NEO Zone

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lilys Woods (Atari 2600)

The Sneakers have taken your toys and scattered them thru-out the woods. You must make your way past the sneakers and their gang to rescue all of your toys.

This is a kid-friendly version of Pitfall created for the youngest Atari Fan that I know. I hope Lily enjoys playing the game.

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Here are the changes made from the original Pitfall:

Full Graphic changes(Based on the Alien Planet Hack)
Reduced number of Sneakers(Logs) that appear
Non-Lethal enemies
  Chomps(Gators) are harmless. When mouth is open they knock you into the Pit.
   All other enemies just take away points.
Pits are now harmless. You just fall into the underground.
Removed walls in the underground.
Pit warning indicator. Allows you to see when a pit is opening/closing

Only ten copies of the game were made. It has a special pink cartridge and a full color instruction manual.

Doctor Who (Atari 2600)

Rise Of The Cybermen

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The Doctor murmurs, "It's happening again. CYBERMEN!"

The Cybermen crash through the windows surrounding the Doctor. They tell him that they have been upgraded to "Human.2", the next level of mankind. Every citizen will receive a compulsory free upgrade and become like them. The Doctor asks what would happen if he refused. A Cyberman replies that if he would not be made compatible, he will be deleted, and reaches for the Doctor.

The Cybermen surround the Doctor and he raises his hands, fists clenched. He tells the Cybermen that he surrenders and will submit to the upgrade, but the Cybermen ignore him. A Cyberman declares the Doctor as incompatible and inferior: Man will be reborn as Cyberman but the Doctor will perish under "maximum deletion."

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I have been playing a lot of Malagai lately. It is a really good Atari 2600 game that a lot of people don't even know about. You should give it a try. You are trapped in a maze with some really weird Aliens and the only way out is thru 3 locked gates/airlocks. Guess who has the keys?

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As I play games I usually come up with a few ideas about making changes and Malagai was no different. The first thing that I wanted to change was the enemies. The original Aliens were just too similar and the game is hard enough without chasing the wrong keyholder. So I changed them all to Robots that each had a distinctive look. Next I wanted to change the player sprite. In Malagai you are a floating spaceman with a jetpack. It is a cool looking sprite but doesn't really fit the maze theme. I changed it to a running man sprite. As I was play-testing the changes I noticed that the original sprite sizes overlapped the mazes so I clipped them by a few pixels to square them between the maze walls. At this stage I already enjoyed the game more then the original.

So, That's it then. Another finished hack. Not quite. Why leave things alone when you can change them? I decided to change the three maze level colors. I prefer primary colors so the new maze colors are Blue, Red, Bright Green. Next up the Title screen. I think the name Malagai actually hurts a game like this. What does Malagai mean? Malagai is actually the name of the race of Aliens in the original game. Malagai is a good name for Aliens but a bad name for a game. Most people don't know what a Malagai is or how to pronounce it. How do you tell your friends about this great new game when you can't even say the name? So lets see, We have a game with Robots in a maze and the Robots can go into an attack mode. A few titles I came up with:
Robot War
Robot Maze
Robot Riot
They are all OK but they don't quite do it. Then I started thinking about movies with Robot type enemies:
Daleks?? Hmmmm. Always wanted a Doctor Who game for the Atari 2600. So Daleks it is. After a few minutes of trying to make three distinctive Daleks I decided not to use them. Wait a minute, Doctor Who also has CYBERMEN!!! That's it. And it just so happens that there was a revival of the Cybermen on the new Doctor Who show on SciFI Channel. So now  I have the name of the hack, RISE of the CYBERMEN!

I use Hack-O-Matic for most of my hacks and in the description of how I made this hack I leave out a lot of the tedious trial and error of searching for code that controls graphics, colors, etc.. Sometimes the smallest detail can take the longest to add or change. I am amazed at how a few changes and a tie-in to a show I like really increases the enjoyment I have playing the game. So there you have a rough overview of how I hack a game. I usually don't have a plan other then to make a few changes and it just evolves into something. Give it a try with one of your favorites.

Space Invaders Vector (Atari 2600)

Vector Graphics are basically line drawings from point A to B. Several Arcade Games have used this method, Tempest, Asteroids, Etc...
Here is a quick Space Invaders hack that I made in about 15 mins. I have always loved the vector graphic look and Space Invaders was perfect!



How about a vector Donkey Kong?


Wolfenstein VCS:The Next Mission (Atari 2600)

Wolfenstein VCS:The Next Mission

It is the height of WWII. Germany has conquered most of Europe, and Britain is suffering under constant siege by air. The dark shadow of fascism looms heavy over the free people of the world. You are Sgt. Kozwoski of the Polish special forces. Captured as part of a resistance cell opposing the German and Russian occupation of Poland, you are transported to the dreaded castle Wolfenstein just over the border in Germany for interrogation and execution, or possibly worse. Escape is your first priority, but as a member of the resistance you won't pass up this opportunity to hurt the German war machine and avenge the people of Poland!

Return to the halls of dreaded WOLFENSTEIN. All new enemies, rooms and floorplans await you in this upgraded version of the original Wolfenstein VCS. Badder, Brighter and more Deadly! Do you dare brave the depths of Wolfenstein VCS:The Next Mission? Wolfenstein VCS: The Next Mission is based on Venture, extensively modified to bring you an exciting and new gameplay experience!

Wolfenstein VCS:The Next Mission started out as a hack of Venture but the changes and reprogramming are so extensive that it has coined a new phrase for the collecting community, Hackbrew. Think of it as a new game that uses a heavily modified version of the Venture program.

When the original Wolfenstein VCS was released in 2004 it won an award for Hack of the Year. Believe me, The sequel Next Mission blows the original away.

Stan Awards 2004:

Wolfenstein 2600
by Scott Dayton and Robert Mundschau
Original Game: Venture

What started out as an inspirational idea, soon became one of the best hacks ever created. Robert M and neotokeo2001 have teamed up to reimagine the popular Wolfenstein franchise for the VCS. While it does not attempt to recreate the first person aspect of the 3-D version, Wolfenstein 2600 does do a wonderful job of catching the spirit of the game of the classic 2-D version. The hack features all new room and map designs that really make the old Venture Dungeon feel like a Nazi Stronghold! New look enemies and treasures complete the feel almost making you forget that this used to be a game about giant snakes and treasure chests. In this game, you'll encounter classic Wolfenstein foes like attack dogs and Nazi gunmen. You'll also find classic treasures such as chalices and Med Packs (which give you an extra life no less!). As if that was not enough the game also includes an amazing title screen!

This is graphic hacking at its finest and most complete. But the hack is not limited to a simple glamor make-over. The game play of Venture has also undergone a dramatic overhaul as well. Not only do the floors look different, there are now more of them. How many? Telling you would give away the biggest surprise of all, unlike the original Venture, Wolfenstein 2600 actually ENDS! That's right, you CAN escape from Castle Wolfenstein! However, I will tell you, there is a hidden bonus level for those who are very careful. But just because you can get out, doesn't mean it will be easy!

An improved weapon system makes sure you work your way out of the castle. You'll start with a short range knife and upgrade to a gun later, but don't go on a shooting spree, your ammo is limited. Luckily refills are provided. The enemies are smart, and quick and the building layout is against you. One of the most interesting changes is the way the old "hall monsters" from "Venture" have been changed into Nazi guards who actually patrol the hallway! No more mindless meandering about, these troops actually make a routine circuit around a given area, hoping to trap you! Getting from room to room is an adventure all in itself!

There is so much new and different about Wolfenstein 2600 that it almost seems unfair to call it a hack of Venture. Its more like a new game using the old Venture Engine. And that is why it is a part of my personal collection and the Stan Awards Hack of the Year!


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)