The Game: As a lone adventurer, you wander through the labyrinthine expanses of an underground dungeon in search of a lost treasure. You must cross Frogger-esque screens of fast-moving logs, avoid rooms full of deadly spears which will only kill you just enough to drop-kick your sorry butt back to the bottom of the screen, and enjoy the full capabilities of the Atari 2600’s ability to generate varying frequencies of white noise. (Atari, 1982)
Memories: One of the handful of debacles that marked the change in Atari‘s fortunes, the SwordQuest series was a very heavily-hyped four-game saga which tried to break new ground in the adventure genre for the 2600 console. Sadly, it didn’t even get close to breaking ground, or even wind for that matter – the fourth title, Airworld, was never released. Supposedly, the winners of each of the first three games would compete for a bejewelled prize and the opportunity to reconvene for a tournament to complete the fourth game first and win a wildly expensive sword.
The contest was never finished. Neither was this game – at least not in my house. As legend has it, the checks written to the first players to solve each of the first three games didn’t even clear the bank. Even the vaguest hint of any completed code for SwordQuest: Airworld is more of a holy grail for Atari fans than any of the prizes that were offered at the time.
If the SwordQuest series had been made in the 1990s, the manufacturers would’ve at least had the marketing acumen and sheer greed to release expensive strategy guides to go along with each one.