Friday, February 19, 2010

The Art of Home Brewing. Part 1

In my last post I mentioned home brew Atari 2600 games. Now, I know that most of you probably already know about these, but I feel I should explain before I go on.

For those of you who don't already know it, Atari 2600 development is alive and well. A number of new games come out for the 2600 each and every year. Most, if not all of them, are developed by home coding hobbyists. These hobby coders are known as home brewers. There are several remarkable things about this. The first is that the 2600 was released in October 1977 (Meaning I could have played it at the ripe old age of six months.) The system is thirty two years old and people are still writing games for it. The second, and perhaps more amazing thing, is that some of these games are really good. In point of fact, some of them are better than the games released during the 2600's height. Third, you can buy some of the really good ones in cartridge form!

Can't believe it's true? Take a look at Atari Age:

How can this be with a system that's as old as this? Well, most of you are retro-fans and you get it. However, again I'll take a moment to explain. The Atari 2600 represents an age in gaming. Although it is very limited as a system by today's standards it still has the ability to do one very important thing: It can still run fun games. Take Space Invaders as an example. The game play is very simple and the graphics are extremely limited. However, if you like that style of game then the Wii can't do it any better. Pitfall is an awesome side scroller. Adventure arguably represents the beginning of the adventure genre.

What all systems have in common is that all have their limitations. It is up to developers to work within the confines of the system they are working on. What this does is gives each system a very definite “Feel”. The 2600 was a good system and it still is. To this day I love playing Warlords with a few friends. The games for the 2600 are simple, they have to be. However, if that simplicity is worked into the game you get something that is not only fun, it's easy to play.

More soon...


  1. Good stuff. Almost makes me wish I still had a 2600 console. Hope we can get some of these on Console Classix in the future.

  2. I'm going to work on it. Some of those games are very good. Someone has even made an updated version of Warlords!

  3. My brother has one of the Atari game compilations that plug into the A/V outlets on your TV with a set of paddle controllers that includes Warlord--it's the favorite on that compilation by far. Only two paddles, though, so four-way games are limited to two people and two computer players, unfortunately. Still good stuff, though. I'd imagine an updated version would be awesome, too.