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M Network Atari 2600 Titles

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GO BACK TO 1983 RELEASES FOR M NETWORK ATARI

 


ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
TOWER OF MYSTERY Cartridge

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNFINISHED, #7175]
AKA D&D III
Dungeons & Dragons
trademark licensed from TSR, Inc.
Program: Jane Terjung & Mike Sanders
Graphics:   Jane Terjung

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1984, Consumer Electronics Show)
Stuck on top of the Tower of Mystery, you must preserve your strength and protect the treasure as you attempt to escape.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
D&D III began development while Daniel Bass, designer of the Intellivision version, was still in the early stages of defining the game. Still. both versions shared a number of features: a map view for exploration, close-ups for battles, and, most distinctively, a scrolling line of text that imparted information and commentary from on-screen characters.

Jane Terjung put together an impressive game - this was one of the 16K Super Cartridges with 2K of on-board RAM (see Comments) - with eight different types of screens. (Jane says she was proudest of her graphics for the game -- "On an Atari 2600, flickering candles are part science and part art!") Unfortunately, this was late 1983 and Mattel Electtronics was losing hundreds of millions of dollars and making drastic cuts. Jane was laid off and Mike Sanders picked up to continue the development. He worked on the game briefly until Mattel Electronics closed in January 1984 - one month before the scheduled completion of the game. The game was one of only six Atari titles officially still in development at the time of the closing. All that survives is the demo shown at the January 1984 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The Intellivision version was also left unfinished by the closing of Mattel Electronics, but it was later rescued. The game was completed and released several years later as Tower of Doom from INTV Corporation.

FUN FACT: The contract with license owner TSR required the strange capitalization of the title and the inclusion of the word "cartridge."

FUN FACT: The 1984 demo of Tower of Mystery for Atari returned to Las Vegas in August 1999, where it was publicly shown for the first time in 15 years at the Classic Gaming Expo. Atari fans were able to play the cartridge in the Intellivision Productions booth.

 


ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
TREASURE OF TARMIN Cartridge

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNRELEASED, #4325]
Dungeons & Dragons trademark licensed from TSR, Inc.
Produced by Synth Corporation for Mattel Electronics

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
You've found the secret map to the underground lair of the dreaded Minotaur. You can go in, but you'll never come out unless you slay the Minotaur and claim the Tarmin treasure. As you make your way through the hallways and chambers, monsters wield their conventional or spiritual weapons. You must gather the proper defenses along the way. But use them sparingly, the Minotaur looms closer!

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS TREASURE OF TARMIN Cartridge was programmed by Synth Corporation, which was essentially two guys working in a garage in Chicago. Why Mattel Electronics contracted with Synth Corp. to produce this Atari version of the Intellivision Treasure of Tarmin cartridge is unclear. Manager Bill Fisher acted as liaison for Mattel.

The game was officially completed (approved by Traci [Glauser] Roux in Quality Assurance) on November 7, 1983. It was shown at the January 1984 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but Mattel Electronics closed before the game could actually go into production.

FUN FACT: The contract with license owner TSR required the strange capitalization of the title and the inclusion of the word "cartridge."

FUN FACT: The 1984 demo of Treasure of Tarmin for Atari returned to Las Vegas in August 1999, where it was publicly shown for the first time in 15 years at the Classic Gaming Expo. Atari fans were able to play the cartridge in the Intellivision Productions booth.

 


Anteater

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNRELEASED]
Based on the Stern arcade game
Program: Stephen Tatsumi
Graphics: Joe [Ferreira] King
Sound Effects/Music: Patricia Lewis Du Long

GAME DESCRIPTION
Guide the Anteater's tongue through the underground maze to clear it of dots. Catch the ants, but beware of the other insects!

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This conversion of the Stern arcade game was essentially completed in 1983, but its release was cancelled for unknown reasons before it could go through the Quality Assurance process.

FUN FACT: Anteater received its first public showing at the Las Vegas Classic Gaming Expo in August 1999. Atari fans were able to play the cartridge in the Intellivision Productions booth.

 


Blow Out

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNFINISHED, #MA89]
Program: David Akers

GAME DESCRIPTION
A game designed to be played at parties by two teams. Two players - one member from each team - go head to head controlling Disco roller skaters dropping darts onto rising balloons. They pop as many balloons as possible before - BEEP! - they have to hand the joysticks to the next members of their teams. Fast and colorful with bouncy original music - it's the perfect party game!

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Blow Out was to be an Atari version of the Blow Out game in the Intellivision Party Line album cartridge. While the game was assigned an in-house bookkeeping number, it never received the four-digit product number that made a project "official." David Akers only worked on the game briefly in June 1983 before being pulled off to work on higher priority projects. The game remained designated "On Hold" when Mattel Electronics closed.

 


Computer Corridor

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNFINISHED, #4318]
AKA Computer Revenge
Design: Ron Surratt, Jane Terjung, Russ Ludwick
Program: Ron Surratt, Jane Terjung
Graphics: Joe [Ferreira] King
Sound Effects: Pat Lewis Du Long

MARKETING DESCRIPTION

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This game started out as an original concept by Ron Surratt and Jane Terjung called Computer Revenge. At the same time, Spring 1983, Russ Ludwick was working on an Intellivision game called Moon Corridors, inspired by the arcade game Battlezone. In mid-1983, Marketing began an agressive campaign to release titles on as many different game platforms as possible. Noting similarities between Computer Revenge and Moon Corridors (mainly a 3-D grid effect), they decreed that the two games should be mooshed into one - Computer Corridor - and released on both Intellivision and Atari. By the time they tested and approved the idea, though, Russ was no longer working at Mattel Electronics and no one else was available to pick up the Intellivision version. A couple of months later Jane also left Mattel, killing the project altogether.

The screen shown here is a drawing used by Marketing in product testing.

 


Cumulus

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNFINISHED]
Design/Program: Jeff Ratcliff

GAME DESCRIPTION
You must protect the cloud city of Cumulus from descending enemy ships. Your first line of defense are battle pods that float above the city. If the ships manage to destroy your pods, you must fight the enemy on the planet surface where they will attack the generators that project a protective energy shield around the city. Should the generators be destroyed, the city is doomed!

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Cumulus was an original Atari 2600 idea by Jeff Ratcliff. His idea was to take a relatively simple game but use the extra memory available on a Super Cartridge (see Comments) to create spectacular visual effects not seen before on Atari - mainly really cool explosions. He worked on the game briefly in August 1983, programming a demonstration screen showing a high-resolution cloud with an enemy ship above it. While the game was listed on the weekly in-house status reports, it never received the four-digit product number that made a project "official." Jeff was pulled off of the game to work instead on the Atari version of Masters of the Universe II.

Cumulus was still designated "Low Priority" when Mattel Electronics closed.

The game screen was hand-drawn by Jeff as part of his original written proposal.

 


Dual Scrolling

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNFINISHED, #7848]
Design/Program: David Akers

GAME DESCRIPTION
None.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Late in 1983, David Akers came up with an interesting effect on the Atari 2600 - he demonstrated that the screen could be split in two with each half scrolling a background - such as a maze - independently of the other. He didn't have any game in mind when showing this, but Marketing loved the effect - it was like nothing else seen before on Atari and they believed they could promote it.

After determining the same effect could be created on Intellivision, Marketing put the still-to-be-determined game - temporarily called Dual Scrolling - onto the official release schedule. That was December 19, 1983. Exactly one month later, Mattel Electronics closed. Although no game concept had yet been thought of, Dual Scrolling was one of the few games officially still in development for the Atari 2600 when the doors were shut.

 


Flapper

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNFINISHED]
AKA Beanie Bopper, Jumper
Design/Program: Stephen Tatsumi

GAME DESCRIPTION (from programmer's proposal)
You control the Flapper to rescue baby Flappers from an underground maze. The maze is filled with snakes, bats and ghosts. Cave-ins and landslides keep opening and closing the tunnels. Luckily, the Flapper is a unique fellow: he has three types of beanies - chopper for flying, gun for shooting, umbrella for protection - and four interchangeable types of legs: flying, jumping, running and walking. You have to find and change the appropriate beanie and legs for him to overcome the obstacles and rescue the babies!

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Flapper was an original Atari 2600 idea by Steve Tatsumi. While the game was listed on the weekly in-house status reports, it never received the four-digit product number that made a project "official." Steve worked on Flapper briefly in August 1983 before being pulled off to work on higher priority projects.

Flapper was still designated "Low Priority" when Mattel Electronics closed.

The drawing is by Steve from his original written proposal.

 


Flashlight

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNFINISHED, #7847]
Program: Ron Surratt

GAME DESCRIPTION
None.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
In 1983, Stephen Roney came up with an interesting spotlight effect on the Intellivision: a moving circle of "light" could move around an otherwise black screen, "illuminating" the background and moving objects within the circle. Although he didn't have any game in mind, Marketing loved the effect. It was different enough for them to promote as a "graphics breakthrough."

Ron Surratt was asked to duplicate the effect on the Atari 2600. Once he showed it could work on that platform, Marketing put the still-to-be-determined game onto the schedule for release on Intellivision, Atari, PC Jr. and Colecovision. This was November 1983. When Mattel Electronics closed two months later, no one had yet come up with a game for Flashlight, but it was still officially in development.

 


Hydroplane

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNFINISHED, #7849]
Program: Stephen Tatsumi

GAME DESCRIPTION
A high-speed pilot's-point-of-view speedboat race.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Hydroplane was the Atari version of the Intellivision Hydroplane cartridge then in development, late 1983. The game was still officially in development when Mattel Electronics closed in January 1984.

FUN FACT: Despite the fact that Steve Tatsumi was listed on the official Project Status Report as the programmer for Atari Hydroplane, Steve doesn't recall ever working on the game. As fast as things were changing in the final days of Mattel Electronics, it may well be that Steve was never actually told he was scheduled to be the project's programmer.

 


In Search of the Golden Skull

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNFINISHED, #4627]
Produced by Videosoft for Mattel Electronics
Program: Lawson

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
You're engaged in a worldwide search for a priceless artifact - a solid gold, prehistoric human skull. Use the treasure map to determine the Golden Skull's location, then begin your perilous search. Along the way you'll encounter air battles, steaming swamps and the pyramid maze. How far will your obsession take you! (One player.)

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
In Search of the Golden Skull was, like Atari Treasure of Tarmin, an oddity - an Atari 2600 game purchased from an outside vendor other than APh Technology Consulting. Why Mattel contracted with Videosoft late in 1982 to produce this game is unclear.

Although a playable demo was complete, In Search of the Golden Skull was cancelled prior to the January 1984 Consumer Electronics Show and not displayed as part of the upcoming Mattel Electronics product line. It probably was cancelled because it would have been expensive to produce, requiring 16K ROM and 2K RAM in the cartridge, and there was no Intellivision version to share the advertising costs.

FUN FACT: In Search of the Golden Skull received its first public showing at the Las Vegas Classic Gaming Expo in August 1999. Atari fans were able to play the cartridge in the Intellivision Productions booth.

 


Loco-Motion

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNRELEASED]
Based on the Konami, Inc. arcade game
Program: Jeff Ratcliff
Sound Effects/Music: Patricia Lewis Du Long

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (INTELLIVISION version, January 1983 Consumer Electronics Show)
An exciting version of the popular Loco-Motion arcade game. You're the engineer deftly guiding your train through scrambled track. You must put the right tracks together to help the train continue safely on its way to pick up passengers. And, you must avoid the crazy train! Non-stop fun as you race to beat the time schedule.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Loco-Motion was the Atari version of the Konami arcade game, previously released for Intellivision. Although a working version of the game was finished and in the Quality Assurance process, the cartridge was cancelled July 5, 1983 for unknown reasons.

FUN FACT: Loco-Motion received its first public showing at the Las Vegas Classic Gaming Expo in August 1999. Atari fans were able to play the cartridge in the Intellivision Productions booth.

 


Masters of the Universe II

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNFINISHED, #7846]
Program: Jeff Ratcliff
Graphics: Connie Goldman

GAME DESCRIPTION
The further adventures of He-Man and his battles against Skeletor.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
In December 1983, Jeff Ratcliff was assigned to Masters of the Universe II. Ray Kaestner had created an interesting 3-D moving maze for part of the game on Intellivision. Jeff and graphics artist Connie Goldman worked on translating the effect onto the Atari 2600. At that point, no real gameplay had been defined, but when Mattel Electronics closed a month later this title was still officially in production.

 


Mission X

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNFINISHED, #7174]
Based on the Data East USA arcade game

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
You're flying a top secret bombing raid over enemy territory. Your mission: To wipe out the enemy battleships, tanks, artillery guns and bridges that come into view as you sweep over the country. Watch out for enemy flak and gunfire! Touch down and go at it again. Fly during the day, or attempt a dangerous night mission.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Mission X was the Atari version of the Data East USA arcade game, previously released for Intellivision. Despite being listed in Mattel Electronics catalogs and press releases during 1983, the cartridge was cancelled for unknown reasons.

 


Monkey Business

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNFINISHED]
Design/Program: Eric Del Sesto

GAME DESCRIPTION (from programmer's proposal)
In the zoo, things have gone awry. Billy the Chimp has escaped and is up to no good. As any curious monkey would, he has managed to free the elephants! It's up to you, as Mike the Zookeeper, to return the elephants to their cages.

Once you have restored order in the elephant section, you must quickly run to the next section of cages. Perhaps you'll have to capture the loose Koalas. Maybe you'll have to avoid soaring hawks, battle fierce tigers or try to grab the slippery penguins. Along the way, you'll find items which will be of help to you, such as a bag of peanuts or a net. So grab your hat and stop this monkey business!

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Eric Del Sesto, the last Mattel Electronics programmer hired, worked on this original game idea as his training project mid-1983. The game featured a seven-page scrolling map of the zoo with a new graphics technique called "hidden V-clocks" which produced wider, cleaner displays.

In August, when the game was about half completed, Eric wrote it up as a formal proposal for an M Network release. Instead, he was asked to help get the bug-ridden Apple version of BurgerTime completed. After BurgerTime, he went to work on Colecovision Masters of the Universe II. Monkey Business was left unfinished.

The drawing is by Eric from his proposal for the game.

TECH TRIVIA: We asked Eric just what "hidden V-clocks" meant. His answer: "The Atari 2600 had no video memory. Instead, the CPU had to write each line of sprite data out to a set of hardware registers, in close synchronization with the video display's horizontal retrace timing. One unfortunate side-effect of this was that the hardware would display what looked like a random set of short black horizontal lines near the left edge of the display. The M Network group had an accepted workaround for this, which would cause those lines to appear on every scanline, thereby forming a solid black border at the left edge of the display. My Monkey Business prototype demonstrated a method to eliminate those lines completely. The trick was to write to certain registers in exact synchronization with the horizontal retrace timing. (Apparently Activision had also figured this out, as they published several Atari 2600 games which had none of these black lines.)"

FUN FACT: Eric Del Sesto was the hired in mid-1983. He had an impressive resume--an original computer game he had designed and programmed was already on the market--but the Personnel department misread his alma mater. They thought it was an East Coast university; upon flying Eric out to Los Angeles for an interview, they discovered it was a high school. Eric was only 17 years old. But after meeting with him, Director Mike Minkoff and Manager Ron Surratt realized how talented he was and decided to take a chance hiring him. Mattel Electronics hedged its bets, though, by creating a new job classification--Junior Programmer--just for Eric, and giving him a correspondingly lower salary. Eric started at Mattel just days after turning 18. As it turns out, he was the last programmer hired; within two weeks of his first day, the first of a series of layoffs hit Mattel Electronics. It's testament to his talent--and possibly his low salary--that Eric managed to survive until the department was shut down altogether.

 


Rocky and Bullwinkle

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNRELEASED, #4646]
Based on the Jay Ward TV series, licensed from P.A.T. Ward, Inc.
Design/Program: Steve Crandall
Sound Effects/Music: Patricia Lewis Du Long

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
Rocky and Bullwinkle must stop the evil Boris and Natasha from robbing a train full of priceless valuables. While Boris uses "Upsidasium" to float the valuables up to Natasha's waiting helicopter, Rocky must fly around and intercept them. When Rocky catches the valuables, he gives them to Bullwinkle for safe keeping.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This was a rare case where the Atari version of a game was designed before the Intellivision version. Although both versions were in production at the same time in mid-1983, the Atari version was started first and wound up defining the Intellivision version.

Although a working version of the game completed Quality Assurance testing on May 24, 1983, the cartridge was cancelled for unknown reasons.

BUG: The score rolls over at 1,000,000 points to zero.

FUN FACT: Rocky and Bullwinkle received its first public showing at the Las Vegas Classic Gaming Expo in August 1999. Atari fans were able to play the cartridge in the Intellivision Productions booth.

 


Sea Battle

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNRELEASED #5860]
AKA High Seas
Produced by APh Technology Consultants for Mattel Electronics
Program: Larry Zwick, Bruce Pederson

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (June 1982, Consumer Electronics Show)
Lots of action on the high seas, including fleets of ships, mines, and battle sounds. A two-player game that requires creative strategy to win. Exciting graphics!

PRODUCTION NOTE
This is the Atari 2600 version of the Intellivision Sea Battle cartridge. In at least one brochure it appeared with the name High Seas, keeping with the policy of changing game titles for Atari versions.

Although the game was finished and announced for a 1982 release, Marketing cancelled it at the last minute. This was most likely caused by a new policy, the result of market research, to only release games that had a one-player mode. Sea Battle requires two players.

Despite the catalog description above, there are no mines in the game.

FUN FACT: After Sea Battle was cancelled, the game wasn't seen again for 16 years. It finally went on display again at the Las Vegas Classic Gaming Expo in August 1999. Atari fans were able to play the cartridge in the Intellivision Productions booth.

Due to the enthusiasm of the fans, Intellivision Productions sold copies of the Atari Sea Battle cartridge at the 2000 Classic Gaming Expo.

 


Sharp Shot

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNRELEASED]
Produced by APh Technology Consultants for Mattel Electronics
Program: Jeff Ronne

GAME DESCRIPTION (INTELLIVISION version, January 1983 Consumer Electronics Show)
An exciting new target shooting game specially designed for children. There are four different shooting ranges for one or two players. Hit the pass receiver. Shoot down the spinning spacecraft. Bomb Navy ships. Fire at the maze monsters. Challenging action for video game beginners.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Mattel decided not to release this Atari version of the Intellivision Sharp Shot cartridge, which was programmed at APh Technology Consulting on spec.

 


Swordfight

ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE [UNRELEASED]
AKA Sword, Swordfighting
Deign/Program: Stephen Tatsumi
Sound Effects: Pat Lewis Du Long

GAME DESCRIPTION
Two swordfighters face off. Attack, feint, block, strike!

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This is an original Atari 2600 game designed and programmed by Steve Tatsumi. Although completed, Marketing never put it on the release schedule, probably because it requires two players (see Sea Battle).

FUN FACT: Swordfight received its first public showing at the Las Vegas Classic Gaming Expo in August 1999. Atari fans were able to play the cartridge in the Intellivision Productions booth.

Due to the enthusiasm of the fans, Intellivision Productions sold copies of the Atari Swordfight cartridge at the 2000 Classic Gaming Expo.

 


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