Create Your Own Atari 2600 Homebrew Games

Join a vibrant scene devoted to creating and distributing new Atari 2600 games.

Even though the Atari 2600 is one of the oldest game consoles around, it has a vibrant homebrew scene. These coders produce a remarkable amount of new material, with everything from RPGs to bizarre puzzle games up to altered updatings of classics. Best of all, the Atari 2600 scene seems to exist in an atmosphere of harmony and mutual understanding, with no beefs, group wars, or other shenanigans.


This hack is excerpted from Chapter One of Gaming Hacks, by Simon Carless (O’Reilly, 2004).

How can you learn how to create new game levels, or even entire games, for the 2600? Good question.

Creating Homebrew 2600 Games

Suppose you’re fed up with merely playing homebrew marvelousness (though shame on you if you are). Maybe you want to create your own levels for games. Maybe you want to go whole hog and code entire homebrew titles from scratch. Either way, there are several resources available.

Using 2600 custom level creation tools.

If you just want to mess around with level design, Atari Age runs a series of excellent contests in which you can create new levels for games under development. Often, the finished and produced homebrew cart will include the winning levels. More importantly, entrants often make their tools available for others after the contest closes.

In particular, the Indy 500 XE Track Designer ( ...

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