Company: Miles Laboratories, Inc. / Cutter Biological (Anidata Inc.)
Model #:
L.K. McNamara
Year: 1983
Discovered in 2023


The Atari 8-Bit computers were no stranger to odd 'edutainment' games.  From Typo Attack to Frogmaster, companies apparently thought there was a market for education programs with simple games grafted on the top.  Some of these (like the aforementioned Typo Attack) turned out to be pretty fun, others clearly missed the mark.  Factorman however is truly in a league of its own...


Factorman is a strange educational program with two very simple games tacked on.  The program starts with the words "Somewhere deep in space..." and then shows what looks to be a generic superhero called Factorman.  Although you might be thinking that this is some sort of math game about factoring, the real answer is stranger than that.  Factorman is actually a health education game put out by Cutter Biological.  Cutter is probably best known for their insect repellent, but also dabbled in several other areas of medicine including the infamous polio vaccine incident.  Thankfully this game appears to be about joints and clotting  Specifically some medicine called 'Factor'.  You know, Factor!  All the kids are talkin' about Factor, it needs no further explanation.


The 'game' starts with Factorman playing what appears to be racquetball (minus the racquet) in an enclosed room with three doors.  Factor man must throw the ball at one of these three doors and hope he hits the right one.  When Factorman hits a door one of three things can happen: 1. The ball will reflect off the door and start bouncing around the room until it hits Factorman or another door, 2. A red bar will appear across the door and Factorman will lose 500 points (if he has any) and the ball will be returned to him, or 3. Factorman will enter the maze.  If Factorman misses the door entirely the ball will start bouncing around the room as if he hit the reflective door.  The higher the difficulty level selected, the slower Factorman will move which makes avoiding the ball nearly impossible.

Assuming Factorman was lucky enough to guess the correct door, the screen will suddenly change to a giant maze and Factorman (represented by a dot) will take off running.  The speed at which Factorman moves through the maze is determined by the difficulty level.  Although it might appear otherwise, you have no control over Factorman in the maze other than when he reaches a junction point at which time you can push in the direction you'd like him to go.  If Factorman hits a dead end he will be returned to the 'Room of Doom' otherwise if you find the exit you will be rewarded with bonus points and then be returned to the room.  There's no backtracking in the maze (although you can loop back around if the maze allows it), so plan out where you want to go well in advance.


If Factorman gets hit by the ball the words INJURY will appear in the lower left corner of the screen and the screen will turn blue.  Then the game will ask if you have pain, swelling, or bleeding (the player must press P, S, and B at these prompts).  At this point the game will usually say 'GET FACTOR' and the player must move Factorman over to the picture of the bottle before time runs out.  Sometimes however the game will simply say 'None' after all three prompts and return back to the ball throwing game.  If Factorman 'Gets Factor' then the edutainment portion of the game kicks in.


The player is now shown a simple presentation about joint injuries.  The presentation consists of several different slides complete with animation explaining how joints work and how to treat injuries with 'Factor Infusion'.  This presentation is exactly the same each time, but thankfully can be sped up by holding down the start key.  Occasionally the game will ask a question at the end of the presentation, if you answer correctly the game will tell you so and return you to the ball throwing screen.  If you answer incorrectly the game will tell you so and... return you to the ball throwing screen.  Either way you lose a life, so don't worry if you weren't paying attention.


The 'Factor' referred to in that game was most likely a product called Factor VIII, which was a drug for hemophiliacs that helped with blood clotting.  Unfortunately the drug was made from donated plasma supply which became contaminated with HIV and was pulled from the market about the time this program was made (although Cutter sold it overseas for many years afterward).  The rough nature of the gameplay in this prototype coupled with the professional looking label is odd, but may actually help pinpoint what it was used for.  While the 'game' is too unpolished for a commercial release (assuming that was even the plan), it was just functional enough to be used for quick demonstrations.  This has led to the theory that it was meant to be used by Cutter sales reps to show to doctors or other medical professionals in an effort to get them acquainted with Factor VIII in an entertaining way.  If true, this may be one of the earliest attempts at this form of advertising.

Special thanks to John Hardie for obtaining and dumping this prototype and to Karl Bork for finding the information  on Factor VIII.


Version Cart Text Description
?/??/83 Factorman
Playable WIP


Return to 8-Bit Software