Let me first start off by saying, if you like your games to be more obtuse than fun, then Mystery of Atlantis is for you. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game where I didn’t understand what was actually going on, more so than in this game. There are 100 zones to navigate in different locations (fields, caves, and ruins, just to name a few) and there’s a good chance you’ll miss a few of them, because there’s just no way to tell what door is going to lead you to what level. For example, I found a warp in zone 3 by falling in a random pit (you heard that right). This is just one of the many doors you’ll access purely by coincidence. Another example is in one of the later levels, where the door is hidden on a ledge, and can only be uncovered by putting down a stick of dynamite, jumping, and laying down another stick of dynamite to open the door. Had I not watched GameCenter CX, I never would have known that. The zones are not laid out in a numerical order, so memorization will play a huge role in your progression. Having to start the game from the beginning after losing all your lives, adds some challenge. But as I stated before, if you remember what doors lead to what rooms, it is possible to progress through the game quickly.
Mystery of Atlantis isn’t a bad game. It’s certainly a game where your patience will be tested, but it’s also a game where if you can look past how unforgiving it is, you might actually like it. I know that after playing the game a few times, and remembering what doors led to what zones, I started to understand why someone would like this game. The game has one major flaw to me, and that’s the controls. Sure, I recognize the fact the game was released in 1986, so controls for many games were far from perfect. But in a platformer, you want those controls to be as tight and responsive as possible, and this game just doesn’t accomplish that, which is too bad in my opinion.
All in all, Mystery of Atlantis is an average game at best, and it’s certainly not for everyone. From the controls, to the obtuseness of progressing through the game, there’s many reasons to not even bother with this game (I gave up after Zone 8, because I couldn’t find the exit). Without any hints whatsoever, it’s not a game where just anybody is going to jump into it and have a good time. However, for the masochists out there who pride themselves on beating the toughest games possible, this game might be right up your alley. For everyone else, it’s not a must play game by any means. If you’re curious check it out, but you’re not missing anything important here. Unless you have a large collection of controllers you wouldn’t mind snapping in half.