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2002 Stan's Atari Excellence Awards
2002 Stan's Atari Excellence Awards

Welcome to the first annual, Stan's Atari Excellence Awards, I’m your host Stan. Now I know you are thinking "What crap is this?" but hear me out, because I think this might be fun.

What are these "awards" and why do they exist?"

Stan's Atari Achievement AwardsWell, in the past several years there has been an increased level of interest in "do-it yourself" Atari games, from hacks to homebrews, even to the release of previously buried prototypes (some finished by the original creators). The year 2002 saw perhaps the largest growth in the "do-it yourself" scene. Ten original homebrews were released this past year and well over 40 hacks of existing games. On top of that a half a dozen previously unreleased prototypes also surfaced. With all of that activity, I felt the need to reward those responsible for breathing new life into the greatest video game system ever.

So what makes Stan qualified to grant awards?

Well, nothing really, I suppose, but I will say this: I love Atari. In exclusion of most other systems, I love Atari. I love playing it, collecting for it, and talking about it. I’ve been a fairly active member of the community here at for over a year now, I’ve attended a few conventions, and talked with creators, but I have no inside "connections," I don’t personally know any of the original creators, I don’t own any prototypes, and programming is (currently) beyond my ability. I’m as "average Joe" as a person can be. So really, who better to hand out accolades for feats of programming derring-do? If you like you may consider these awards a form of consumer response.

What are the awards and how are the winners selected?

There are currently four Stan Atari Excellence Awards: Homebrew of the Year, Hack of the Year, Prototype Release of the Year, and The Atari Achievement Award. The first three are fairly straight forward, however the last one may require some explanation. The Achievement Award is strictly for people who go above and beyond the call of duty in service to the "Atari community" (I do so hate that term) during the year. It is NOT a life time achievement award, nor is to be applied for action retroactively.

The winners for the Homebrew of the Year award are selected from all of the 2600 homebrew games with a release date during the year of the award (i.e. 2002). Games eligible for the award must be publicly distributed or released or have a ROM image publicly posted for general use.

There is a simple reason for this stipulation, I must be able to play the game if I am to consider it for an award. Since I am not made of money, games I cannot afford to buy and play at home are played via emulator, thus the necessity of a ROM release. I will accept free copies or demo copies of games to play, but let’s be realistic. Selection of a winner is based on how fun the game is to play, innovations in game development, graphics and sound, presentation and packaging, among other minor criteria.

The winners for the Hack of the Year award are selected from all of the graphic and/or functional 2600 hacks released during the year of the award (i.e. 2002). Hacks eligible for the award must be publicly distributed via ROM image or cartridge form for general use. As per the regulation for Homebrew of the Year, I must be able to play the hack for it to be considered. For the sake of definition, a graphic hack is any hack that alters the appearance, visual or auditory, of an existing programmed game. A functional hack is any hack that alters the game play or operation of an existing programmed game. Both hacks are included in consideration for the Hack of the Year Award. Selection of the winner is based on quality of the hack, improvements or alterations of game play, presentation (when applicable), and other minor criteria.

The winners for the Prototype Release of the Year Award are selected from all prototypes released within the calendar year of the award (i.e. 2002). Prototypes eligible for the award must be released in a public forum and available for public view or use. Prototype release winners are selected by importance and impact of release, playability or completeness, method and reason of release, and other minor criteria.
The winner(s) of the Atari Achievement Award are selected from the whole of the "Classic Gaming Community" and include individuals, businesses, developers, and other affiliated personnel. Selection for the award is based on the quantity and quality of contributions by the winner to the "community" during the year of the award (i.e. 2002). Winners are eligible for multiple awards in consecutive years.

Is there an actual award?

Award CartridgeHeck yes. I see no reason to grant awards if they are only so much writing on paper or computer monitors. Each award is uniquely crafted from an old unloved Combat text label cart, refurbished with a new "Award" label and then shipped off to the winner(s) of the respective award (as seen to the right). Part of the fun of giving an award, is actually giving the award. Big thanks go to the AtariAge Staff for sponsorship of the awards and help in their production. Dale Crum gets special kudos for designing the award labels.

How are these awards any different than the slew of other awards out there and why should I care?

Beats me. I can’t say that I really keep up with too many other awards out there. I do know they exist, but beyond that my knowledge of them is sketchy. I do know that these Stan awards are not so ambitious as to attempt to provide blanket coverage of the Video Game Community in all aspects. These awards are only for modern era achievements in the world of Atari video gaming. While they may, and hopefully will, expand in the future, they are never intended to be anything other than kudos to those who produce a great product or service. Whether or not you care is really beyond my control.

So without further ado, it gives me great pleasure to present to you the 2002 Stan Atari Excellence Awards! Click on each link for a thorough examination of each award.

Stan's Atari Achievement Awards

Homebrew of the Year
Marble Craze by Paul Slocum


Hack of the Year
Berzerk Voice Enhanced by Mike Mika


Prototype Release of the Year
Bugs Bunny by


Atari Achievement Award
Thomas Jentzsch

And that will do it for the 2002 Stan's Atari Excellence Awards! It is obvious 2002 was a good year for the VCS, and it looks like 2003 is going to be even stronger. Thank you for joining me, and I hope to see you all again next year!