• Tag Archives 2600
  • Berzerk (Atari 2600/5200)

    Source: Atari Age – Volume 1, Number 2 – July August 1982

    Berzerk, as one of THE classic arcade games, of course received ports to Atari’s home video game systems of the day. First up was the Atari 2600 version in 1982 (the original arcade version had been released in 1980). Because Berzerk was a fairly simple game graphically speaking, the Atari 2600 manages a good representation. Sure, the colors aren’t quite as bright and the sounds not as rich but the game play is still there and it is easily recognizable as the same game. Game play is fairly simple as well. You control a stick figure that navigates simple single screen mazes while avoiding evil robots. You and the robots are armed with lasers and the walls are electrified. Getting touched by a laser, robot or wall will kill you. Your goal is simply to make it to the other side of the screen to progress to the next one.

    The one big thing that the Atari 2600 version was missing, however, was speech synthesis. The arcade version of Berzerk was the first arcade game to feature speech synthesis but this was not something the Atari 2600 could easily handle. However, there was a hacked version of Berzerk for the 2600 released in 2002 that had speech added. When Berzerk was ported to the Atari 5200 the year following the 2600 release, speech was added. The Atari 5200 also features slightly better graphics as you might expect. However, because of the crappy Atari 5200 controllers, it really isn’t as much fun to play as the 2600 version despite its other advantages.

    The only other official port of Berzerk was for the Vectrex. An Atari 8-bit port was planned that would have been identical to the Atari 5200 version (but with better controllers) but for some reason it was cancelled.

    If you collect original cartridges for the 2600 or 5200 then this is definitely one to pick up. It’s a fun game and pretty easy to find. There aren’t a lot of options for playing this game as I’m not aware of any re-releases of the original. The Atari 2600 version or a hacked version for the Atari 8-bit computers is probably the best way to go to play on original hardware. Otherwise, the original arcade version is the way to go if you are using emulation.

    The ad above is for the Atari 2600 version of Berzerk and is from the July/August 1982 issue of Atari Age. The screen shot is from the Atari 5200 version of the game.


  • Surround (Atari 2600)

    Cliff Spohn art for the Atari 2600 game “Surround,“ 1977.

    Surround, released in 1977, was one of the first games for the Atari 2600 (Atari VCS at the time). It was one of the nine launch titles for that system and comes from an era before there was any 3rd party development for that platform. This was a fairly simple game in which you moved a block around the screen leaving a trail behind you. The goal was to make the 2nd player (a real person or the computer) run into this line.

    While a very simple game, several game variations and somewhat addictive game play make this a pretty good early Atari 2600 game, at least in terms of fun if not in terms of graphics and sound. It would go on to inspire many similar games in later years (Serpentine for the Commodore 64 was one of my favorites). This game also had a “graffiti” mode in which you could simple draw on the screen. Other game variations include various speeds, diagonal movement, the ability to wrap around the screen, etc.

    Finding re-releases of the original is pretty easy as it has been included in a number of compilations and in downloadable form for some game consoles. It is also included on various Atari Flashback units. If you prefer an original cartridge, those are also pretty easy to come by and aren’t too expensive. As one of the original releases and a pretty fun game, especially with a friend, this is probably one you should have in your Atari 2600 collection.

    The image at the top is the artwork used on the box, manual and label for the game. As you can see, quite a bit of imagination was used. The game graphics are just a tad simpler as seen in the screenshots above.

  • 3D Tic-Tac-Toe (Atari 2600)

    Atari 2600 – 3D Tic-Tac-Toe.
    Programmer/designer Carol Shaw.



    3-D Tic-Tac-Toe is exactly what it sounds like. A three dimensional version of the classic Tic-Tac-Toe. Instead of the traditional goal of getting three Xs or three Os in a row, vertically, horizontally or diagonally, you must get four in a row on a 4x4x4 board. 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe was released for the Atari 2600 in 1979 and can be played by two players or one against the computer.

    What originally surprised me about this game was that it wasn’t unique to the Atari 2600. 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe, otherwise known as Qubic (and a few other names besides). Unfortunately, Tic-Tac-Toe, even in its 3-dimensional form, isn’t all that compelling. The 3D nature of this game makes in interesting for a while but you will likely grow tired of it pretty quickly.

    There were a few other implementations besides the Atari 2600 version. Around the same time that verions was released, a nearly identical Atari 8-bit computer version was also released. More recent releases include a version on the Microsoft Windows