Near-mythical Atari 2600 finds: Kickman & Pink Panther

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    This has been one hell of a month for major, near-mythical Atari 2600 finds from back in the day – we can now, at long last, play the never-released CBS Video Games port of Kickman (if you recall, CBS had a kind of “master license agreement” with Midway on its originals such as Gorf, Wizard Of Wor, Blue Print, Omega Race, Solar Fox, etc.), and the one 2600 game none of us ever thought we’d get to play, the Probe 2000 debut title Pursuit Of The Pink Panther.

    Kickman was designed for CBS by Alex Leavens (2600 Boing!, Gorf, and Crazy Climber) while working at Roklan (I actually don’t think “Roklan” and “CBS Video Games” were really separate entities, but I may be wrong there). It’s a really good port and seems complete, but given the number of active sprites on any given screen, it’s flickery as hell. You have to play it with very specific display settings in the Stella emulator for it to work at all. I’m surprised at how much he managed to pack in, including the Pac-Man cameo – which may have been why it was never released, since Midway really didn’t have permission from Namco to “guest star” Pac-Man in Kickman to begin with.

    You can click the screenshots to enlarge-ify them:

    Pink Panther is also complete, but then that was already known. Toward the end of the Odyssey game development group’s existence, North American Philips was insisting that the group diversify its offerings, producing games not just for the Odyssey2 and (the then-believed-to-be-upcoming) Odyssey3, but for the Atari 2600 and Colecovision as well, which would be sold under the Probe 2000 banner. Only three games emerged – kinda sorta – from this new direction:

    1. Power Lords – released for Odyssey2, mostly completed for Colecovision but never released
    2. War Room – released for Colecovision
    3. Pursuit Of The Pink Panther – mostly completed for the Atari 2600 but never released; an Odyssey2 version was mentioned as an upcoming title but has never surfaced. Michael Thomasson at Good Deal Games says that a work-in-progress Colecovision port has been found, but will need a lot of work to become playable.

    For years, it’s been known that an Atari 2600 Pursuit Of The Pink Panther prototype existed in a private collection; however, that party declined to dump the ROM and make it available. Another prototype seems to have surfaced – or the one already mentioned changed hands, I really haven’t followed this particular soap opera too closely – and has now been dumped. It’s a fun little game that plays out over three distinct levels, and then starts from the beginning.


    It’s a really cute little game that’s more related to the cartoons than the movies.

    You can get both ROMs here: [LINK]

    If you’re using Stella, play Kickman with phosphor at around 50% while simulation composite TV output, or it won’t display properly.

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