FIRST PLAY: Alien Abduction 2600 (Atari VCS)

Released May 5, 2023

Alien Abduction 2600 is a brand new commercially released game by John Van Ryzin, the original creator of the classic Atari 2600 game H.E.R.O. The game is currently exclusive to the Atari VCS, and it is seemingly made to be able to run on actual Atari 2600 hardware. Fans are hopeful a physical cart release could be coming later this year.

Like many classic Atari games, the backstory to Alien Abduction is short and sweet, with the digital User Manual stating the following:

The princess has been abducted by aliens!

As a space force superhero, you are going to rescue her. Your spacesuit comes equipped with jet powered flight boots, an energy defense shield, and a plasma weapon. You must enter the alien spacecraft and find the princess. Watch out for the armed alien robot guards!

  • MSRP: $8.99
  • Category: Retro H.E.R.O.-like
  • No of Players: 1
  • Multiplayer: n/a
  • Publisher: Atari
  • Developer: John Van Ryzin
  • Played on: Atari VCS
  • Also on: n/a


The visuals for Alien Abduction 2600 represent the best of that era of gaming, but clearly are a bit rough by 2023 standards. That being said, you can’t go into this game expecting an experience made for 2023. This game was made by the designer of one of the best games on the original Atari 2600, and is meant to be a sort of spiritual successor to H.E.R.O. For anyone that knows anything about how Atari graphics work, the graphics in Alien Abduction 2600 are impressive and I can’t wait to see if there is a physical cart release later this year.


The audio in Alien Abduction 2600 is also classic bare bones Atari 2600 style. There is no music during gameplay, nor during the title screen, and all of the sound effects are very basic. Clearly the focus here was on gameplay and visuals, and as a result the audio is no worse than any of the classic Atari 2600 games, but it isn’t on par with something outstanding from that era like Pitfall 2, which actually managed to have good music even though that wasn’t common for the time.


Like many Atari 2600 games, Alien Abduction’s gameplay is rather limited and the game itself can be quite difficult. The controls for the game stay true to the 2600, meaning you only have one button and a joystick to perform all commands. As such, certain actions can be a bit counterintuitive to gamers in 2023.

To fly you push up on the stick (makes sense), but to drop down to a floor below you, you have to be first be in flight mode, so you push up slightly to fly then you stop pushing up and your character floats down between floors. That doesn’t sound too bad, but wait! there are environmental hazards and enemies on those lower floors.

If you want to stop dropping through the floors you have to press down to crouch, which will make your “superhero” land on the next floor he comes into contact with. Makes total sense right? It takes a bit of getting used to it, but after a while it isn’t too bad and actually adds a bit to the overall strategy of the game.

The goal of each stage is to reach the Princess(?) at the end of each level. There are 20 stages in all (according to the game description) but I only ever saw seven of them, as the game can be quite difficult.

If you want to see me die a lot, and a little gameplay, you can check out the video below:


I think whether Alien Abduction is “fun” really comes down to your perspective and expectations going into it.

If you realize ahead of time that this is game was made by a legend of the gaming industry who created H.E.R.O., one of the best games of the Atari 2600 generation, and he has essentially created a spiritual successor to that game, that can run on original hardware, the game is awesome and its fun to experience everything he has built into it.

However, if you are approaching Alien Abduction 2600 as a normie gamer in 2023, its doubtful you will have a lot of fun with it. Its visuals, audio and gameplay are very much from the early 80s, and not what you would typically expect from a game in 2023.


Honestly, you can’t approach Alien Abduction 2600 as a regular game released in 2023, otherwise you might be sorely disappointed. However, if you take the game for what it is, which is an awesome spiritual successor to a popular classic Atari 2600 game, then its amazing and totally worth getting and experiencing. My review score takes the latter approach and reviews it as a Atari 2600 game commercially developed and released in 2023 by an industry legend.



  • VISUALS: 10
  • AUDIO: 7
  • FUN: 9

If you’re a Retro Enthusiast or Atari Fan – GET IT NOW!!!!

If you’re a modern gamer who doesn’t like “old games” then you should probably pass

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