Hangman Review

Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Release Date: 1978 Also On: None

It is the eternal question in game reviewing: which is more important, graphics or gameplay? As the graphical capabilities of consoles continue to increase with each passing console generation (indeed, each passing year), it tends to become harder to appreciate games that are not as graphically glamorous as those to which gamers are now accustomed. However, those people who are willing to overlook graphical limitations can often find that these older games, although less complex or involving, can often match the entertainment value of the best that current day games have to offer in that department.

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Hangman was released at a time when video games were not nearly as big of a business as they are today, a time when those people who cared to play games weren’t worried about graphics or voice acting. As a result, the games of this era were simplistic compared to their modern-day counterparts, but that doesn’t mean that games like this one couldn’t provide entertainment value even today. Indeed, despite the simple and very blocky graphics that this game has, and the relative lack of color (I only counted four colors: a background color, a color for the hanging guy and the letters, a color for the number in the win column, and a color for the number in the loss column), this game remains good for entertainment in short bursts even today.

For those of you who have never played Hangman with chalkboard or paper with your friends, the concept is simple. You have four to six blanks at the bottom of the screen, and you try to guess what letters go in those blanks. In this game, you do that by cycling up or down through the alphabet letters until you get to the one you want and then hitting the button. If you guess correctly, the letter will appear in the word as many of the blanks as it goes in. If you are wrong, a piece of a picture of a hanging man (hence the name) appears in the center left of the screen.

The objective of the game is to guess every letter in the word before the picture of the hanging man is completed. How difficult that is will depend on what difficulty level you have the game set on, but the game will keep track of your win/loss record with two numbers at the top of the screen. Every time you win or lose, you will need to hit the game reset button to get the next word.

As I mentioned earlier, the graphics in this game are simple, but they more than get the job done for this game. For 1978, the sound is quite good. The sounds for right or wrong answers sound as appropriate as they could for the time period, and I was very impressed by the fact that the sound effects as you cycle through the alphabet letters are arranged in such a way that, if you do it at the right pace, it almost sounds as if the game is playing the alphabet song (you know, the one you learned when you were a little kid). Overall, I’d say that the graphics are okay for the time period and the sound is above average.

The question of whether this game is worth getting remains however. I would tend to say no, if only because I personally believe that Hangman is more fun with whole phrases or sentences than with 4 to 6 letter words. It is entirely possible in this game to lose without so much as getting a hint of what the word you’re looking for is since there are so few right answers, although that problem is easily alleviated by going through the vowels first. Overall, if you’re a Hangman fan you may want to look for this game, but it will prove to be less exciting than some other Atari 2600 titles for the gamer who wants fast-paced exciting games. I’m not saying that this game is bad. Indeed, it is quite good for what it is. I’m just saying it’s not as exciting as some games for the Atari 2600.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 6.5
Written by Martin Review Guide

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