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Armor Ambush

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Released: 1982

Genre: Shoot-'em-up

Format reviewed: Atari 2600

Publisher: M Network

Developer: M Network

Combat is an excellent two-player game for any Atari 2600 owner, but what do you do when you’ve exhausted the game’s possibilities? If you’re anything like my dad, you’ll pick up something a bit more advanced like Armor Ambush.

Produced by Atari competitor Mattel Electronics’ M Network division and based on the Intellivision title Armor Attack, the game takes the basic concept of tank battles and massively expands upon it. Tanks react to different types of terrain, moving sluggishly in the water and speeding up when driving over proper roads. The game also contains forest areas as hiding spots, and tanks can even lay mines to catch the enemy out. Of course, there are still walls to contend with too. These improvements brought a whole new dimension to the gameplay introduced in Combat, making it a much more compelling affair for two players.

However, the biggest improvement was the inclusion of a single-player mode, which immediately put it amongst the most-played games on my Atari 2600. I couldn’t always find an opponent to play Combat against, but with Armor Ambush I didn’t have to. It sounds like a basic inclusion today, but at the time it was something of a revelation.

It’s not a game that shows up frequently in best-of lists or nostalgic retrospectives, but it was a game that definitely shaped my childhood. Plus, it’s a big improvement on Combat – so if you’re looking for something a bit meatier on the Atari 2600, it’s definitely worth a go.