The collection of games in The Byte Before Christmas tell the story of a Christmas that almost never was. A Christmas that was saved by the hands of a few good people, who stood up to an evil army. When dark forces conspired, they would not back down. The story of their bravery has never been shared with the world before now. Read of their deeds, and step into their shoes, that one fateful night before Christmas.
The Byte Before Christmas is a collection of four holiday-themed games for your Atari 2600. When you fire up The Byte Before Christmas, you'll be presented with a menu that allows you to select from one of the four games.
Each game included in The Byte Before Christmas is briefly described below:
- Santa's Scabs -- You're a victim of the economic recession, and after hearing the news that Santa was hiring replacement workers, you hitched a ride to the North Pole immediately. Crossing picket lines is dangerous business, but you've been learning the secret art of Ninjitsu. And really, who could resist the chance to save the day and put a few bucks in his pocket too?
- Christmas Adventure -- "I see the Grinch has been up to his old tricks," you say to yourself as you survey the devastation of Whoville. Once again he has managed to steal all of Whoville's presents and frighten off all of its residents. The town was no match for the Grinch, his dog Max, and his band of evil toys. While the Grinch has escaped with the sack of stolen presents to his lair in the mountains, Max and the evil toys continue to wreak havoc in the town. You're the only one left to reclaim the stolen presents and save Christmas. Inspecting the town's ruins and hoping to find some items that might help you in this Adventure, you head out into the cold dark night alone...
- Bell Hopper -- Humanity slept. The animal kingdom did not. The most magical of all creatures, the bunny rabbits, sensed that an evil magical deed had been performed. Being the keepers of good, the rabbit elders knew they had to undo this wrong. They sent forth their youngest jumper. He alone was pure enough to see the magical sky bells, and he alone could jump high enough to ring them. The elders watched him leave on his journey with much anticipation. Would he be able to play the bell song and wake up humanity from the ill slumber?
- Naughty List -- The Elf Union has gone on strike! In Naughty List you play as Santa. Your mission is to drop packages full of explosives onto the ugly union buildings, completely destroying them. Each package you drop needs to hit the building dead-center to cause destruction. Packages that miss the mark have no effect. Larger buildings will need multiple hits to reduce them to rubble. But your mission isn't as easy as it sounds. Your reindeer are tired from delivering presents, so as you fly over the block your deer will drop closer and closer to the buildings. If you smash into a building you'll lose a deer, and you only have three to spare! And take care not to drop packages onto innocent bystanders below!
The Byte Before Christmas was a collaboration between several homebrew authors and artists, including Jarod Kitchen (Santa's Scabs), Todd Holcomb (Christmas Adventure), Tomas Härdin (Bell Hopper), Mike Saarna (Naughty List), Illya Wilson (Pixel Art), Brian Ostrowski (Label and Manual artwork), Fred Quimby (batari Basic), and more.
Get a The Byte Before Christmas Box!
If you'd like a boxed copy of The Byte Before Christmas, please select "Box Upgrade: Yes" at the top of the page before adding The Byte Before Christmas to your cart. Our boxes are professionally printed and include a box insert to hold your The Byte Before Christmas cartridge in place. We want you to play our games, so we have not sealed or shrinkwrapped the boxes in any way, allowing you easy access to the game cartridge and manual.
These boxes are the same size as boxes Atari produced for their games "back in the day". They look great sitting on a shelf with your other boxed homebrew games, or alongside games from the classic Atari 2600 library. We only have a limited number of boxes for each game, and there is no guarantee they will become available again once our supplies are exhausted. Click on the images to the right to see larger photos of the box.
The Byte Before Christmas includes the game cartridge and full-color, 16 page manual. The Byte Before Christmas is available in NTSC and PAL60 versions. Please select the correct version above for your locale.
|Number of Players||1|
|Controller||Joystick, Paddle Controller (Bell Hopper)|
|Cartridge Size||32K w/SARA RAM|
|Programming||Jarod Kitchen, Todd Holcomb, Tomas Härdin, Mike Saarna|
|Pixel Art:||Illya Wilson|
|Label and Manual Artwork:||Brian Ostrowski|
Santa's Scabs: This is your typical story of a ninjutsu-practitioner using his skills to cross an elf picket line and defeat the union boss to seek holiday work at Santa's workshop. The gameplay here is good, and the graphics are decent. I would have personally preferred more random elf movements to add to the challenge, but that's more a matter of personal taste.
Christmas Adventure: Return the bag of stolen toys from the Grinch to your house to save Christmas! This has the gameplay of Adventure, but with killer evil toys, an item-swapping Max the dog, and new items. I enjoyed the layout of Whoville, and the different gameplay that the new objects added (the candle and the present). The graphics are beautiful, and easily recognizable. If you like Adventure, you will likely enjoy this game without feeling like you are just playing the exact same game with different graphics.
Bell Hopper: I've always wondered what it would be like to be a magical bunny rabbit who could hop across the sky with the aid of magical sky bells. Well, okay, perhaps not, but now I have a better idea. The gameplay in this one is simple, but fast-paced and fun. I like the infinite play without lives, and the challenge to beat your own previous best score. The option to use either joystick or paddles is another plus (I prefer the latter, but the former works pretty well, too). Best of all, if your score gets high enough, it shows it in scientific notation to make it fit on the screen. How cool is that? My only wish for this game is that there was more color variety with the bells and the birds, or at least color differentiation between the bunny and the bells. This doesn't interfere with gameplay all all, though.
Naughty List: If you have always wished to be a business tycoon from the late 1800s with magical powers to boot, then this is the game for you. Santa is bombing the elf union buildings with explosive presents. The gameplay in this one is insanely challenging, but still fun. The graphics and sounds are quite excellent as well. I especially enjoy the sound effects of the buildings collapsing. The addition of innocent pedestrians and construction equipment to raise the height of buildings keeps the gameplay fresh.
This is the only Atari game I remember playing that uses only the fire button, and nothing else. Despite this, the gameplay is still fun and extremely challenging. I suspect that it can only be fully mastered by players with cyborg-level gamer reflexes (like my girlfriend).
Overall: This is a solid collection, which is a lot of fun, and easily worth the price. My only real disappointment was the lack of game variations or difficulty settings for any of the games in the collection. Despite minor quibbles, I still think this deserves 5/5 stars based on the value per dollar for the whole collection.
Here's the included games:
Santa's Scabs is an action game where you fight against protesting elves and has boss fights. Easily the best fighting game on the Atari 2600!
Naughty List is a precision game where you have to bomb buildings with presents to fight against the unions trying to stop Christmas. The very strict timing makes this one of the hardest games in the collection, but I dig it!
Christmas Adventure is a redesigned Adventure with a Christmas theme; if you enjoy Adventure (which I do), you'll love this!
Bell Hopper is a platformer that uses the Atari Paddle controller. Cute, precise, addictive, and can get really large scores!
Also, the manual description of Santa's Scabs and Naughty List are shockingly inaccurate when it comes to describing the game play; you can't roll in Santa's Scabs like it states in the manual, but you can do a jump kick (which isn't described in the manual) and in Naughty List, you can't bomb two buildings at once as the game is quite picky about hitting the buildings dead-center.
Speaking of the manual, not really much into forced political agendas. Not a big deal to me, but I think that might be a deterrent for others since other games on here really don't do politics.
Quibbles with the manual aside, still an excellent collection and better than Stella's Stocking!