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Many game companies in the 1980's held contests in an attempt to boost sales of their games and give their fans something fun to compete for. For example, there is Activision's Enduro: Race for Riches, Data Age's Bermuda Triangle Replica Artifact, and Parker Brothers' Super Cobra Flight Jacket. Not surprisingly, Imagic also held several contests, one of which is "Defend Atlantis".
The contest was offered through an entry form found in regular Atlantis games, and it was also promoted with a store display and entry form. Contestants were invited to send in their high score along with a photograph of the TV screen showing the score, and an Atlantis proof-of-purchase seal from the instruction manual. The four individuals with the highest scores would be invited to compete in the Great Defend Atlantis Shoot-Off on November 14, 1982 in Bermuda. The Grand Prize for the winner would be $10,000, and 2nd-4th place would receive $1000 each.
For those who didn't make the top four, there were other prizes. The top 250 scores would receive a set of snorkeling gear (snorkel, mask, and fins), and the next 1000 high scores would receive an Atlantis t-shirt. On the left is the official contest entry form, you can click each page to enlarge it.
Unfortunately for Imagic, there were a lot of good Atlantis players. In fact, more than four individuals maxed out the score, so Imagic had to figure out a way to decide who the top four would be. They created a special contest version of Atlantis, that they called Atlantis II, that these top scorers would use for a tie-breaker. Atlantis II is basically the same as Atlantis, except that it's faster, harder, and lower scoring. Contestants were sent a letter telling them that they qualified for this shoot off. They were to recieve in the mail the Atlantis II cartridge, along with the snorkeling set and t-shirt. According to Imagic, "We've designed this contest version of Atlantis just for you experts. Those tricky Gorgons will still thwart you at every turn, but now the battle will be more fierce and the points scored for direct hits will be less. Are you expert enough to meet this challenge and save Atlantis from the dreaded Gorgon death ray? If you're brave enough, read on." Contestants were to play the game for only two days and then send in their high scores. On the right is the official contest letter from Imagic, and also a letter about the delay of sending the snorkeling set:
The game was sent to contestants in a standard Atlantis "Night Scene" box with a white sticker on it that says "Atlantis II". The cartridge itself is a standard Atlantis "Night Scene" label (also see "Day Scene"), so the next time your about to pass over that common Atlantis game at the flea market, you might want to think twice about it. So there you have it. If you think you're an Atlantis expert, download the Atlantis II ROM, and post your high scores to the message board.
You'll see from the screen shots that the game looks almost the same, it's just faster, harder, and lower scoring to make it more challenging for the contestants. The only graphical difference that we could detect was the font used for the score, as you can see to the right. This does at least make it easy to identify immediately upon turning on the game.
So, who won the contest? We don't know. If anyone has any further information about who won or if the final event even took place, please contact us. Finally, we'd like to give a big thanks to Doug Korekach for graciously loaning us this cartridge and paperwork so that we could dump the ROM and share it with other Atari fans. Here is our official Atlantis II entry in the Rarity Guide.