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Atari Proto Games

Okay, this is a new page that I have created to try and keep track of some of the rarer Atari stuff that has been poping up lately. It seems now that Atari has been sold off, it's california "stash" has migrated out to us collectors. Boards have been showing up recently that were never released and I personaly think this is really cool. Granted, most games that were not relesed to the public shared a common property.... they sucked. So, before everyone gets a hee-hawin' hankerin' to buy up all the proto stuff they can find, (trends start so easy on the web! :-( remember that proto games aren't always cracked up to be what you think.
So, with all that out of the way. If you know of anyone with a proto OR you have some sort of proto info, you can donate any info you would like to this page.

Known Protos

These are all in various states of operation and completness. Some protos never made it into a standard cabinet or it was trashed early on, so they only exist as PCB's. Others however are contained in cabinets and are mostly one-of-a-kind because it was the cabinet that the designers used in-house for play testing (those lucky Atari employees!).


Agent X


    • Exists as: PCB only
    • Monitor Type: Vertical Raster
    • Year Developed: 1982
    • Owner: Clay Cowgill
    The PCB is actually a Food Fight board with Many Many mods and a large daughtercard. The controls are believed to be like Tron (Triggerd joystick and a spinner) so it may have been a conversion attempt that never made it. Clay hopes to get some screenshots of it when he has some spare time, but we all know Clay doesn't have spare time. ;-)


    • Exists as: Dedicated Cabinet
    • Monitor Type: Raster
    • Year Developed: 1983
    • Owner: Brad Kava
  • This game appeared at the 1998 California Extreme show.
  • Peter Thompson (Programmer - Peter Packrat,Runaway) recently gave me this description of the game...
      Yikes! Runaway! I haven't had that trouble my brain for way too long. When I first joined Atari in '82, I was given this game to work on. The engineer that had been working on it was let go for not producing. I can't remember his name. However, the game was quite were driving a train. The train had forward and reverse, plus a jump and "track switch" button. The track had a bunch of mail bags you were supposed to pick up. It also had other trains on the track that you either avoided or jumped over. It was mercifully killed in 1983.
      If anyone could give a description of this game let me know.


    • Exists as: PCB Only
    • Monitor Type: Raster
    • Year Developed: 1983
    • Owner: ????
    Same platform as Runaway, each have a hand built PROM board.
      a former Atari employee remebers a game in devolpment where there was a "Runaway" train on the screen and the player had to drop tracks down so that it wouldn't crash.

Lunar Battle

    • Exists as: Whole Cabinet
    • Monitor Type: Horizontal Color Vector
    • Year Developed: 1982
    • Owner: Callan Hendricks
    This is actually the proto name for Gravitar. Gameplay is much harder and some graphics are a bit different than the final release. The marquee and attract mode video both have Lunar Battle and the PCB is not a standard Gravitar board.

Alpha 1

    • Exists as: Whole Cabinet
    • Monitor Type: Horizontal Color Vector
    • Year Developed: 1983
    • Owner: Jess Askey
    This was the in-house cabinet for Major Havoc. Housed in a Crystal Castles cabinet, with handmade graphics this game was from the very early design of the game. The PCB and pinouts are completely different than the productin Major Havoc and there is actaully a fingerboard inside to convert the old harness to work with a production Major Havoc board as well as the Alpha 1 boardset.

Marble Madness II: Marble Man

    • Exists as: Whole Cabinet
    • Monitor Type: Horizontal Color Raster
    • Year Developed: 1988??
    • Owner: ????
    Bobby Tribble has a very good info page for this other proto that never made it out of Atari. Also, Al K. sent me some pics of this rare game... Front View ... Control Panel ... Marquee . Now, where did they come from (Al?) :^)
  • Brian Wiklem sent me a nice pic of the sideart!

Other Protos

  • The Last Starfighter - Although this game was developed, no proto boards are known to exist. Checkout Russ Krook's "Last Starfighter" page for all the details.
  • The following info came in from Keith Smith via a former Atari employee...
      Boxing (1977) - done between Drag Race and Destroyer. The Activision Boxing cartridge was a copy of this game.
      Captain Seahawk (1978) - done between Destroyer and Ultra Tank
      Solar War (1979?) - A sequel to Video Pinball. Done after football. Five were built. One still exists. Kits for 360 more were sold to a Greek distributor.
  • Kevin Williams told me about these games from conversations with Atari Game Designers..
      Dirtbike - Designed by Dennis Koble and finished up by Ed Logg. Playtested but not released.
      Cannonball - Owen Rubin remembers doing this game but it was never released.

Go back to the Atari Vector Page

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