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The Official 2600 Easter Egg and Programming Mysteries Thread


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#1 Tempest ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:57 AM

Since we've had a few new 2600 Easter Eggs discovered lately I thought it would be nice to have all new discoveries consolidated into one thread. However since there probably aren't enough Easter Eggs to keep this thread current, I also thought it would be nice to include any discoveries related to unsolved 2600 programming mysteries and general oddities about the games. Stuff like:

Why does the game do that when I do this?
What would happen if you hacked the game to allow this?
Is there anything hidden in the game?

Many of these questions are already being answered in the (Rom Comparisons and Dumps) thread, but should probably go here from now on. So if you find something interesting, post it here. I'll make this thread a sticky for awhile and see how it goes.

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#2 4Ks OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 24, 2010 10:57 AM

Well, for starters there's Pitfall!'s ninja Harry bug that happens when you fry the cartridge.

#3 gamme OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:48 PM

I've decided to sift through the DP collection and compile a list of easter eggs ONLY (or what I consider one to be) for original era NTSC Atari 2600 released games. I consider an easter egg to be an intentional hidden message or screen that can be accessed within a game. I do not include tricks, bugs, score rolls, messages that only exist within the code, secrets that are hinted at in the instruction booklet (like in Blue-Print, Solar Fox, or Raiders of the Lost Ark), or frying. I also require an easter egg to involve doing something special, not just noticing something (such as the fire in Fire Fighter, the cook in Pressure Cooker, or the doors in Tunnel Runner). Most of these are word for word from DP, and there are also pictures on the DP site that are useful. My reason for doing this is to separate the easter eggs from the other information on that site.

****************

Adventure: Famous “secret dot and room”. One game 2 or 3, find the dot in the Black castle’s catacombs. Next, drop the dot and two other objects (except the bridge with the sword, Chalice, or magnet) in the room down and to the right of the Gold castle. Pass through the barrier to reveal the message, “Created by Warren Robinett”. A dragon can also be used instead of 2 objects. You can also pass through the lower right barrier underneath, although there’s no room behind it. {Adam Clayton}

Adventures of Tron: Hold SELECT down and turn the game on, or press SELECT and START together (when the game is on) to reveal the programmers’ names: Hal Finney & G. Hightower (Glenn Hightower, owner/president of Aph Technology Consulting - company that made the M-Network games). {Terence Micharoni}

Bugs Bunny: The initials “BP AJM” (for Bob Polaro and Allen J. Murphy) are hidden in the game (both versions). On level 11, get shot while jumping to the right. {Mark Darmofal}

California Games: In the half-pipe event, push DOWN on the right controller while you do an "air turn" on the LEFT controller. Every time you land it will show “SAB”, for Steve A. Baker (one of the game’s two programmers, the other being M. Peter Engelbrite). This does not affect score keeping. {Al Backiel}

Carnival: It can be found by either rolling the score (at 100,000), or by holding the FIRE button down while turning system on, and shooting the small “dot” that appears on the top row before it scrolls off. “Program by S. Kitchen” will appear (for Steve Kitchen). {Michael Cavello & Bob Maumeister}

Communist Mutants from Space: Hold the FIRE button down and load game - the initials “SHL” (for Stephen Harland Landrum) will appear on the high score screen in place of “HI”. {Stephen Landrum}

Defender: On wave 25, hold a human at the approximate height where your ship first appears (actually the 25th line of resolution on the TV) and any enemy ships on-screen will turn into the initials “BP” (for Bob Polaro). {Keith Vestal or Michael Dewe?}

Desert Falcon: Gain a super power (easiest one to use for this trick is invincibility: bird-cane-feather), activate it, and then hop around in a lake (before it wears off) until the initials “BP” (for Bob Polaro) appear above you. {Al Backiel}

Double Dunk: You can get the designer's initials to show up on the statistics screen if you score 199 points against the computer. When the game ends, it will display "Design by MLH". {Mike Stagney}

Dragonstomper: While an axe is being displayed on-screen, use the shield. The initials “SHL” (for Stephen Harland Landrum) will appear in your stat window. {Stephen Landrum}

E.T.: (1) Collect all the phone pieces and give Elliot 7 pieces of candy. Then, revive the flower. It will change into a YAR and fly away. Repeat this for the next round and the flower will change into Indy. Repeat this a 3rd time and the initials “HSW3” (for Howard Scott Warshaw – the 3 denotes this is his 3rd game) will appear! {Howard Scott Warshaw}. Actually you don’t have to get all of the phone pieces for the trick to work. You only need to collect the “H” piece for the YAR, the “S” for Indy, and the “W” for the initials.

(2) The initials of the graphic artist, Jerome M. Domurat, are hidden in the game as well. On game #1, give Elliot 1 candy. Then, whenever you both are on the 8-pit screen, the letters “JD” will appear on the top status bar. {Ronnie Dingman and Thomas Jentzsch}

Fathom: Release the mermaid on level two, but swim up and leave before her cage fully opens. Transform into a seagull and fly to the left or right to a volcano. The initials of each programmer (Rob Fulop, Michael Becker, and Wilfredo Aguilar) will replace the volcano fireballs. {Chuck Hunnefield}

G.I. Joe: On the 2-player co-op version (difficulty 1), killing the 15th cobra causes the initials “JE” (for John Emerson) to appear.

Kool-Aid Man: Have the TV Type switch on B&W. During a game you need to be at the top of the screen when the timer is at 40 seconds. At that moment, hit SELECT and you'll turn into the letters "JT" (for Jane Terjung) and all the Thirsties will turn into "ST" (for Stephen Tatsumi). If you turn into Kool-Aid Man, you'll be a large "JT" (but when you bump into something, you're still an upside-down pitcher). There seems to be no way to turn things back to normal w/o starting a new game (note- it's very hard to play in this state, since it's tough to see the "power-ups" as quickly). {Todd Rogers}

Missile Command: On game #13, end the game with 90 points scored or less (score no points during the round, and have 3 or less missiles left in your base). The letters “RF” (for Rob Fulop) will appear in the right-most city; Rob Fulop's initials were indeed removed in later releases (supposedly the 3rd production run), though they were put back in post-Warner re-releases. {Tom Daley or Joseph Nickischer Jr.?}

Mountain King: Secret Kingdom - see the DP site for instructions on how to get there.

Picnic: Set both difficulty switches to B and set TV Type to b&w. Power the game up and play variation #1. When the game ends, push LEFT on the Right joystick. The player 1’s score will change to “DAVID J.” and player 2’s score will change to “DONNA F.” It's unknown whose names they are. {Rick Skrbina}

Reactor: The decoy counter will turn into the initials “CH” (for programmer Charlie Heath) if you score 200,000 points or more.

Sorcerer's Apprentice: Scoring exactly 10,000 (or multiples of) causes the large and small stars to turn into the letters “PcN” (for programmer Peter C. Niday). {Todd Rogers}

Sprintmaster: On a 1-player game with the bounce option on, select either a dirt or ice track. Get the speed-up icon (upper-right, same color as your car) and go to the upper-left tar slick. If your car touches it after bouncing off the top barrier, and the seconds are between 00:0 and 04:9, your car will turn into the initials “BP” (for Bob Polaro). {Thomas Jentzsch}

Subterranea: At the start of the 3rd stage, shoot all of the Aerobots that the Hexuplex sends at you, but when the Treasure Crystal appears don’t touch it. Instead shoot the crystal exactly 33 times. It will change into the initials “MK” (for Mark Klein). If you shoot it more than 33 times it will change back into a crystal, but you can get the initials to reappear on every 256th shot after that. {Chris Bieniek}

Taz: Hit SELECT 22 times, and then hit the FIRE button to start. When the “CRAZED WAVE” appears (at 32,500), hold the FIRE button down to change it to reveal “WOITA WAVE”, for programmer Steve Woita. {Steve Woita}

Towering Inferno: After finishing the top of the building (when the helicopter lands), switch to B&W and press both FIRE buttons + SELECT. The building will become the letters “PAN” (for Paul Newell). {Todd Rogers}

Yars' Revenge: Hit a swirl in mid-air with the cannon. Then find the “Ghost of YAR” (a black, vertical line that appears behind the explosion graphics) and position yourself on the lower third of it. If done right, when the explosion ends, the game will stop and the letters “HSWWSH” (for Howard Scott Warshaw) will appear. {Steve Haubner or Michael Finnin?}

Howard also states that the original method of hiding his initials was harder to reveal. It required both players (in a 2-player game) to kill themselves off w/o scoring any points, and they also had to die against the very left side of the screen (sometimes you would only get within a couple of pixels of the side and had to wiggle to get to the absolute edge).

**********************


If I missed any or anyone knows of anything else please let me know. Thanks.

Edited by gamme, Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:49 PM.


#4 Buzbard OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:56 PM

Space Invaders: Hold reset while powering on to get double shots.

#5 Rom Hunter OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:26 AM

I think this topic should stick to intentionally programmed Easter Eggs only, not bugs or frying effects.

Otherwise, we're just re-inventing Scott's wheel here.

8)

#6 Tempest ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Jul 25, 2010 7:29 AM

I think this topic should stick to intentionally programmed Easter Eggs only, not bugs or frying effects.

Otherwise, we're just re-inventing Scott's wheel here.

8)

Agreed. Although I'd also like to discuss the odd programming mystery question or two and those "Why does?" and "What if?" questions.

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#7 dooglehead OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jul 25, 2010 8:03 AM

IIRC, the programmers of Quadrun and Secret Quest (and probably more games) said that those games might have easter eggs, but they do not remember how to get to them.

Also, all of Howard Scott Warshaw's games are known to have easter eggs, except for Saboteur/A-team. Could there be an undiscovered easter egg in that game?

#8 thebiggw OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:45 AM

In Haunted house, after you collect the pieces for the urn if you allow one of the monsters chase you to the exit and if the monster is over top of where your "eyes" are when you start the next round by pressing and holding reset you will see your "eyes" have some graphical changes. Upon releasing the reset switch you will lose a life. It has worked for me on all the variations I have tried it on.

#9 gamme OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:09 AM

IIRC, the programmers of Quadrun and Secret Quest (and probably more games) said that those games might have easter eggs, but they do not remember how to get to them.

Also, all of Howard Scott Warshaw's games are known to have easter eggs, except for Saboteur/A-team. Could there be an undiscovered easter egg in that game?


I saw several rumors mentioned but didn't include them until someone figures out how to access them. Perhaps people who can analyze code can find out how to get these easter eggs. I might enter into the programming realm and see what I can do myself, but I need to be patient.

#10 mckafka99 ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:09 AM

Yars' Revenge: Hit a swirl in mid-air with the cannon. Then find the “Ghost of YAR” (a black, vertical line that appears behind the explosion graphics) and position yourself on the lower third of it. If done right, when the explosion ends, the game will stop and the letters “HSWWSH” (for Howard Scott Warshaw) will appear. {Steve Haubner or Michael Finnin?}


I had always wondered what caused this to happen. Saw it a # of times but never knew what it was.

#11 Pioneer4x4 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:41 AM

I didn't think the Mountain King hidden world is an intentional egg, but a glitch that can be achieved outside of the programs intent.

#12 gamme OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:17 PM

I didn't think the Mountain King hidden world is an intentional egg, but a glitch that can be achieved outside of the programs intent.


Pretty sure it's still open whether it was intentional or not. The programmer claims it was intentional (though his memory is pretty fuzzy) but other people say it isn't.

One interview: http://www.digitpres...w_ed_salvo.html

Do a search on here and you'll see it discussed again and again.

BTW: If anyone is trying to get the Kool-Aid Man easter egg and is having trouble with it, I recommend holding down select right around 41 seconds and holding it down a bit longer than normal. I was having a tough time getting it to work last night.

#13 Chuck D. Head OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:28 PM

Yars' Revenge: Hit a swirl in mid-air with the cannon. Then find the “Ghost of YAR” (a black, vertical line that appears behind the explosion graphics) and position yourself on the lower third of it. If done right, when the explosion ends, the game will stop and the letters “HSWWSH” (for Howard Scott Warshaw) will appear. {Steve Haubner or Michael Finnin?}


I had always wondered what caused this to happen. Saw it a # of times but never knew what it was.


Back in the day, I had read that this happened if you hit the swirl in midair too many times consecutively. I found this to be true; if you hit it for the fourth time in a row it HSWWSH'ed consistently. So in attempting to get a "world-class" score, I limited myself to three time in a row. I never paid any attention to where I was positioned, though. I would test this out, but the problem is that I now suck at this game and cant even get three in a row. I can get the effect in the way described above, however. Does someone with skills want to try to hit it four times and avoid the "ghost of Yar" as a test?? BTW, as my memory serves, my best score back in the day was 673,000 and change. I can't get over 150K now, but I think I spent the whole summer of '82 on Yar's revenge. Morgan

#14 e1will OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:41 PM

The Yars Revenge Easter Egg has to be the most irritating Easter Egg I've ever encountered. I remember when I first got the HSWWSH message when I was playing as a kid, and my reactions were:

1. Neat! What's this mean?
2. Wait... my game's OVER? WTF?

Why HSW decided to punish the player for discovering it is a mystery to me.

Note to self: Hack Yars Revenge sometime to allow the player to keep playing after HSWWSH appears. (Or did someone already do this?)

--Will

#15 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 9, 2010 5:56 AM

Why HSW decided to punish the player for discovering it is a mystery to me.

Maybe he wanted to give you time to make a photo? :)

#16 Chris++ OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 8, 2010 2:45 AM

Awesome thread, M!

Raiders of the Lost Ark (Atari): Run off the largest mesa in the Mesa Field (the "Flying Saucer Mesa" -- just north of where you appear) and, as you're falling past the side of the mesa, drop the Chai. This is the blue, pretzel-shaped item found in the Treasure Room.

It certainly helps to open the parachute immediately after dropping the Chai, so that you have time to see Easter Egg #1 -- a Yar with a broken wing, still managing to hover in place. (Perhaps the Qotile only half-swatted the poor chap?)

The parachute also prevents you from dying when you land in the Valley of Poison. This Egg takes some inventory planning, not to mention some coordination between the two fire buttons, but it's awesome! Well, at least if you're as nerd-ily fascinated with hidden stuff in old games as I am. If you subsequently dig up the Ark (behold! The title screen! Ahem...), you'll see Easter Egg #2 at the bottom: Howard Scott Warshaw's initials, and a 2, since this was the second game he completed.


Fathom (Imagic): Incidental curios to add to Gamme's post above -- Michael Becker's demonstrative animation of a dolphin jumping from water was what inspired the game's creation, according to Rob Fulop.

After you save the seventh mermaid, Imagic's address appears at the bottom in a rather cryptic form. This was allegedly related to a contest that would have occurred in tandem with the game's release, had the company gone ahead with it.

"You know what I took out of Fathom? My first provocative thing! After you won, the mermaid would go downward, and the little dolphin would go [off the screen with her], and all these bubbles came up! I saw it in a James Bond movie. They told me, 'Take out the bubbles.' I said, 'Hey, it's all in your head, man!'" (R.F. at World of Atari '98)

Edited by Chris++, Wed Sep 8, 2010 2:49 AM.


#17 Nukey Shay ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 17, 2010 8:17 AM

Wow...I con't believe that I missed this thread!

Note to self: Hack Yars Revenge sometime to allow the player to keep playing after HSWWSH appears. (Or did someone already do this?)


Five years ago...but you're welcome to try to fix it the rest of the way. It currently waits for a button press and then clears off the offending bits in $80 that hold the game suspended. However, a countdown is still present...and that returns the player to the same level for a second (so you need to watch out if the missile was near you). After a moment, the level will bump to the next one.

Not a big fan of Yars'...so this is as far as I got with it.

@Chuck:
There's a cheat option added to the assembly that lets you disable all lethal collisions. I didn't find anything special about hitting the swirl 4 times in a row. This may be due to the hacked routines no longer affecting it the same way, however...I can't be sure about that.

Attached Files



#18 Chris++ OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 17, 2010 12:33 PM

Since we've had a few new 2600 Easter Eggs discovered lately...


What were these?! (Alternate question: Is this the forum I should search?)

#19 Tempest ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 17, 2010 12:45 PM

Since we've had a few new 2600 Easter Eggs discovered lately...


What were these?! (Alternate question: Is this the forum I should search?)

Search the rom comparison thread I linked to.

Tempest

#20 Chris++ OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:20 PM

Thanks!

#21 Chris++ OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 25, 2010 3:00 PM

Since the thread also concerns programming mysteries, can anyone add a concise explanation of that column of small lines/blocks along the screen border of the occasional game?

#22 e1will OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 25, 2010 3:47 PM

Since the thread also concerns programming mysteries, can anyone add a concise explanation of that column of small lines/blocks along the screen border of the occasional game?


You mean the black ones on the left side of the screen? Those are there whenever an object has been horizontally repositioned. In Berzerk, for example, each time the program draws a new robot, it has to reposition the sprite it uses to draw the robot. So there will be a black line between each robot.

--Will

#23 Chris++ OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:36 AM

I see. So that would explain the regularly spaced lines in a lot of early games as well?

example.png

#24 e1will OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:16 PM

I see. So that would explain the regularly spaced lines in a lot of early games as well?


Yep. There are ways to hide it, but most of the early games didn't bother to. Activision did horizontal repositioning on every line whether the sprite needed repositioning it or not, so instead of a bunch of individual lines there was one black bar: Screenshot

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#25 Chris++ OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:24 PM

Cool. I've always wondered about that. How curious that it should be part and parcel of having to reposition a sprite. Maybe it's a timing thing (i.e. it's not "caught" before each screen update)?




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