Atari Aquaventure: players summoned to find 2600 game developers

Whenever you write about video games these days, it’s common to make sure to mention both the publisher (i.e. the company responsible for marketing and getting it into the hands of gamers ) and the developer (the company that actually makes the game). Well, Atari is about to re-release an old school game from the Atari 2600 console under its new Atari XP cartridge program… but it’s running into a weird problem: the company has no idea who’s playing it. really developed.

The retro gaming giant is turning to the public to help track down the original programmer for Aquaventurea prototype 2600 game that eventually found a cult following after a 2600 cartridge copy surfaced, thanks to a random discovery at a flea market, in the 1990s. But you can’t credit the creator of a game if you literally don’t know who it is, and Atari is asking enthusiasts to share what they know by passing on any information they might have via the company’s social media.

What is Aquaventure? As the name suggests, this is a game where all the action takes place under the sea. Armed with a harpoon gun, players set off in search of treasure hidden beneath the surface, encountering enemy seahorses. and other shady enemies who stand between their avatar and the final prize. It’s a level-based game (finding the treasure takes you to additional harder levels where treasure diving gets progressively harder), and you only have a limited supply of air to allow you to continue as you navigate the murky depths.

Aquaventure was designed for the Atari 2600, but for mysterious reasons was never officially released during the original console’s mainstream 1980s lifespan. A cartridge for the game “would have been discovered by a collector in a Central Florida flea market in the mid-1990s,” writes in-depth game researcher Matt Reichert on the Atari XP Blog, noting that the game went on to make its official console debut in 2005 on the Atari Flashback 2 – which is probably when most fans first learned of it.

Thanks to the competitive vagaries of early console video gaming, game creators were often not identified in a game’s credits, and that’s what happened with Aquaventure, explains Reichert in a separate post. “Until the mid-1980s, most games were credited only to the company that published them. In a rapidly growing market, studios wanted to make it harder for competitors to poach talented programmers by hiding their identity. This practice is the reason why we do not know exactly who designed and programmed Aquaventureas well as many other titles from the early 80s.”

This leaves Atari hoping for great help from someone who can fill in the missing gaps. Along with other unreleased tracks and prototypes like Saboteur and The return of Yars, Aquaventure is one of the old-school gaming gems the company is reviving as part of the Atari XP program – a new push to put retro titles back on the game cartridges where tons of die-hard 2600 fans think they belong.

“The search continues” for Aquaventurewrote Reichert, with the promise that “we’ll have an update soon. In the meantime, if you know anything, contact Atari through one of our social channels.”