Atari’s New Collectible Game Cartridges Off To A Rocky Start

·2-min read
An image of Atari's three newly-released Atari 2600 cartridges, Saboteur, Yars' Return, and Aquaventure.
An image of Atari's three newly-released Atari 2600 cartridges, Saboteur, Yars' Return, and Aquaventure.


Brand-new old games for sale.

Yesterday the folks at whatever counts as Atari these days launched Atari XP, a series of collectible and playable Atari 2600 cartridges featuring homebrew and prototype games never officially physically released. The cartridge collection’s debut was a bit messy, however, incorrectly attributing a 2005 ROM hack of Yars’ Revenge to legendary Atari programmer Howard Scott Warshaw, creator of the 1982 original smash hit as well as the infamous E.T.

The Atari XP program, as stated on its official website, is dedicated to giving unreleased and hard-to-find Atari games new, updated physical cartridge releases, and then selling them for $50 to $100. The series launches with three games, both available in standard and limited editions, the latter coming with posters, instruction booklets, collectible pins and badges, and other goodies. The first three games in the series are Saboteur, Aquaventure, and Yars’ Return.

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In what might have been an unfortunate copy and paste accident, all three games were at one point attributed to Howard Scott Warshaw, including Yars’ Return, a 2005 ROM hack fashioned as a sequel to 1982 classic Yars’ Revenge. As pointed out on Twitter by noted game historian Frank Cifaldi, Warshaw had nothing to do with the ROM hack, which was originally created for play on the Atari Flashback series of retro consoles.

The Atari XP website also briefly attributed unreleased 1983 prototype Aquaventure to Warshaw as well. Atari history site AtariProtos.com lists Gary Shannon and Tod Frye as the original programmers for that game.

Out of the three games being released on cartridge by Atari XP, only the excellent prototype Saboteur was actually created by Howard Scott Warshaw. The shooter was completed by Warshaw in 1983, at which point Atari decided it wanted it changed into an A-Team game. Neither Saboteur nor its A-Team rework were ever officially released in cartridge form.

Though never released officially on cartridge by Atari, all three of these games have appeared on Atari Flashback consoles, and ROM files for each are widely available. Saboteur even received an unofficial cartridge release through AtariAge, which can still be found for reasonable prices on the secondary market.

The Atari XP website has been updated to reflect the correct information on the games, with all three up for preorder for December and early 2022 release.

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