Despite limited horsepower, the Atari 2600 is home to ports of some of the greatest, most famous arcade shooters of all time. Each of them is missing certain aspects of its respective coin-op classic, but many retain the essential elements that made the originals great.

I’ve cherry picked nine such games from the system’s expansive library, eight of which you can easily find for a buck or two apiece at a typical retro gaming store or convention. Spy Hunter is the lone exception as it is quite scare and can command well over $100 for the cartridge alone.

Without further ado, here are some Atari 2600 games that most everyone has heard of and that are a lot of fun to play, even if they are far from arcade-perfect:

Asteroids: Wisely steering clear of trying to mimic the look of the vector graphics (images based on geographic primitives, such as polygons, lines, curves, etc.) found in their own 1979 arcade classic, Atari rendered the 2600 version of Asteroids in unabashedly obvious raster graphics (a bitmap or grid of individual pixels that collectively compose an image). The space rocks flicker when too many appear onscreen, and they don’t change direction or speed when shot, but they are colorful and fun to shoot. And, like the 2600 rendition of Space Invaders, Asteroids has lots of extra features not found its coin-op cousin, including shields, modes of play

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Brett Weiss Brett Weiss (44 Posts)

A full-time freelance writer, Brett Weiss is the author of the Classic Home Video Games series, The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987, Encyclopedia of KISS, and various other books, including the forthcoming The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A–M). He’s had articles published in numerous magazines and newspapers, including the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Game Informer, Classic Gamer Magazine, Video Game Trader, Video Game Collector, Filmfax, Fangoria, and AntiqueWeek, among others.  Check him out at