Crazy Climber

Crazy Climber
Company: Atari
Model #:
Alex Leavens & Joe Gaucher
Year: 1982
An Atari Fan Club Exclusive


A port of the cult classic coin-op, Crazy Climber has the honor of being the first Atari Fan Club exclusive game.  Why Atari decided not to make this game available to the general public is unknown, but due to this Crazy Climber is one of the rarer games in the 2600 library.  Perhaps Atari thought the game had limited appeal, or maybe it was a marketing ploy to get people to join the fan club?  Either way, many players were denied access to this fun and decidedly wacky game.


For those of you not familiar with the arcade game (which was fairly rare), Crazy Climber is a vertical scrolling climbing game in which our daredevil hero must scale the tallest skyscrapers in an attempt to... err... be the first man to scale the building I guess (ok so the game plot wasn't that deep).  However your task isn't going to be an easy one, your arch-nemesis The Mad Doctor (didn't he used to fight Batman or something?) is out to foil your attempt at fame and glory (what else is an arch-nemesis for?).  Along the way you will also have to dodge loose girders, electric signs, and closing windows on your trek to the top.  Oh did I forget to mention the giant condors?


The Mad Doctor The Mad Doctor has a wide assortment of goodies to drop such as flowerpots, buckets of water, and fruit baskets.  If any of these items hit you you'll fall, however if you have both hands firmly planted on the ledge you'll be safe.
Giant Condors These guys are really annoying.  Not only will they attempt to divebomb you, but they also crap out giant eggs.  If the condor or her eggs hit you without both your hands firmly planted on the ledge you'll fall off.
Girders Somebody better call the building inspector because huge chunks of the building are falling off!  These girders will shower down on you as you climb, avoid these at all costs because nothing can save you if one hits you.
Electric Signs Annoying and potentially deadly.  While the actual sign itself is harmless, those loose wires are hazardous to your health!  Each time you get zapped by a loose wire you'll loose 100 points, take 11 zaps and you're finished.
Closing Windows Not all the residents of the building are thrilled with your mission.  Angry tenets will open and close windows randomly in an attempt to hinder your progress.  You can move past any window as along as it's not completely closed.  If a window closes on both your hands you'll fall, but if it only closes on one hand you can wait until it opens again and still be safe.
The Helicopter This is your goal!  A helicopter awaits you at the top of each building, you have 30 seconds to grab on and be taken to the next level.  If time runs out you'll fall to a painful death!


The movement scheme in Crazy Climber is unique and frustrating.  The arcade game used two joysticks, one to control each arm/leg.  Movement was accomplished by moving one leg/arm up, and then moving the other leg/arm up (to sort of pull yourself up).  Since many people found this control scheme too difficult (which was one of the reasons so many veteran gamers like the arcade game), Atari decided to simplify things for the home release.  The 2600 version combines both of the arcade joysticks into one, so all you have to do to move is push up and down on single joystick.  Crazy Climber will crouch when you push down and stretch when you push up, completing this movement cycle will cause Crazy Climber to move up one section.  This same motion is used to move left and right on the building, but tends to be a little more difficult.  To have any chance of surviving you must rapidly move the joystick up and down (or left and right) in a quick rocking motion, however this can be difficult and painful to do.  If you move the joystick too quickly the game won't pick up your movement and throw off your rhythm.  Trail and error is the only way to figure out the best rhythm for climbing.


While the gameplay may be top notch, Crazy Climber's graphics are bit on the weaker side.  Although not completely out of place for mid-1982, the graphics are bit blocky, especially Crazy Climber himself who could have looked much better.  The sound effects are decent (a few beeps and short tunes when various bad guys appear), and the music before each stage is actually fairly catchy. Too bad these musical interludes are few and far between.  Crazy Climber is definitely one of those games that take a while to grow on you, but it great fun once it does.

The story about the development of Crazy Climber is an interesting one.  Originally started by Alex Leavens at Roklan (their first Atari contract), the game development was progressing but a bit slowly.  Roklan then told Alex (who was working remotely) that he needed to put more effort into finishing the game as they wanted to impress Atari.  Then, (depending on who ask), Alex either quit or was fired from Roklan leaving programmer Joe Gaucher to finish up the game.  When Joe took over the main game engine (kernel) was there, but it needed a lot of debugging and clean up.  There was also only one level so Joe had to add the others as well.  Joe is quoted as saying that although he managed to clean up most of the bugs, one major one escaped his notice and is in the final game.  As Crazy Climber is noted for having several bugs in it, it is unknown as to which specific one Joe is referring to.

If you are willing to forgive the lackluster graphics, Crazy Climber has a lot to offer.  The game provides a stiff challenge even for seasoned veterans, just like the arcade game.  For those of you who tried to like the arcade game but were turned off by the difficult control scheme, the 2600 version may be the answer.  Interestingly, when Crazy Climber was first advertised in AtariAge it was shown in the then standard black label, but by the time it was released (many months later) it sported the new silver label style.  Why did Atari wait so long to release Crazy Climber?  Perhaps the answer lies at the top of one of those buildings?


Version Cart Text Description
Very late beta
Final Version
2/17/82   Final Version


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