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M Network Atari 2600 Titles

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GO BACK TO 1982 RELEASES FOR M NETWORK ATARI


Adventures of TRON

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [#4317]
Based on the motion picture TRON from Walt Disney Productions
Produced by APh Technology Consultants for Mattel Electronics
Design/Program: Hal Finney

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
Outwit a complex master control program that sends out recognizers, grid bugs and cannon firing tanks in an attempt to destroy you! It'll take strategy, quick reflexes and a cool head to survive. Based on the movie TRON by Walt Disney Productions. (One player.)

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This game was supposed to be an Atari version of the Intellivision TRON Maze-A-Tron cartridge. However, as development continued, the game less and less resembled the Intellivision original. After the game was finished, it was decided to give it a different title.

A PAL version was also produced by APh for international release.

BUG: When grabbing a bit, sometimes the whole screen turns blue, other times just the I/O beam.

BUG: Not so much a bug as a complaint: there is no on-screen indication of how many lives you have left.

BUG: If you grab a bit and die at the same time, your new life doesn't start by sliding down the I/O beam as normal.

FUN FACT: Since the resulting game was so different from TRON Maze-A-Tron, which it was supposedly based on, APh also programmed a faithful Intellivision Adventures of TRON. Mattel decided not to release it.

FUN FACT: Consumers who purchased both TRON Deadly Discs and Adventures of TRON could receive a free TRON joystick during a spring 1983 promotion.


Air Raiders

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [#5861]
Produced by APh Technology Consultants for Mattel Electronics
Design/Program: Larry Zwick

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
As the pilot of your bomber, your mission is to blast the enemy out of the sky. Zero in on enemy planes, bank right or left, climb and dive. It's a hit! But be sure to keep track of your fuel and ammo, you may have to land to refuel. (One player.)

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Of the seventeen games Mattel released for the Atari 2600, this is the only one that is 100% original, the others all being based on or related to an Intellivision release. (Adventures of TRON began as a translation of TRON Maze-A-Tron. Kool-Aid Man shares the title character with Intellivision Kool-Aid Man, although the game play is different.)

A PAL version was also produced by APh for international release.

APh proposed doing an Intellivision version of Air Raiders, but Mattel passed, probably because of similarities to the Intellivoice game, B-17 Bomber, then in development.

RUNNING CHANGE: The original production run of the cartridge had the difficulty switch programmed as A for easy and B for hard. This is backwards from other cartridges, so it was reversed in a new production run. The original cartridges were never supposed to be released. Fearing that some might have been accidentally shipped to stores, though, Mattel Electronics operators were informed of the first version just in case somebody got one and called up, confused. It's unknown if any of the original cartridges ever did reach the market.



Bump 'N' Jump

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [#7045]
Based on the Data East arcade game
Program: Dave Akers, Jeff Ratcliff
Graphics: Joe [Ferreira] King
Sound Effects/Music: Patricia Lewis Du Long

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
The wackiest thing to happen to driving since rush hour! You're racing down the highway, but there's a traffic jam up ahead. You can bump the cars out of the way, or jump them to score points. But slow drivers aren't the only hazards on the road! You must jump over water and debris dropped in your path by dumptrucks. Beware of the reckless driver!

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Loco-Motion was the Atari version of the Dat East arcade game, previously released for Intellivision.

BUG: All vehicles except yours will sometimes float across barriers when entering the roadways.

BUG: Segments of a vehicle, and sometimes the entire vehicle, can disappear for a split second and then reappear.

FUN FACT: The game package lists the credits on the back - a concession made to the programmers late in 1983. Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man is the only other M Network Atari game to list credits on the package.



BurgerTime

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [#4518]
Based on the Data East Arcade Game
Program: Ron Surratt
Sound Effects/Music: Pat Lewis Du Long

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
Making a hamburger isn't quite as easy as it sounds. As the chef, you'll be confronted by hot dogs and pickles as you try to assemble your ingredients through the wacky maze. Drop buns, lettuce or beef patties to crunch your attackers. Or, stun them with a little pepper. Based on the BurgerTime arcade game.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
BurgerTime was a priority for the Marketing department. After losing out on the best arcade licenses to Atari and Coleco, Mattel Electronics made a deal with Data East USA to put their arcade games onto Intellivision. Data East had limited distribution in the United States, so none of the games Mattel Electronics obtained were very well known. But BurgerTime was so good that Bally/Midway, the largest arcade game distributor, licensed the title from Data East. Soon BurgerTime was in arcades everywhere. Mattel had accidentally acquired a hit.

Not wanting this to go to waste, Marketing decreed that BurgerTime would appear on every platform Mattel supported: Intellivision, Atari 2600, Colecovision, IBM PC, Apple II, Aquarius and handheld.

Ron Surratt, manager of Atari 2600 programming, inspected the game and came to a conclusion: it couldn't be done on Atari. Marketing asked what additional programming resources would be required. None, Ron replied, it can't be done. What hardware modifications needed to be made to the cartridge? You're not getting it, Ron said, it can't be done. No, Marketing came back, you're not getting it: BurgerTime WILL be released for Atari.

Ron set about programming the game. A hardware scheme to give him more memory to work with was devised (see Comments), but complicating matters was that the game was not allowed to flicker.

A hardware restriction of the Atari 2600 is that when too many moving characters - sprites - are in a row on-screen, they begin to flicker. In the original M Network games, APh Technology Consulting did a great job of orchestrating sprite movements to minimize this flicker - far better than Atari had in their own original releases. Marketing had jumped on this, pointing to the lack of flicker as proof of M Network superiority. Of course, this meant that all new games had to meet the standard of the early ones: no - or very little - flicker.

Unfortunately, the highest scoring move in the game, dropping all of the bad guys - nasties - at one time, requires that they all be in a row. So how could he keep a row of sprites from flickering? Ron used something of a cheat: a regular sprite's look is defined by the programmer, but there is also a special sprite - a missile - defined by the hardware. A missile is simply a rectangle intended, as its name implies, to be used as the graphic for a projectile. The programmer cannot change its shape, only its color and width. Despite its graphical limitations, missiles do have one advantage: they don't flicker when in a row with other sprites. So Ron made a square missile orange and called it a slice of cheese, made another square white and called it an egg, and made a thin missile brown and called it a bread stick. Voila: no flickering.

Some fans of BurgerTime were disappointed to find that the chef was being chased around the maze by colored squares and sticks, but most were happy that the gameplay was quite faithful to the original arcade version and to Intellivision BurgerTime.

A PAL version was also produced by Dave Akers for international release.

BUG: After you drop the last bun, you can still get killed while it's falling.

BUG: Sometimes a falling bun or patty won't kill a nasty that's on a ladder below it.

BUG: If you get killed while a bonus treat is displayed, the graphic for the treat may change to a hot dog.

BUG: When the chef is on the bottom step and peppers down, a second headless chef will appear at the top of the screen.

BUG (original production run): Cheese and eggs are tall enough that they can sometimes catch the chef when walking on the plank below him.

RUNNING CHANGE: Later production runs added a choice of difficulty levels using the TV switch (B/W = easy, COLOR = hard) and fixed the last bug listed above.



Kool-Aid Man

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [#4648]
Trademark and character licensed from General Foods
Design/Program: Stephen Tatsumi

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
Almost everyone knows the famous smiling pitcher, the nationally advertised character for General Foods Kool-Aid. He's helped Kool-Aid become the third largest selling soft drink in America. And now he's the star of his own action-packed video game.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Marketing made a deal with General Foods to develop Kool-Aid Man cartridges for Intellivision and Atari, then called upon the programmers to come up with the gameplay. A contest was held and the winner for best Atari idea was Steve Tatsumi (the Atari and Intellivision games were different, for reasons described on the Intellivision Kool-Aid Man page).

Steve had been working on an original Atari title, Swordfight, but Kool-Aid Man was deemed higher priority. Steve started programming Kool-Aid Man immediately.

BUG: Some of the Mattel Electronics System Changers won't play Kool-Aid Man.

BUG: If the game console is turned on while the difficulty switch is in the A (pause) position, numerous lines appear on the right side of the screen. When the switch is flipped to B, the lines disappear and the game starts.

BUG: Occasionally a green thirsty will flash briefly on the left of the screen.

BUG: While Kool-Aid Man is small, the moving thirsties will hit him and cause him to rebound out of control. It is possible for the rebounding Kool-Aid Man to pass partially through a moving thirsty without rebounding again.



Masters of the Universe
The Power of He-Man

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [#4319]
Based on the Mattel Toys action figures
Program: Mike Sanders, Jossef Wagner
Graphics: Joe [Ferreira] King, Connie Goldman, Gerald Moore
Sound Effects/Music: Patricia Lewis Du Long

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
The popular action figure series from Mattel now comes to life in a sophisticated video game. This Masters of the Universe game offers the challenge, adventure and excitement that's made the real action series such a hit across the country.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
As with the original Intellivision version, the two parts of the game - Wind Racer and Castle Grayskull - were handled by separate programmers.

BUG: If you get killed as a man is falling into a hole, the score may slowly go crazy - up to around 400,000. This does not register as the high score and will not show up if you play again.

BUG: The back of the package says that the distance from the workshop of Man-at-Arms to Castle Grayskull is 30 miles. In the game it is 28 miles. (Picky, picky.)

FUN FACT: The game package lists the credits on the back - a concession made to the programmers late in 1983. Bump 'N' Jump is the only other M Network Atari game to list credits on the package.



Star Strike

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [#4313]
Program: David Akers
Sound Effects/Music: Patricia Lewis Du Long

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
Hair-trigger action as you hurtle your spaceship through a trench to destroy the alien force that is threatening the planet earth! Enemy starships try to blast you into bits as you bomb their alien missile silos. Three-dimensional action. (One player.)

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Star Strike is the Atari version of the Intellivision Star Strike cartridge.

FUN FACT: Star Strike is the only M Network Atari release not based on a licensed title to have the same name as its Intellivision counterpart.

FUN FACT: The Atari 2600 was originally called simply the Atari Video Game System (VCS). The 2600 designation was added later. Star Strike was the first M Network Atari release to declare on the box "For Your Atari 2600 Game System" instead of "For Your Atari Video Game System."



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