4 in 1

4 in 1
Company: Atari
Model #:

David Crane (Canyon Bomber), Dave Rolfe & Bob Whitehead (Home Run), Rob Fulop (Night Driver), & Jim Huether (Sky Diver)

Year: 1987
Atari's first multicart for the 2600


Unbeknownst to most gamers, the 32 in 1 cartridge wasn't Atari's first attempt to make a multi-cart for the 2600.  After the successful re-launch of the 2600 in 1987, Atari needed something to bring gamers back to the aging system.  Unfortunately Atari only had a few new (a.k.a. previously unreleased) games ready to go, so they had to pad their lineup with some older games.  In the US Atari accomplished this by re-releasing some "Classic" titles in no-frills black&white boxes at budget prices.  However in Europe consumers were a bit more stingy with their money, so a whole new marketing strategy had to be created.


The 4 in 1 was created for one reason, to pad the 2600's library with cheap filler.  Atari simply took four older 2K games and put them into one 8K cartridge.  The idea behind this was that European games would be more receptive to a budget compilation rather than to buying four older games (even at discounted prices).  Games are selected by turning the 2600 off and on (a different game comes up each time).  While this doesn't seem like a bad idea with only four games, it wore a little thin when Atari put 32 games on one cartridge (more on that later).  


The selection of games for this compilation is a bit odd.  There are no arcade games, no games that would be considered to be a "Greatest Hit", and two for the games actually require the paddle controllers which the player had to purchase separately (an odd choice for a cartridge that was designed to save money).  There is some reasoning behind this however, since Atari was making this compilation as cheap as possible they wanted to avoid paying any royalties.  This automatically excluded most arcade game and popular licenses, leaving Atari to put older "Original" games into the compilation:

Home Run

This was Atari's first attempt at a baseball games.  The graphics are blocky, the control is horrid, and the outfielding is done entirely with X's and O's.  Why Atari would want to dredge up this dud is beyond me, but it certainly wouldn't make me want to buy a 2600 in 1987.

Night Driver

One of the first realistic "Behind the wheel" driving games.  Although the graphics aren't anything to brag about, the gameplay is actually still enjoyable.  As mentioned before, this title requires the paddle controller which the player would have to purchase separately.  Not a good way to go about making a budget compilation.  

Canyon Bomber

Canyon Bomber is actually a port of an obscure Atari coin-op of the same name (the original was in B&W).  While not a bad game, it's not particularly fun either.  The goal of the game is to destroy all the blocks by dropping bombs into a canyon as you fly overhead.  This game also requires the paddle controllers.

Sky Diver

Also a port of an obscure Atari coin-op, Sky Diver is another one of those games which may have been good at the time, but really hasn't held up well.  The goal of the game is to open your parachute as late as possible and still land on the platform (in one piece).  While still fun in short bursts, Sky Diver probably wasn't one of the greatest choices for a budget compilation.


Why Atari didn't release the 4 in 1 is unknown.  One possible reason was that they may have felt that it didn't give gamers enough bang for the buck (or Euro).  This may have been why Atari decided to go with the 32 in 1 as the pack in for the 2600 jr in Europe.  No matter what the reason, the 4 in 1 is a prime example of how Atari embraced "Game Recycling", and is an interesting piece of Atari history.


Version Cart Text Description
2/19/87 4-In-1 C022137 2600 NTSC 2/19/87 Final Version


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