Rescue on Fractalus

Original System: Atari 5200?

Like Ballblazer, Rescue on Fractalus was one of the final Atari 5200 games released. Although both games were due to be released in mid-1984, the game crash and Atari ownership change delayed both games (along with Gremlins) until 1986.  In the meantime the Atari 400/800 version was released on disk in mid-1985 and later on a cartridge for the XE line of computers in 1987.  There's minor differences between all three releases, but the gameplay is exactly the same.

The first major difference between the three is that the Atari 400/800 versions (both disk and cartridge) contain an animated intro of a mothership launching ship which is missing from the 5200 version.  This sequence was created to hide the disk loading times and was ported over to the XE cartridge since the XE version was a port of the disk version instead of the 5200 version.  The XE cartridge version has extra sounds during this sequence that are missing from the disk version, but the disk version has some extra animation which is missing from the XE cartridge!

The next major difference is that the 400/800 disk version and XE cartridge both have a custom 'stencil' font instead of the standard Atari 5200 font. 

Third, the Atari 5200 is missing the high score screen found in the Atari 400/800 disk and cartridge versions.  The XE cartridge version doesn't save these scores after the system is powered off though.

Fourth, the XE cartridge version allows the player to choose up to level 30 for the starting level.  The 5200 and 400/800 disk version only allow the player start as high as level 16.  Interestingly early prototype versions of RoF allowed the player to start as high as level 99!

Fifth, the XE version allows the game to be played without a keyboard by using the console buttons (Select, Option, and Start).  This is a unique change made to the XE version due to the fact that the XE was also sold without a keyboard. 

Sixth, in both the Atari disk and XE cartridge versions a stranded pilot will die with you do not open up the airlock quickly enough to let them in.  This was removed from the Atari 5200 version for unknown reasons.  As the 5200 manual mentions that pilots will die outside the airlock, this feature was most likely accidentally not added to the 5200 version after it was added to the Atari 8-bit version.

Finally the copyright date on all three versions is different.  The 5200 version has a 1984 copyright, the 400/800 disk version has a 1985 copyright, and the XE cartridge version has a 1987 copyright.

Atari 400/800

Atari 5200





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