Steve Cartwright - Frostbite - Activision Box

Steve Cartwright and Frostbite for the Atari 2600

As with other Activision alumni such as David Crane, Larry Kaplan, Alan Miller, and Bob Whitehead – Steve Cartwright has a few powerhouse titles under his belt, from his time at Activision. Cartwright was the fifth designer and programmer to join Activision back in 1982 – so he wasn’t one of the original founders who jumped ship at Atari due to not being credited for their work nor sharing in any of the massive profits their creations had earned. As David Crane and the original founders of Activision have explained in the past – like in this video from the 2013 Portland Retro Gaming Expo!

According to a September 1982 issue of Activisions – the newsletter for fans back in the day, Steve was friends with David Crane, the two having met at the DeVry Technical Institute in Arizona. Having the same interests, electronics, computers and Foosball – when David helped to co-found Activision, Cartwright was asked to join the successful company in 1981. The first game that Steve created for the company was Barnstorming which was followed by Megamania – a title that took six months to develop – and while some Players have cited it is a little bit like Space Invaders I would counter that it’s gameplay is more akin to 1981’s Astro Blaster. On the other hand that 1981 Sega arcade classic didn’t have a rocking television commercial like Megamania did!

Steve Cartwright followed that popular game in 1983 with Seaquest, Plaque Attack, and of course Frostbite. This is a game I’ve talked about before on the site – although I would highly recommend you take a moment and read CritAnime’s wonderful review from way back in 2010. Frostbite tasks Players with helping Frostbite Bailey to build an igloo – the only safety from the slowly plummeting temperatures – if the thermometer at the top left of the screen reaches zero before the Player can construct that igloo, it’s curtains for Frostbite Bailey.

Steve Cartwright - Frostbite Atari 2600

The Player constructs that igloo by leaping on the ice blocks that flow horizontally – Frostbite Bailey hops across those blocks – which in later levels become quite a bit smaller – each time he lands on an ice block it changes color ala Q*bert and adds one more piece to the igloo. While traveling these ice flows, the Player will also have to contend with crabs and birds who will take out Frostbite Bailey – to say nothing of the polar bear that tries to block your entrance into the igloo in later stages.

As I’ve mentioned many, many times in the past when I was growing up – the likes of Activision and Imagic were game companies that my Family learned to trust. We certainly enjoyed many of the titles that Atari itself produced but we knew when picking up a game from one of those companies that our money was being well spent. Steve Cartwright really created titles that stood out from the majority of games being made – you can have just as much fun playing Frostbite today as back in 1983!


Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

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