The Prosystem Posse|
The 7800's Nine Exclusive Quirky Cousins
The Atari 7800 was best known for its stellar classic arcade ports and being the first video game system that was backward compatible. Having access to the huge Atari 2600 library while offering brand new games was the selling point for me back in the day. However, the slew of incredible 7800 exclusives never really came early on. We were treated to weird computer ports, terrible sports games, and about 3 flight simulators too many. But when we got a 7800 stand alone game, we normally got a quirky little gem.
The following games I call "The Prosystem Posse". These nine, late in the system's life, unique Atari made games were only released on the Atari 7800 Prosystem, save for a couple that were later released on portable systems or overseas on the 2600 in small quantities***. So these are THE 9 true blue Atari 7800 official releases, as different from each other as they are different from any games like them. But as unique as they are, these nine titles share many similarities as well. Many games shared the same fonts, similar high score screens, audio loops, and even some endings referenced each other.
I lived in a unique part of America, and I never could find any of these 9 titles. I would read about them in magazines, and in the days before the internet, I would feebly go to Hills, Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, and the like to see that all they had were Centipede, Realsports Baseball and Ballblazer and other sad retreads. Never a whiff.
Then one day, my mom told me that Big Lots had a ton of Atari 7800 games CHEAP. I figured I'd go get 2 or 3 extra copies of Realsports Baseball or whatever, but when I arrived I was in complete shock. This "Prosystem Posse" was fully represented. A huge mess of silver boxes were scattered without care like the dollar movie bin at Wal-Mart. There they were. A big pile on a huge table, with games teetering off the ledges, stacked 5 high feet, complete with prices ranging from.... get this... $1-$3 a game.
Knowing what I know now, I would have taken out a loan and went to every Big Lots in the area buying every game I could, waited for ebay, sold them suckers and bought a boat and named it "Stugatz III". But anyways, I was lucky enough to get my paws on these gems when I did. Even though these titles vary in quality, I will always have a soft spot for all nine.
Alien Brigade (First Person Shooter/ Light Gun Game)
This game has been selling for over $300 on ebay recently, and that's too bad for you because its quite a fun thangy thang to boot. Its designed for the light gun, but thankfully you can use a joystick to blow through this one. It's like Operation Wolf, and the box art is cool as hell. This game about aliens taking over our bodies can be beaten, has cool cut scenes and great music. One of the best in the posse.
Basketbrawl (Sports/ Fighting)
This title has been selling loose for $50 to $150 on ebay. I love this one, and it even features an Italian boy named Vinnie! Even spelled the way I spell it. Winners stays up B-Ball where you either beat them by outscoring them or knocking them out cold! By sky hook or by rook. My kinda game!
Fatal Run (Endurance Driving/ Car Combat)
This game sales around $100 on ebay lately. Fatal Run is a bleak affair, and it takes over an hour and a half to beat the thing in one sitting. Racing from city to city giving residents of the towns on your route the vaccine, you actually see people dying in the streets! If you have what it takes to endure, you will be treated to the best end game graphic sequence in the system's library. Thankfully a password system can expedite saving the world.
Meltdown (Light Gun)
Meltdown is hard to find online, and that is too bad because its a pretty solid light gun game. This another one of the "Prosystem Posse" adventure title that can be beaten. It fits right into that bleak, dystpoian/ cold war vibe that Fatal Run has. It even has a password feature like Fatal Run.
Midnight Mutants (RPG/ Adventure)
This game sells for $50-$150 on ebay and features a celebrity endorsement. Al Lewis AKA Grandpa Munster needs you to fight a zombie horde to save him from imprisonment, and offers clues along the way. A really fun game that is the 7800's closest answer to Legend of Zelda but much zanier.
This game has badass cover art and brings in anywhere from $75-$200 on ebay. This game feels a lot like Pole Position II but features some insane airs and hills. It has a similar desolate vibe akin to its brothers Meltdown and Fatal Run.
Ninja Golf (Fighting/ Sports)
Complete in the box, Ninja Golf gets around $150 on ebay and has become the system's posthumous killer app. The absurd premise of combining golf and ninjitsu works on the quirky 7800. This game was so crazy that it inspired a comic strip. Tons-O-fun. This is another sports/ fighting hybrid in this group like Basketbrawl.
Planet Smashers (SHMUP)
I once sold a lose cart of Planet Smashers for $190 on ebay. This game has an end-game tie in with Alien Brigade, and features boss fights in space, asteroid fields, tons of power-ups, cloaking devices, an earth shield and a unique warp system to get to the boss as fast as you can. Unlike most 7800 SHMUPs, the boss ships at the end of levels are formidable and pretty cool looking.
Scrapyard Dog (Platformer)
This one can sometimes nab $100 on ebay, as well. SYD is Atari's answer to Super Mario Brothers, and its urban blighted elements of dumpsters, city shops, rats, sewer pipes and free flying wheels appeal to the city living kid inside me. Trying to defeat the evil hordes to pay a ransom for my dognapped puppy? Sounds like home. The theme of urban blighted hoods and desolate wastelands fit into the down and dirty vibes of Basketbrawl, Fatal Run, and Meltdown.
***Basketbrawl and Scrapyard Dog were later released on the full color, portable system, the Atari Lynx, and Fatal Run was later released outside of America on the Atari 2600 in very small quanities.