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US box art.

Combat is a military-themed video game developed and published by Atari on 1977-09-11 for the Atari 2600. The game is is based off two earlier Atari arcade games, Tank and Jet Fighter. The game contains 27 variations of tank or aircraft combat where two human players try to shoot each other while maneuvering out of the way of the other player's shots. Successfully hitting your opponent earns you a point, and each game lasts a little over 2 minutes.

Combat was bundled with the Atari 2600 from its debut in 1977 until 1982 when Atari switched over to bundling the 2600 with Pac-Man instead. The game could also be purchased individually, and, when you combine individual sales with bundled sales, Combat becomes the second best-selling Atari 2600 game with around 11,000,000 units sold.


Combat was played quite frequently by my family because it was short and simple, but still competitive and enjoyable. My favorite variations were pong tanks, invisible tanks, and jets with clouds. And, though it was severely primitive, I always enjoyed the roaring sound of the tanks in the game.


I own this game with the manual. I've beaten other players, but there is no story mode or AI to defeat.


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4 4 2 1 4

Best Version: Atari 2600

— This section contains spoilers! —


  • The 27 different modes offer a fair amount of game play variation which helps keep the game interesting for awhile.
  • The game is well-balanced. Players have identical vehicles, but are also allowed to introduce handicaps by employing the difficulty switches.
  • Some of the variations added a much-needed twist to the game, like the rebounding bullets, invisible tanks, and the airplanes that can hide in the clouds.
  • The game has attractive box art and a good manual.


  • The game lacks a decent ending. All that happens when time runs out is controller input stops. The victor doesn't see any reward.
  • It would be nice if you could adjust the win condition. Instead of time, perhaps let the game continue until one player reaches 20 points.


  • The game is seriously media-challenged. There is no music, only primitive sound effects, and the graphics are blocky and dull.
  • Despite claiming 27 games, most of the variations are just minor differences of play. This means the game becomes redundant and dull very quickly.
  • The inability to play a single-player game hurts the game over all. A second human player is necessary in order to play the game, but it's very common to not have another player available.


Box Art



Game play.


Fans of the game have disassembled and commented the source code of Combat.


Role Staff
Tank and Jet Fighter Designers Lyle Rains, Steve Bristow
Programmers Joe Decuir, Larry Wagner
Cleanup Programmer Larry Kaplan
Atari 2600 Concept Ron Milner, Steve Mayer
Box Art Cliff Spohn


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