Home > Atari Memories > #General Atari 2600 Programming > Game Standards and Procedures

Game Standards and Procedures

Atari 2600 VCS


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. (I get commissions for purchases made through certain links on this page.)

Table of Contents


Amazon Stuff

The following documents the user interface desired for 2600 games. This is meant both to provide a guide to development program and as a check list for finished carts. Please compare these against any existing games. Some of these standards are changed, and they supercede previous standards. Note that these standards may be waived on a case-by-case basis to maintain copyright loyalty or for games with special requirements.






Games should power-up displaying a Copyright Screen. Game parameters should be single player and Default Difficulty. After about 20 seconds, the game should go into Auto-Play mode. From then on the game alternates between Copyright Screen and Auto-Play. This is called the Idle Sequence.









Game Select

Due to limitations of the 2600, game options are usually displayed as option numbers only (referenced in the manual). It is desired, however, that text be used if possible and if it does not take up otherwise needed code space. Game Select is usually part of the Copyright Screen or the Auto-Play display. If any game option is changed, all scores must be zeroed. The following Game Select display is offered as a suggestion for a way to display options using numbers:

     |                                                   |
     |          GAME                   PLAYERS           |
     |                                                   |
     |           1                        1              |



Alternately, the following is a way to display the options in the better-looking manner, utilizing text:















This section deals with the mechanics of starting, pausing, and ending gameplay.









Game Options

This section deals with the various options the player can choose. Most games naturally fall into the 'One Player' or 'Two Player Alternating' mold. Game programmers are encouraged to explore the possibilities of Competitive and Team play options. In 2-player alternating mode, player 1's joystick should be deactivated while it is player 2's turn, and vice versa.










For a 1-player game, always read the left-most controller. For a multi-player game, assign controllers from left to right. Controllers should only be shared for:


Games which use non-standard controllers should support joysticks if possible. Any mixture of valid controllers should be allowed for multi-player games.






Difficulty Switches

Players of differing skills may be handicapped by using the difficulty switches. The 'A' position (advanced) is the more difficult setting, and the 'B' position (beginner) is the easier setting. Any game using these switches should poll them frequently.






No-Defeat Mode

In a non-release version of all games, a no-defeat mode should be included for testing, documenting, and sales purposes. A way is needed for moderately-skilled players to see the higher levels of play.






Foreign Versions

All 2600 games MUST be made in both PAL and NTSC versions. SECAM should also be supported (most PAL games work fine on SECAM machines). If this is kept in mind from the start, then the conversion process can be much easier at completion of the NTSC version.




About This Page

This page is based on the Game Standards and Procedures PDF file at and is used with permission. Most of the text on this page is straight from that PDF file, but I have corrected errors and made a few changes. For example, the word key was used in a few places where switch would normally be used, so I replaced key with switch for the sake of consistency. I also did the same thing with page and screen. They seemed to be used interchangeably, so I went with screen.

Atari 2600 BASIC

If assembly language is too hard for you, try batari Basic. It's a BASIC-like language for creating Atari 2600 games. It's the faster, easier way to make Atari 2600 games.

Try batari Basic
Harmony Cartridge

Back to Top



In Case You Didn't Know


Trump's Jab = Bad

Did you know that Trump's rushed experimental rona jab has less than one percent overall benefit? It also has many possible horrible side effects. Some brainwashed rona jab cultists claim that there are no victims of the jab, but person after person will post what the jab did to them or a family member on web sites such as Facebook and Twitter and they'll be lucky if they don't get banned soon after. Posting the truth is “misinformation” don't you know. Awakened sheep might turn into lions, so powerful people will do just about anything to keep the sheep from waking up.


Check out these videos:

Best of Sped Up and Edited Tennessee House of Representatives Health Subcommittee Hearing Room 2 (March 1, 2022)

Full Video of Tennessee House of Representatives Health Subcommittee Hearing Room 2 (The Doctors Start Talking at 33:28)



H Word and I Word = Good

Take a look at my page called The H Word and Beyond. You might also want to look at my page called Zinc and Quercetin. My sister and I have been taking those two supplements since summer of 2020 in the hopes that they would scare away the flu and other viruses (or at least make them less severe).



B Vitamins = Good

Some people appear to have a mental illness because they have a vitamin B deficiency. For example, the wife of a guy I used to chat with online had severe mood swings which seemed to be caused by food allergies or intolerances. She would became irrational, obnoxious, throw tantrums, and generally act like she had a mental illness. The horrid behavior stopped after she started taking a vitamin B complex. I've been taking #ad Jarrow B-Right for many years. It makes me much easier to live with.



Soy = Bad

Unfermented soy is bad! “When she stopped eating soy, the mental problems went away.” Fermented soy doesn't bother me, but the various versions of unfermented soy (soy flour, soybean oil, and so on) that are used in all kinds of products these days causes a negative mental health reaction in me that a vitamin B complex can't tame. The sinister encroachment of soy has made the careful reading of ingredients a necessity.



Wheat = Bad

If you are overweight, have type II diabetes, or are worried about the condition of your heart, check out the videos by Ken D Berry, William Davis, and Ivor Cummins. It seems that most people should avoid wheat, not just those who have a wheat allergy or celiac disease. Check out these books: #ad Undoctored, #ad Wheat Belly, and #ad Eat Rich, Live Long.



Negative Ions = Good

Negative ions are good for us. You might want to avoid positive ion generators and ozone generators. Whenever I need a new air cleaner (with negative ion generator), I buy it from A plain old air cleaner is better than nothing, but one that produces negative ions makes the air in a room fresher and easier for me to breathe. It also helps to brighten my mood.



Litterbugs = Bad

Never litter. Toss it in the trash or take it home. Do not throw it on the ground. Also remember that good people clean up after themselves at home, out in public, at a campsite and so on. Leave it better than you found it.



Climate Change Cash Grab = Bad

Seems like more people than ever finally care about water, land, and air pollution, but the climate change cash grab scam is designed to put more of your money into the bank accounts of greedy politicians. Those power-hungry schemers try to trick us with bad data and lies about overpopulation while pretending to be caring do-gooders. Trying to eliminate pollution is a good thing, but the carbon footprint of the average law-abiding human right now is actually making the planet greener instead of killing it.


Watch these two YouTube videos for more information:

CO2 is Greening The Earth

The Climate Agenda


View this page and any external web sites at your own risk. I am not responsible for any possible spiritual, emotional, physical, financial or any other damage to you, your friends, family, ancestors, or descendants in the past, present, or future, living or dead, in this dimension or any other.


Home Inventions Quotations Game Design Atari Memories Personal Pages About Site Map Contact Privacy Policy Tip Jar