By: Atari, Inc.
Original Arcade Game By: Taito
Phoenix is one of the many "shoot the alien invaders" type games released for the Atari 2600. While not very original, it's one of the better Atari releases. You can tell that Atari was rising to the challenge presented by the superior games being released by rival 3rd parties Activision and Imagic. The difference in quality compared to what Atari was releasing even six months prior is striking.
The graphics are colorful and detailed—particularly the alien birds. The sound effects are good, and the catchy music doesn't get irritating, even after repeat listening (as a bonus the music can be turned off).
Gameplay is the standard, "shoot the moving targets" fare, but the five different waves of attackers (two rounds of small birds, two rounds of large birds, and the alien pilot) help bring depth to the proceedings. Little touches like pressing down for shields and the regrowth of the large birds' wings give Phoenix some welcome personality.
The only downside is that once you get good enough to clear multiple rounds of the five waves, you'll probably find yourself getting bored and reaching for another cart. Phoenix is still fun to play on occasion and considering it hasn’t been ported to many home consoles over the years, the solid 2600 version stands out.
- Ben Langberg
Since PHOENIX is difficult enough as it is, the DIFFICULTY switches have no effect on game play either. However, if you wish to eliminate the background sounds of the bird cries, set the LEFT DIFFICULTY switch to the "A" position. The action sounds will remain, no matter which setting you choose.