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Do you love playing Donkey Kong but also love to play the Atari? Maybe you heard that the Atari Flashback was going to have a Donkey Kong game on it. Well, in this article we will go over everything you need to know about Donkey Kong and the Atari Flashback.
So is Donkey Kong on the Atari Flashback?
Unfortunately at this time Donkey Kong is not on any version of the Atari Flashback. There are rumors that it will become available in the future as Pac-Man has recently become available, but as of now, Donkey Kong is not on any of the Atari Flashbacks.
If you want to know more about the Atari Flashbacks, you will want to keep reading. If you are looking to buy the best Atari Flashback at the best price, this is the best place! You can also watch this short video to learn all about the different games that the Atari Flashback offers.
What is an Atari Flashback?
The Atari Flashbacks are a series of video game consoles which are designed and marketed by Atari Inc. There are many different Atari models available today, and they all come with different games. They are fairly inexpensive when you think about how many games you get on the console. Most of the consoles come with all of the top games like Space Invaders and others that everyone loves. It also comes with some lesser known games, but once you start playing them, it takes you right back to your childhood.
How is Atari associated with Donkey Kong?
Donkey Kong was one of the original games on the Atari 2600. The Donkey Kong series goes all the way back to Atari’s first major console. The Atari 2600 was actually where Donkey Kong actually started its journey in America. The Atari 2600 made the Donkey Kong series popular, and the popularity of the Donkey Kong game made the Atari 2600 popular!
Garry Kitchen was the person who brought Donkey Kong to Atari. It was single handedly responsible for creating the main storyboard of Donkey Kong as well as creating its iconic characters. The Original game characters were Donkey Kong or Monkey Kong, the Jumpman or Mario, and even Diddie Kong.
How did Donkey Kong get on the Atari?
It all started when Garry Kitchen received a call from a contract company which offered a deal with Coleco. Coleco was interested in transferring Donkey Kong to the new Atari.
Kitchen knew it was an exceptional trade as he knew very well the value of Donkey Kong and its future potential. Kitchen instantly agreed and was able to secure Donkey Kong on the Atari.
The terms of partnership dictated that Atari would divide their profits with Caleco. Coleco didn’t want to waste any time and wanted Donkey Kong to be on the first release of the Atari. This didn’t give Atari much time for production, but they were willing to do whatever to make it work.
Why did Atari want Donkey Kong?
There were a few things about Donkey Kong that drew the attention to it, but the main thing that made Atari want Donkey Kong was the beautiful animation of the game. It was not bad graphics which were what most of the video games of that generation had.
One major attraction happened to be a guy who just moved around, running and jumping. The animations made him adorable. He was named Jumpman, and a few years later he was going to be rechristened as Mario, the one of the protagonists of the game.
The main attraction of them all was the huge ape gorilla called Donkey Kong. In the game, he was going to kidnap damsel in distress, princess Pauline. DK as Donkey Kong is an ape with superhuman strength and the leader of the Kong family.
Donkey Kong had already been released in 1981 created by a Japanese company called Nintendo. The game was designed and created by young industrial designer named Shigeru Miyamoto, and Nintendo
Kitchen had been captivated by the storyline of Donkey Kong, and its unique and simple graphics. It was mainly the storyline which made Donkey Kong the clear winner though. Donkey Kong’s story was much better and had a solid plot which was matched by only a few games during that time.
Did Atari make the Donkey Kong game or did Nintendo?
Even though Donkey Kong had already been released, Atari still had to create the levels and make the game work with the Atari and be able to be played with the joystick.
Kitchen immediately started designing the arcade game that was to go live with Atari. The main aim was to create the first level. The main challenge was to design and create the working versions of the slanted ramps and rolling barrels. These were two of the very distinct features of the game, and although today it seems easy, in the 80’s this phase took a lot of time.
After the level was designed, Kitchen had to check the whole of the interface. This interface is the screen that is shown in the game. The screen has pixels which help in producing the picture in the screen. At that time, creating even simple lines and creating animations with them, could be a daunting task. Kitchen’s task was cut out and he went in full throttle with his work. He even ended up taking photographs of the screen and tried to compare them with various screen sizes and platforms.
The problem was that everything was changing so quickly. The technology was changing fast and newer PC platforms were coming fast in the market. Another issue is that the computer memory and programming code was getting optimized. New powerful assemblers were being made. All these innovations were brought into the Atari. The good news was that Kitchen had all these technical advancements on his side.
Once the Atari 2600’s screen had come in, Kitchen took everything given to him and with his effort, started creating a successful working version of the game.
The Atari 2600’s screen, developed by engineers, had a playfield and functioned as a container. It could display scenery against a colored background and hold five moveable objects including two players, two missiles and a ball.
Player objects worked as avatars. The drawings of everything took time to complete, but eventually the sketches of the artillery, cannon, and firearms were created. After that, the animations were put into place.
Each of the five moveable objects had predefined capabilities. For example, it is only one line of code to move a player, but the main problem was in animation. It took a lot of effort to move the animation for every possible move of the player. Each time some movement was to be shown the entire screen was redrawn and they had to match every previous frame, pixel by pixel. It was a very tedious and time consuming job.
Did the designers face any problems?
There were inherent problems working with the 2600 and engineers found it hard to maintain all the portions running correctly without any error. A CRT beam was used for the display. The problem was that the system had many limitations. Kitchen and his programmers failed at many times, but in those times the experienced Attari Engineers took over. Kitchen would come up with ideas to make the problems easier to bypass the hardware limitations that were also creating a lot of problems.
The main problem was to fit all the characters to the screen with their activities. Most games developed at that time could only hold five on screen characters. Because of this, it was extremely hard to make the game.
The first level had Mario, Donkey Kong, Pauline the damsel, a few fireballs and barrels rolling down. It was a challenge to fit everything on the screen at one time. This is where Kitchen would drop in with ideas. He would ask “What would happen if this was done? Could the game be more streamlined if these characters are shown together in one portion?” He would ask numerous questions and suggest improvements pushing the designers and game to its limits. The experienced programmers and engineers at Atari responded, and ended with a brilliant game.
Even though the Donkey Kong game is not on the new Atari Flashbacks, it is still one of the most iconic games on the Atari 2600 consoles ever made. It was designed with such brilliance and once it was released, it was clear that it was a success. Hopefully the next Atari Flashback to release will have the Donkey Kong game on it, as it is one of the best games from the Atari 2600.