Video Gaming Like It’s 1983: New Game Cartridges From Atari

If you remember anything from 1983, it’s likely to be some of the year’s popular culture highlights, maybe Return of the Jedi, or Michael Jackson’s Thriller. For anyone connected with the video gaming industry though, it’s likely that year will stick in the mind for a completely different reason, as the year of the infamous Great Video Games Crash. Overcapacity in the console market coupled with a slew of low quality titles caused sales to crash and a number of companies to go out of business, and the console gaming world would only recover later in the decade with the arrival of the Japanese 8-bit consoles from Nintendo and Sega. You might expect Atari to shy away from such a painful period of their history, but instead they are embracing it as part of their 50th anniversary and launching three never-released titles on cartridges for their 8-bit 2600 console.

Game footage from Aquaventure.
Game footage from Aquaventure.

The three games, Yars’ Return, Aquaventure, and Saboteur, are all unreleased titles from back in the day that never saw publication because of the crash, and are being released as limited edition specials through AtariXP, a new venture that the company says will offer “previously unreleased titles from Atari’s expansive library, rare-and-hard-to-find Atari IP physical media, and improved versions of classic games“. It’s fairly obviously an exercise in satisfying the collector’s market rather than one of video game publishing, but it will be interesting to see what emerges. In particular we hope someone will tear down one of these cartridges; will they find a set of old-school EPROMs inside or an EPROM emulator sporting a microcontroller and other 2020s trickery?

This is not of course the first time we’ve reported on collectable 2600 cartridges, but these ones haven’t spent 30 years in a landfill site.

Header image: Evan-Amos, Public domain.

19 thoughts on “Video Gaming Like It’s 1983: New Game Cartridges From Atari

      1. then it’s time for a trade-in program and membership/loyalty rewards system.
        if that’s not bad enough, a revival of UPC-cutting, rebate offer PDF’s, printers, receipts, the postal service, and a clearing house can be arranged.

    1. And some other Flashback consoles as well. It is not “unreleased” but rather someone’s taking advantage of the fact those 3 games never had official cart release. They are not likely to work on Retron or other cart based emulator system.

      1. AV (aka Composite aka CVBS) would be the most authentic, I guess. It’s what the console uses to fed the RF modulator. That being said, modern TVs support HDMI but do an awful job at displaying analogue 240p/288p signals. Speaking of RF, there’s one thing to consider – early video games heavily relied on the flaws of NTSC and things like gradients/dithering that needed a blurry connection.

        1. RF were also less strict, early consoles got away with 240 rather than proper 480 (NTSC expects 525 lines per frame but Atari 2600 didn’t obey this), which is why modern TV with legacy NTSC tuner often have trouble with early game systems.

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