Good Luck Charlie Brown

Name:
Good Luck Charlie Brown
Company: Atari
Model #:
CX-26112
Programmer:
Christopher Omarzu (Programmer) & Courtney Granner (Graphics)
Year: 1984
Released?
No
Notes:
Prototype discovered in 1996

 

Good Luck Charlie Brown should have been the last of the Children's Work Shop releases, but never saw the light of day.  Although the game was found a long time ago, the rom had not been dumped until quite recently so the game is still a bit of a mystery.   The only known version is very incomplete with little gameplay implemented, but rumors persist of a far more complete version in existence.  

 

The game only consists of one screen in which you control Charlie Brown as he flies his kite around the screen.  At the bottom of the screen there's a wind gauge which shows the speed and direction of the wind.  There's also a timer a the bottom of the screen which slowly counts up which may be part of the scoring system (based on total time instead of score).  You goal is to fly your kite as long as possible while avoiding birds, balloons, rockets, and of course the deadly Kite Eating Tree.  According to the catalog description, if Charlie Brown lost his kite he would have to earn another chance by raking leaves (what fun!).  Obviously this part of the game was not implemented yet.

 

Pushing the joystick left and right moves Charlie Brown around the screen.  Pushing up and down will let out or pull in the kite string, thus making the kite move up and down.  If the kite hits an obstacle the game will freeze for a moment and Charlie Brown will have to start again, but if the kite hits the Kite Eating Tree, Charlie Brown will actually flip over and all the balloons will turn black due to the fact that they share a color pallet with Charlie Brown and gets glitched up when he flips over.  Occasionally what appears to be lightning will flash in the background, but doesn't seem to have any adverse effects other than scaring the player (I actually jumped the first time this happened).  The lightning only appears if you move your kite into the clouds and it increases if you move into the higher layer of clouds.

 

Interestingly it appears that by using the second joystick the player has some limited control the rom of balloons. This could be the start of an unfinished two player variation of the game (code hints at four possible variations), but it is very preliminary in this prototype.  There are no sounds or music in this version of the game, but this isn't surprising since sounds and music were usually one of the last things to finished.  The graphics appear to be top notch, but are slightly glitchy.  For example, the clouds appear to randomly disappear and reappear at various times during the game.  The row of birds also appears to suffer from this, but not to the same degree as the clouds.  This is obviously a sign that the game was still early in development..

 

According to the catalogs Good Luck Charlie Brown was supposed to be to released Summer of 83, and since this prototype is dated April of 84 we can assume development was taking longer than expected.  By 1984 Atari had canceled the Children's series so Good Luck Charlie Brown would have been canceled with it.  It's a shame though, because what was finished looks rather interesting.  

 

Version Cart Text Description
4/18/84 Good Luck, Charlie Brown 18 Apr 84 Very Early version

 

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