Classic Computer Magazine Archive A.N.A.L.O.G. ISSUE 59 / APRIL 1988 / PAGE 72


1196 Borregas Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
(408) 745-2000
Atari 7800

by Bill Kunkel

    This is the best home version of Joust ever produced. The William's coin-op classic comes to the home screen intact, complete with its great graphics, playability and high excitement level. Most players will want to relive the role of the highflying hero again and again in this outstanding action game.
    Joust's unique premise casts the player as a "buzzard rider." Members of this warring race seemingly spend all their time fighting with one another from the backs of large birds which resemble winged ostriches more than buzzards.
    Once astride a faithful buzzard, the gamer faces a series of jousts with rival riders. To win these confrontations, the warrior must fly directly at each foe and strike him from a slightly higher position on the screen. A successful joust eliminates the opposing rider and causes an egg to fall from the buzzard. The player must grab this egg before it hatches in order to end the confrontation. Otherwise, the buzzard picks up the newborn rider and renews the battle.
    The gamer views the world of Joust from a side perspective. The playscreen shows a series of rocky ledges which are perches for the avian steeds. As the rounds advance, some of these perches are eliminated, forcing the player to remain airborne for extended periods, while the number of enemy riders grows.
    The black sky, the backdrop for all the action, highlights the bright colors of the buzzards. This helps the player follow the multitude of on-screen characters that wing in from dizzying angles and directions.
    The game includes periodic bonus racks, or "egg rounds," in which the perches are stocked with unprotected buzzard rider eggs. The player must collect these eggs before they mature, for, once the hatchlings pop out of their shells, buzzards gather them up and transform them into enemy jousters.
    The joystick action button makes the player's buzzard flap its wings and rise into the air. The harder the wings flap, the higher the big bird flies. Moving the joystick causes the buzzard to fly in the corresponding direction.
    Eventually, additional menaces show up, such as the saw-toothed Pterrys. Any contact with a Pterry is fatal, but they're tough to avoid when they snake their way down the screen.
    This isn't the only threat. At the game's beginning, the bottom perch extends across the screen. This disappears after a few rounds, to be replaced by flaming pits filled with monsters whose massive claws reach up to snatch unwary riders.
    The one- or two-player game pits contestants against the machine, and it plays pretty well. There are four skill levels, so players can adjust the game to suit their ability.
    Joust is a superior game, with lots of action and movement. Its animated characters, which travel in different patterns at several speeds, provide an ultimate challenge. This makes Joust a must for every 7800 game library.