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Atari 2600 Raiders of the Lost Ark

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Atari 2600 Raiders of the Lost Ark

At the title screen as the tune to the “Atari 2600 Raiders of the Lost Ark” plays, we see the Atari copyright at the bottom and instantly the Atari “Indy” (player missile graphic) is seen descending from top of a mesa with the ark looming above.  The game title and music continue playing until you press the joystick button.

At sometime in 1983 after the release of the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark by Stephen Speilberg a game was adapted on the Atari 2600 to fit players in the driver seat of Indiana Jones.  It was created Howard Scott Warshaw. Later a game cartridge was created for the Atari VCS system.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Object Inventory Panel

As we begin to play the Atari 2600 Raiders of the Lost Ark game we see Indiana Jones on a screen. The objects appearing here are a stone and a whip. Only the whip can be picked up, but the stone is static alone. 

There is also an object panel seen at the bottom (in red). A bag of coins is seen with a dot underneath. This will be explained later when you learn how to select other objects using the alternative joystick controller.

A slithering snake is seen moving down the screen from top to bottom moving closer to our player. Be sure to avoid the snake, pick up the whip (brown object) and continue down to the bottom to get to the next screen. 

When you press the fire button on joystick controller 2, you can  use the whip on the snake. Indiana Jones can also be moved in any direction using the joystick maneuvers. 

Raiders of the Lost Ark Atari 2600 version

The Marketplace

The screen below is known as the “Marketplace”. There are many things of interest here.  Walking over the baskets seen here (in green colors) will give the player objects in the Atari 2600 Raiders of the Lost Ark game.

The light blue basket on the left side of the screen contains a grenade that can be used to blow things up. A gun can be found by walking over the light green basket on the right. The purple basket at the bottom right contains a key, which can’t be used yet.

Atari Mesa Room

Walking to the left or right of center at the bottom will take you to the Mesa room. However, if you walk too far to the left, right, or in the center you will fall to your death and land in the Valley of Poison.

Once Indiana Jones has safely walked to this screen you will see a series of other places here (known as “mesas”). Just like the movie, these represent the mesa hills that Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) dug up while searching for the Ark of the Covenant. 

Falling off a mesa

The view seen here appears once your player (“Indy”) walks off a mesa after leaving the Marketplace. You will see the player falling here. Off to the left though is a branch wedged above a hole in a cliff face. This will be very important for later. However, the player continues to fall until he lands in the Valley of Poison and dies. 

Valley of Poison

Welcome to the Valley of Poison! As your player begins to die we watch the player slowly disappear from foot to head. Then “Indy” reappears and we can move around. On this screen are seen the mesas (like earlier, except they are green). 

An approaching black-cloaked thief begins to chase you and attempts to rob all of your objects. You can run away, but are pretty much doomed to stay here until you are stripped of everything in possession, save your clothes. However, you can use the gun (if you picked it up), shoot him, and if you get him before he leaves the stolen object will be returned to you.  If he exits successfully though he will return and begin shooting at you.  You can also attempt to evade the thief going through the green bogs, but your player slows down.

This area is also home to a swarming mass of tsetse flies. If they make contact with you (biting you), the player will remain frozen in position for 1 to 7 seconds. This will leave you as a prime sitting duck for the thief so watch out. 

Raiders of the Lost Ark Atari 2600 version

As the game restarts, return back to the Marketplace  (known in the movie as the “center of Egypt”. Notice also that in the center of the screen are two things of interest. The top black/red character is the Black Sheik that can sell you a magic flute, which will protect you from the snake bites. Be sure though not to make contact with him while purchasing the flute or he will steal your money since he gets insulted.

The bottom center of the screen is the White Sheik that will sell you a parachute that will be useful later in the game. The game manual states “It is whispered that the Black Sheik will take you to the Black market – for the right price”, as you will discover later on your adventure.

Opening the wall with grenade

In the Marketplace after picking up the grenade, return back to the Entrance room. Using joystick controller 1 move the selector in the Object panel and put the dot on the grenade. 

Next walk over to the wall on the right side of the screen. Press the fire button on the right controller. Then leave the room. When you return you will see that a hole was blown inside the wall which leads to the other rooms in the Temple. Walk through the black hole going to the right. 

The Temple Entrance

Indy is now at the entrance of the Temple which leads to other rooms. In the center of the screen is a clock object that can be picked up. You will later learn why this is useful. For now though, just drop it as the player can only carry 6 objects at a time. You will learn to drop and rotate objects that you can utilize throughout the game. Head down to the bottom right to enter the Room of the Shining Light.

Room of the Shining Light

You have now entered the “Room of the Shining Light”. You will notice there are several mesa shaped objects here. At the top center of the screen is a red object (known as the “Guardian”). 

Your player will instantly appear in a dungeon at the bottom left of the screen. There is also another dungeon to the far right. 

To get out of the dungeon, you can use your whip by pressing the fire button and aiming at any of the walls. A small hole appears each time. Make a hole large enough to walk through. However, be sure not to bump into the dungeon walls, the mesa-like objects, or the Guardian or else you will be returned back to the nearest dungeon in range.

Also after you escape from the dungeon, the shining light will begin to chase you. Leave this room successfully by passing through a secret entrance in the center of the far right. Keep moving the joystick to the right until you end up in the Treasure Room.

The Treasure Room

Arriving in the Treasure Room you will see some gold coins off to the right center of the screen. The manual states that the “Temple of the Gods will allow you the freedom to come and go if you only take money. Walk over to the coins and pick them up. As you do you will notice that an object (known as the “Ankh”) will be seen. 

If you pick this up the snake will appear and attempt to bite you. This is an attempt by the Gods to hinder your progress. You will need many objects here and the pick up is unlimited. To get more gold coins to appear, you must exit the room and return briefly later, which allows the Temple Gods to replenish the supply. Be sure to pick up the Ankh (light blue object) and many other “treasures” you find here to aid you on your adventure.

On your search for a specific object (called the “Chai”), you will accumulate a lot of goin coins. Be sure to drop some gold coins to pick up new objects here. 

The Hour Glass

Seen here is the hour glass object. It is will be used later in the adventure. You will learn more as you continue this walkthrough.

Locating the Chai object

It will take multiple trips back and forth from the Room of the Shining Light to the Treasure room to eventually find the “Chai”. This object is very useful since it rewards you with an “easter egg” later in your quest.

The Spider Room

Once you leave the Treasure room after getting the Chai, you will be barred from entering it again. The only exit now is to go to the top of the screen where you will enter the Spider Room.

The spider is sitting idle in the center of the screen behind a wall. Touching the rooms repeatedly will force the spider from the center as it advances on you. However if you walk away from a wall, the spider returns back to the center.

Also in the room are more Tsetse flies. If they bite you the player is suspended in motion for a few moments.

The spider is also shooting our strands of web in a backward clockwise motion. If a web strand hits your player, the spider advances upon you to bite you since you are frozen in position. To leave the room walk over to the far upper left and you will return back to the Temple entrance.

The Mesa Field

Be sure to pick up the time piece in the center of the screen (green room) if you are not yet carrying 6 objects. You will use it later in the game.

The next step is to get to the Mesa field. Using joystick controller 1, select the Ankh object to be transported there. Moving around throughout the player is a dot (grappling hook) that can move your player from mesa to mesa.

In order to travel from mesa to mesa, wait until the dot appears on top of one, then press the fire button. You will instantly appear on that new mesa field. Use the up/down joystick movement to expand and detract the grappling grip range. Be sure to press the fire button once it safely passes through a mesa field or your will fall to the Valley of Poison below!

Finding the Yar

We can discover an easter egg built into the game. Position yourself safely on top of a mesa. Drop the Anhk object (using the right controller). Now walk off the mesa field. 

Your player will once again fall to his death, however if you look up a few seconds later above him you will see a blue Yar appear. This is a hint that the designer of this game also created the Atari 2600 game Yars Revenge.

If you died earlier after seeing the Yar, you lost the Ankh object. Once Indy is transported back to the Entrance Room go back to the Treasure room and pick it up again.  You will also want to be sure to have the key in possession as well.

Return back to the Temple Entrance and pick up the time piece in the center (if you didn’t do it earlier). Select the Ankh object again to return to the Mesa field. 

Also over time you will notice that the bottom two exits are barricaded now and a wall slowly begins to appear at the upper left. The whip can be used to open these. However, once the upper left wall is complete, you will be barred from the Temple room forever.

The Map Room

Once you are back on the Mesa field, navigate once more from mesa to mesa. The goal is to go down until you get to the bottom center mesa. Be sure to drop the Ankh here. 

Make sure the player is lined up directly in the center mesa at the bottom and move down. If you are successful, you will see the Map room (in the screenshot).

Raiders of the Lost Ark gear

If you own an Atari computer then having this cartridge added to your Atari 2600 collection is beneficial. I had so many Atari games back in those days!

Be sure to select the key object as you walk down. Now center your player in the center next to the green square (on the left). If you are aligned correctly, you will get a visual display of the mesa field. This is the room that Indiana Jones  entered and put the medallion on a staff to send a light beam in order to find the location of the Lost Ark.

After this select the time piece, wait until it is at noon and suddenly a mesa will start to appear from bottom to top. You will also finally see the location of the Lost Ark. It will flash the correct mesa needed to win the game. Be sure to make a note of this.

Thieves Room

You enter the Thieves room after leaving the Map room by walking down the plank on the center left. Be careful not to touch any of the moving characters here as they will steal one object at a time.

Continue down to the bottom and you will arrive at the Black Market.

The Black Market

This is the Black Market room. You will notice there is a pink basket on the right side. To the far left is a character called the “Raving Lunatic”. Stay away from him as he will kill you.

In the center in comparison to the Marketplace, you will see two Black Sheiks here. The one on the top sells bullets for the rifle. At the bottom you can purchase a shovel for a 2 gold coins from that Sheik.  Walking up to the top will take you back to the first Marketplace screen (at the beginning of the game). 

Purchase the Parachute

Once you are back in the Marketplace, walk to the White Sheik at the bottom. Use a gold coin to buy a parachute.  You will also need to go back to the Treasure room to get the Ankh again to return to the mesa field (this time with the shovel).

Digging on a Mesa field

As you may recall earlier, we have returned to the Mesa field to find the Lost Ark of the Covenant. We will need to navigate once again from mesa to mesa until we find the correct one (as revealed earlier in the Map room). 

Like earlier once you are on that precise mesa, drop the Ankh again, select the parachute with the right controller and walk off the mesa field. You will begin to fall once more.    

Going into the Hole

Once your player has fallen off the ledge, press the fire button to activate the parachute. Then you will need to carefully maneuver close to the branch on the left side and advance into the hole. If you miss it the player will fall to his death again.

The Wells of Souls Room

You will now be in the Well of Souls. Carefully walk around the thieves to the bottom of the screen. As usual, if you touch one they will slowly deprive you of objects.

Once you have safely arrived at the bottom, select the shovel with the right controller. Then walk back and forth across the hole at the bottom and press your fire button each time. Be aware that if you are on a mesa that doesn’t have the ark, after digging the hole you will fall to the Valley of Poison below. 

The Ark was found !

After the hole disappears, the game will end and you will see Indiana Jones slowly descend from the top of the screen. However, he will stop halfway down or lower depending on the score you achieved.  Congratulations! You have won the game! Also notice at the bottom of the screens the initials “HS W2”. This is a way of the author “Howard Scott Warshaw” signing the game. The “2” means that this was his second game (the first being “Yars Revenge”).

I hope you enjoyed this slight detour of Atari 65xe and programming in general. I wanted to create this as a way of honoring the creators of Atari. Because without the invention of the Atari 2600, the Atari 65xe and the earlier models would never have been created.

Raiders of the Lost Ark gear

Be sure to check out some great offers on Amazon if you are wanting to purchase the Atari Raiders of the Lost Ark. This was my favorite game on the Atari 2600!

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Steve has always had a passion for computers even before I owned one. His first personal computer was an Atari 65xe purchased at Children's Palace around 1986. In later years he attended DeVry University and received a Computer Science degree, works as a Front End Web Developer and is a born again Christian. Although this is a tech site, I am never shy to admit that I am a sinner saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. If you ever want to talk about salvation, I'm game.