The Atari 2600 is one of my favourite gaming consoles. It’s definetely the one I feel the most nostalgia for. Actually, its both the Commodore 64 and the Atari 2600 that give me goosebumps when I remember the good times I had with them. But we’ll leave the Commodore for another time. I’ve played tons of amazing memorable games on the Atari 2600, but one definetely pops out for its originality: Adventure.
Adventure is, according to many, the first RPG game. The RPG genre is my favourite one, as I discovered with Final Fantasy in the 90s. The game was developed by Warren Robinett. In those wonderful early years of the gaming industry, games were generally developed by one person. The game contains dungeons, puzzles, dragons and swords. So definitely a fantasy RPG type of game. Of course, this didn’t have the evolved progression systems we have these days, but it was pretty ground breaking for the early 80s. There was nothing like it.
The thing with game developers back then was that Atari wouldn’t credit them for the games they made. So nowhere on an Atari 2600 video game you will see a credit to the game’s creator. So in 1980, Mr Robinett not only created the first RPG game, he also came up with the first Easter Egg. Or at least Easter Eggs as we know them today. An Easter Egg, for those who don’t know, is when you hide a secret on a video game that needs to be unlocked using some sort of mechanic. It started on video games, but then companies like Google or Apple would hide fun things in their software that one would be able to unlock by doing some sort of clicks or / and key combinations. The Robinett Easter Egg was a secret room that one could eventually unlock. This room contained his name and no one figured this out until the game shipped. And the funny thing was that Robinett was long gone from Atari by the point people started finding this.
This nonsense with Atari not allowing creators to be credited became such a big problem that it was one of the reasons, among others, why Activision came to be. Activision was founded by several Atari developers who created an independent firm to have more control over the games. But we’ll get more into Activision’s history in some other post.
Adventure has two iconic graphics: the dragon and … the other dragon. One is Robinett’s super abstracted 8 bit version of the dragon, which is super iconic.
But then there’s the illustration of the dragon used for the cartridge and box. This was created by Susan Jaekel. Jaekel was the daughter of two artists, and she retells the story of how her dad lent her an airbrush which she used for parts of the Adventure illustration. Back then she worked in advertising in the Bay area, but she also did some work for children’s books.
I myself loved this game when it came out. It stood out from the rest. You can like or dislike Adventure, but something we cannot deny is it’s legacy to the gaming world.
Here’s a link to Robinett’s home page if you want to read more about him.