Skydiver is an action video game with a sports theme developed by Owen Rubin and published by Atari for the arcade in June, 1978. It was later ported to the Atari 2600 in 1979. In the game, the player must safely guide their skydiver from an airplane down to a landing pad on the ground while successfully navigating the ever-changing wind. The game features mechanics similar to the much earlier title, Lunar Lander, but with a different theme and competitive head-to-head game play.
The arcade cabinet uses several interesting tricks to make it more interesting. It has a specialized control panel with ripcord handles that can be pulled to open the skydiver's chute, and then the player can "steer" their skydiver by moving the handle left or right. The arcade game's designer, Owen Rubin, added the ability to light up letters of the game's marquee title, an element common to pinball games which he loved. The lights flicker off and on over time, and, if the player successfully lands on a pad while a light is on, the light remains on for the rest of their game. If the player is able to light up all the letters in the word "Skydiver," they're given bonus points. The cabinet also features cloud overlays on the screen to obscure portions of the play field. The monitor is an unusual 3 color display, featuring black, white, and blue. The Atari 2600 port naturally uses the Atari 2600 Joystick and lacks various features of the arcade, but it adds alternate game modes like moving landing pads. The arcade game gives the player a set number of attempts, while the 2600 game give the player a set length of time to amass a high score. Both games can be played as a single-player game, or as a two-player simultaneous competition.
My family had Sky Diver for the Atari 2600, and my siblings and I would often play the game competitively in the mid-1980s. We liked the flailing animation the skydiving stick men make as the fall and the sound that is heard when they embed themselves into the ground. Like most games from the 1970s, it didn't have much depth, but it was enjoyable for a few minutes.
I do not own this game. It cannot be beaten. I never recorded a high score.
- Having to pull and direct the ripcord handle really adds a level of verisimilitude to the game.
- Using the cabinet's marquee to display potential bonus points was a clever design decision.
- The ambulance that peels your skydiver off the ground when you fail to open your chute is pretty funny.
- The moving platforms in the 2600 port are a welcome addition.
- The arcade game has built-in translations to French, Spanish, and German.
- There is bad sprite flickering on the falling skydivers in the arcade game.
- The 2600 port loses the ambulance animation and bonus score system.
- The game is too primitive to really appreciate. Pretty much everything the game has to offer can be seen in the attract animation.
- The game is media-challenged. The graphics and sound are very weak, and the 2600 port is even worse.
- youtube.com/watch?v=YThl2DtZtCs - Review, 2600.
- youtube.com/watch?v=KASfF_9smG8 - Game play, arcade.
|Arcade Game||Owen Rubin|
|2600 Game||Jim Huether|
|2600 Cover Art||Greg Vance|
|English (2600)||Sky Diver|
|English (Telegames)||Dare Diver|
|German||Vom Himmel durch die Hölle||From Heaven Through Hell|