Combat came included with the Atari 2600 one happy kid got for Christmas in 1981 New Mexico. I was that kid, I was lucky enough to have parents who got caught up in the video game craze, and as soon as they could afford the console they bought it.
The Combat Atari Game quickly became my favorite game for a couple of reasons, but the major one was that it was a two player game. I can almost guarantee that anyone who plays Halo online, who also played Combat a couple of decades earlier, loved the Atari predecessor. It was about battling other, human players. I had a lot of friends in the neighborhood and on weekends we all got together and piloted our pixelated tanks and airplanes around my small television screen, trying to blow the enemies into oblivion.
The gameplay was simple. Two tanks in an arena or airplanes in the sky. You shot at your opponent until he was destroyed. More options included the ability to bounce bullets off of the walls and turning invisible.
Each level was structured differently for the thanks, with various mazes surrounding the two combatants. The options in the sky were more limited, but on the biplane levels there were clouds that you could dive behind if you were feeling sneaky.
But again, my memories of Combat for the Atari 2600 are all wrapped up in playing the game with my friends–or more importantly, against them. And I don’t mean you played against them like in Yar’s Revenge where the goal was just to get more points, or in the Atari ET game where the goal was simply to see who could stay sane with the horrible gameplay as you tried to levitate out of another pit.
Combat delivered what it promised: a fight. You got to destroy your opponent, not outpoint them. Good times, great memories. Atari games.