A couple of days, Willie of Arcade USA uploaded a brand new video to his channel – one featuring the Atari 2600 Superman game which was originally released back in 1979. This particular Atari 2600 title is one that I remember quite fondly and there were many, many nights where I would just look at the artwork in the Atari catalog and dream about adding the Superman cartridge to my collection. In Willie’s new Arcade USA video he talks about the wallet that was initially packaged in the game box – sadly for myself however when I finally got my hands on the game, the wallet was no longer being offered. I played the Atari 2600 Superman a lot and one of those reasons is something that Willie brings up himself in the video – the awesomeness of the 1978 film starring the late and great Christopher Reeve.
While that may indeed be a fan edit for the then 35th Anniversary of the 1978 film – it hits on many of the elements that made the Richard Donner directed picture such a smash hit. And while I was most certainly was well aware of the Man of Steel thanks to a DC comic book here and there – it was the Hanna-Barbera produced Super Friends Saturday morning cartoon version I was most familiar with. Having said all of that I believe that John Dunn, who was the designer and programmer for the cartridge, was most assuredly influenced by the 1978 live action movie. As the game manual explains – Clark Kent while at the Daily Planet is warned of a bomb threat against the Metropolis Memorial Bridge. Investigating the scene he arrives just in time to see the bridge explode and Lex Luthor escaping courtesy of a heli-pack – his goons running riot over Metropolis and Lois Lane being absconded by a mysterious helicopter. It is up to Superman to find the three pieces of the bridge and rebuild it, as well as hunting down Lex Luthor and his cronies – snatching them up and flying them to jail. Superman has to be careful however as Luthor has released Kryptonite satellites into the skies of Metropolis – if the Man of Steel comes in contact with one of these – only Lois Lane can restore his super powers with a kiss.
Now I’ve read that John Dunn when working on Superman was given the prototype code for Warren Robinett’s Adventure which was released a little later – it would explain why the helicopter acts a little like the bat from that iconic video game. In addition I believe that while the graphics for the Atari 2600 Superman might seem dated today – the truth is this really was groundbreaking stuff back in the day – multiple screens, a subway tunnel system, etc. So enjoy Willie’s playthrough video for 1979’s Superman for the Atari 2600!
I want to thank Willie once again for allowing me to begin to share some of the Arcade USA videos with you – make sure to check out his Facebook page as well as The Toy Tomb and the Atari 5200 Super Community! podcast.