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AtariProtos Updates

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Thanks to the efforts of Ken V. (Dutchman2000) we have access to a former game developers personal archives.  In this archive were many WIP versions of games from many different companies.  Some of the versions are completely different than what was actually released, some are very early single screen demos.  Check out all these new and interesting protos or play them yourself with the attached roms.

 

Expect more reviews shortly.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  And if you find something I missed (which is quite probable), please let me know.  :)

 

Cosmic Swarm

Infiltrate

Kangaroo

Mr. Do's Castle

Omega Race

Popeye

Star Wars: TAG

Super Cobra

Protos.zip

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I agree with your theory that the character sprite graphics in Infiltrate point to it being a K-Byte game.  The sprite in this early version looks like the character from Mountain King, and even the sprite in the released version looks a little bit like the character from Boulders & Bombs.  Of course, there's only so many ways to draw a blocky little man, so it could just be a coincidence (or the programmer of this game could've ripped it off).

The control scheme in this version of Omega Race works fine sans Booster Grip but it's a flickery mess otherwise.  No surprise it was jettisoned.

I wouldn't have even noticed that the second screen in this Popeye demo is different had you not pointed it out.  I didn't realize it had been altered from the arcade in the released 2600 version.  I mostly played the ColecoVision and NES ports of this game.  Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm wondering if I ever really played the 2600 version at all.

The programmer who completed Super Cobra at Roklan told me that he received a WIP version that had been started by someone else.  The Parker Brothers people have always claimed the game was done in-house.  This demo seems to all but confirm that the game was started at Parker Brothers and completed at Roklan.  Notice how the font for the score digits in this version matches the other Parker Brothers titles, whereas the score digits in the released version match other Roklan-developed titles like Popeye.  But apart from some minor differences, the released version seems to be a continuation of this version.
 

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Many thanks for dumping these and sharing them.

I'll add this to the V16 collection.

8)

 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Tempest said:

Thanks to the efforts of Ken V. (Dutchman2000) we have access to a former game developers personal archives.  In this archive were many WIP versions of games from many different companies.  Some of the versions are completely different than what was actually released, some are very early single screen demos.  Check out all these new and interesting protos or play them yourself with the attached roms.

 

Expect more reviews shortly.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  And if you find something I missed (which is quite probable), please let me know.  :)

 

Cosmic Swarm

Infiltrate

Kangaroo

Mr. Do's Castle

Omega Race

Popeye

Star Wars: TAG

Super Cobra

Protos.zip 31.57 kB · 4 downloads

Tempest, I have quite some Star Wars - The Arcade Game proto's in the V15 collection.
Do you know if this WIP 11 version is 100% identical to one of them?

8)

Edited by Rom Hunter

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This proto is new and falls between the 1/3/84 and 4/5/84 (WIP 16).  

 

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Posted (edited)

 

This is an excellent development! While I have no interest in playing these early WIP "games", I love to see how the titles evolved into their final form.

 

ETA: Is it known how the developer who made these available came to have such a disparate collection of games from different companies? I would be very surprised if professionals shared their unfinished projects with colleagues, especially from other (competing) companies.  

Edited by jhd

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Tempest said:

This proto is new and falls between the 1/3/84 and 4/5/84 (WIP 16).  

 

Thanks.

Tempest, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't notice any differences between the Super Cobra ROM you posted above and the final version.

Are you sure you posted the WIP ROM?

8)

Edited by Rom Hunter

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Thanks for sharing!

 

Regarding the changes in the Popeye levels layout, the second and third screen in the proto use an asymmetrical playfield, while in the final version all three are symmetrical.

The 2600 contains graphics register only for one half of the playfield, the other half can only be set to be repeated or mirrored.
An asymmetrical playfield requires the game to change the graphics for the right half of the screen on each scanline, and that might be the reason for the switch to a simpler to implement layout in the final version.

 

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8 minutes ago, alex_79 said:

Thanks for sharing!

 

Regarding the changes in the Popeye levels layout, the second and third screen in the proto use an asymmetrical playfield, while in the final version all three are symmetrical.

The 2600 contains graphics register only for one half of the playfield, the other half can only be set to be repeated or mirrored.
An asymmetrical playfield requires the game to change the graphics for the right half of the screen on each scanline, and that might be the reason for the switch to a simpler to implement layout in the final version.

 

That's what I concluded as well.  It's the only thing that makes sense.

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18 hours ago, PingvinBlueJeans said:

The programmer who completed Super Cobra at Roklan told me that he received a WIP version that had been started by someone else.  The Parker Brothers people have always claimed the game was done in-house.  This demo seems to all but confirm that the game was started at Parker Brothers and completed at Roklan.  Notice how the font for the score digits in this version matches the other Parker Brothers titles, whereas the score digits in the released version match other Roklan-developed titles like Popeye.  But apart from some minor differences, the released version seems to be a continuation of this version.
 

Interesting.

BTW: AFAIK Roklan never developed Popeye for the VCS (they did for the Intellivision)

8)

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Super juicy stuff there Tempest. A thousand thanks not just for posting it here, but more significantly for having & maintaining your site which serves as a beacon for these games.

 

Two questions:

 

Firstly, regarding Popeye & Super Cobra, do the early Parker Brothers catalog screen shots and/or artists conceptions for those games look more closely to those versions then the finals?

 

Secondly, what is the best known story (and time period for when it occurred) regarding Mr. Do’s Castle being released by Parker Brothers rather then Coleco?

 

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Ill let PingvinBlueJeans answer those questions, that's more his area of expertise.

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4 hours ago, Rom Hunter said:

Interesting.

BTW: AFAIK Roklan never developed Popeye for the VCS (they did for the Intellivision)

8)

Roklan did several of the Popeye conversions including the VCS one.  Joe Gaucher was the programmer.  Who did you think developed it?  There may have been someone at Western Technologies or elsewhere who claims to have done it, and perhaps they did work on a version of it, but if so it wasn't the one that ended up being published and isn't related to the WIP version found here.

 

 

1 hour ago, Supergun said:

Two questions:

 

Firstly, regarding Popeye & Super Cobra, do the early Parker Brothers catalog screen shots and/or artists conceptions for those games look more closely to those versions then the finals?

 

Secondly, what is the best known story (and time period for when it occurred) regarding Mr. Do’s Castle being released by Parker Brothers rather then Coleco?

 

The screen mock-ups in the Parker Brothers catalogs more closely resemble the color schemes used in the WIP versions as opposed to the final versions (at least in my eyes), if that's what you're asking.

Regarding Mr. Do!'s Castle, we really don't know how Parker Brothers ended up with this game.  Coleco seems to have been the original intended publisher as evidenced by the fact that they showed a mock-up of a game box in at least one press kit.  But licensing can also be a complicated issue, so it's possible that they never actually had the rights to the game in the first place but just thought that they did since they had the rights to the original Mr. Do!.  I really don't know.  The subcontractor(s) who did the ports of the game would probably know, but unfortunately, we don't know exactly who that was.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/22/2019 at 3:28 AM, PingvinBlueJeans said:

The programmer who completed Super Cobra at Roklan told me that he received a WIP version that had been started by someone else.

What's his name? Was this Paul Crowley?

8)

Edited by Rom Hunter

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On 7/23/2019 at 3:15 AM, Rom Hunter said:

What's his name? Was this Paul Crowley?

Yeah, Paul told me he finished the game but that it had been started by someone else, possibly outside Roklan.   This made sense, given the fact that it had been claimed that Mike Brodie worked on it at Parker Brothers before the left the company.  I haven't shown Paul the screenshots of this version yet, but I would expect that it's exactly what he was handed to work on.

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Very cool! Always interesting to see prototype info! I think some of the early Popeye screens were better than the released ones. 

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Added two new protos.  The first is a late WIP version of Fantastic Voyage

 

Now the second I think everyone is going to find a lot more interesting.  How would like it if I told you there was a second version of Combat II?  Well it's true!  This prototype, also called Fighter Command, is a really interesting jet fighter game that has some really mysterious origins,  We're still trying to unravel the mystery behind it, but in the meantime, check out my review.  Unfortunately the prototype is really incomplete.

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This is all very interesting.

Many thanks for sharing, Tempest!

I don't think Fighter Command has anything to do with Combat Two from Atari, though.

Foxbat's description fits more IMO.

8)

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I'm interested if the Combat II proto shares any coding with Solaris or the Last Starfighter.

It looks like a Neubauer game to me.

8)

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1 hour ago, Rom Hunter said:

I'm interested if the Combat II proto shares any coding with Solaris or the Last Starfighter.

It looks like a Neubauer game to me.

8)

You think so?  When the rom gets released we can take a look I guess.

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Here's an odd one.  This Pole Position prototype tests differently than the final version, but I see absolutely no differences.  Anyone want to take a look?

 

newpp.bin

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7 hours ago, Rom Hunter said:

Foxbat's description fits more IMO.

8)

That was my thought too though I am leaning towards Fire Fox though for the hangar scene looks from the film and Clint stole the plane straight from the hangar before taking off to be pursued by a 2nd Fire Fox (which could be the one in the game).  Added weight to the theory is the fact the player could choose guns or missiles and had a defensive choice which I believe was part of the Fire Fox's superior advantage over its Western counterparts.  Just a hunch, nothing more.

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Roklan was working on Firefox for the 2600 and 8-bit, so that might be it.

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Kangaroo looks so much better with black background.  I wonder why they chose to change the backgroudn to blue.  

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