Retro Gaming: Adventure for Atari 2600

Game: Adventure
System: Atari 2600
Year: 1979
Type: Action-Adventure
Claim to Fame: Atari’s  7th best selling Atari 2600 game
Trivia: Despite discouragement from his boss at Atari who said it could not be done, game designer Warren Robinett created a graphic game loosely based on the text game Colossal Cave Adventure. Warren Robinett also created the first “Easter Egg” in an adventure game when he programmed “Adventure”. (Note that I have found more than one and located some cool glitches and bugs which can cause interesting outcomes as well! -JN)

Adventure for Atari 2600; The first adventure game I ever played. When I was a kid my family didn’t have a lot of extra money to buy frivolous things like video games. I guess Mom and Dad wanted to put food on the table first, which is quite admirable but leaves a kid in great envy of his friends who already owned the Atari 7800 and Nintendo Entertainment System. Luckily one day while hitting garage sales with my Mom we came upon an Atari 2600 with a HUGE box of games. I had been saving up money doing chores and I was definitely blowing my whole wad of cash (probably like $5) on this purchase! I bought the system, all the games, and about 4 controllers.

I took it home and was super excited to hook it up and have my own video game system. We were really behind the times and the two TVs we owned had issues. One was once color, but had somehow turned blue and white over time. That was the one Mom watched her soap operas on. The other was black and white and had only 13 channels with one of those spin knobs to navigate the stations. Of course, neither had a remote control! So, my first personal video game experience took place in the early 80’s on a black and white TV with an Atari 2600 AND IT WAS FUCKING AMAZING! One of the first games I fished out of that old dusty cardboard box was “Adventure”. You had me at the cover art- dragons, swords, mazes, I love this shit. I plugged it into the Atari and flipped it on prepared to be challenged. It gave me the challenge I craved and more! There were various items you could pick up and use to interact with the environment! Take in mind that a before “Adventure” was created you could not pick up and drop items in a game. This was revolutionary coding technology!

In Adventure your character is represented by a colored square, unless you’re playing in B&W in which case you are a shade of gray. Your goal is to avoid or kill the dragons, find the keys to get into all the castles, locate the chalice and take it back to your home castle. You will have to locate a few different items to succeed in your quest although I don’t want to give anything else away. Older games are quite simplistic because of both the processing limitations and limited space available for code to fit on the cartridge. Since the game is fairly basic and short I will leave the quest up to you. Now, I’m not saying it’s going to be easy so don’t come crying to me when the square representing your character ends up in the belly of the beast of the catacombs.

Good luck!


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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games /, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.