“Princess Rescue” Is the Atari 2600 Version of Super Mario Nobody Asked...

“Princess Rescue” Is the Atari 2600 Version of Super Mario Nobody Asked For

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Since my exposure to the Atari 2600 only dates back to the latter days of its existence, my personal impression on the platform is that of a console of diminishing returns. (Unfairly) comparing its ports of Donkey Kong Jr., Pac-Man and even Space Invaders to the more arcade-perfect Famicom versions, even as a youngster it was clear that the vintage 1977 unit did not bring enough horsepower to the dance (insert Wii U joke here).

Now let’s all pretend that we live in a parallel universe, one where Nintendo signed an exclusivity deal with Atari to bring Super Mario Bros. stateside; only as an Atari 2600-exclusive. Apart from possibly setting gaming back twenty years, we probably would have a product similar to homebrew effort Princess Rescue. Available at the Atari Age store for a paltry $30, the game actually looks to be a fun, low-rent version of everybody’s favorite platformer. Inspired by a retro “demake” of Mega Man for the same faux wood-trimmed console, animator Chris Spry built the game in a few months using a programming library called Batari BASIC.

It’s a fairly impressive effort given the limitations of the hardware; smooth scrolling was not possible on the 2600 without elaborate software-side tricks, so I’m sure even the simplest of motions were—with zero knowledge of the hardware—quite a chore to perform. Hey, he even managed to use Mario’s sprite from Super Mario Bros. 3. Take that, 1985!

  • Chris Spry

    I wouldn’t say I have zero knowledge of the hardware. I understand how the Atari works on the hardware level. Even with Batari BASIC you still need to understand why the Atari does was it does mainly because how it spends it cycles, how little RAM you have to play with, and the fact it uses most of those cycles to draw directly to the screen (no video memory). You got to be very efficient when programming for the Atari 2600 regardless of what method you use.

    • 30lives

      Whoops! What I was trying to say was that *I* had zero knowledge of how the hardware worked.

      Sorry about the confusion!

      • Chris Spry

        My apologies then. Seems that I have jumped the gun myself on that statement. Thanks for the coverage though. I can’t believe how much attention it’s getting.

        • 30lives

          No worries! Thanks and grats on the achievement. Looking forward to your next project. :)