Maze Craze was released for the Atari 2600 in 1978. It was released only one year after Pong for the 2600. So while it’s a simple game by today’s standards, that was par for the course at the time. That being said, the fact this game is nearly 40 years old, doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.
The gameplay consists of players controlling a red or blue little person and navigating a maze. You start on the left and make your way to the exit that is always on the right. Like many Atari games, it has many gameplay variations. Some modes make parts, or all, of the maze invisible or give you the ability to make fake walls to confuse the other player. Others modes introduce different squares that wander around the maze. You must avoid touching them or face getting slowed down or outright losing.
If you read the manuals in Atari games you’ll find the background story. The story in Maze Craze is that your red and blue squares are cops navigating a maze of city streets. The other squares are armed robbers trying to get you. None of that really matters though. All you really need to know is: You need to get your little square butt to the exit before the other guy.
There really isn’t much that’s bad about the game so I have to knit-pick a little here. First, the screen that comes up when the maze resets is awful. Every time you finish a maze, it resets and briefly flashes a bunch of random colors. It’s bad enough that I could see myself getting a headache if I played it for too long, especially if its being played in the dark. Second, like I mentioned earlier, it’s a simple game. You play as a poor representation of a person, and pretty much everything else is a square. There’s no music and very little in the way of sound effects. I mean, there’s literally four different sounds in the game. A sound when you bump into a wall, one when you touch a robber, one when you exit a maze and the sound of the Officer’s footsteps. That’s it. When you’re actually playing the game it’s not that noticeable though. The lack of sounds never bothered me very much and I actually think the footsteps are a nice touch.
My brother came over recently and I decided to break out the old Atari. We ended up playing Maze Craze for half an hour. Even though the game’s pretty simple and probably in need of an epilepsy warning, we had a blast. To me this game is a great example that if the core of a game is strong, it doesn’t need Xbox graphics to be fun.