04 April 1997

New Games for Classic Systems (originally for Suite 101)

[Suite 101 articles introduction; all links provided for historical purposes only]

Believe it or not, there are actually people writing new games for various classic video games systems right now! Sure, the last time you saw a game on the shelf of your local toy or video game store may have been 10 years ago, but when they say you can find anything on the Internet, you should believe it. Here are the games you can find that you've never seen before.

Atari 2600

Ed Federmeyer has created two games for the 2600: SoundX and Edtris. SoundX is actually more a demo or developer's tool than a game. It allows you to cycle through every sound the 2600 can make using two joysticks. It also contains a graphics demo that I have not seen. Edtris is a Tetris-like game that is supposed to be very good. Every system needs a Tetris clone, as you'll see. Randy Crihfield produces and sells cartridges for Federmeyer with each of these programs for $16 a piece.

Bob Colbert has created a label called RetroWare. He released his first game, a puzzle game called Okie Dokie, in a limited 100 cartridge run which sold out before he even made an announcement about it. You can still get the binary image for the game (minus an Easter egg showing the serial number) from his web site for use with a 2600 emulator, ROM burner, or the Starpath Supercharger. Colbert has also released an early version of Stell-A-Sketch, an "Etch-A-Sketch emulator" as an image. He says his next game should be ready around June.

Chris Cracknell is planning to release a not-quite-new game called Rescue Bira Bira. Cracknell took the Mystique adult game Jungle Fever and modified the graphics so he could play the game around his children. He chose Bira Bira, a supposed classic video game finding icon as the theme. He decided to release the game on cartridge after very favorable results from a quick poll. Because the game is not completely original, this has caused some controversy in rec.games.video.classic Nevertheless, it too should soon be available from Randy Crihfield for $16. In the meantime, you can get the binary image from Cracknell's web page.


Kevtris was created by Kevin Horton. As the name implies, it is a Tetris clone for the Colecovision. I have not had the pleasure of playing it, but it has gotten very good reviews. An image is available and the cartridge version costs $23.

The newest of the new games currently available is John Dondzilla's Star Fortress. It is a Star Castle clone. If Dondzilla's past efforts on the Vectrex are any indication (see below), it should be very good. It costs $20.


John Dondzilla's first foray into programming for classic video games was Vector Vaders, a Space Invaders clone. While it is good effort, it's not spectacular. It caused quite a stir when it was first released since it was the first new Vectrex game in 12 years. Dondzilla's next game was Patriots, a Missile Command clone. I've played it on the Vectrex emulator and it is a lot of fun! Dondzilla completed his 1996 trilogy with All Good Things. This cartridge actually contains four games: Rockaroids (an Asteroids clone), More Invaders! (what he originally wanted Vector Vaders to be like), Vectris (a Tetris clone; I told you every system needed one), and Spike's Water Balloons (similar to Kaboom! for the 2600). Binary images of all of Dondzilla's games are available at this time except All Good Things. Each is also available on cartridge for $20.

And finally, Clay Cowgill is working on a Lunar Lander clones called Moon Lander. Alpha versions are available as images. The final version, featuring digitized sound(!), should hopefully be ready soon.

So, there you have it. Not only are these systems still alive and kicking, they're still inspiring programmers to create new games. And you probably thought you'd never be able to buy a new game again.

Copyright 1997 i5ive communications inc. Used with permission.

[April 27, 2013: Bob Colbert was later forced to remove Stell-A-Sketch from his site because Ohio Art, makers of Etch-A-Sketch, claimed trademark infringement. Despite the controversy it caused at the time, Rescue Bira Bira became the first in a long line of Atari 2600 games modified into something slightly different. The 2600 is a hard system to program for, so modifying an existing game is a useful learning experience for budding 2600 programmers.]

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