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Adventure on Atari 2600 A Coveted Collectible Among Gaming Aficionados

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In 1979, the gaming world underwent a profound transformation with the release of Adventure on the Atari 2600. Crafted by the brilliant mind of Warren Robinett, this legendary title defied the norms of its era, heralding a new era in video game design. Pioneering the ‘action-adventure’ genre, Adventure marked a significant leap forward in gaming evolution, introducing the concept of hidden secrets with its groundbreaking “Easter Egg.” With over one million copies sold, the game’s impact was profound, capturing the hearts of gamers worldwide.

As an avid gamer fortunate enough to own a copy at its launch, I marveled at the game’s ability to transport players to mesmerizing worlds that defied the game’s simplistic appearance. Susan Jaekel’s iconic cover design featuring a majestic orange dragon clutching a key within a labyrinth further added to the game’s allure. For collectors and enthusiasts, owning a copy of Adventure is a cherished testament to the rich history and innovation that continues to define the ever-evolving landscape of video gaming. We take a look at this classic along with an Atari 2600 Adventure Price Guide.

Adventure for Atari 2600 COMPLETE In Original Box in Excellent Condition
Adventure for Atari 2600 COMPLETE In Original Box in Excellent Condition. Sold for $99 on ebay, July 2023.

Adventure was born from the ambitious imagination of Robinett, who sought to transform the text-based game “Colossal Cave Adventure” into a graphical format, suitable for the Atari 2600 console. The project was a daring undertaking at the time, considering the severe hardware limitations of the Atari 2600. Yet, Robinett persevered and developed an abstract but compelling representation of an adventure game using the limited resources available.

The game was an engaging departure from the prevailing Pong-derived games and space shooters that were common during the late 1970s. Adventure took the player through a series of screens representing castles, mazes, and various other locales, with the main objective of finding a chalice and returning it to the golden castle. It introduced elements like inventory management and enemy AI, both of which added depth to the gameplay, something relatively unheard of at the time.

Atari Adventure with basic design cartridge instructions and box
Atari Adventure with basic design cartridge instructions and box. This set sold for £54.95 on ebay, July 2023.

The First Easter Egg

In a move that would forever change the gaming industry, Robinett included a secret message in the game, effectively creating the first “Easter Egg” in video game history. This hidden room, which revealed the text “Created by Warren Robinett,” was a response to Atari’s policy of not crediting its programmers. The Easter Egg went unnoticed until after Adventure’s release and gained fame when a fifteen-year-old player discovered it and wrote to Atari to ask about it. The concept was so novel that rather than removing it, Atari decided to keep it in future games, thus setting a precedent for future generations of games.

Cover Design

Susan Jaekel’s artistic contributions were undoubtedly significant in creating the captivating visual appeal of the game’s packaging. Beyond Adventure, her talent extended to other Atari games like Hangman, Basic Math, Brain Games, 3D Tic-Tac-Toe, Circus, and Concentration, where her artistic skills added a touch of creativity and allure to those titles as well. Susan Jaekel’s work left an enduring legacy on the Atari 2600 library, contributing to the nostalgic charm and visual storytelling that continue to resonate with gamers and collectors alike.

Atari 2600 Adventure Price Guide / Value Guide

With over one million units sold the game is readily available. Cartridges can be bought without a box for $10-$20 / £10-£20, add some instructions and the price rises $15-$25 / £15-£25. A copy in a nice box with instructions is estimated at $100. It is even possible now to have a CGC Qualified Grade on the game cover – a game with a CGC grade of 7.0 sold for $160 on ebay.

Atari Adventure game with a CGC Qualified Grade
Atari Adventure game with a CGC Qualified Grade of 7.0. Sold on ebay for $160.50, July 2023.

The impact of Adventure on the gaming landscape cannot be overstated. It was a pioneer in terms of narrative immersion, gameplay depth, and of course, the surprise Easter Egg. Robinett’s bold creation broadened the scope of what video games could be, offering players a new level of engagement and interactivity. It was, in many ways, the blueprint for modern adventure games, and its influence continues to be felt to this day.

Adventure was more than just a game; it was an exercise in boundary-pushing innovation that changed the industry forever. As we continue our journey in the ever-evolving gaming landscape, it’s important to remember and appreciate this classic Atari 2600 title that truly started it all.

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