Ancient Atari 2600 Arcade Port Pops Up, And It’s So Bad

Ancient Atari 2600 Arcade Port Pops Up, And It’s So Bad

Santa Clara’s Digital Game Museum came across a near-complete version of the cancelled Atari 2600 version of arcade classic Xevious. Behold the primitive glory of what passed for a console port in the early ’80s.

For those of you that haven’t been alive and gaming for as long as I have, Xevious was a scrolling arcade shooter released in 1982 by Namco. With sharp graphics and relatively frenetic action, it was one of my go-to games whenever I’d steal quarters from my grandmother’s purse and hit up the local arcade.

Here’s a look at the arcade version, courtesy of Old Classic Retro Gaming.

As it did with many popular arcade titles, Atari had planned ports of Xevious for both the Atari 2600 and 5200. Both were cancelled in 1984. In progress versions of the 2600 version have been floating around since, but have lacked a title screen, final sprites, enemy waves, and music.

Then this showed up at the Digital Game Museum as part of a donation of Atari memorabilia.

It’s got everything earlier prototypes were missing. Titles, sound — everything. It’s an incredibly impressive find, even if the game itself looks pretty ridiculous by today’s standards.

“This version of Xevious is one of the most faithful arcade ports I’ve ever played on the Atari 2600,” said Dave Beaudoin, Digital Game Museum board member via official press release. “The speed and responsiveness combined with the graphics and audio are jaw dropping. It’s amazing they were able to get this kind of performance out of the 2600.”

Sure it’s silly now, but back in the day I would have killed for a chance to play this. Digital Game Museum has teamed up with video game and pinball convention California Extreme to insure visitors to the show this weekend won’t have to kill a single person. Visitors will be able to play the newly-discovered classic on an Atari 2600 system, with a full arcade version standing by for comparison’s sake.

Oh yeah, that’s the stuff right there.


  • …to insure visitors to the show this weekend won’t have to kill a single person.

    It makes me sad when people don’t know the difference between ‘insure’ and ‘ensure’.

    Grammar Nazi, signing out.

    • Merriam-Webster lists the words as interchangeable (see insure, ensure) and the footnote makes a similar statement that ‘ensure’, ‘insure’ and ‘assure’ are interchangeable in contexts where they indicate the making certain or inevitability of an outcome.

      Etymologically, all three words come from the same Latin root ‘securus’.

      English is fun, but you have to be careful not to speak in absolutes. In this language, there’s no such thing =)

        • I had a bit of a snarky jab in my reply at first that I edited out on reflection, but it seems I also edited out the part where I mentioned it’s probably a regional thing. Merriam-Webster is a US dictionary, and as I’m sure you know, US English is a make-believe language that doesn’t exist.

          Just kidding.

  • Still not as bad as the 2600 version of Burgertime, where all the enemies. pickles, cheese, buns, whatever, were just square blocks.

    • I’ve never played Burgertime yet I have a faint memory of a 360 version a few years back – I must see if there is a demo…

  • Hell yeah, it’s called proof-of-concept baby!
    Nail the gameplay first, and dress those windows later.
    Code to the metal, abuse every quirk of the hardware.
    Reminds me of Manfred Trenz on the C64…

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