Company: 20th Century Fox
Model #:
David Ross
Year: 1983
Prototype artwork exists


Not to be confused with the Atari game by the same name (which was released for the 7800), Meltdown was one of the final 20th Century Fox titles to be developed but was never released.  Why TCF decided to cancel Meltdown is unknown, but was most likely due to the collapsing video game market.  The decision to cancel the game must have been made at the last moment, as advertisements proudly boasting "Just Released" had already been printed.  Although Meltdown was displayed at the 1983 CES show, it was never seen again after the show closed.  Long thought lost, Meltdown surfaced in a resale shop in 2004 where by chance it was discovered by a passing collector.  


Meltdown is basically a game of hide and seek that place on a 4x4 grid of atoms.  At the start of each round you will see a rogue quark move about the reactor agitating the atoms.  Each time the quark touches one of atoms it will strip off some of the electrons and atom will shrink.  Once an atom has lost all it's electrons it will become unstable and will begin to glow.  If all the atoms destabilize the reactor will blow!


As the only remaining scientist, it is up to you to destroy the quarks and cool down the reactor.   To accomplish this you will have to make use of the only two tools at your disposal: an atomic stabilizer and Cadmium rods.  When the quark jumps to an atom you must line up the stabilizer (on the X axis), line up the Cadmium tube (on the Y axis), and quickly insert a Cadmium rod by pressing the fire button.  However as soon as you destroy one quark another one appears to take its place, so be vigilant and don't let your guard down for a moment. 


The core temperature is represented by a bar displayed at the top of the screen.  As the core cools down, the bar will grow longer, once the bar reaches the center of the screen the reactor will come back under control and the reactor will be saved (for the moment).  Each time you successfully save the reactor the action will get more intense; the number of quarks will multiply, they will begin to move faster, and the electrons will strip off more easily.  Once you reach the 10,000 mark, missing even one quark will likely blow the reactor.


Meltdown uses both difficulty switches and has fifteen different gameplay variations.  The left difficulty switch controls the penalty for firing on atoms without the quark present (B = no penalty, A = the atom will shrink) while the right switch controls whether or not the quarks can wrap around the screen or are bound to the grid (B = wraparound, A = no wraparound).  The various game variations generally set the starting score/speed for the game, but there are some variations of note.  Games 6-10 feature auto alignment of the Cadmium rod, meaning you only have to worry about moving the atomic stabilizer around while Games 11-15 are two player variations.  With so many different variations and options to choose from, the player can easily adjust the gameplay to their skill level (special thanks to Omegamatrix for this information!).

Meltdown is an simple, yet amazingly addictive game.  It's interesting graphical style and progressive difficulty ramping makes Meltdown a game that's hard to put down.  It's a shame that 20th Century Fox never released Meltdown as it is one of their better titles, but such was the fate of many prototypes.  Like most TCF games, Meltdown was not developed by Fox themselves, but rather by a small company called Videa.  Videa eventually became Sente Technologies before being acquired by Bally and becoming the well known Bally Sente.


Meltdown Advertisement (courtesy of Atari Gaming Headquarters)


Version Cart Text Description
?????? Meltdown Final Version?


Return to 2600 Software