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I remember seeing these in places like K-Mart back in the day to showcase and promote the Atari 2600. It was part of a fancier display that had the 2600 connected to a color TV as well. It was not unlike, say the "PlayChoice-10" Nintendo games in the arcade. But in any event, you got to test drive most of the Atari-made games that was available up until that point, by playing like 20-30 seconds worth (or something along those lines) before it reverted back to the title screen. Done, I guess, to prevent good players from monopolizing its use.
This cartridge came with the first VCSes Atari sold. Forgive me for enjoying such trivia but this is a 2 KiloByte program, while VCS big carts are 8K and the common small ones are 4KB. By saving just $1 per unit times one million units is like a million dollars directly into somebody's pocket, Atari could've saved even more by repurposing 4KB chips tested to have bad cell(s) in the half intended to go unused. 2K is so small a game, I know no other (on model 2600, "Syntron" is a model 800 game less than 2KB size). Atari did the same trick on Space Invaders 1980 cartridge for model 800, they put a 4KB game on half of an 8KB memory area.
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My dad just picked one of these up at a garage sale today. Never seen one before. Very interested if anyone else has anymore info on it.
Fascinating 2600 related project can now be found at "http://benfry.com/distellamap/" where they took the code and data from model 2600 cartridges, and made maps/artwork out of 'em , they're meant to be compared along side each other. Every branch opcode has a curved line connecting From -To . On site welcome page right now are 6: Adventure, Air Raid, Combat, Pac-Man, Pitfall!, and Q*Bert.
The interesting ones are Pac-Man in which the ghosts' AI logic is Byzantine with branches, and, Adventure in which the famous Easter Egg text is in plain sight and if one prints Adventure as a poster it can be seen in like the same "font" how game is played.
Latest info is "Adventure II" whatever that is was made for both the 5200 and 2600 models. Yet to try it. And I tried Star Castle for 2600 and didn't seem to work. The file was like 30KB when all other 2600 games are either 4 or 8K so what are they trying to pull?
One of the very few occasions where a model 2600 game is "better" than model 800 and newer ones, which isn't saying much because this game is so technologically primitive, it's barely a kilobyte or kilohertz more than Pong. A pizza shop nearby has an original 1978 Arcade coin-op, no one plays and they leave it running 24/7 wasting power and giving its CRT a burn in. But for that classic retro feeling, 2600 Space Invaders is the one. This game single handedly sold 1000s or millions (worldwide) of VCS and many could not have cared less if their VCS did nothing else.
Neat factoid: because Atari knew they had a big hit, and since there's so little happening on screen, they made SI jump straight into "screen saver" (color rotation) mode upon launching and in between sessions, to prevent burn-in on CRT televisions. Imagine if they hadn't.
There is a database of what effects "Frying" has on many 2600 carts, at "2600connection.com" then click Easter Eggs. Now there's debate whether the double shot fire qualifies as an easter egg or a bug, I think neither. It's a cheat or trick. The heart of the matter is actually whether the trick was an accident or done on purpose. Easter Eggs by definition are decoration, not affecting the gameplay nor outcome. SI being a two player game, author must have known the game engine can handle two missiles and two collisions at once, so applying the two shot cannon to the one player mode must've been tempting.
Last, I can't believe how upset some folk get as to whether the SHAPES of the enemy are AUTHENTIC or been changed. Pixel shrapnel is pixel shrapnel.
Holding down Reset (F2) also works in "Stella" emulator (v3.6.1) before launching the ROM instead of "turning on the power", this allows you to double your firing rate. This trick is based on a 2600 model hacking process known as "frying the cartridge" or system.
FRYING meant that one wiggled the power off and on in such quick succession that various cartridges would end up producing eerie tho consistent various effects. One famous example is Pitfall! your character can "go ninja" meaning he turns mostly black and glides thru tree tops. Space Invaders happens to give you double shots if "fried" and holding the Reset while powering on is like a Clean Shortcut for getting double shots. Holding Reset ain't a universal substitute for frying, holding reset rarely does any effect upon a game.
"Stella" emulator includes Fry Emulation, uses the Backspace button to pretend fry the cartridge you have running, and it really works. The downside is someone can accidentally bump into the Backspace key and you're left wondering why your game just became totalled.
There is a new game called "Adventure II" made for model 5200, can be found thru Web searching. I haven't played yet, pictures are fantastic.
This game embodies everything I hate about the model 2600 AND everything I love about the model 800 home computer, because there is an 800 "version" of this beautiful game that is so different, so much better, these shouldn't have the same title.
2600 was released for PAL European video only, it worked a little bit tho crashed too much when tried in NTSC mode. Nothing makes any sense without instructions, not sure if they're here yet, AtariAge has instructions.
The model 800 version was never released by Imagic or anyone. It is considered the first big Casualty of the Great Game Crash of the 1980s. If you ask me they thought it was Too Good, that games as good as model 800 Wing War were causing the crash and better off shelved.
Recent research told how the author of Yars' Revenge declared that an Exact clone of "Star Castle" was impossible to pull off on model 2600 hardware, however now somebody very lately succeeded at doing Star Castle for 2600 but it ain't found on atarimania, yet? I'm interested in seeing it, if it exists.
Created to mimic the gameplay of the Arcade classic "Star Castle" by Cinematronic, which drew using a vector CRT (like Asteroids and BattleZone), and rumored to be named after the CEO of Atari at the time it was made, Ray somebody. A lot of people's first impression is "hey the TV just broke" because that Zone seen on an old CRT resembled white noise of failing electronics. See the permanent notes across this page for an Easter Egg.