Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Company: Atari
Model #:
Howard Scott Warshaw (Programmer) & Jerome Domurat (Graphics)
Year: 1982
Howard Scottt Warshaw's second game


Raiders of the Lost Ark is yet another complex adventure game from the devious mind of Howard Scott Warshaw.  It is widely believed that ROTLA is the first videogame to be based (sort of) on a movie, although it really doesn't have much in common with the movie other than the famous dig for the Ark.  ROTLA is one of the 2600's few true adventure games, and most people will go their whole lives without seeing the ending.


To say Raiders of the Lost Ark is complex is a bit of an understatement.  Not only does ROTLA require the player to use two joysticks simultaneously (one for movement, and one for your inventory), it requires the player to use abstract logic to solve the various puzzles.  Now this may not sound too difficult, but combine the extreme difficulty of the game with some very abstract looking graphics and you've got one challenging game.  Oh did I forget to mention that timing is also important in ROTLA?  Certain events happen only at certain times in the game, this can make an already challenging game downright impossible.


Well if you're not scared off by now, then you just might have the right stuff to play this game.  The secret to ROTLA is to know where your going, how to get there, and what you need to have once you're there.  Unfortunately since this game is only loosely based on the movie (very loosely), knowing the plot isn't going to help you much.  You goal is to get the shovel, find the proper mesa, and dig up the ark.  As you may have guessed, getting the shovel and finding the proper mesa isn't as easy as it sounds.


The first thing Indy must do is go down a screen into the marketplace and find the headpiece to the staff of Ra which is conveniently located in one of the baskets (sorry, no Marion and no Nepal).  While your waiting for the headpiece to appear (it take a second or two), you'll want to pick up the key, revolver, and grenade which are also in the various baskets.  Once you have all the goodies, go back up to the starting screen and place the gernade next to the wall.  Quickly walk down to the market and back up and there should be a large hole blown in the wall, enter this hole.  You should now be in the temple (funny I don't remember this part of the movie).  Move to the center of the temple and you should see a timepiece (the large blocky thing that looks like a mutated sundial), pick it up and exit to the lower right.  You're now stuck in the temple prison (Doh!), but thankfully you can use the whip to break your way out by shooting the walls.  Once you've made an Indy sized hole exit the room to the upper right (alternatively you can try and find the secret exit which is about a half inch from the bottom of the left wall, but getting through there is tough).


Now you should be in the temple treasury, time to loot and pillage.  Wait until half past the hour (use your timepiece to see the current time), and grab the coins in the center of the room.  Now walk in and out of the room until you have two baskets of coins, and the ankh.  You can also pick up the Chai if you want (it looks like a funny symbol), but this is only used to uncover the Yar on the mesa for extra points.  Now walk back to the prison and use the ankh, you should now be on the mesa field.  Notice how your ankh has tuned into a grappling hook (how convenient!), you're going to need to use the grappling hook to move yourself from mesa to mesa.  Make your way to the mesa at the bottom of the screen, drop the grappling hook, and move down off the screen.  Now you're in the map room, select the key and walk down the yellow strip (don't fall off!).  Once you reach the center of the map room, walk onto the pedestal and select the headpiece.  Now wait until noon (this shouldn't take more than a few minutes) and the location of the ark should appear on the mesa map.  Remember this location! Select the key, and walk out of the map room and exit at the bottom of the screen.


Now you're in the room of tiny thieves (goody!), carefully weave your way through the thieves and exit at the bottom of the screen.  You're now in the secret black market (shhh! Don't tell anyone, it's a secret!).  Walk over to the shovel and while touching it; drop two baskets of coins (in my day a shovel only cost one basket of coins.).  You can also buy extra bullets here, but you shouldn't need them.  Exit at the bottom of the screen and you should now be in the regular market.  Go back to the temple and pick up an ankh and a basket of coins.  Exit back to the market place and (left two screens, down one) and buy the parachute (stand on the white box and drop a basket of coins).  Now use the ankh to get back to the mesa field and make your way to the correct mesa (you do remember which one it was right?).  Drop the ankh, select the parachute, and get ready for the toughest part of the game.


Walk off the side of mesa and immediately use your parachute.  Now carefully guide Indy past the tree branch and into the hole on the side of the mesa.  Once inside the mesa (who knew the were hollow?), drop your parachute and make your way to the bottom of the screen (don't let any of the thieves touch you).  Now stand of the pile of dirt, select the shovel, and walk back and forth. Indy should now start "digging" up the Ark.  If you selected the proper mesa you'll appear in the Well of Souls with the Ark and win the game, otherwise you'll fall into the Valley of Poison (oops!).  The length of the pedestal Indy is standing on depends on how well you did (the higher the pedestal the better you did), but there's a bug in the game which won't let you attain the highest ranking (so stop trying already!).


If you want to find all the game's hidden secrets, you need to bring the Chai to the mesa field before you enter the final part of the game.  Grapple yourself over to the flying saucer mesa (the one that looks like a UFO), and fall off the side.  Now as your falling you need to quickly drop the Chai and use the parachute.  If you did this correctly you'll see the Yar zoom up the screen and you won't die by falling into the Valley of Poison.  If you've done this and played particularly well (didn't lose any lives or use any point deducting shortcuts) then you'll see HSW2 in your inventory at the end of the game.  These are Howard Scott Warshaw's initials and the 2 denotes that this is his second game.


Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of those games that everybody had, yet no one seemed to be able beat.  I guess that stands as a testament to how popular the movie was, and how hard the game is.  While it's definitely not for everyone, ROTLA is one of the great classics of the 2600 and deserves a special place in Atari history as one of the most complex games ever made.


Version Cart Text Description
6/29/82 Raiders' Lost Ark Cartridge Final Version


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