NEO Zone

NEO Zone

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Can you hack it? (Atari 2600)

I have been hacking Atari 2600 games for a few years and trying to learn programming on the side. What got me started?

While going through the message boards at an Atari website I came across something called the Fancy Label Club. Basically a group of people pick their favorite Atari 2600 game and design a new label for it. When you have your finished design you print them out and send them to all of the other members and hope that they do the same with their labels. Out of 20 people that were participating I received 18 labels.

I picked Demon Attack by Imagic to make a new label. I even went a little extra and came up with a new name for the game, Extinction!, And a new back story.


Back of Box quote:

Your Starship has been hurled into another Dimension after being sucked into a Black Hole. You have crash landed onto a Desolate and Barren Moon with only surface mobility available to you. Suddenly your Radar picks up incoming objects. Who could it be? WHAT COULD IT BE? As the objects come into view you can hardly believe your eyes. It seems the Residents of this place have evolved from a form of Dinosaurs. Yeah, a form of Dinosaurs with Lasers and a BAD ATTITUDE! Now your only problem isn't just getting Home, You must also try to Survive. In this place it's not the Dinosaurs who faded into History. Now it is the Humans who will face EXTINCTION!

Instructions: Move, Shoot, Survive

Fast forward a year later, I came across an article about how you can change the graphics of the Space Invaders in the Atari 2600 game. I spent an hour or so trying different things and wondered if making changes in other games was possible. Why not try Demon Attack? I then went about changing Demon Attack into the game Extinction! that I had made a label for the previous year.

Changes made:
Imagic Logo changed to new Title
Player Ship Graphic changed
Enemy Graphics changed
Color Changes
Raised level of ground(increased difficulty)
Changed Score Font
Changed Reserve Ship Icon


As you can see the changes are mostly just graphics. You would be surprised how much fun I had playing the new version of my favorite Atari 2600 game. From that point I was hooked. And now over 50 completed Atari hacks later I once again aimed my sights on that old favorite. This time the changes are much more extensive. Welcome to:



Marooned on the ice planet Krybor, you watch legions of eerie creatures scream overhead. They hover ominously. They give you no quarter. Attack and destroy them, or be destroyed! Armed with your Laser Cannon, you confront the ultimate challenge:

Or so you thought. Seems like that was just the training mission. Now prepare for the REAL THING!! INVADER X!!


The Invaders are back once again. This time they have some new tricks up their sleeve. Watch out for their new stealth technology!!

The Stealth Technology makes the game much harder.

If you enjoyed Demon Attack and always wanted a sequel, then this game is for you. It will challenge the best Demon Attack players

Changes made to Demon Attack:
Full graphic changes
Full sound changes
Scoring lowered
Difficulty increased
Supercharger compatible
New color rotation for enemies (makes it seem like more types then there are)

From the beginning this hack was intended to be a Demon Attack 1.5 or Demon Attack Plus. I love the original version of Demon Attack but can play it for hours without any challenge. I can play until it locks up or in later versions can play until I decide to quit. My intended direction with Invader X was just to make it harder and keep the score from rolling. It has grown from there.

And it didn't stop there. I then made a competition version of Invader X to be used in a contest. The winner recieved the actual Invader X Competition cartridge that plays on an Atari 2600. In the competition version of Invader X you are given three lives and no extra lives are awarded.


It has been a lot of fun updating and improving one of my all time favorite Atari 2600 games. Anyone can do it with a little bit of imagination and some free time. It only takes a few minutes to change the Invaders in Space Invaders and I guarantee that when you get to play your own creation it is really cool!!!

Here are a few other games that I have worked on. Can you guess what the original games were?

Dawn of the Dead

Alien Menace

Santas Helper

Alien Greed (Original Homebrew Game)


  1. Now come on bring us some screenshots of axecop I want to see some screenshots of axecop.