Review: Adventure for the Atari 2600


If you are interested in Atari 2600 adventure games then you need to try this favorite. Adventure was one of the earliest and best titles for the system. Despite its popularity and charm, however, the Adventure formula was never quite recaptured in later game releases.


For an Atari 2600 game, Adventure is complex yet tightly designed. You must use a joystick to move your icon from room to room in search of a magic chalice. Return the chalice to the Gold Castle and you win the game.

There are several obstacles between you and your goal. Three dragons will try to eat you. A bat will pick up objects and move them around, sometimes even snatching them from your grasp. And there are three locked gates, one for each castle in the game. To unlock a gate you must touch it with the appropriate key, which can be found amongst the many rooms of the kingdom.


In addition to keys there are some other interesting objects to help you along. There is a sword to help you deal with the dragons, a bridge that allows you to pass through walls, and a magnet that attracts hard-to-reach items.

While Adventure is fun to play, it is also fun to experiment with, and it has one of the most famous hidden features of all time. In the response to this letter (from Atari Age v1, n1, 1982), Atari officially acknowledged Adventure's secret room:



Dear Atari:

My brother was playing Adventure and he was in the Black Castle's grey dungeon. He took the bridge and went into a small part which is surrounded by walls. When he was inside he picked up a "dot." Please tell me what this "dot" is and what it can do.

Kathleen [last name withheld]

Novato, CA


Your brother has found the first step in revealing a secret message locked deep within the ADVENTURE cartridge by the programmer who designed it. Most people only find the dot by taking the blue bridge and laying it across some walls in the grey dungeon until it appears. But you've already completed that step! Now for the second step, move the secret dot into the "secret panel" room. How do you get there? If you come out of the yellow castle down to the main path and go right, keep going to the right until you crash into a thin black wall. You've actually crashed into the secret panel that lets you into the secret room. Moving the secret dot into this room won't open the secret panel - but you're getting closer! Leave the secret dot there and go on to the next step.

Go grab any two more objects and bring them into the secret panel room where the secret dot is. Did the secret panel start blinking? Then you are ready for the final step. Take a deep breath and hold it (good magic), then pass through the secret panel very carefully, and ... you've done it! Unlocked the secret of ADVENTURE! We congratulate you - and so does sneaky programmer Warren Robinett.





The chalice is usually located inside the white castle or the black castle.

You can lock the bat inside a castle to get it out of your way.

You can "lose" a dragon by moving quickly through several rooms.

If you force the square icon into the center of a dragon's mouth it can't swallow.

The sword doesn't always work if there are many (flashing) objects in the room.

If the bat grabs the dragon that ate you, you will get an aerial tour of the kingdom.


Life is full of difficult choices.



reviewed by Randy


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