Battlezone

Name:
Battlezone
Company: Atari
Model #:
CX-2681
Programmer:
Mike Feinstein (GCC)
Year: 1983
Released?
Yes
Notes:
At least three different versions of Battlezone were programmed.

 

Originally released in 1980, Battlezone was a unique action/combat game, combining high resolution wire frame graphics with a 3D perspective.  In fact, did you know that Battlezone holds a place in gaming history as being the first arcade game to do 3D?  That's right, 3D tank combat at its finest, years before the game Stellar 7 would revive the concept on home computers.

 

The first thing most people say after seeing the Battlezone on the 2600 is "This doesn't look like Battlezone!".  Yes it's true, due to the limitations of the 2600, Atari had to drop the wire frame graphics and resort to standard raster graphics instead.  The next thing most people notice is that the game is no longer viewed through the targeting scope of the tank. It's unknown why Atari changed this, but it was probably due to memory constraints.  It wouldn't be until the release of Activision's Robot Tank (a similarly themed tank game) that the 3D targeting scope would finally make an appearance.

 

Even with these changes, Battlezone is a great port.  Although part of the draw of the arcade version was that everything looked liked it was computer generated in futuristic (at least at the time) 3D graphics, the great gameplay was kept in tact and in the end this was what most gamers were looking for. Also missing from the 2600 version are the 3D obstacles that littered the landscape.  These obstacles could be used strategically to hide from enemy fire and tended to get in your way (adding a little bit of an extra challenge).  Although these drastic changes to the were necessary to port Battlezone to the underpowered 2600, some of the magic is gone as a result.

 

Did you know that at least three different versions of Battlezone were programmed?  Steve Woita and Dan Hitchens had been assigned by Atari to do the 2600 Battlezone conversion in-house.  Dan and Steve's version was to have used vector like graphics to simulate the arcade game as closely as possible (this would have been quite a feat on the 2600).  However after they had been working on Battlezone for about a month they were informed that GCC had also been working on Battlezone and had already finished their version.  Carla Meninsky was also programming an entirely different version of Battlezone before she briefly left Atari.  It is unknown what happened to this version.

 

For some strange reason the PAL version of Battlezone has less colors and details.  No one is quite sure why, but it's most likely just a rushed conversion job.

 

 

Version Cart Text Description
122 Battlezone 122 Minor shooting and color differences
132 Battle 132 Very minor code differences
145 Battlezone 5-25 Final Release

 

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