Atari VCS at 40: The 10 Best Games

The Atari VCS, first released 40 years ago, was home to a host of brilliant games that still resonate today


10. Combat

Combat was a two-player minigame bundle the Atari VCS shipped with. It contained variants on Atari's arcade games Jet Fighter and Tank, with vehicles controlled by pushing right to pivot clockwise and left to pivot anticlockwise. When players complain about early survival horror games having "tank controls", this is where they came from.

All the variants in Combat, whether about tanks or jets, boiled down to two players trying to shoot each other, but the amount of mileage squeezed out of such a straightforward concept was impressive: Pong versions in which missiles rebounded off the edges of the playfield, a mode that gave one player a supership and the other a squadron of smaller craft, and an invisible mode about tracking the opponent by following their shots and predicting where they were headed next. Combat was the Wii Sports of its day, a demonstration of the platform's possibilities and a way for siblings to share their Christmas present.