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My Atarimania
Comments (6)
Scott Stilphen - 16/01/2021
The original name is actually 2 separate words - Jaw Breaker.
rave.N - 30/03/2016
Atarimania has it right, the guys with the box covers and interviews would. What a far out story, the making of the 90 degree screen rotation Pac-Man clone in 1981, being sued, scrambling to make a new maze quickly, probably encouraging the making of Jawbreaker Construction Set like a maze-making contest, going through a "quad symmetry" phase early in 1982, then the game I knew in late 1982. I've been reading and comparing program codes, and there is an "evidence trail" to be found inside them.

I've found Jawbreaker modified and recompiled 4 times (not including the #4 on list here, because #4 was made using Jawbreaker Construction Set), each recompile time the address variable for lives/cheat changes.

CHEAT MODE unlimited lives. Find the sequence $"85 C3 CE" and then change the one byte $CE to $AD. Some files have 2 instances, you can edit both of the $CE bytes. The 2 bytes coming after $CE are the variable address, and there are at least 4 different compilings in the wild.

The oldest version is identified by its lack of Pause feature, all other Jawbreakers pause/unpause using any key. JB with no pause contains the 90 degree maze, this (prerelease?) program is found in the (very messy old) "Holmes collection".

The 90 degree maze download here now (#1) has Pause, and this is the version upon which Jawbreaker Construction Set is calibrated for use with. The demo new maze which comes with JCS has "1983" written inside the maze, just like #4 on our list, so both the program coding and the maze data imply #4 was churned out by using JCS.

Strong evidence suggests the "quad symmetry" maze/program (#2) came next, after "90 degrees" (#1). The particular "Jawbreaker 2" download on Fandal's site (a8.fandal.cz) differs from the one here. His took the #1 program, moved it $1000 bytes in memory and patched in a 2nd maze and 2nd game routine, a quick and dirty patch to introduce a new symetrical maze. The #2 download here is more refined, actually identical to the #3 with different maze data. #3 program was then refined and came last, and can be found having either maze #2 and maze #3. Artifacting colors are all still backwards to me.
rave.N - 28/03/2016
Lots of versions here, you got four. #4 to which there is attributed "no publisher" is obviously a hack of questionable quality. What order should the rest be in? My firsthand experience is the one showing #3rd in this list is the original Jawbreaker, it has tunnels on all 4 sides and short twisty corridors. The other 2 look like hacks to me, maybe even done by same guy for same reason. JB #2 in the list seems to me trying to be more like arcade PacMan but because PacMan had its CRT rotated 90 degrees, i.e. vertical, JB #2 gets elongated straight corridors running horizontally, not an improvement in my opinion.

JB #1 on the list is a cool program in that it tries being more like arcade PacMan through having you rotate your TV display 90 degrees actually 270 degrees, counterclockwise. And you rotate your game stick too. This way you get a larger prison box with its only opening up, one tunnel wrapping left and right, and you start near bottom center. Not true, unless you rotate display and controller. I'd love to see new A8 games require 90 degree screen rotation! More realistic Arcade conversions! Back in the day, CRT didn't stand well on their sides, display would distort in image and color, TVs seem to have been calibrated with the effect of gravity on the picture tube factored in.

Jawbreaker uses artifacting for graphics, there's the usual little glitches in my emulator for when player missile graphics overlaps artifacting, like in Choplifter! (1982). But what's weird is I remember it in the reverse, it was a blue maze not bile and the symbol for level 2 is a red heart, not a blue heart. After all, "Jawbreaker 2" has a blue maze drawn in color, not artifacted. No other game in a thousand looks backwards from how I recall, why this?
rave.N - 15/06/2015
The intro music is Candy Man. Missing lyrics are ..

"Who can take a rainbow, wrap it in a sigh
Soak it in the sun and make a groovy lemon pie
The Candy Man can, oh, the Candy Man can
('Cause he mixes it with Love and makes the world taste good) "
eppy2000 - 06/06/2014
I don't recall the game being pulled, because the book "Hackers" said that Sierra actually won the case. But Ken Williams (who owned Sierra) found the victory a bit of a double-edged sword, because he realized that it would potentially allow other developers to do the same thing to his company (e.g., release similar themed, "copycat" games with no legal repercussions).

That said, this game was another one of John Harris' classics. I would've loved to see the prototype, which was actually the source of all the legal hoopla because it apparently was closer in appearance to Pac-Man than the finished product.
Jim Kuchera - 16/12/2006
I just can't say enough good about this fantastic Pac-Clone. It is fast, has wonderful graphics, cute between scenes 'tooth brushing', and serves up superb sound effects. But, sadly, it was pulled from the market when Mother Atari went after On-Line for being too close to PacMan. Jawbreaker was re-released as Jawbreaker II. It sucked, was unplayable, and simply a waste of time. Thanks, Atari, for thinking about the rest of us. From my point of view, this game and Mousekattack are wonderfully playable and fun to watch. I miss this one. Note the price: $39.95. I can't believe we paid that much for games in the early 80's. Today, that would be about $150.00 in 2006's dollars. Wow! Ah heck, it was worth it. If you can find this disk somewhere, buy it, and pray it'll still boot. It's very efficient code, and loads in a matter of seconds with no further disk access. Consider today's games for dedicated game consoles, and you'll see what efficient code is all about. I miss these great programmers. Geniuses! All of 'em.


Jawbreaker atari screenshot


GenreArcade - Pac-ManYear1981
LanguageMachine LanguagePublisherSierra On-Line

Harris, John

Graphic Artist(s)


MediumTape Disk


Cover Artist(s)[unknown]Serial?
Dumpdownload atari Jawbreaker Download

Additional Comments

Other versions with the same title:

Sierra On-Line, Sierra On-Line, [no publisher].

Missing original tape and disk images!


Jawbreaker Atari disk scan Jawbreaker Atari disk scan Jawbreaker Atari disk scan



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