. The only cool thing they really added here was the ability to switch between one of two tanks for a bit strategy, but it’s not like it adds that much depth, you’ll still get sick of it in about five minutes. Plus, the lack of other vehicles for some variety makes it pretty boring in a relatively short amount of time. I was quite disappointed too, because another review I read online from a site that’s, let us say, notorious for letting anyone under the sun write a review, that called this ‘Combat on steroids.’ Well, let me tell you, those steroids must have been cut with some horse tranquilizers. Here, check it out for yourself:

As for creativity, I can’t really say Armor Ambush is that creative of a game. In fact, I almost wonder if they stole the idea from Atari before Combat 2 was released and this then caused that to be put onto the shelf. What they should have done is add points perhaps, definitely more vehicle variety and for the love of god at least the ability to play against the computer. At this point in video game history it was more than possible to program. I even saw it mentioned on Wikipedia that you could play against the computer. Hmmm, yet another reason not to trust that site…

For replay value, I have to say Armor Ambush doesn’t have much for me, in fact I decided to get rid of it about ten minutes after I played it. I gave myself a week or so to let it sink in, pulled it out again and had the aching feeling in my stomach. Even with two players this game would be fun for only about one play and then you’d get pretty tired of it. As for length, can’t really say that applies here. You have a set limit of twenty-five wins to beat your opponent, and it takes about that much in minutes to pull it off I’d say (though I’ve never tried), but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Probably too long, in fact. The great thing about Combat is you could play each one as much as you want and declare the winner, here you have to reach a certain goal, at least technically.

Armor Ambush is pretty disappointing for a late Atari 2600 release, I expect more out of games from this time period. Graphically, it pulls it off rather well, but in other areas it’s just Combat, yet again. It seems once a good game is made that breaks the mold or sets a standard, said standard is rarely gone against unless by the foolish or by third-party companies that could give a crap how bad their games are. Armor Ambush isn’t terrible, just don’t go running to find it. Heck, don’t get it unless it’s free, in my opinion.

Graphics: 5.5
Sound: 3.5
Gameplay: 4
Creativity: 4.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 2.5
Final: 4
Written by Stan Write a User Review