Animated Puzzle

Animated Puzzle
Company: Atari
Model #:
Hal Canon
Year: 1984
A 5200 version was also developed


Animated Puzzle is one of the stranger prototypes to have surfaced in the last few years.  As the name suggests, Animated Puzzle is a puzzle game based on the classic sliding tile game.  For those of you unfamiliar with sliding puzzles, the concept is simple.  You have a grid of squares (usually 4x4) that are randomly ordered, except for one square that is empty.  Each tile contains a piece of a picture or is numbered, and your goal is to arrange the tiles in order (to complete a picture or line up the numbers).  This is accomplished by sliding the tiles around using the empty square until they all fall into the right order.


As soon as the game begins one can easily see that it was aimed at children.  The puzzles consist of large, colorful, and friendly looking animated characters.  There are three separate puzzles to chose from: a train, the Nutcracker, and uhh police officers with a robot (ok so the last one is a bit out there).  Each of these puzzles has different animation and music, but your overall goal is the same.  Upon completing each puzzle the player is rewarded with a cute little ending animation and are shown how long it took you to complete the puzzle.  There are also four different skill levels to chose from, the higher the skill level the more jumbled the puzzle is at the start.


Along with some amazing graphics, each puzzle is accompanied by beautiful music.  Each musical theme is representative of the puzzle that is being played.  This is no surprise, as programmer Hal Canon was also an accomplished musician.  Hal later went on to compose the music for famous arcade game soundtracks such as 720 degrees, Toobin, Marble Madness, Paperboy.


It is unknown why Animated Puzzle was unreleased, but the fact that the game was aimed at children may have been one of the main reasons.  Around the time the game was completed (early 1984) the game market was collapsing quickly, and Atari probably felt that a children's game didn't have enough wide range appeal to be profitable.  According to internal memos, an Atari 5200 version was also created but similarly went unreleased.  Although it may not hold much interest to today's gamers, Animated Puzzle is a wonderful example of how the Atari 8-bit could produce large animated graphics and beautiful music.



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