Friday 2 August 2013

Xonox Double Ender - Sir Lancelot and Robin Hood - Atari 2600

Here's an odd thing. I had never heard of one of these until one popped up cheap on eBay and I nabbed it.

Basically, the Xonox Double Ender is two Atari 2600 games stuck to each other end to end, effectively giving a 2-in-1 cartridge. Both of the cartridges, Robin Hood and Sir Lancelot were available separately, and from what I gather from the Internet, are quite rare.

I'd double your ender...
The cartridge is quite a bit heavier than a normal 2600 cart, probably down to the fact that it is physically larger and also has more circuit board inside it. It also has some pleasingly solid knobbly bits on each side. It is roughly 1.5x the height of a normal 2600 cartridge. 

Robin Hood

Robin Hood is an adventure/shooting game that seems to have potential, but is unfortunately a bit naff.

In the first screen, you are in a forest and have to shoot arrows at some guys that keep spawning out of the trees (presumably the Sheriff of Nottingham's cronies). This first screen should be simple enough, but you can't move once you shoot, the bad guys are faster than you, if they touch you they kill you and sometimes they spawn right on top of you. It takes a fair amount of luck and practice just to get off this screen, especially on the hardest of the 3 difficulty settings, and it can get pretty frustrating.

More like Robin Poo-d, am I right?

After killing a certain amount of enemies, the number of which I'm not certain, it seems to take longer sometimes, a long tone plays and you can pass on to the next screen. Then you have to shoot a load more baddies, lower the drawbridge and cross into the castle, all while avoiding arrows coming from the sides of the screen. I find this screen easier, it seems that there is less chance of the enemies spawning on top of you.

From there you move into the castle and have to find Maid Marian behind a door. Unfortunately, most of the time it's just more enemies coming to shoot you, or occasionally a blob (possibly gold?) that gives you some points.

This game is frustrating and just not very good, I really wouldn't recommend it. Espescially given what's on the other side of the Double Ender!

Sir Lancelot

A good game! Huzzah!

Sir Lancelot plays a lot like Joust, which is a pretty good start.

In the first screen, you are on your mighty winged steed jumping on the heads of unsuspecting dragons until you clear the screen. The gravity/flying mechanic is very similar indeed to Joust, in fact I would not be surprised if Sir Lancelot is just a hack of the original.

That princess is one sexy mess of pixels.

Where Sir Lancelot differs from Joust is in it's second screen. A huge dragon looms overhead behind a magical barrier, dropping fire on your head like rain from the heavens!  You must save the princess in peril on the other side of a massive fire lake!

The game continues between these two screens, with larger monsters that act differently and stronger dragons, until screen 8 which then wins the game. In later stages the lava pool also rises up with time, endangering your beloved princess!

I really enjoy this game. If I had a friend over, I would much rather be playing Joust. I think Joust is one of the best 2 player games on the 2600. However, when I'm playing alone I think Sir Lancelot offers a bit more variety and maybe a little more fun. Plus you get to save a ravishing young pixellated maiden (or at least, some kind of tiny, mangled stick figure) from a dragon, and who doesn't like to do that?

Xonox Double Ender
The Xonox Double Ender does not have the greatest games on it, nor is it the rarest or most prized game for the Atari 2600. However, it is a nice quirky thing that wasn't afraid to look and feel different to the other carts.
Sure, it doesn't fit on my shelf nicely. Sure it means I have to move my Atari so I can fit the cartridge in. Sure I have no idea how to pronounce 'Xonox', but these are all reasons for me to love it more. It's my freaky cartridge baby.

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