By Shamus Posted Thursday May 25, 2006

Filed under: Game Reviews 4 comments

Mark has an interesting bit on old-school Atari games, wherin he asserts:

The games will be covered in separate posts, but I will say that while they were fun at the time, I can see why people lost interest until the NES. Most games primarily involved manipulating various elements on the screen to get a higher score. Period. There really weren’t any goals other than running the score up as high as possible (there were exceptions to this which will be covered in later posts).

I had an Atari and was obsessed with it. But then I missed the following years as console gaming evolved to the NES / Super NES. In fact, once I moved away from the Atari I didn’t really play console games until nearly 20 years later when I got my hands on a PS2. (What happened was that I got my hands on a personal computer, and once I started coding there was no going back.)

So, I never really thought about the fact the the big innovations on the NES might not have been the graphics technology, but gameplay. Looking back, this does make sense and explains why the NES is still such a landmark in gaming all these years later. Makes me sorry I missed it.

But not all Atari games were run-up-the-score drool-fests. I’ll bet Mark was going to mention this, but I’ll leap ahead and say that Adventure is one of the rare exceptions that broke from the Atari formula.

This was about the most interesting game to show up on the Atari. I didn’t have a game appeal to me in the same way until I discovered Hack (later Nethack) sometime in 1988.

Here is a bit of trivia about the game that I’ve never seen documented anywhere: You could select the difficulty of the game, and the difficulty-selection screen looked pretty much like the screens you see above. It was walled in on all sides, with an opening at the bottom of the screen identical to the one you see below the castle in the first picture. In the middle of this area was a number from 1 to 3, showing what difficulty you had selected. Simple.

Except, if you sat there and moved the joystick around for long enough you could get your little character (the square) to enter through that opening in the bottom. This sometimes took a few minutes of stick-wrangling, which makes me wonder how I discovered it in the first place. I tried to figure out what pattern of movements would get the little guy to appear. Sometimes I would make circles with the stick. Sometimes I’d move it around at random. Eventually it would emerge from that opening. You could run up and bump into the selection number. (Why on earth did they have collision on a number?)

Not very interesting, except that I don’t know if anyone else has ever discovered it. It should be possible to duplicate it if you get your hands on the original ROM and an emulator.


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4 thoughts on “Adventure!

  1. mark says:

    Adventure is most definitely one of the games I’ll be looking at, though I have to say that my favorite game for the atari is still Pitfall II (it’s the first game I’m covering). Adventure also has the distinction of containing one of the first (if the _the_ first) easter eggs. The programmer apparently got a little miffed about the fact that atari didn’t credit the creators, so he put his name in one of screens somewhere. Of course, I have no idea how to reproduce this, but still…

    There will definitely be some PC (and of course, Commodore 64) games on my list, but the further ahead I get in time, the less comprehensive my knowledge of games…

  2. Dan says:

    Would somebody get this freakin duck away from me

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  4. Sean says:

    OH MY GO, this was my fav game when i was like 10 years old, this brings back memories, loved killing the dragon!!

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