Dig Dug -Christopher Tupa

Retro Arcade Art By CTupa: Dig Dug (1982)

Friends, feast your eyes on Christopher Tupa‘s Dig Dug illustration! Not only is it CTupa’s pick for this weeks Retro Arcade Art. Obviously. But it also happens to be one of my favorite video games as well. Much like Pac-Man, there are elements of Dig Dug that match maze games. However in this case you are pretty much making your own maze as you dig through a treacherous underground setting.
Dig Dug - Marquee

Dig Dug was released by Atari in the arcades of North America in May of 1982. However it was actually developed and published by an equally legendary game company – Namco.

Dig Dug -Arcade Flyer Archive

Image courtesy of the Arcade Flyer Archive

Certainly most of you that frequent the Retroist or enjoy classic gaming will know how this game works. Players are tasked with guiding Dig Dug, as he was known in the first game, as you tunnel through the stratum that makes up each level. The character’s goal is clearing out a collection of motley monsters below the surface of the Earth. With only the aid of an air pump to help him dispatch the beasties as well as boulders scattered about the stage.

Using the air pump, a Player will hit the pump button three or four times, which inflates a foe until it expands so much it pops. If you do not pump the enemy until they explode they will slowly deflate and come after you again. The problem is the Pookas and Fygars rarely come at the Player one at a time beyond the first few rounds. The enemy can even travel through the dirt for a sneak attack, trying to catch you from the left and right as well as up and down. This of course requires a great deal of juggling in the later stages!

Oh, the amount of Pookas and Fygars that met their grim fates over dozens of Saturday afternoons at the Showbiz Pizza of my youth. In truth if we counted them all I would probably be brought up on charges by a video game court.
Dig Dug - Characters

Dig Dug was certainly a hit for both companies. Game cabinets being produced for upright, cocktail and even cabaret units. For those of you that might not have seen a cabaret version. It basically was a smaller upright, designed of course for arcades and other locations where space might be a premium.
Dig Dug - Cabaret

Dig Dug didn’t find success in just the arcades. It had brisk sales for the popular consoles and home computers of the day as well. Ports could be found on the Atari 2600, 5200, and 7800 systems. Besides the Atari computers the VIC-20 and Commodore 64 received ports as did IBM PC and TI-99/4A.
Dig Dug - Atari 2600

Besides the awesome artwork that CTupa provides for his Retro Art Blog entries. I am glad to constantly find out facts I hadn’t known. Case in point that the Intellivision DID receive a home port of the game. It was in 1987 though, programmed by Mark Kennedy…when he was working for Atarisoft I should add.
Dig Dug - Intellivision

Apparently Mark added two Easter eggs to his port. One of them allows you to experience a different title screen. The second though lets you play an entirely second game entitled Deadly Dogs. Which is TRON Deadly Discs but instead of TRON and the warriors of the MCP. You are the hot dogs from Burger Time!

That is pretty crazy, right? Now remember that with CTupa’s Retro Arcade Art project, you can purchase the artwork featured in this post. The originals are ink and watercolor and are 5″x7″ on 8.5″x11″ size paper. You can hop on over to Christopher’s official site to contact him as well as check out more artwork from his project!

Now that you know a bit about Dig Dug. Why not enjoy this commercial that was originally shown in move theaters?

[Via] Scottith Games

Make sure to also enjoy the earlier entries for the Retro Arcade Art By CTupa!
(Beezer)
(Bomb Jack)
(Devil Fish)

New Swordquest Comic

Celebrate Atari Day With The New Swordquest Comic!

It is the 26th of the month. Atari Day is here again and you can totally celebrate it by downloading the new Swordquest comic book. In fact if you hop on over to Comixology you can get the #0 issue of Dynamite Entertainment’s new Swordquest comic book absolutely free.

New Swordquest Comic - Dynamite Comics

Image courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment.

In the event that you are not aware of Atari’s Swordquest. I will give you a brief summary before talking about the brand new Swordquest comic book series.

Image courtesy of AtariAge.Com

In 1982 Atari released the first of four planned Swordquest titles with Earthworld. More than just an epic adventure/puzzle series the goal was to solve a riddle – one that could lead you to laying your hands on the Talisman of Penultimate Truth. A real life piece of jewelry worth $25,000!

Image courtesy of the 2600Connection.Com

To aid with the solving of the puzzles, Players received a DC comic book. Written by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway as well as being illustrated by George Perez with inking by Dick Giordano. The book introduced Players to the twins Tarra and Torr – two thieves of noble blood. Furthermore throughout the comic they are set on the path to retrieve not only the Talisman of Penultimate Truth but the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery.
New Swordquest Comic - The Sword of Ultimate Sorcery

Players would navigate minigames to reach rooms in Earthworld, based on the zodiac. Moreover when figuring out what items were needed in said rooms, a message would appear.

That message directed Players to a hidden word in a panel of the Swordquest comic book. In this case for example, the Player would turn to page 25 and look closely at panel 6 for the hidden word.

Image Courtesy of AtariAge.Com

At the end of the day there were 5,000 entries for Earthworld. In fact a mere 8 were correct. Then after a special competition in 1983 between those 8 Players, it was Steven Bell who earned the talisman!

For further information on Steven Bell as well the fate of the Swordquest game series. You might wish to read Could You Have Won The Talisman of Penultimate Truth?

So it has been 33 years since a new Swordquest comic has been released. As well as the fact this new series isn’t a continuation of the saga of Torr and Tara. Writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers have instead set their story in the real world. With the plight of Peter Case, a 45-year-old man who is delivered a nasty blow by fate.

New Swordquest Comic - Peter Case

Image courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment.

Forced to move back in with his Mother, Peter is reminded of his all-consuming passion for the Swordquest games. Remembering how two of his childhood friends, Alvin and Amy Perez, stood by his side in an attempt to solve the riddles. All three using their imagination as they played the Atari 2600 games. However the video game crash of 1983 put a halt to their dreams of the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery.

New Swordquest Comic - Peter and Friends

Image courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment.

Sims and Bowers have done an incredible job of making Peter a relatable character. You are going to feel for him I am sure. And as the first issue of the new Swordquest comic ends it appears that Case…is on a new quest. One fueled by nostalgia and second chances.

New Swordquest Comic - Peter's Guide

Image courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment.

The artwork for the new Swordquest series is handled by Scott Kowalchuk. Who you might know especially from his work on the Batman ’66 comic series. I have a feeling that the story for this series will remain firmly in reality. With the magic of the original DC Comics being replaced in fact with the gift of nostalgia to these new characters.

In addition this is actually the first wave of Atari related comic books from Dynamite. Coming in July is none other than Centipede!

Image courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment.

So hop on over to Comixology to get your free issue. Or better yet take an epic journey to your favorite comic book shop and pick up a physical copy for a mere twenty-five cents. Can you think of a better way to celebrate Atari Day?

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 site by following the link here!

Now that you know about the new Swordquest comic why not check out Earthworld in action?

[Via] High Retro Game Lord

Space Invaders

Celebrate Atari Day With Space Invaders!

Being the 26th of the month once again it is time to celebrate Atari Day. There is so very much to love and celebrate as well when talking about Atari of course. Although as usual I am focusing on a particular game for the Atari 2600. A port of the massively popular as well as legendary Space Invaders from 1978!
Space Invaders - Flyer

When Tomohiro Nishikado set out to create Space Invaders I certainly doubt he realized how popular it would become. In Japan there were arcades that offered nothing but the “fixed shooter”. Just rows and rows of Space Invaders for gamers to spend their money on. As a matter of fact it’s been reported that by the end of 1978, Taito, who produced the game had manufactured over 100,000 arcade cabinets.
Space Invaders

To say nothing of the amount of money that the success ofSpace Invaders earned for the company. I ask you, how does 600 million dollars sound? Having said that, bear in mind that was only for Japan in its first year alone.

Now as you might imagine when Atari announced they were going to be producing a home port for their Atari 2600. It was kind of a big deal. Not only did it mark the first arcade title to be licensed for home use. It smashed sales records for the 2600 as well. Steven L. Kent’s 2001 book The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon has in fact said that it helped to quadruple the sales of the Atari 2600.

Were you aware the Atari 2600 port was part of the How To Beat Video Games Series?

Which leads us to why in particular Atari made sure to mention their home version of Space Invaders in print. As much as possible. As well as producing rather charming television ads like in the case of the one below entitled Uncle Frank.

[Via] Dig That Box RETRO

Far smarter people than myself have pointed out that the Space Invader themselves have become almost an iconic symbol. Representative of video games itself – more well known than even the likes of Mario!

Listen to Uncle Vic’s hit novelty song inspired by Space Invaders!

Now the great news is you can easily join the Atari Day celebration and play Space Invaders right this second.


By and large it’s available online in one form or another, I would recommend the online services of the Internet Archive.

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!

Mountain King - Atari 2600

The Eternal Reign Of The Mountain King

Sometime back in ‘84, during a routine browsing of the video game rack at Kay Bee Toys, I took a gamble on a video game that I had never heard of, but seemed interesting to me based on the intriguing box art and unique description. It was one of the few Atari 2600 games that captured my interest that wasn’t produced by any of the more well-known, third-party companies.

Back then, i didn’t know what third-party even meant. I just knew that most of the games I enjoyed, owned, or at least heard of were made by either Atari, Activision or Parker Bros. Anything else I would see, I would often look upon them as if they were some sort of cheap knock-off, whilst making the “ew” face. Mainly because my experience with most other types of games was rarely good. (Up to that point, at least.) I’ve since found quite a few hidden gems among some of the lesser-known game companies, and i’ll be dedicating articles to each of those as time goes on.

For now though, I want to talk about the first one that really amazed me; Mountain King by CBS Electronics.
Mountain King - Atari 2600

Since discovering the magic of emulation, i’ve played all of the titles released by this company, and I still think Mountain King stands above all the rest. The gameplay is a bit more involved than a typical Atari 2600 game, though I wont use the word “complex”. You’re a spelunker, in search of the Golden Crown. You gain points by collecting diamond clusters that are littered all throughout the cave. When you collect a thousand (your score will turn yellow), you are now able to take hold of the Flame Spirit. The Flame Spirit’s location is noted by it’s theme song that you’ll soon hear being played. (This is one of the FEW Atari games that utilized sound as an important gameplay feature, mind you.) The closer you are to the Flame Spirit, the louder the music gets. You CAN see the Spirit, but it’s difficult. It will appear as a yellow flash….or you can use your flashlight and wander around until it appears in the light. It looks like a little fish out of water, jumping back and forth. Once you have the Flame Spirit you can now offer it to the Skull Spirit who guards the crown atop the altar that you can find towards the lower half of the cave. You can clearly see the crown floating above the altar. (NOTE: You cannot get into this area unless you present the Flame Spirit to the Skull Spirit!) When you stand beneath the entrance to the altar, bow down, and the Skull Spirit appears…which bears a creepy resemblance to that demon head that popped out of the closet in “Poltergeist”! **shivers**
Mountain King - Screenshot

Anywho…..once it appears, you may now climb onto the altar and when you bow under the crown, it appears on your head. At this point, you’ll hear a very nice rendition of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” being played out. (It makes for some GREAT suspense!) Your goal now is to make it to the top of the mountain…er, highest peak inside of the cave. (There’s a golden nugget at the highest point, which tells you you’re at the correct spot.) You are timed for this, so be quick. There’s also another obstacle in your way; Bats. Mother-#$%!&$@&*#%#@&^&$% BATS!! You will HATE bats after a few rounds of this game. TRUST ME! They will steal the crown off the top of your head, often with little to no warning or room for you to escape either. Frustration doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling! In over 30 years, I have STILL never actually made it to the top of the mountain…..er, cave. Then again, after about 2 or 3 tries, I had to turn the game off to prevent a joystick from ending up through my TV screen. Yes…before road rage, there was Atari rage. That struggle was real, folks!

As I mentioned earlier, I had never heard of this game back then, despite the amount of TV I had watched as a kid. However, while doing research for this article, I stumbled upon this commercial, which I never knew existed. It is atrocious….and boy, am I glad I never saw it as a kid, or else I would’ve NEVER wanted this game. This commercial looks like it was put together by a 4th grade Advertising 101 class! (No offense to any 4th graders who might be taking up advertising as a hobby.) Sorry, but when you see other commercials for Atari games, you’ll see why this one was probably swept under the rug after its first airing. If you want to see it, here it is…..but you wont be missing much if you just skip this part. The box art did a much better job!

[Via] Happy Game Family

Now, the whole purpose of this article is to celebrate the fact that this game has just been recently reviewed by my personal favorite Youtube game reviewer, Mark (Lord Karnage) of Classic Game Room. Even better, is the fact that the actual cartridge that Lord Karnage HIMSELF is playing is MY cartridge that I had since childhood. I had recently decided to downsize my Atari cartridge collection in favor of a Harmony Cart. (See: AtariAge). In doing so, I realized I was only gonna keep about 10 of my original carts. Mountain King would’ve have been one of them, but it was the ONLY game I was gonna keep that I hadn’t seen Mark of CGR review yet. I e-mailed him to make sure he didn’t already have it pending, and he confirmed that he didn’t, but also that he had not ever heard of it. The choice was clear at that point. I donated the game for review, and here it is, in all its sentimental nostalgic glory.

[Via] Lord Karnage

There are a few things Mark didn’t mention in his review; 1) The giant spider on the bottom floor of the cave, which will tangle you in a web AND take away either the Flame Spirit OR the crown. It’s easy to get out of the first few times. You just wiggle around a bit, and get out of these as fast as you can. However, upon the third time you get tangled, you’re dead. 2) The treasure chests throughout the cave. They contain large amounts of diamonds which will expedite your goal of 1,000 to earn you the Flame Spirit. They can only be seen with the flashlight though! The drawback is that the usual diamond clusters disappear when you shine it…so you just have to learn to flicker it on and off as you wander through the levels.

The final feature he didn’t mention (probably because he wasn’t even aware of it) was the infamous “Heaven” glitch. Even I wasn’t aware of this until recently, actually! But…it is one of the more well-known and admired glitches in the Atari-era library. I wished I had discovered this as a kid because it probably would’ve been the highlight of that particular month! I would’ve raved about it at school for weeks, getting strange looks from all the kids who had upgraded to a Colecovision or Intellivision. Not that there has EVER been a shortage of strange looks from my peers at any point in my lifetime…but I digress.

In a nutshell, this glitch (or bug) is a “secret” level, high above the mountain peaks, which consists of a dense cluster of platforms and ladders. There isn’t really anything up there to discover. (That anyone knows of…yet.) But it is very cool to go up there by way of jumping a few times upwards and holding the joystick until you land on one of the tiny platforms up there. There have even been accounts of people getting there by way of some secret trap door in the spider dungeon! It was a debated topic several years ago as to whether this area was intentionally put there by the programmer or not, but it seems the general consensus is that it is in fact a bug that was carried over from the 5200 version of the game. Maybe the programmer had intended for there to be more levels for the 5200 port, but just couldn’t finish it for whatever reason…? The world may never know. Here’s a Youtube video of the secret area.

[Via] Orion Pax 55

I LOVED this game as a kid, and still do today. I always kinda thought of it as a make-shift “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” kinda game. We only ever got one Indy game for the Atari, but it didn’t play like an adventure game should have, in my opinion. Mountain King was far more up my alley in what I expected when I was in my Indiana Anthony and the Misadventures of Saturday Morning mode. Despite the frustration it can cause, Mountain King still a very fun game to play. My only complaint about this game is that the epic box art didn’t get put on the actual cartridge. Luckily, these cartridges are still fairly ubiquitous on the second-hand market, and wont cost you the price of a vintage, carded Star Wars figure either. So to quote Ferris Bueller, “If you ever have the means, I HIGHLY recommend picking one up.” Happy spelunking, Retroist fans!

Someday, My (Space)ship Or Space Shuttle Will Sail

The year: 1981. Pac-Man fever has incurably spread across the country. Both Mork and Mindy are still on the air. There are still pitched Battles of the Network Stars being fought on a yearly basis. The Sony Walkman has been on the market for a little under two years.

Oh, and Space Shuttle Columbia just blasted off for the very first time a couple of days ago, and is going to land very soon.

Now nearly six years since the last Space Shuttle lifted off, it’s almost unimaginable that a TV network would devote 3+ hours of wall-to-wall coverage to a perfectly ordinary Shuttle landing…except that this was the first time that a Shuttle returning from orbit ever came in for a landing. Every American space mission before this sunny April day in 1981 had ended with a splashdown in an ocean. But not this one.
[Via] Golden Pacific Media

It’s a slice of history, like a time machine: the first manned American space flight in six years was a big deal. And while it had taken longer to get the Space Shuttle airborne – on a scale of years – due to technical delays on the bleeding edge of new technologies, it had finally taken to the sky, something that looked more like a space fighter from a movie than it looked like a metal can with windows.

And perhaps most bittersweet of all, it had yet to let anyone down. The promises, made throughout the ‘70s ever since the Nixon administration had signed off on the Shuttle’s basic design, of routine, weekly flights to orbit, of a massive space station built by the 1990s that would be a stepping stone to the rest of the solar system…none of them had been broken yet. The reality of getting Columbia ready for her second flight hadn’t set in yet.

Nobody knew how difficult or costly it would be…or, just a few years later, how dangerous, as NASA tried to fly its fleet of Shuttles more and more frequently.

I remember watching the landing coverage at a friend’s house, the site of a spring break sleepover. He was ready to fire up the Atari, or go outside and kick a ball, and I wasn’t ready to budge. Like other budding space geeks who had grown up in a decade during which American astronauts had simply stopped going to space for years on end, it had all been building up to this – the lovingly illustrated National Geographic issue devoted to telling us what would happen “when the Space Shuttle finally flies”, the fleet of die-cast metal Space Shuttles that circled above the surface of the Earth (in my pockets), the plastic model kits of a non-fictional spacecraft that had never gotten around to flying…
Space Shuttle
(And yes, each one is actually a specific shuttle, in the order that I got them as a kid, and as such is sitting next to its name. The one with the tail cover is the Enterprise.)

For just a moment, the future was bright.

As of March 2017, we are now in a longer gap between spaceflights launched from American soil than the gap between the final Apollo mission (1975’s international Apollo-Soyuz Test Project flight) and the first Shuttle launch. When the next crew of astronauts blasts off from the U.S., whether they’re aboard NASA’s Orion, or SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner, or something else, here’s hoping that my kids get that same sense of wonder – even if it’s a similar kind of naïve, momentary wonder – as I got from watching this: a moment where, in the future, anything could happen.