Dukes of Hazzard

Dukes of Hazzard
Company: Atari
Model #:
Mark R. Hahn
Year: 1983
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 hands on?


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 major accomplishment.


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 75% 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.


Version Cart Text Description
2/25 (056)    
3/8 (067)    


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