Atari 2600 Video Game Release Dates for 1982
With pop culture atmosphere.
Information compiled by Duane Alan Hahn.
Below is an incomplete list of Atari 2600 video game release dates by month in the USA for the year 1982 along with lists of popular movies, TV shows, Top 40 music, and so on to help summon your treasured memories of the Atari 2600 and the early 1980s with the bonus of recreating the magical feelings of that special time.
Remember, the date on the box, cartridge, manual, and copyright screen can be different from the actual release date. For example, Atari 2600 Pac-Man was released in March/April of 1982, but the date on the box, cart, manual, and copyright screen say 1981.
To help make your experience even more enjoyable, most items have a link next to them that will lead you to related search results at YouTube where you might find video game commercials, gameplay footage, music videos, and clips from TV shows or movies.
If you find a mistake, or have more information to add, such as month/year release dates for games, please contact me. Every little bit of credible information helps, no matter how insignificant you think it might be. Thanks for your help.
On the Radio
New on TV
Fame (January 7) YouTube
On the Radio
The official release date was March of 1982, but our local Woolco in Roanoke, Virginia didn't get it until April. See April for more information. And THE RED HOT NEW CARTRIDGES FOR 1982 release schedule actually says "available March/April."
Grand Prix (Activision)
Demon Attack (Imagic)
Star Voyager (Imagic)
On the Radio
New at the Movies
Porky's (March 19) YouTube
New on TV
T.J. Hooker (March 13) YouTube
Cagney & Lacey (March 25) YouTube
9 To 5 (March 25) YouTube
Text below from Videogaming Illustrated (December 1983, page 25)
In March 1982, Imagic released its first three games, Trick Shot, Star Voyager, and Demon Attack. Demon Attack quickly shot to the top of the bestseller lists and stayed there. Demon Attack money helped Imagic adapt to the changing market . . . for a while.
Text below from Videogaming Illustrated (August 1982, page 15)
Q: Have there been ideas which Activision has found impossible to conquer, even with its obvious pool of talent?
A: That always happens. But what appears, initially, to be difficult to make work. eventually comes around and does work. Grand Prix, which we released in March, was developed over a year ago. But David (Crane) put it on the shelf and came back to it. You can't say of any particular concept that we have not completed and released that it may not come back around, a solution found to whatever problems plague it during the design.
Although the date on the box, cart, manual, and copyright screen say 1981, Atari 2600 Pac-Man wasn't released until March/April of 1982.
The main reason my family bought an Atari 2600 was for Pac-Man and we brought that first Atari 2600 home on March 27, 1982. We had pre-ordered Pac-Man and got it as soon as it hit the store (Woolco in Tanglewood Mall Roanoke, Virginia). The official release date was March, and although other people in the country could buy it in March, it didn't get to our store until April, so that's why it is listed here under April. I was stuck playing Combat for at least a week until Pac-Man arrived at the store.
On the Radio
New at the Movies
Diner (April 2) YouTube
Cat People (April 2) YouTube
The Sword and the Sorcerer (April 23) YouTube
Yars' Revenge (Atari)
I got to buy this game when it was new in May with money I earned. I was supposed to move some bushes for an old lady (my former step-father's mother). I caught a ride to Woolco, which was only a few miles away from her house, so I decided to walk. I thought I could find a shortcut through some woods, but instead, it took many hours to get there because I kept hitting roadblocks of all kinds: fences, trenches (full of bushes and trees) that were too deep and wide to cross, vicious dogs, and so on. I'm don't remember how I finally got there, but I did get there. I transplanted the bushes, got paid around $30 and her husband drove me to a department store so I could buy Yars' Revenge for $24.97.
Unlike Pac-Man, Defender was early, at least where I lived. Everything says Defender was supposed to come out in June. I even got a card in the mail from Atari Age magazine telling me that Defender was coming in June and that I should order it now, but I was glad I didn't because Woolco had it in time for my girlfriend's birthday (May 17). She loved Defender, but didn't have an Atari, so I was very happy that I got Defender early so she could play it on her birthday at my house.
On the Radio
New at the Movies
Conan the Barbarian (May 14) YouTube
Annie (May 21) YouTube
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (May 21) YouTube
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (May 21) YouTube
Rocky 3 (May 28) YouTube
The official release date was June of 1982, but our local Woolco in Roanoke, Virginia got it a month earlier. See May for more information.
June 1982 (maybe August)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Parker Brothers)
On the Radio
New at the Movies
Poltergeist (June 4) YouTube
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (June 4) YouTube
ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (June 11) YouTube
Firefox (June 18) YouTube
Blade Runner (June 25) YouTube
The Thing (June 25) YouTube
Text below from Billboard (November 6, 1982, page 58)
[TRIVIA: JOURNEY ESCAPE CARTRIDGE CONCEPT BORN IN JUNE OF 1982]
Rice said that because the Journey cartridge concept was born in June, it precluded an earlier release for the pre-Christmas season. However, Rice added, the cartridge would be timely as a result of Atari hardware sales during Christmas. He said surveys indicate that new Atari buyers purchase at least three cartridges during the first two months of ownership.
Rice noted that Data Age will eventually produce the Journey game for both the Coleco and Intellivision systems and is currently negotiating arcade rights. An arcade deal would mark the first time a home game was adapted for arcades instead of the other way around.
Text below from Billboard (December 11, 1982, page 8)
PARKER BROTHERS RELEASING 16 NEW GAME CARTRIDGES
Parker Brothers, the General Mills toy and game manufacturer which successfully launched a video game line in June, plans the release of 16 new cartridges in 1983.
. . . .
Parker's introductory cartridges were "Frogger" and "The Empire Strikes Back," which the company says have had a combined sales in excess of three million units. A November release consisted of "Amidar" and "Spider-Man."
Text below from Videogaming Illustrated (February 1983, page 10)
Parker Brothers certainly has had a phenomenal start with The Empire Strikes Back videogame: released in June, it has achieved over thirty million dollars in retail sales. That makes it one of the top grossing home videogames in history.
July 1982 (maybe August)
Frogger (Parker Brothers)
On the Radio
New at the Movies
The Secret of Nimh (July 2) YouTube
Tron (July 9) YouTube
Six Pack (July 16) YouTube
Zapped (July 23) YouTube
The World According to Garp (July 23) YouTube
Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (July 23) YouTube
An Officer and a Gentleman (July 28) YouTube
Night Shift (July 30) YouTube
Text below from Billboard (July 3, 1982, page 10)
In July, the Beverly, Mass. manufacturer will introduce "Frogger," a home version of an arcade favorite, licensed from Sega Enterprises.
Text below from Videogaming Illustrated (August 1982, page 10)
One month after the release of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Parker Brothers will ship Frogger, a Freeway-like challenge based on the Sega arcade game.
Towering Inferno (U.S. Games)
Trivia: Original instructions completed by Paul Allen Newell on May 28, 1982.
On the Radio
New at the Movies
Pink Floyd: The Wall (August 6) YouTube
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (August 13) YouTube
Friday the 13th, Part 3 (August 13) YouTube
New on TV
Filthy Rich (August 9) YouTube
"Taste the Thrill of Atari at McDonald's" promotion starts on 8/15/1982.
Text below from Arcade Express (August 15, 1982)
NEW ATARI GAMES FOR VCS
"Berserk" will be published by Atari in August and should be in the stores before the end of the month. This is the home version of the popular coin-op from Stern Electronics that has been wowing the arcaders for the past two years. Just as "Berserk" comes to the VCS, a super deluxe version of this maze shootout called " Frenzy" is going into the arcades.
"Star Raiders" premiere date is September. It will be packaged with a new controller (much in the same way that "Indy 500" was marketed), and is priced at $39.95. The new controller is a keypad type with a disk. Company sources characterize "Star Raiders" as a mindblower, with outstanding visuals and hot play action.
SUPERCHARGER FOR THE VCS
A Supercharger for the Atari VCS is being marketed by Arcadia. This RAM cart plugs into the game slot to increase the graphic resolution capabilities of the VCS, making it possible to move more objects around on the screen simultaneously.
The Supercharger connects to an ordinary tape recorder, and games will be marketed on cassette for about $1.5 each. Among the releases is a wacky invasion game called "Communist Mutants From Outer Space", and a space pilot game that's said to outdo "Star Raiders".
The Supercharger retails for around $70, and comes packaged with one game.
TIGER PLANS VCS CARTRIDGES
Tiger Electronic Toys is one of the newest entrants into the video cartridge sweepstakes! Tiger has formed a videogame cartridge division called Tigervision, for development and marketing of cartridges for the Atari VCS.
Long on the fringes of the electronic game business, Tiger plans to emphasize arcade-style action coupled with superior graphics. "Jawbreaker" has chomping sets of teeth eating candy dots in this maze-chase game. "King Kong" requires the gamer to rescue Faye Wray from Kong by climbing to the top of the Empire State Building, while leaping the bombs Kong throws. In "River Patrol", the gamer steers a leaky boat up the Congo, saving refugees and avoiding obstacles. "Threshold" is a vertical scrolling shootout in space, and "Marauder" requires you to maneuver through mazes while killing or avoiding the robot guards.
Randy Rissman, President of Tiger, says, "Tigervision's cartridges will aim to be among the best in graphic quality and play value."
INTELLIVISION MEETS ATARI
Mattel Electronics has developed a new line of videogame cartridges for the Atari VCS. Mattel claims the new games, named the M Network, are designed to fully utilize the capabilities of the VCS. The M Network games use the themes of Intellivision cartridges, both currently popular games and carts that are soon to be released.
The first M Network cartridges entered distribution in mid-July. Some of the titles to be released in 1982 include "Astroblast", "Space Attack", "Super Challenge Baseball", "Super Challenge Football", and "International Soccer". The company plans 11 M Network games in 1982.
Mattel promises appealing game themes and advanced programming techniques for the new videogarne series. Joshua Denham, President of Mattel Electronics, says, "M Network offers owners of Atari VCS units access to markedly improved graphics, gameplay, and extended enjoyment."
FILM MAKER PLANS FOXY GAMES
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation has formed Fox Video Games, Inc., to develop and market a line of cartridges for use with the Atari VCS. Four new games will be marketed in the Fall.
Sirius Software designed four new games for Fox. In "Deadly Duck", programmed by Ed Hodapp, crabs bomb a duck with bricks, and the duck must shoot back with a gun. "Beany Bopper", programmed by Grady Ward, has a stun-fire laser for the gamer to shoot at propeller beany-creatures. In "Worm War I", programmed by David Lubar, gigantic worms terrorize a city. The gamer fights back using a tank. "Fast Eddie", by Mark Turmell, challenges arcaders to gather treasure by climbing up and down ladders to different levels, while evading Sneakers trying to run him down and stomp on him.
Text below from Arcade Express (August 30, 1982)
VIDTEC NAME PHASE-OUT PLANNED
The brand name "Vidtec," seen on the scrolling shoot-out "Space Jockey," will soon be relegated to no more than a minor role, if that. The company, which operates as part: of the Fisher-Price division of Quaker Oats, will henceforth emphasize the name "U.S. Games." The next cartridge from the company will be "Towering Inferno," a firefighting action game in which the player must race through a burning skyscraper to save residents and douse flames.
Text below from Videogaming Illustrated (August 1982, page 7 and 8)
APOLLO, LIKE ITS NAMESAKE, SHOOTS FOR THE VIDEOGAMING STARS!
Despite the downbeat reviews Apollo garnered for Skeet Shoot, its first videogame, no one's going to nap through four cartridges the company recently put on the market. Indeed, like Shakespeare, author of the world's best literature, and who, by the way, was castigated as an "upstart crow" after his own first work was performed—Apollo intends to create classics. Lively, unique, fraught with color and exotica, the newest of the Atari-compatible games suggest that the Texas-based manufacturer is well on its way.
Apollo is a subsidiary of National Career Consultants, a company founded by entrepreneur Patrick Roper. For eleven years NCC has successfully produced and distributed educational and career guidance films to high schools and colleges. Unfortunately, government belt-tightening has limited the funds available to many of NCC's customers and, early last year, NCC had no choice but to cut back on their film operation and branch into other fields. Initially. the firm considered distributing dramatic works on videocassette, but discovered that the major studios and producers of popular entertainment were already committed to other manufacturers. As for creating their own feature-length motion pictures, the high cost of such an undertaking was prohibitive. However, NCC was not unaware of the booming videogame industry; the decision to diversity in that direction was reached in October of 1981, after market research and the obvious growth of the field indicated that there was room for a newcomer.
Roper decided to concentrate solely on software, adding a computer programmer to the existing staff of NCC and rushing the company's first game to the market by December of last year. "All in all, Skeet Shoot wasn't a spectacular game to start off with," concedes Emmitt Crawford, Apollo's director of public relations. He acknowledges that the graphics were flat, little more than a bor flinging pellets at a small saucer. To make matters worse, a high percentage of the cartridges had to be recalled due to image roll. But Skeet Shoot managed to cash in on the lucrative Christmas buying season and, more important, made dealers and consumers alike aware of the new company.
One month after the inauspicious debut of Skeet Shoot, the company released the better-conceived, more topical Spacechase. This time, both the graphics and subject were worth writing home about. As commander of three Mark 16 starcruisers, the player is required to beat back alien raiders who, materializing from hyperspace, mercilessly fire neutron missiles and heat-seeking proton missiles as they attack from all sides. With its scrolling planet surface and fast-paced action, Spacechase was an immediate hit. Crawford says it's presently back-ordered to the tune of nearly 200,000 cartridges "and," he marvels, "even Skeet Shoot is still hanging in there," with several thousand orders waiting to be filled as Apollo's production schedule allows.
Today, Apollo has a staff of five programmers plus thirty production people to handle cartridge assembly. To ensure continued prosperity, Apollo has endowed the four new games with an individualistic blend of mystery, fantasy, and even humor, traits which are helping them to secure a following in the marketplace. They plan to release a new game every four to six weeks.
Space Cavern is the trendiest of the games, the saga of an astronaut on a mission to a mysterious planet in a remote quadrant of the galaxy. The pioneer's assignment is to chart a maze-like cave inhabited by a monstrous hydra whose tentacles generate twenty million electron volts. Iridescent eyes appear throughout the game, but the player can never tell until seconds before contact which pair of eyes will materialize into the deadly monster. The space explorer is armed with a pistol which can shoot horizontally and vertically. affording full protection from two aerial nasties and one ground-based creature. A particularly impressive touch is the way the astronaut's skeleton lights up whenever the monster strikes, after which the explorer demolecularizes, ending the game as a pile of dust.
Lochjaw is a slightly more out-of-the-ordinary game, as players send their divers to a Spanish galleon which lies at the bottom of a seabed. As the waters ripple around them, colors trickling through, the divers must enter a yawning hole in the ship and recover a fortune in diamonds, one gem at a time. This is accomplished by navigating through a maze—the one tired motif in this excellent game—where in due course the diver is assaulted by a pair of sharks as well as a saurian relative of the beast from Loch Ness. The sharks travel at random, one considerably faster than the other, while the sea serpent has the capacity to home in on and pursue the diver. To thwart the animals, the diver can have at them with a shark gun or crawl into a shark cage. There is also a cave which acts like a dimensional warp, enabling divers to escape any predator. However, like the hyperspace mode in Asteroids or Astrosmash, there is no way of knowing exactly where the cave will hurl you. Chances are good that it will bear you from one danger quite literally into the jaws of another.
Unquestionably the most charming of Apollo's new games is Lost Luggage. It would not be inaccurate to dub this the first "comedy cartridge": the player is at an airport as the suitcases arrive via conveyor belt. Suddenly, the luggage flies from the carousel and the player must catch it. Miss the suitcase and it opens, spilling all manner of personal effects over the ground.
Last of the current Apollo releases is Racquetball, a faithful recreation of the indoor sport seen from the players' point of view rather than the sidelines.
Apollo maintains that these games barely hint at the novel cartridges and accoutrements soon to appear. Roper informed this magazine that six additional cartridges will be released by December. "No licenses," he reports. "all our own ideas," and Apollo has already made available the first personalized cartridge. For $99.95, you can have Space Chase programmed so that your initials will flash on the screen when the mother ship is destroyed. It's ideal for businesses, which Crawford indicates have been their biggest client. using the electronically embossed games as premiums. Apollo also expects to release software for Intellivision consoles by mid-1983, and may yet enter the videocassette field using the medium for educational purposes. "We've even briefly considered using videocassettes to offer strategies for our games," Crawford notes. Preparing games for computers is another of Apollos short-range objectives, though they have no plans to enter the arcade field.
The people at Apollo realize they've got to burn the midnight oil if they're going to compete with the giants like Atari and Coleco. Crawford admits the battle will be a rough one, but feels up to the challenge. "We're in good shape because we got in ahead of a number of companies. Even though they're conglomerates and pretty stiff competition creatively, we think there's ample room for everybody. Besides," he observes, "what you need in this business is more than a big budget. You have to have games that people want, and we think we've got just that."