Tunnel Runner

Celebrate Atari Day With Tunnel Runner!

Tunnel Runner is another vintage Atari 2600 game that possessed the RAM Plus chip. You might remember I talked about that last week. With the post about Stuart Ross’ Wings. Since this is the 26th of the month – you know what that means, right?
Atari 2600

It’s Atari Day! Furthermore what better way to celebrate that day than looking at 1983’s Tunnel Runner? A rather scarce CBS Electronics game as a matter of fact. Programmed by Richard K. Balaska Jr., his only title for the Atari 2600.

[Via] Retro Commercials Forever

So what is Tunnel Runner about?

You must navigate your way through a 3-D lair, a complex of mazes. To successfully make it through a maze or a Run – hence your title of Tunnel Runner. You will have to locate a key and then the proper escape door. A fact made a little more difficult as there can be multiple types of doors on a level. Like the image you see below which represents a transport door – which will drop you in another part of the maze!
Tunnel Runner
If the door had an up arrow next to it, that would have meant you would go to the next level. Two arrows next to said door means you are advancing two levels in difficulty. In contrast to a door with two downward arrows which means you will go back to the last played maze. The only reason to take such a door is to avoid being caught by an enemy.

However you do have a little help by way of a map. By pressing the fire button on the joystick you can take a look at it. It will show you the layout of the maze, the locations of the Zots, and which direction you are facing.
Tunnel Runner

You can’t move while checking out that map but the Zots can. Similarly they are moving through the maze too – but in their case they want to eat you up. They come in three colors. Grey are rather slow and easy to lose. White versions are a little quicker and will hunt for you but can be left behind if you beat feet. The Red Zots on the other hand are fast and most dangerous.

Now that you know a bit about the game, why don’t you watch it in action?

[Via] Vizzed Gameplay Videos

Atari Day? What is that again?

Image courtesy of Atari I/O's Facebook page.

Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.

To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari I/O’s site by following the link here!


Celebrate Atari Day With The Art Of Atari!

Art of Atari I think is possibly the best way to celebrate Atari Day. Then again I admit I am biased in that viewpoint.
Art of Atari - Vic Sage

Although this may be true it doesn’t detract from the importance of the Art of Atari to gaming enthusiasts. Tim Lapetino’s retrospective on Atari gives us an insiders look at the four decades of the company. Additionally he has amassed artwork from private collections and museums for his 352 page tome – moreover it’s official. Lapetino has also included interviews and sometimes never before published artwork of those artists that were part of the Golden Age of Atari!

Images courtesy of Atari I/O.

Images courtesy of Atari I/O.

I want to point out that Tim has sort of been working out the idea of the book since 2012. Captivated like many of us by the beautiful box art that graced the 2600 titles. Missile Command, Adventure, and Centipede to name but a few. Lapetino that year was able to obtain from another collector, slides, negatives and transparencies of such Atari artwork.

Equally important of that purchase to Tim was coming into contact with Cliff Spohn. The freelance illustrator responsible for some of Atari’s early uniquely beautiful covers.

I cannot stress how important these illustrations for the games were. In fact it helped to set the art style of those original releases. But it also acted as a portal of sorts to the “World” that the game on the cartridge offered. Stoking the fires of the imagination – it is easy to see how children might add an element of role-playing with Codebreaker.

You aren’t merely attempting to find the hidden code in as few as moves possible. Thanks to that artwork by Spohn you are now a shadowy agent trying to obtain the location of enemy ships!

Don’t just take my word for it. Here is the Art of Atari‘s Tim Lapetino on Atari’s early approach to advertising:

“I can say that Atari’s approach really was a product of its time. In the late 70s and early 80s, illustration was still widely used in advertising, design, and commercially. Photography was just starting to supplant hand-rendered illustration, but it was sort of natural that the folks at Atari would draw from existing, parallel industries to drawn inspiration for their package design and art. There were no video game standards, so they borrowed from paperback novel covers, LP album art, and movie posters – and expanded upon it. Cliff Spohn’s art really served as a working template of how to approach the art, and they grew from there.”

That quote like nearly all the photos in this article are from an EXCLUSIVE interview over at Atari I/O. Between Rob Wanechak and Tim Lapetino. Make sure to take a moment out of your busy schedule and read that interview – it is well worth your time.

The Art of Atari is available right this moment at better book dealers as well as at Dynamite.Com!

Remind me again what Atari Day is!

Image courtesy of Atari I/O's Facebook page.

Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.

To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari I/O’s site by following the link here!


Retro Radio Memories Ep. 078 (Super Breakout)

You would be right in thinking that Super Breakout, the hit sequel to the equally successful 1976 arcade title Breakout might seem an odd choice to adapt into a storybook and record. Yet that is exactly what the Kid Stuff label did – along with Missile Command, Asteroids, and Yar’s Revenge. Which we have shared on the site once or twice before. So for this installment of Retro Radio Memories we are doing something just a little different.
We are not sharing an Old Time Radio program this week but a retro record.

If it’s Retro Radio Memories why are you sharing a record?

Good question. The answer is that this is the 26th of the month. You know what that means, right?

That is right! It is Atari Day!
Image courtesy of Atari I/O's Facebook page.

Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.

How did they turn Super Breakout into a storybook and record?!

That too is a very good question…especially considering the gameplay of that classic title.

I won’t ruin the story for you but I will say they took an intergalactic adventure approach to it all. Inspired I suppose by the Atari 2600 game artwork they used for the cover of the book and record.

So join us on Retro Radio Memories or perhaps Retro Record Memories for Super Breakout!

If you have any comments or feedback for the show you can e-mail them to at VicSage@Retroist.com. You can also reach me on Twitter and of course on Facebook.

The music on the podcast was graciously provided by Peachy! You may contact him by e-mail at peachy@Retroist.com.
Subscribe To The Retro Radio Memories Podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes. I sure would appreciate it if you might leave us a rating to help spread the word about the show while you are at it!

Directly download the Retro Radio Memories Podcast:
Episode Mirror #1 (MP3)
Episode Mirror #2 (OGG)

To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari IO’s site by clicking on the link here!

Howard Scott Warshaw Day


Join your friends in the Atari.IO Forums on Saturday, July 30, 2016 for a day of Atari fun & festivities!

July 30th is Howard Scott Warshaw Day 2016! Howard was a game designer at Atari who was responsible for creating some of the 2600’s most memorable titles. Howard’s birthday is July 30th. We’ve chosen this day every year to celebrate Howard’s creations as one of Atari’s most prolific game designers! This year we’re celebrating with some fun events taking place in the forums:

This year Brian Thomas Barnhart will debut his new Atari-themed YouTube show “7800 Avenue” with a special Yars’ Revenge episode celebrating Howard Scott Warshaw. 7800 Avenue focuses on Atari 2600 and 7800 with a look at different games and accessories in each episode!

Celebrate #HSWDAY at 7800 Ave. by playing the Atari classic Yars’ Revenge. Happy Birthday Howard Scott Warsaw, and thank you for creating Atari’s best-selling original title for the 2600, this game still rocks! [Via] Brian Thomas Barnhart

Ultimate Yars is the most challenging variant in Yars’ Revenge! It can be played by setting the Difficulty Level to GAME 6.

Ultimate Yars features a bouncing Zorlon Cannon, plus some unusual twists that distinguish it from the other Difficulty Levels in Yars’ Revenge. First, you must bounce the Yar against the left side of the screen to make the Zorlon Cannon appear. Also, to make the cannon appear, you need five TRONS. TRONS are units of energy which you can collect at the following rate:

  1. Eat a cell from the shield: 1 TRON
  2. Touch the Qotile: 2 TRONS
  3. Catch a Zorlon Cannon shot after it bounces off the shield: 4 TRONS

If a Yar bounces on the left side with less than five TRONS, it will not get a shot, but it won’t lose the TRONS it has either. (Each time a Yar is destroyed, it loses its TRONS). Each Yar has a capacity of 255 TRONS. If a Yar tries to take on more than that, it will short out and the Yar will lose all its TRONS. The count of TRONS is not displayed on the screen. Yar scouts understand the count instinctively.
Yars Revenge Art

One of the most enduring and successful original games for the 2600, Yars’ Revenge was the first game created by Howard Scott Warshaw. Originally conceived as a conversion of the popular arcade game Star Castle, Warshaw believed he couldn’t do that title justice, and decided to create his own game using basic elements drawn from Star Castle.

The name of the game is even a reference to Atari’s CEO Ray Kassar, as “RAY” was spelled backwards to read “YAR”. Warshaw developed a detailed backstory for the game that ended up as part of an exclusive pack-in Yars’ Revenge Comic Book.
Yars Revenge - ET
Howard also created an unreleased game called Saboteur, as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Atari 2600 adventure game based on the movie of the same title. All of Howard’s games that were released by Atari became million-sellers.

Following on the success of Raiders, Howard Scott Warshaw was hand-picked by Steven Spielberg and Atari to turn another memorable movie into a game cartridge for the Atari 2600 – E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

[Via] GameSpot Trailers

Zak Penn’s documentary Atari: Game Over was released in 2014 and focuses on Howard Scott Warshaw’s role in the development of the E.T. cartridge, the financial collapse of Atari during 1983-1984, the events that led to Atari’s warehouse dump in the desert, and how Howard Scott Warshaw became ensnared in the legend.

Atari Chat will be active throughout the day and into the night. The friendly retrogaming community at Atari I/O will be on hand to share in your love of classic video games, tv, movies, and more!

Hope to see you there!

Justin is an avid Atari historian, technology entrepreneur, adventurist and raconteur who posts at the Retroist as ATARI I/O. You can follow him at his website and join the Atari I/O forums at http://www.atari.io/

Ms PacMan - Australian Commercial

Happy Atari Day! What Is Going On In This Australian Ms. Pac-Man Commercial?

The 26th of the month has come upon us once again and you know what that means, right? It’s time to join in the celebration of all things Atari – even when that means experiencing this slightly surreal television commercial for the Australian port of Ms. Pac-Man to the Atari 2600!
Let’s take stock for just a moment before we watch the advertisement. When Ms. Pac-Man reached the Atari 2600 it was I believe a rather pleasant surprise to fans of the Pac-Man Family. It certainly had better graphics than the often unfairly maligned Pac-Man port in 1982 but to be honest the gameplay for Ms. Pac-Man certainly was more faithful to it’s original source.

[Via] Skooter Blog

So the Atari 2600 home port of Ms. Pac-Man certainly had reason to crow about their achievements, it only made sense they would advertise it heavily on TV, right?

[Via] The Retro Time Machine

The Australian Ms. Pac-Man commercial is rather amazing as they didn’t just show that ad above but decided to follow a different marketing path. Embrace the beautiful and bizarre spectacle of watching a young woman, dressed in yellow and red with a giant red hued bow, rollerskating past cardboard maze walls and snatching fruit hanging from fishing wire. It was 1983, friends…it was 1983.
Ms PacMan - Atari 2600

[Via] Dig That Box RETRO
Atari Logo

Image courtesy of Atari I/O's Facebook page.

Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.

To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari Atari I/O’s site by following the link here!

Atari - Superman

Happy Atari Day! Celebrate With This Atari Bumper For Superman!

While a very wise man has pointed out that every single day of the month should be recognized as Atari Day, a large group of fans have appointed the 26th of every month as Atari Day. Yet…somehow it is the 29th of May and I failed…FAILED…to share this great TV bumper for that legendary company, presented during the airing of 1978’s Superman on what I believe to be ABC back on Sunday February 7th as well as Monday the 8th, 1982.

[Via] GameMusicParadise
The reason for the splitting up of the film is that ABC had secured the rights to air on TV a a cut of the film that was a little over 3 hours long. It appears that Atari was the main sponsor for this event and it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. The company wasn’t just trying to get the word out on their 5200 system but even back in 1978/1979 after Superman the movie had become such a box office hit, Atari had produced a Superman game for the Atari 2600.

Image courtesy of AtariAge.

Image courtesy of AtariAge.

[Via] RetroGameGeek Jimbo

Which I can assure you I was playing at that time still…because no matter what the haters think…Superman for the 2600 is an awesome game. I would like to thank AtariAge as always for the awesome box art scan used up above.

Image courtesy of Atari I/O's Facebook page.

Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.

To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari I/O’s site by following the link here!

Warlords - Atari


Fresh squeezed orange juice, great friends, and Atari Day! Celebrate Atari Day at the Jag Bar with the 2600 classic Warlords!

Warlords is an awesome classic video game that evokes the early ’80s Atari experience at its best! Warlords makes for a great party game, as the Atari 2600 version supports up to 4 simultaneous players on screen at one time vying for absolute domination!

[Via] Brian Thomas Barnhart

At it’s core, Warlords is about using insane strategy and skill to defeat your best friends and family in your living room and is best played around a nice round of drinks and snacks.

Warlords is a battle between four Kings (players) and their Castles, one in each corner of the screen. A fire-breathing dragon appears on screen at the beginning of each round and spits out a fireball, which bounces around the screen destroying the castles one brick at a time, similar in gameplay to Breakout.


Each King and Castle has a shield (controlled by the player using a paddle controller) which deflects the fireball, or can grab the fireball and fling it furiously at an opponent.


Among Atari’s developers in the Home Consumer Division the game was referred to as “Kings in the Corner”. The Atari 2600 version of Warlords was developed by Carla Meninsky and released in 1981. Carla was one of the two female game designers working at Atari in the early 1980s.

Image courtesy of Atari I/O's Facebook page.

Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.

Atari Day is part of a movement we started at atari.io to help spread interest, awareness, and to share our love of Atari and classic gaming with the world.

On the 26th day of each month, we’re setting aside a day to celebrate Atari, share great games with great friends, and remind the world why Atari’s still so awesome. Here’s how it works:

1. Wear Atari stuff on the 26th day of each month
Shirts, hats, wristbands, book bags, whatever. Put Atari stickers on your notebooks, bikes, the rear window of your car, the front door of your favorite bar, anywhere cool really. Let people see your enthusiasm. Take photos and post to your social media accounts with the hashtag #AtariDay. Create memes, print your own Atari stickers, make something new. If you need a T-shirt, you can usually find Atari stuff at Target, online, or in most any mall in America. Wearing Atari stuff, you’ll usually see a few smiling faces coming up to you and offering positive remarks. Each smiling face is another chance to share the fun of Atari with an old friend, or maybe make a new one!

2. Start a conversation
If people come up to you and say they love your shirt, just start talking to them! It’s easy to get people excited about Atari. People love video games. And a lot of people still have really fond memories of Atari! They just need to be reminded.

3. Share a game
Let’s say your friend said something about your shirt, you guys started talking about Atari and now they’re truly excited. You should be as awesome to them as you can possibly be. Share a game with them! Offer to lend them your Flashback console for a week. Better yet, invite them over for a game! Get a 4-Player round of Warlords going. Play a few of your favorite Atari games. Snacks, beer, and a retro movie could make a night out of it. Do something fun and memorable. Make it easy for people to want to enjoy Atari. Show them where they can get games and offer recommendations on your favorite titles. Offer them a few of your spare carts to get them started on their collection!

Why do this?
The idea is to share Atari with the world! People who remember Atari will go “Oh yeah! That was so much fun!” and those too young to remember Atari might discover it for the first time. The more people entering the World of Atari, the better! It’s always fun to welcome new people into classic gaming, and Atari’s legacy could use a little help.

In some people’s eyes the Atari we know and love doesn’t hold the best reputation. So much of what the rest of the world sees about Atari right now is negative. Documentaries about their failure, Atari garbage dumps in the news, criticism and crappy games. Now is the time to help people rediscover Atari and let them see how much fun we have with this stuff. We??re picking a day, the 26th of each month, to do just that!

Other gaming companies actively build on their legacy. They release new games based on old characters and franchises, and they make it exciting and fun to like their stuff. We wish the same was true with Atari, but unfortunately it’s going to be left up to all of us to make that happen.

For more information on Atari Day, visit the Atari Day page at Atari I/O here: http://forums.atari.io/index.php/topic/291-atari-day-on-the-26th-day-of-each-month-show-the-world-how-much-you-love-atari/

For more episodes of The Jag Bar, check out their channel on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/btbfilms76

Justin is an avid Atari historian, technology entrepreneur, adventurist and raconteur who posts at the Retroist as Atari I/O. You can follow him at his website and join the Atari I/O forums at http://www.atari.io