Conquest of Mars - Atari 2600



TV Type:  NTSC        PAL60      
Box Upgrade:  No        Yes (Add $15.00)      

In the year 4014, the planet Earth and the planet Mars are locked in a century-long war. The Martians have devised a plan to destroy Earth using the power from their latest weapon: the Destructo-Bomb!! The Martian forces have managed to construct five bombs and have placed them deep inside the Martian Caverns, awaiting the final command from their leader to attack!!! Do you have the skill to navigate to the depths of the Martian caverns, active the Destructo-Bombs, and escape before they explode? Good Luck!

Conquest of Mars is an accurate translation to the Atari 2600 of a popular Atari 8-bit computer title. Destroy the Martian rebellion by descending through the six caverns of Mars to activate the main energy reactors and escape to the surface before they blow up! Do you have the skill and quick reflexes required to descend into the Martian depths without being annihilated? And once you reach the bottom, can you make it out alive?


  • 1 or 2 Players
  • 4 Skill Levels
  • Pause Feature
  • Uses joystick controller
  • Hi-Score
  • 6 Different Stages
  • 6 Caverns

Includes cartridge and full-color manual. Available in NTSC and PAL60 television formats, please select above.

Get a Conquest of Mars Box!

Conquest of Mars BoxConquest of Mars Box

If you'd like a boxed copy of Conquest of Mars, please select "Box Upgrade: Yes" at the top of the page before adding Conquest of Mars to your cart. Our boxes are professionally printed and include a box insert to hold your Conquest of Mars 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.

Author John W. Champeau
Number of Players 1 - 2
Controller Joystick
Cartridge Size 16K
Label Design Nathan Strum
Manual Design Nathan Strum
elfriede neal on 12/13/2021 09:42pm
This game is very challenging. It kinda reminds me of Scramble except vertical. Still, it's an excellent game. Very hard NOT to give Conquest of Mars five stars!
Greg Machos on 05/17/2018 08:15pm
It is neat looking, but it reminds me a bit of a Outer Space version of Activision's River Raid.
Andrew Logan on 01/23/2018 04:43pm
Very good game, pretty challenging but it's the right amount of difficulty. It's a little bit simple in some ways and a bit sophisticated as well. One of my favorite games on the 2600 and it's up there with other homebrews such as Galactopus or Prehistoric Times or Zippy.
Ace List on 12/16/2015 11:36pm
I already did a review of this game some years back, but I just threw it on again and DAMN, this game is so great.

So great.
Crawford on 10/11/2015 08:49pm
I love this game.

However, there are a few things that keep me from giving it a perfect score. As other reviewers have mentioned, the slow rate of fire is extremely frustrating. However, I could live with it if the missiles moved faster. As it is, it's just too slow.

Another issue, and I understand that the atari doesn't quite have the memory capabilities for this, but having the level completely refresh when you die not just a frustration, but throws off the balance of the game. I can accept the frustration of it, as that's a part of the challenge of the game. However, I have found that I can rack up a much higher score without ever advancing past the first level than if I advanced. It kind of makes racking up a high score arbitrary.

All that being said, this is a lot of fun. It's simple, but creates a great atmosphere, and while I'm playing the ROM on a Harmony Cartridge, I'll likely purchase a cartridge of this game as I believe this game deserves it. Definitely worth checking out and it's a game I'd like to master.
Cubmasterdan09 on 05/16/2013 02:19pm
I want to love this game, unfortunately, it is the last one I reach for while playing Atari. I find the slow rate of cannon fire annoying, especially during the "rocket phase". I bet I press the fire button 10 times for every one shot. Usually my hand cramps up. It reminds me of Midway's "Galaxian", where you must wait for your missile to hit an alien or clear the screen before you can fire again. "Conquest of Mars" would "rock 'n roll" with a higher rate of fire.

The rate of cannon fire ties in with the other factor I have a distaste for - "Unlimited Continue's". This just takes the thrill out of beating the game. With a higher rate of cannon fire, you wouldn't need to hit "Continue" because you would be more suited to challenge the Martian enemy.

I played a less refined version of "Conquest of Mars" on the Atari Flashback 2. This version has a high rate of cannon fire and no "continues". It may be a little glitchy, as I figure it is a prototype - but it is a great deal more fun! Plus, being less refined, in the graphics department, it feels more true to a "back in the day" Atari game.

Another likeable factor, with the Flashback 2 version, is your ability to shoot out the Martians defensive shields vs. timing your moves to avoid the shields on the newer version. This exasperates me almost as much as the condor's swooping at my head on "Pitfall 2". Just because something is challenging doesn't mean it it fun.

I am sorry I am so critical. There is no way I could create a game like this. I just wish the programmer would of stuck more closely to the Atari Flashback 2 version of this game.
Holger Bommer on 11/08/2009 02:55pm
This is one the games you must own when you own an VCS. I like this game very much, and the "continue" feature is great.
Even in the first level this vertical shooter is hard to beat.
So here is a REAL challenge for all shooting game fans.
Raul Torres on 03/15/2008 08:50pm
Very cool game... It looks very good & plays well. I like how the scenerystages change to provide diff challenges.

However to me it feels like it lacks something... I think it needs sort of a throttle feature as you descend into the caverns. All the way to the top should feelmove slower and at the bottom of the screen should be at its fastest descent.

But I am nit picking, this game is still cool & for the most part I have gotten used to there not being any diff in speed as you descend. The continue feature is a great idea that should be adopted by more programmers.

Excellent game... a def must have in your game library.
Joseph Kollar on 03/03/2008 11:48am
Conquest of Mars is almost perfect. A port of the A8 game Caverns of Mars, Conquest has some updates that make this one even better than the original.

You mission is to fly down into a cavern shooting fuel cells and rockets to set a bomb in the Martian base. The first part requires navigating some tight turns and you'll need to hit the fuel cells to replenish your own fuel. The next stage is similar to Scrambles meteorite level but it's vertical rather than horizontal. You will need to blast away at the rockets and fuel ships because unlike Scramble, you won't be able to just dodge them. The 3rd part is setting the bomb and escaping back the way you came. You only have 30 seconds to hightail it out of there or you'll be blown up as well. If you suceed you'll move top Cavern 2 which introduces new challenges like force fields that need to be precisely timed to get past.

The updated stuff in Conquest is what makes it shine over the original Caverns. The players ship looks better than the A8 version and the fuel cell graphic is nicer too. Also when you escape the button now acts as a speed boost which wasn't in the original. Using the difficulty switches , you can make the cavern based rockets(cannons?) fire at you as you descend which adds A LOT to the difficulty in this game. They are wicked accurate with many shots which I think is part of the only flaw with CoM. It's gets VERY hard from level 2 on. The force fields have no visual cue as to where they will appear so although the timing is easy enough to figure out(although it's very tight), it very hard to position yourself in a safe spot. I actually think it's a little too hard and brings in a frustration level that detracts from the fun. Thankfully, CoM has a continue feature which saves it from being runined by that frustration level.

This game is a blast to play. Super responsive controls, nice graphics/sounds and obviously well thought out caverns make it one of the best games available for the VCS. If it was a tiny bit more forgiving on the force fields it would be absolutely perfect.
Nathan Strum on 11/29/2006 02:07pm
Conquest of Mars is a vertical shooter in which you descend deep into caverns to destroy Martian Destructo-Bombs before they can be used against Earth. As you careen through the caverns, you have to blast enemy cannons and fuel tanks, avoid laser gates and enemy missiles, and then escape back to the surface before the bomb goes off. Conquest of Mars is fiercely challenging, but not unfairly so. With patience (and a mercifully included "continue" feature) you can learn the enemies' patterns and weaknesses, and work your way through the game. The game is a lot of fun to play, with plenty of action, huge caverns to explore, and great flicker-free graphics. The game requires skill, quick reflexes, and the ability to develop different strategies for each level that you encounter. If that doesn't sound like enough of a challenge, you can also choose to have the enemies fire back at you while all of this is going on.

Originally written to replace the dreadful version of Caverns of Mars on Atari's Flashback 2 console, Conquest of Mars was left unreleased when Atari canceled plans for an update to that product. Fortunately, AtariAge and programmer John Champeau were able to release the game for us to enjoy, and it's one of the best games available for the Atari 2600. Not for wimps, to be sure. But anyone who likes a good shoot 'em up will love Conquest of Mars.
ace list on 10/13/2006 02:26pm
This game RULES! If you are a stage freak like me, you will love this joint. I'm really into beating stages rather than racking up points, so this game really kills it. On top of the very fun and challenging levels, this game has a beautiful, campy sci-fi vibe to it. Your descending ship sounds like the old Martian movies from the 50's, and the Martian ultimate weapon is even called a "Destructo Bomb"! The controls are crisp, the sprite detection is super-honest, and you will be happy for the continue option, you'll need it!

One possible turn-off for shoot-em-up fans: there is NO WAY on God's green Earth (or red Mars) that anyone could beat this game the first time. There are so many things you have to do! In many cases you will have to study the Martian defenses and strategize before you can beat 'em. You will lose lives in so doing because the action kinda jumps on you. It's really hard!

This game is a perfect example of how good a 2600 game can be! MAD PROPS!
Gregg Lemke on 10/02/2006 12:17pm
Excellent game, everything is very impressive. Top shelf game. You will play over and over. Great replay value with the different difficulty settings. Wish we had it 25 years ago. A must buy for arcade style game fans.
Shawn Davis on 08/08/2006 02:58pm
A far better version than the insperational Cavernes Of Mars from the Atari 800 computer, Caverns Of Mars takes the concept to the next level with fast game play, more agressive enemies and thrust engines on your ship for the escape levels. completing this game is quite difficult but very much worth the time to see the fantastic ending.
William Potter on 07/29/2006 09:07am
Among the greatest of homebrews and of VCS games in general (in my opinion). While not a port of an arcade game Conquest of Mars has an arcade feel to it that is rarely felt in games for the VCS and has a "continue" feature to boot! I highly suggest this game.

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