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Crypts of Chaos Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 57%
Crypts of Chaos
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  • Review Score:

  • C+
Sometimes it can be very difficult to talk about games from the second generation. Don't get me wrong; often it's very easy. Some games like River Raid are true classics that are still a blast 35 years later, and some games like E.T. were crap then that definitely didn't get better with age. No, the ones that are hardest to talk about are the games that were impressive at the time but don't have that timeless quality to attract modern audiences. Crypts of Chaos is one of those games.

Fox definitely had some serious balls here. They created a first-person dungeon crawler on the Atari 2600. That seems impossible, but the results were astonishing for 1982. You start on a floor of an eighteen-story dungeon (which floor depends on the chosen difficulty) with the goal of getting to the bottom floor. Each floor is a maze to navigate, and the set-up is simple to follow. Monsters attack at random points (with some impressive scaling for the time), and you're equipped with a sword and three magical items that all come to use.

Crypts of Chaos (Atari 2600)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Despite the nightmare that something this big could've been on the Atari 2600, everything works quite well. Flicking up and down on the joystick chooses between controlling your character and changing items. It's simple and works great. Certain weapons are required for certain monsters, and it's relatively easy to keep track. Unfortunately, the magic wand (your long range attack) and the magic ring (which can steal hit points) have a limited number of charges. That wouldn't be an issue except there's no counter telling how many charges are left. It's too easy to run out without realizing it. Fortunately, some charges are restored when descending to a new floor. Also, the mazes are large, and there is no map, making it very easy to get lost. Grab some graph paper for drawing your own map.

The visuals are very simple but get the job done. The scrolling and turning stutter, but that's to be expected. It's no worse than Nintendo games that attempted first-person like Friday the 13th and Fester's Quest. The colors give some clues to where you are in the level, but it can still be easy to get turned around. The sound effects are the classic bleeps and fart noises that are common with 2600 games but still enjoyable.

Crypts of Chaos was one of the most ambitious titles on the Atari 2600. It laid the groundwork for games that we enjoy today like the Wizardry games and The Elder Scrolls. However, on the same token, it hasn't aged well. If you really want to see the start of the genre, it's a great option. Otherwise, this is one ancient relic that can stay buried.
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