Sunday, August 1, 2010

Unreleased: Intuition and Scraper Caper for the Atari 2600

Tigervision was one of the many Atari 2600 videogame publishers that jumped into the booming early 1980's marketplace, then left just as quickly when the business soured, failing to deliver products promised when the sky seemed to be the limit.  Parent company Tiger Electronics survived, but Tigervision's final Atari-era catalog included finished box art for two cartridges that never even saw the light of day:

Scraper Caper was in the works as a sequel to the hit 8-bit computer game Miner 2049er, partially converted to the 2600 by Tigervision, but the game was cancelled in favor of a more conventional sequel after creator Bill Hogue decided the concept wasn't panning out.  Scraper Caper was much-anticipated and heavily promoted -- full-color two-page magazine ads were run -- but it never actually came out on any platform, let alone the Atari 2600.  Apparently, the game was contractually replaced by Tigervision's Miner 2049er II, a second partial rendition of the original game presenting three more levels, a rare late release that's not mentioned at all in this catalog.

More interesting is the mysterious Intuition -- the catalog copy promises some sort of New Agey creativity exercises involving colors and shapes, and I can't even begin to imagine what the programmers actually had in mind.  Who Aqam is remains a mystery, as well -- the term Googles as various acronyms, but I doubt the program was created by Al-Qaeda Associated Movements, in association with the Air Quality Assessment Model, or based on Adaptive Quadrature Amplitude Modulation.

Unreleased games are always more tantalizing than the reality of the released ones -- these were Atari 2600 titles, after all -- but it's always fun to pore over the historical ephemera for something that might have been awful, might have been great, but never even was.


  1. The Atari 2600 offers the best areas to explore for these types of games, mostly because it was a gold rush that did not pan-out and then caved-in on-top of most people involved (notice the 3 separate "mining" allusions in one sentence..whew!).

    Still, I find the "released" games much more interesting in the long run. If someone could find another River Raid or Pitfall! in all this unreleased stuff, it would be wonderful. Instead, it's all Marauder and Cosmic Cavern type stuff.

  2. Steve, excellent point.

    I suspect that the economics of the crash era still allowed the best games to get a release of some kind. While it was all unfolding in slow motion, many publishers hoped to make it through the rough period and survive, so it made sense to put one's best foot forward as competitors died off. Stronger publishers like Activision released Atari 2600 games late in the system's life cycle, and some were still around to publish new titles during its brief NES-era revival (Imagic being a notable exception). Weaker game companies either didn't have the capital to risk further releases, or were owned by parent companies eager to jump out of a losing deal.

    Judging from surviving evidence, finished games that didn't make it to market were likely seen as non-competitive even by their developers. And while the unfinished prototypes are sometimes promising, plugs were pulled just the same as the risk-return ratio went south.