Company: Parker Brothers
Model #:
Dave Engman & Dawn Stockbridge
Year: 1983
Port of the 1982 Konami/Stern arcade game


Port of the 1982 Konami Coin-Op (released in the US by Stern), Tutankham is an interesting little maze game, in which you play an explorer who is must navigate through King Tut's tomb in a quest to retrieve valuable treasures and find the burial chamber of King Tutankhamun himself.  In case you're wondering about the title, rumor has it that when the programmers of the arcade game decided to change the monitor orientation from horizontal to vertical, the name would no longer fit on the screen.  So instead of shrinking down the font, they simply cut off the last two letters instead, changing Tutankhamun to Tutankham. 


While real ancient tombs are generally devoid of any life, it wouldn't be much of a game if this was the case.  So instead of simply wandering unmolested through the tomb, the player must contend with deadly cobras, bats, scorpions, and other nasty creatures that live in the tomb.  Much like Gauntlet, these creatures only spawn from certain areas called nests.  However unlike Gauntlet, these nests cannot be destroyed so the player must quickly navigate around them before another creature spawns.


Thankfully you did not enter the tomb unarmed.  You are carrying a pistol which can be used to shoot any nasty little critters that get in your way, but you must be careful as you only have a limited amount of ammo (determined by the timer) and once it runs out, you must complete the level defenseless which is nearly impossible.   You also cannot fire up and down, but only left and right.   Your explorer also has a flash bomb that he can use that will wipe out all the enemies on the screen (press up and the fire button to use).  However you only get three flash bombs per game, so use them wisely.  Thankfully you can earn a new flash bomb each time you complete the four level loop.

As you explore the tomb you will notice that several treasures scattered throughout the maze that can be picked up for varying amounts of points, but unlike the key they are not required to get to the next level.  There are also teleporters scattered around the maze which will take you through walls from one section to another and are also a good way to escape from rampaging monsters.   At the bottom of the screen you'll notice a timer that slowly depletes (the speed is based on your current level).   If the timer runs out you do not die like in other games, but rather you will run out of bullets.  However since completing the level without bullets is nearly impossible, this is as good as dying unless you happen to be near the exit.  


There are four different levels in Tutankham each one has a different treasure at the end of the maze to discover (not to be confused with the extra treasures in the maze itself).  On the first stage you will find a map of the treasure chamber, there is a vase on the second level, a statue of Bastet (cat goddess) on the third, and finally the golden death mask of king Tut himself on the fourth.  After you have completed the fourth level, you will go back to the level one but the difficulty will be increased.  The bullet timer will deplete faster and the monsters will move and respawn faster.


The Atari 2600 version of Tutankham is a bit different than most of the other home ports as many features had to be simplified or removed due to the limitations of the hardware.  The 2600 version removes the map from the top of the screen which showed where the player was in the maze, but this isn't a huge problem as the mazes have been heavily simplified which makes getting lost in them almost impossible.  The mazes also have gone from mostly scrolling horizontally to mostly scrolling vertically due to the limitations of system.  Gone also are the locked doors and the need to find multiple keys (and the constant backtracking that goes with it), the 2600 version only requires the player to find one key which is needed for the treasure at the end of the level.   Speaking of treasure, one thing the 2600 adds to the game are unique treasures to grab along the way for points instead of the generic rings from the arcade game.  Not only are there unique graphics for each treasure but the manual adds a detailed back story for each one.  This little addition adds a lot of character to the game and makes it feel more like an adventure game and less like an arcade game.


Unfortunately the 2600 port does have its share of annoyances.  The movement of your explorer can be a little floaty, making it tough to navigate the tight passageways that are new to this version.  The collision detection with the enemies can be a bit shoddy at times causing unfair deaths when you're obviously not touching a monster (they almost seem to jump at you when you get close).  However one of the biggest issues with the 2600 port is that enemies will sometimes camp out at the edges of tunnels providing no way past them other than using a precious flash bomb.  While this did happen occasionally in the arcade, the problem was made worse in the 2600 version due to the scrolling being changed from horizontal to vertical (remember that you cannot fire up and down).

While it may not be a perfect port, the 2600 version of Tutankham is a fun game to play.  The colors and sound effects give it a moody sort of atmosphere which fits the tomb exploration theme quite well.  The tomb structure has also been changed to look more realistic with tiny passages and rooms that break off in all directions (most of which can't actually be explored) rather than more maze like presentation of the arcade version.  Many people find the simplified gameplay of the 2600 port to be more enjoyable than the more accurate versions found on other consoles due to the fact that the arcade game was known for being quite difficult.  Sometimes simpler is indeed better.

Version Cart Text Description
?/??/83 TUT 8K FIN
Final Version


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