Company: Atari
Model #:
Steve Woita (Program) & Jerome Domurat (Graphics)
Year: 1983
Taz was originally spelled Tazz


Taz is a highly original game by Quadrun author Steve Woita starring that furry eating machine Taz, the Tasmanian Devil.  While most 2600 gamers have at least heard of Taz, many do not know that this game also played a very important role in Atari history.  Taz was the first game in which the programmer was actually credited.  Atari had a long standing policy of not letting the public know who programmed it's games, as they were afraid other companies would hire their programmers away (which happened anyway as internal phone lists and talkative co-workers were also a thing).  Steve Woita said he was going to quit unless Atari gave him credit for his game, and luckily for Steve the gamble paid off.  Atari finally relented and started to put the programmers name on the back of the box starting with Taz.

The concept of Taz is simple.  You must move Taz from row to row eating everything you can while avoiding the sticks of dynamite.  Each level is represented by what type of food Taz is attempting to eat (hamburgers, root beer, ice cream, fudgsicles, apple cores, turnips, tomatoes, sundaes), and after Taz has racked up enough points, the food will change to the next type.  As the levels progress the everything starts moving faster and faster until the player hits the "Crazed Wave" where everything speeds up dramatically (this will happen twice over the course of the game).  While this may sound rather repetitive, there's actually a fair bit of strategy involved.  In addition to being able to up and down, Taz can also move from side to side in each row.  The player needs to decide if they're going to stay to the center of the screen where they have more time to see and avoid the dynamite, or if they're going to take the risk of chasing down food items that are closer to the sides of the screen.  Taz really is the ultimate "twitch" game.

Taz is also known for its famous Easter Egg.  If the player puts in a special code (hit select 22 times before starting the game), the Crazed Wave will become the Woita Wave (named after the programmer).  The manual also mentioned a mystery food but didn't say anything about how to find it.  While this isn't a true Easter Egg, it's a hard secret to find.  To see the mystery food (a pie) the player needs to complete three full courses of food which would happen around 527,500 points.  Not only is this extremely difficult to do (without emulators that is), the player might not even notice the new food as they're simply concentrating on not dying at that point.  Still, it's a little extra that made the game last longer than it should.

Since Taz was based off a popular American cartoon, Atari thought that overseas players might not know who Taz was.  So Taz was changed to Asterix for European audiences.  Asterix is a French cartoon character who was very popular over in Europe and Atari felt that European players could identify with him better.  The game is exactly except for the graphics which were changed to match the new cartoon license.  The Crazed Wave was also changed to the Obelix Wave where you controlled Obelix for a while.  Obelix was Asterix's pal who eventually ended up getting an Atari game of his own.  Because of this Taz was only released in NTSC format.



Version Cart Text Description

?/??/83 Taz No Graphics on the Title Screen
6/15/83 Tazz 6/15/83 PAL format!  Title screen spelled Tazz.
7/13/83 Tazz 7/13/83 Title screen spelled Tazz.
7/15/83 Taz 7/15/83 Title screen still spelled Tazz
8/19/83   Final version?


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