Atari 2600 Collecting
now browsing by category
I don’t spend much money on video games. Actually, since running the video game price guides it’s rare I’ll spend more than $20 for an eBay lot of games, so my recent purchase of an AtariAge Harmony cart was really out of the norm.
I won’t share the exact price as I don’t know if the prices change based on demand but I will say I spent more than $40 for it. But what exactly is a Harmony cart?
Well it’s an Atari 2600 cartridge that started it’s life out as a Combat or an E.T. or other common Atari cart. The guts are swapped out with propriety circuitry that accepts SD cards. Load up some Atari 2600 roms and presto- you can play the game on original Atari hardware.
But wait wait wait Salzman! Aren’t you against piracy? Don’t you always lament how a true video game enthusiast pays for play? That if you’re not using original copies you are cheating the programmers?
ABSOLUTELY! My opinion on piracy has not changed, but the Harmony Cart purchase was not with the intent of piracy. Sure, some people probably use the cart in this fashion but not me. I bought it to test game binaries that I have created. Specifically Fighting Pit! Want proof? Check out Fighting Pit to see the latest progress on the game. But this isn’t the only game I’m working on for the Atari 2600. I’m also working on a version of Operation Wolf, and another Sequel to Berzerk/Frenzy which I’m tentatively calling Fury.
The programming is easier than I ever imagined using Batari Basic. It’s a BASIC compiler that allows you to create Atari games within the limits of the Atari hardware. There are some things that Batari Basic cannot do, but for what it can do it is amazing, and simple, and doesn’t require any knowledge of assembly (what the games were originally created in) to actually make a game.
But don’t buy a Harmony Cart just to test binary games that you created! You can also try the roms for prototypes and other programmers in the community. These titles are fair game and totally worth the purchase of the Harmony Cart.
The adventure of Mountain King for Atari 2600 started last night. I didn’t get far, but I got far enough to realize that this is a great game. You’re a stick figure who is highly articulated – elbows and knees bend, the animation fluid whether walking or jumping. Those clusters of dots are diamonds. Collect a thousand points worth and the audio cuts out. But why? I didn’t figure it out until I fully read the manual, which up to that point in the game I hadn’t.
The stick man can run left and right, and jump left or right by holding the controller up and in the direction you want to jump. Hold up to go up a ladder, hold down to go down a ladder. Press the button to shine the flash light.
So as I started exploring the mountain I realized that falling is far easier than climbing. So any chance I could drop a level down I would. Down and down and down I went. Until I found that peculiar monument you see in the photo above. Was that the legendary crown I was suppose to obtain? Had I found it this easily within minutes of starting the game?
Of course not! What a waste of money this game would be. As soon as I approached the monument Mr. Stick Man was struck down. Paralyzed it seemed. It didn’t matter if I approached it from the left, or the right, or from above. Stick man would instantly be stricken to the ground! Soon time ran out, and the game was over! I started over, and the same thing happened!
So it seems the Mountain King adventure is just beginning. I read more of the manual. There is a flame spirit I must attain first, and then, only then if I offer it to the monument shall I receive her treasures. It also seems that immediately after obtaining this flame spirit the enemies will appear… interesting. I shall journey to the mountain again tonight!
For having collected retro games for so long I find it more and more difficult to experience a game that hasn’t been ruined for me either by a Youtube video or by an FAQ. So when the opportunity presents itself to play and study a game that I know little about I jump on it with gusto!
In this case, it’s Mountain King for Atari 2600. I’ve heard different things about it, I’ve seen a clip of it here and there, and I know there is an Easter Egg of a new level/stage or something of that sort, but that’s about it. I don’t know if I’ve purposely avoid digging into the game deeper simply because I have a hunch this is a great game or what the deal is, but I finally I have a copy and I intend to play/review it as it was intended when it was released almost 30 years ago.
Like any new game purchase in the early 80′s I’m limiting myself only to the information that could be found in the box or the manual. And since my copy has neither, I’ll use AtariAge.Com to fill that void. The box art is pretty amazing. Flanked by a screen shot of the game is a bounty of treasure. A crown, a sword, some treasures, and even some spiders, bats, and a skull. It almost looks like a scene out of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. But this is no pirate adventure mind you, this game is about a mountain. Or a king. Or a king of a mountain. Or a mountain named king. I’m not quite sure by looking only at the box cover. The screenshot doesn’t reveal much of anything except a small man with a flash light shining on a skull or a giant mushroom.
The back of the box explains the plot further, but I prefer the manual’s description more:
“Deep inside a long-lost diamond mine is the secret Temple Chamber of a forgotten civilization. There, a priceless Golden Crown sits high on a pedestal, vulnerable to plundering explorers seeking to control its power. But this treasure is jealously guarded by the denizens of the mountain, and whoever has the daring and courage to challenge them, seize the Crown, and escape to the mountaintop with it will become MOUNTAIN KING!”
I’m not quite sure what the benefit of being the king of a mountain could bring you, but as a kid in the early 80′s the promise of this adventure seems… well… incredible. Remember, the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark was only two years old by the time this game was released in 1983, and in those days movies, in particular block busters such as Raiders weren’t in the theater for just a few weeks, they usually ran up to a year before being pulled then possibly becoming available on cable (which is where I saw Raiders), and if you’re lucky eventually on regular television. So based on this opening paragraph which I’m sure plenty of kids read from the manual on their way home from the toy store was all that was needed to come up with excuses to stay up late with the Atari, perhaps chugging popcorn and soda, and letting the phosphors from a wood-grain television set burn a headache into the skull right behind the eyeballs. This is what gaming was about – well to me at least. To others I suppose conquering the mountain means taking out your credit card and downloading a map-pack. Or, you could always go to PlayStation home and purchase a crown. Then you can be king of whatever you want.
So without further ado, I will play Mountain King, for the first time. Tonight. Expect a full write up tomorrow!
I got a couple Atari games for my birthday. Also a Samsung Tab which I used to make this video.
The long mystery has finally come to an end. It was a journey that lasted 22 years but I finally got to experience Rampage for Atari 2600. I posted a long winded story not too long ago about how my dreams were dashed to not have obtain a copy in my youth – the 7th grade to be more precise. Did the game disappoint? Absolutely not! Rampage for the 2600 pushes the system to the limit. It’s not the husk of the arcade game as one might suspect. Although the game doesn’t have beautiful graphics it has all of the game play elements except jumping. Tanks, cop cars, helicopters, consumable toilets – its all there! Even the Eat at Joes’s electric sign! You can pick any of the three monsters and the game shows news reals between cities just like the arcade game. Rampage for the 2600 was completely worth the wait.
Take a trip down memory lane with these coupons for Atari games.
First up we have an official Atari Jacket. I’ve never heard of Murphy’s Mart, and I’m not sure if it was exclusive to this retail chain or not.
Next we have a $2 off coupon for select Atari games from Kay-Bee toys. Featured are Pole Position, Mario Bros., Enduro, and Pitfall!. The coupon implies that it isn’t just for these games, but it does limit you to six titles only.
Next is a coupon from Big B. This one features $5 off all Atari titles.
And finally we have an exciting full page Atari ad for Kay-Bee toys. This ad shows off the Atari 2600 Jr., the 7800, a bunch of games, and accessories. $27 off of the wireless controllers!
My 30 days of Atari 2600 reviews finally comes to an end with Fast Food. I’m almost sad, but after today the next 30 days of reviews will be for SEGA Genesis. Anyways, Fast Food is not a very photogenic game, probably because its so fast. The just of it is you’re a mouth that’s flapping it’s gums. You need to catch food (that is moving particularly fast) in the mouth. But don’t eat the Egg Plant or you will die. I think it’s an eggplant. The longer you play the more often you’ll see bodily functions like BURP! displayed on the screen. This game is normally priced higher than other Atari games of the same caliber, but I suspect its because its slightly more rare. Recommended only because it can offend some people. Spend no more than $5.
It seems almost sick to follow up the review of Enduro with Freeway, but oh well. Freeway for the Atari 2600 has always been one of the more popular games. The screen shot on the label doesn’t do the game justice. Some would describe the game as a clone of Frogger but its not really. First of all you can only move up and down and not side to side, the obstacles are simpler (cars and trucks, but no logs, lilly pads, or gators). Freeway does feature two player simultaneous play which is cool, but it has a timelimit where as Frogger is play until you die. Spend up to $5 for Frogger, but no more than a buck for Freeway. It’s good, but not Frogger good.
Enduro for the Atari 2600 is one of the must have games of the system. Not only is it probably the best driving game for the system but it also demonstrates little tricks a programmer could do to simulate some really neat effects. Rather than having a red and white scrolling median like Pole Position has that looks like complete trash on the 2600, Larry Miller used two simple lines with the occasional “bump” or “inlet” to simulate the movement. It is so subtle that it gives the brain just enough hint that you’re moving forward, and your imagination fills in the rest. The sound effects are perfect for annoying parents and the odometer which serves as the score is neat also. And finally, the coolest feature of all is the changing environment! The original Gran Turismo’s on the PlayStation didn’t even have that. Not only do I recommend Enduro, I’d suggest spending as mucha s $5 – $7 for it (depending on label condition) – it is just that good!
G.I. Joe Cobra Strike for Atari 2600 is another in a long tradition of lousy merchandising popular franchises into quick buck video games. Basically you have soldiers running from one building to the other while a snake spits on them. The controls, which requires the paddles, is impossible. It makes no sense whatsoever. If you’re a G.I. Joe Collector and you must have this title spend no more than a buck.