Keystone Kapers

Graphics: 5
Sound: 4
Control: 5
Depth: 4
Overall: 4.5

Keystone Kapers

By: Garry Kitchen
Published By: Activision
Released: 1983

Back in the eighties and later at the peak of my Atari collecting, I never gave Keystone Kapers a fair shake. I suppose I was too busy replaying some of my childhood favorites or discovering rare oddities to get around to really playing what I thought was a pretty good, but second tier Activision game. Yet I am glad I came back to it. Once I started playing for score, I realized the error of my ways.

Set in a department store, you play as a cop chasing down a crook on his way to a rooftop escape. With various obstacles along the way as you attempt to nab your man, you can choose to run the full “course”, or…wait for the elusive elevator shortcut. If you are familiar with the limitations of Atari 2600 graphics, Kapers impresses, with crisp detailed images including animated escalators and a Defender-like map of the whole board. Sound is limited mainly to the running and jumping sound effects of your cop, but they are well done and help with timing one’s jumping and ducking, particularly on higher levels.

Score is largely a reward for your unused time, and as the game ramps up in difficulty it becomes vital to learn when and when not to use the elevators. Being able to jump on the escalators to shave off a bit of time is a nice touch. Despite each level essentially taking place on the same course (just with different obstacles), the setting and characters avoid the bog standard spaceship trope of most Atari titles and help the game stand out from other fare on the system.

- Ben Langberg


Join The Activision "Billy Club"

It all started at O'Shaunessey's Grille. After a hard day of crimebusting, Keystone Kelly and the Koppers would gather in the Bowery joint to share hot tips and potatoes. They called themselves "The Billy Club", and you can join with a score of 35,000 points or more. O'Shaunessey's is gone, but the club lives on.

Send us a photo of the qualifying score on your TV screen, along with your name and address, and we'll send you the official Billy Club emblem.