Dukes of Hazzard
|Dukes of Hazzard
|Mark R. Hahn
|Dukes of Hazzard
was burned onto actual ROMs and ready to be released but
was canceled at the last moment.
Dukes of Hazzard is an oddity among prototypes in that it's
really not a prototype at all! Dukes of Hazzard was
actually burned onto regular ROM chips that were just about to
be put into carts and shipped when Atari abruptly decided to
cancel the game. According to the programmer the game was
still being worked on, so it is a mystery as to why Atari would
go through the expense of manufacturing ROM chips. Perhaps
Atari was so desperate for a game for their Dukes of Hazzard
license they were willing to take whatever they could get their
The gameplay is pretty straightforward; you control the General
Lee and must attempt to break Daisy out of jail before Boss Hog
can get his slimy hands on her. To perform this jailbreak,
you must drive the General Lee to the top of a giant mazelike
board and touch the jail (it's the big square block marked
JAIL). Along the way you must avoid Sheriff Rosco P.
Coltrane and Deputy Enos Strate as they attempt to put an end to
your reckless disregard for the law (wasn't this every episode of
the Dukes of Hazzard?).
The General Lee is represented by a little car
(which looks like a Volkswagen Beetle) with a white X on top.
Rosco and Enos are represented by little white cars with
flashing lights (funny, they looked larger on the show). If
Rosco or Enos get too close to the General Lee they will switch to
ramming speed and smash into the side of your car and you'll lose
a life (what ever happened to just pulling you over?).
Scattered around the level are little piles of dots
(possibly caltrops), which you can pick up and drop in front of
the enemy to temporarily stun them. The problem with this is
that usually when you go to pick the caltrops up, you'll hit them
instead. This is one of the bugs in the game I mentioned
earlier. If you make it to the jail before Boss Hog grabs
Daisy (which is shown at the top of the screen), you'll be
rewarded with a nice animation of the General Lee jumping over a
broken bridge (yeeha!) and are taken to the next level.
As I mentioned before, Dukes of Hazzard has a
number of bugs and gameplay issues. The most noticeable
problem is the insane speed the cops gain when they see you.
If the cop car is anywhere near you it will ram you
instantly giving you almost no chance to escape (and this happens
a lot). Beyond the difficulty concerns, bugs abound in the
games collision detection routine so getting hung up on walls and
barriers are a common experience. Even your only weapon is
bugged (the caltrop bug I mentioned earlier). You also seem
to be able to drive through the lakes occasionally, this may or
may not be a bug and depend on your speed (assuming you're jumping
the lake). All these bugs makes playing Dukes of Hazzard a
frustrating experience, and being able to get past level 2 is a
It appears that Dukes of Hazzard may have been the
victim of some good old fashioned internal Atari territoriality.
According to the programmer he and his group were stationed
in New York, while the bulk of Atari's programming staff was
located in California. Apparently the California group
didn't give the New York group much help or guidance and they were
sort of forced to wing it. To its credit, Dukes of Hazzard
is a game that shows a lot of promise and for an unfinished
prototype it's not too bad (bugs and all). From the looks of
it, I'd estimate Dukes of Hazzard was only 90% complete.
Interestingly, this wasn't Atari's first attempt at
a Dukes of Hazzard game. Atari had previously attempted to
rework the graphics in the unreleased game Stunt Cycle (based on
the stand alone unit) into a Dukes of Hazzard type game.
It's unknown why Atari abandoned the Stunt Cycle version, but it
may be because it was too outdated by the time it was ready for
release (Atari had moved onto 4K games). This may explain
why Atari was so eager to get this Dukes of Hazzard game out the
door as quickly as possible (perhaps Atari's use of the license
was about to expire?). Either way, it's quite obvious that
this version was not ready for release and need a bit of tweaking
to make it playable. Dukes of Hazzard is an interesting game
with a lot of potential, it's a shame Atari wasn't willing to wait
until it was ready.
to 2600 Software