"Halo 2600: It Only Looks Old"
August 5, 2010 11:33 AM   Subscribe

What would Microsoft's Halo have looked like if it had been written years ago for the Atari 2600? "Ed Fries, former vice president of Microsoft’s Game Publishing Division, programmed an old-school version of the beloved game that features blocky graphics, deliberately basic sound effects, and simplified movements. And yet it's still recognizable as 'Halo.'" You can play it online here.

Use the arrow keys to move and the spacebar to shoot (after you find the gun).
posted by Daddy-O (27 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, you have to find the gun before you can fire. That would explain why my keyboard is all mashed to bits now.
posted by circular at 11:37 AM on August 5, 2010 [9 favorites]

I don't understand why squirrels with flags are shooting at me.
posted by eschatfische at 11:38 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

No deranged grunts? No hyped up Marines talking smack?
posted by nomadicink at 11:38 AM on August 5, 2010

I want to see a multiplayer-enabled version of this game on XBLA.
posted by box at 11:41 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Block of pixels beats everything!
posted by thesmophoron at 11:42 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

If I can't use a rocket launcher to get my Warthog onto an impossibly high cliff, I don't want to play it.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:44 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Marine 1: 'Bout time you showed up!

Marine 2: It's good to see you sir. Until you came, I thought we were cooked! The Covenant have discovered a technology known as "shooting diagonally". Without that technology, this is suicide!

Captain Keyes: Master Chief, we NEED to find the diagonal shoot button. This is a top priority mission. Failure is not an option. Cortana, what do you have for me?

My name is Salvor, and I'm a recovering Halo I addict. I've been clean for 9 months, 12 days, and 14 hours.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:45 AM on August 5, 2010 [7 favorites]

That's totally berzerk, man.
posted by cucumber at 11:46 AM on August 5, 2010 [7 favorites]

Already beat it on legendary and unlocked invisible tank Halo.
posted by Zerowensboring at 11:47 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Fucking adorable. Much harder than any of the halos though. And, thankfully, not as addictive as Tetris.
posted by fantodstic at 11:47 AM on August 5, 2010

I must admit I was not even a Halo player back in the day (or ever) but this made me nostalgic for the 2600. Bravo. Sweet memories of waking up an hour before school started to play the damn-difficult Raiders of the Lost Ark 2600 cart. In, like, the first grade. Man, I wonder whatever happened to our 2600?
posted by joe lisboa at 11:48 AM on August 5, 2010

Reminds me of Adventure.
posted by swift at 11:56 AM on August 5, 2010

A joke Halo2600 image appeared on Fark photoshop contestt way back at the start of the 21st century.

I used the idea for the painful two weeks I tried to teach myself Flash. The grunt could jump and Master Chief could make bullets appear in front of him. Then I gave up.

I figured I just had to sit and wait for somebody else more talented to realize the idea eventually.
posted by beardlace at 11:57 AM on August 5, 2010

Man, I wonder whatever happened to our 2600?

I too wondered this a few years ago, and on a visit was amazed to discover it plugged into my parents' current family room tv. Nearly 30 years since I had last seen it. I was afraid to ask my dad if he'd been playing Pong -- or ET the Extraterrestrial -- all these years. (In reality I think he keeps it hooked up to his current tv setup just in case the grandchildren want to play with it. He has no idea the contempt these kids who grew up with Playstations and Xboxes have for an ancient Atari.)
posted by aught at 11:58 AM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Ho ho ho ho! I am a genius.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:58 AM on August 5, 2010

pretty lame
posted by rebent at 12:54 PM on August 5, 2010

That's totally berzerk, man.

Halo needs a giant, indestructible, wall-clipping smiley face. It should look something like this
posted by griphus at 12:57 PM on August 5, 2010

I've never played Halo and this is awesome.
posted by slogger at 12:58 PM on August 5, 2010

I don't understand why squirrels with flags are shooting at me.

I never understood why I was supposed to be afraid of the duck in Adventure.
posted by birdherder at 1:05 PM on August 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

Reminds me of Adventure.

Reminds me of the crappy part of E.T. Oh wait, that was all of it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:12 PM on August 5, 2010

These trees are not a natural formation...
posted by Pantengliopoli at 1:25 PM on August 5, 2010

Ed Fries talks about the game on this atariage forum thread.

(As someone who spent much of my blurry-eyed childhood with the original Atari console, I think it's terrific. Doubt anyone under 35 would agree, though.)
posted by 4eyes at 1:49 PM on August 5, 2010

This is brilliant. "Difficulty A / Difficulty B", love it! It looks and feels just right for a 2600 game, which I think means he pretty much nailed it.
posted by xedrik at 2:47 PM on August 5, 2010

...someone coded these trees, so they must lead somewhere.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:57 PM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

What people don't realize is that this isn't a cutesy flash game dolled up like a 2600 game, he actually programmed this for the 2600, and the online link is a Flash-based 2600 emulator. Which brings it from "pretty damn cool" to "holy shit"
posted by potch at 3:11 PM on August 5, 2010 [13 favorites]

On scanlines:
One of the last changes I made has to do with the Atari 2600 HMOVE (horizontal move) register. Basically if you want to reposition a sprite horizontally while the screen is being drawn (something I was doing 3 times on every screen.) you have to store a value into HMOVE. You are supposed to do it as the first thing on a scan line and a side effect of doing it is an ugly black line about an inch wide on the left side of the screen. You'll see those black lines on almost all Atari games. In the old days it was kind of hard to see on a phosphor TV display, but on a modern TV or computer monitor it's quite clear. Some games hide it by having a black background (not something I wanted to do) or by doing it every single line so the entire left side of the screen is black (also not great for the look I wanted), so I had kind of accepted that it was inevitable and had learned to ignore it, but every time I showed the game to someone who wasn't familiar with Atari games, one of the first things they would ask me is "what are those ugly black lines?"

(Is there a way of calibrating one (brilliant) man's work on an Atari game, compared to umpteen (brilliant) folk's work on an XBox game?) (Not that it matters.)
posted by 4eyes at 5:08 PM on August 5, 2010

It turns out that I suck at 8 bit games too.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 8:55 PM on August 5, 2010

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