The Game: You’re wandering through a dark, twisty maze. So are the dead, apparently, and these reanimated skeletons have a bone to pick with you. You have a single weapon with which to protect yourself, as well as a sensor that picks up on the proximity of nearby skeletons. Using the hints provided by that sensor, you must track down the living dead and dispatch them yet again – and hope they don’t get you first. (Eric Ball, 2003)
Memories: This fun little number is yet another of the current crop of newly-prorammed homebrew games by hobbyist authors. In this case, Eric Ball has brought the first-person shooter genre to the Atari 2600 with surprising success. Now, sure, it’s a first-person shooter by way of a Hunt The Wumpus-style game mechanic, but that makes it no less impressive.
And what makes Skeleton+ an upgrade from Ball’s original Skeleton? The game has been modified to work with a stereo audio modification for the Atari 2600, giving you aural clues as well as visual clues about your enemies’ positions. I haven’t personally had a chance to test this out myself, as I’ve just been working with a plain old unmodified 2600, but just the idea there is cool. Even with stereo audio (who would’ve thought?), the key to staying alive in Skeleton+ is to keep an eye on the visual indicators, lest the walking dead personally serve you with an invitation to join them.
Surprisingly simple and surprisingly fun, Skeleton+ would certainly have gained a loyal following if it had been released in the 80s. As it is now, it stands as a testament that you can teach the old 2600 some new tricks. In stereo.