Monday, April 8, 2019

Retro Video Game Review - Airlock for the Atari 2600

Atari 2600
Publisher: Data Age
Developer: Data Age
Genre: Fixed screen platformer
(Images courtesy of


Resting perilously on an undersea ledge, your disabled nuclear submarine has begun taking on water. With time at a premium and torpedoes going off within the sub, you must save your crew from imminent disaster.

The two playfields in Airlock consist of five platforms (viewed from the side) that represent compartments of a submarine. To save your sinking sub, you must run across each platform and grab a couple of hatch keys within a ten-second time limit. After you grab both keys, you must enter an elevator that will take you up to the next compartment.

While running across the compartment floors, you must avoid or jump over torpedoes that have shaken loose due to a strange undercurrent from deep beneath the ocean floor. When you make it to the top one or two (depending on the skill level) stages or you run out of time, the game is over. There is no high score in this game and no continuation of play. You either finish your task or you don't.


Airlock for the Atari 2600 is, simply put, a piece of garbage. For starters, it's incredibly short. Unlike most games from this era, Airlock doesn't continue indefinitely as long as you stay alive. Once you have retrieved all of the hatch keys and made it to the top of one or two screens (depending on which difficulty level you are playing), the game is over. There is no high score to concern yourself with and no extended playing time.

Another problem with this wretched game is how easy it is. You can easily beat the game the very first time you play it; it takes about a minute on the easiest difficulty level. However, even when cranking the game up to the hardest level, you will likely only take a few tries. After that, pull the game out of your Atari 2600 and never play it again.

Aside from the fact that the game is short, easy, and pointless, the action itself is dull. The obstacles are lame and redundant, the jumping action is boring, and the two levels are unimaginative. There is nothing wrong with the concept of having to make it to the top of the screen in a certain period of time, as that is certainly a tried and true video game staple, but this game is sluggish and very basic.

The graphics in Airlock are about as bad as the game itself. The introductory screen featuring the submarine and the fish is tolerable, but the actual game play screens are hideous. The platforms are plain and simple. The little man you control is a squarish stick figure that doesn't move a single part of his body; he merely glides along sideways. Even worse, the torpedoes that you must dodge and jump over look almost exactly like your character!

Shame on Data Age for releasing such a vapid, ridiculously inane cartridge with almost zero replay value. Shovelware like this played a role in creating the Great Video Game Crash of 1983.

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