Barnyard Blaster – Atari 7800 Review
Barnyard Blaster is a light gun shooter for the Atari 7800. I bought the game as new old stock from a seller on Amazon (The game was still sealed). It was $20 and I knew that the game didn’t exactly have a great reputation, but I wanted to give it a chance.
The box and manual:
I have to say that I do love the box art for this game. It’s really fun and full of action. Based on the box art alone, I would have bought the game as a kid if I had owned a 7800 at the time. (But I was too busy being neck deep in the amazing world of the Commodore 64. That’s right, My friends kept knocking down my door to play my Commodore sixty four!)
The box contained the cartridge, manual, and registration/warranty card. The cartridge has that cool looking Atari 7800 style, the manual is a single sheet folded booklet style, and the warranty card is… a warranty card. Nothing too special here.
The manual gives you basic information that you need to play the game along with a chart showing how you “Rank” if you manage to play through the full game. The contents are not mediocre, but they are nothing special either
Initial impression of the game:
When first fired up the game I was treated to a splash screen and a TIA rendition of ‘Old McDonald’. This was nice, the artist did a great job on the splash screen, and the music was recognizable- not great, but it had that classic Atari sound to it. I went past the splash screen to a really well done one/two player select screen showing hay bales to shoot in order to make your choice. So far so good.
On to the game itself:
The first screen in the game is a rustic looking fence with various cans and bottles on it. There seems to be no time limit, but you do have a limited number of bullets to hit all of the targets. The artwork in the game is, again, very colorful and really nice looking. The sound effects are average and the Sega Lightphaser consistently shots a few pixels to the left of where you aim (it’s easy to compensate for because it’s very consistent). I used my Sega Lightphaser to play the game (along with my adapter, which you can read about here ) so that may have been the issue. I will not blame a game for issues caused by me using unsupported hardware. At the end of the round a gopher pops his head in and you can blast him for some sweet, sweet bonus points.
That’s a great introduction stage for a light gun game. However, after that is where things start to fall apart. On the next stage you are shooting bottles thrown into the air by ‘Gramps’. Again, the artwork is pretty great featuring more bright colors. However, once Gramps throws the first bottle is when the pain starts. The sound effects are grating as the bottle slowly crawls across the screen. Gramps only throws one bottle at a time and they all move at a snail’s pace.
Next up we have a still field with some produce in a garden next to some corn with a scare Crow. I kept waiting for something to happen, but nothing ever did. I got bored and I started to shoot around the screen to see if something would happen. (I assumed that critters were going to make a move on the corn and other produce and you had to stop them). It turns out that the only thing you can shoot is the evil produce. Once you kill all of the menacing watermelons – then critters start coming. So, instead of saving the produce from critters, you destroy all of the produce and then kill the animals in a classic farming scorched Earth tactic. When the animals come on screen, it is always one at a time, and they move at about the same rate as the bottles from the previous scene. You basically shoot at rabbits and crows until you are out of bullets.
The next screen is a barn. Right away a mouse scurries towards a bucket. While it is a moving target, it still moves at a crawl. Once the mouse is destroyed then a chicken starts to saunter across the screen. Once you have murdered the chicken then you get owls slowly flying in (why not just let the owls eat the mice and chickens?). You also need to blast some song birds and a duck that appears to have a broken neck. You basically murder all of the animals over and over until you, once again, run out of bullets.
Next you are taken… back to Gramps throwing bottles. There does not seem to be a speed increase and nothing else seems to have changed to increase the difficulty. The only thing that I got out of the 2nd round of each stage was boredom.
Presentation (box, manual, label): The box is excellent and it is the best part of the game!
Graphics: I really like the graphics. The game could have been great if they could have made the gameplay better.
Sound: The sound is okay until it becomes terrible.
Gameplay: It is barley there.
What should you pay (complete): if I had spent $10 on a complete copy, I would have considered it worthwhile for the box art.
What should you pay (cart only): don’t bother.
What should you play instead?
Safari hunt for the Sega Master System. Has similar bright colors, but actually had multiple targets moving at once! Plus the sound doesn’t make me vomit!
Here is some gameplay:
…and here is a better game to spend your hard earned dollars on: