32 in 1
The 32 in 1 cartridge was Atari's second attempt to make a multi-cart for the 2600. Their first attempt (the 4 in 1) never got past the prototype stage before Atari decided that four classic titles on one cartridge weren't enough to entice frugal gamers into buying ten year old games. This time around Atari decided that quantity over quality was the key to success, and crammed no less than 32 2K games onto one cartridge. Atari also decided to make the 32 in 1 a pack in cartridge for the new 2600 jr., so they could boast "Includes 32 exciting games!". Too bad Atari didn't put as much care into actually choosing the games as they did into their marketing...
Unlike Atari' 4 in 1 and 8 in 1 prototypes, the 32 in 1 actually contains games made by other video game companies Why Atari decided to that they should put competitors games onto their cartridge is unknown, as Atari had more than enough 2K games to fill the cartridge themselves. Also unknown at this time is how Atari actually got away with using games by companies such as Activision, who at the time was also selling "re-releases" of its most popular games. Even stranger is that it appears that Atari may have been involved with some shifty dealings as they simply "hacked" the graphics on some of the titles to make them look slightly different (a common practice by less than scrupulous companies). These legal quandaries may be the reason that the 32 in 1 was never released in the US.
Instead of creating a complicated menu system to select the games available on the cartridge, Atari decided to go with a hardware solution. Each time the player turns the power off and on, a new game is selected. The game choice is not random however, it follows a sequential order. This was a pretty clever way for Atari to get around a difficult software solution, but it did cause some problems. For instance, if the player wanted to access the last game on the cartridge they would have to turn their 2600 off and and thirty two times until it came up! Not only did this cause wear and tear on the 2600, but it also tested the players patience.
For the most part, the games included on the 32 in 1 are the exact same as their stand-alone counterparts. However to get around some legal issues Atari hacked a few games to make them different. I've noted these differences in the game listing below.
Although the 32 in 1 was designed as a pack in cartridge for the 2600 jr., it appears that it was also sold separately in stores. This may have been a last minute decision to clear out unsold inventory as the boxes are of very cheap quality and looked rushed. The box 'art' is really just a rough color sketch of the artwork used on the cover of Atari's own catalog (possibly the prototype artwork), leading may people to wrongly assume that the boxes were fakes. The boxed version of the 32 in 1 is very rare, and was sold in limited quantities. The 32 in 1 made one last appearance as a pack in cartridge for the 7800. Although the label on these cartridges states "Atari 7800", they're really just re-labeled 2600 32 in 1 cartridges. This version is believed only to have been sold in Australia.