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Mario Bros. Clone Released For Atari 2600 90

YokimaSun writes "The world of Homebrew Coding never ceases to amaze, even on an old system like the Atari 2600 a coder over at the Atariage forums has released a clone of the original Nes game Super Mario Bros with video, which has the first level from the classic game and eventually will have the first four worlds. Equally as impressive is this 3D Mario game written for the Sega Saturn."
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Mario Bros. Clone Released For Atari 2600

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  • I had no idea the Atari could actually handle that many simultaneous colors. I'm also curious to know how the programmer managed to do separate fire / jump when the controller only has one button. Does "up" on the controller do jump (could be a problem when climbing vines).
    • Re:Simply amazing (Score:5, Informative)

      by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @03:58PM (#41100461)

      The Atari is not bitmapped in the same way as more-modern consoles. It can display any of 128 colors (by adjusting the chroma and luma values) and do it pixel-by-pixel. The only limitation is how fast the software executes.

      I'd like to see someone clone Super Mario Bros for the C64. The closest we had was Great Giana Sisters (which was then forced off the market by Nintendo lawsuit).

      Also: What's so impressive about SMB on the Sega Saturn? That's a 32 bit CPU and ought to be able to handle an 8 bit game easily.

      • Not curious enough to click the link that will show you a pretty picture of why it's interesting?

        • Re:Simply amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @04:08PM (#41100637) Journal

          Click the link, and you get a picture of a game that looks pretty crappy by Saturn standards. Click the other link and you get a picture of a game that looks amazing by 2600 standards.

          Prevailing wisdom was that an SMB1 clone would not be possible on the 2600. Now it's been done. That's amazing. A 3d SMB is well within the capabilities of the Saturn, and is a worthy hobby project, but not in the same league at all. The Saturn game was written in BASIC, the 2600 game was written in assembly.

          • Re:Simply amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Algae_94 ( 2017070 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @04:14PM (#41100699) Journal
            I wouldn't proclaim the clone as being done. I watched the demo video and read some of the authors notes. There are some distinct differences that make it not quite a clone. Only one enemy on the screen at a time, automatically getting whatever is in the yellow blocks when they are hit (and they then disappear), no star power. The only enemy I saw was a goomba. It plays remarkably like SMB, but not enough that I would say SMB has been cloned to the 2600.
            • Re:Simply amazing (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @04:29PM (#41100895) Journal

              "Clone" is a pretty inclusive term in this context. When a game became popular, lots of companies would try to capitalize on the fad by making a similar game. Hence you get "pacman clones" like Ladybug or KC Munchkin, or "Doom clones" like Dark Forces or Duke 3d. In that context, this is clearly a SMB clone. It's worth noting that no other side scrolling platformers exist on the 2600.

              • by Jeng ( 926980 )

                It's worth noting that no other side scrolling platformers exist on the 2600.

                It's been some times since I've played pitfall, but I guess it didn't scroll, just went from one screen to the next?


                • by Hatta ( 162192 )

                  Yep. There are some vertical scrolling games on the 2600(e.g. Pitfall II), but for technical reasons vertical scrolling is easier for the hardware to accomplish. Read Racing The Beam(2009) if you're interested.

            • No Atari game has ever been an exact-clone of the game it's copying due to system limitations. That was the case for all the pre-1984 systems. Colecovision came close, but was never exactly the same as the arcade (for example Donkey Kong only had 3 levels, not all 4) (and looked different).

              • and spending $40 (way back then!) of my hard earned money for 2600 DK is one of the first bad purchases with my own money that I remember. (Sure, I think everybody got toys as presents that weren't as fun as they thought they'd be.)

                Other 2600 games, even PacMan, were fun even though they were very unlike the original arcade versions.

                Heck, I think Mattel Baseball for the 2600 is one of the most fun 2 player games I've played (though I guess it's been 20 years since I played it, wow).

            • No, there were a couple Koopas in there also, and you can shell them. There's also a fireball mode. The 1 enemy at a time limitation is disappointing, but the CPU is very limited on that machine so...better than nothing. Considering how shitty most 2600 ports were (Pac-Man I'm looking straight at you), this is actually quite amazing.

              • Pac-Man was not even a port, it was a prototype of a port.

              • but the CPU is very limited on that machine so...better than nothing

                What are you referring to? The Atari 2600 uses a 6507, which is basically a 6502 without interrupts and a smaller address space. Is it the speed or the address space, or what, that you're calling limited?

                Basically, the *rest* of the hardware is what I'd say are more limiting.

                The NES uses a CPU based upon a 6502.

                • by hvdh ( 1447205 )

                  Is it the speed or the address space, or what, that you're calling limited?

                  On the 2600, the CPU has to generate the video signal, each frame (@60/50Hz), all the time.
                  The playfield makes up around 50% of the analog video signal's beam time. Therefore, even if you use
                  all tricks to have the CPU available for game logic on left, right, top & bottom border, you still have less
                  than 50% of the CPU time available.

                  If you want to use the hardware sprites (movable overlays), you have
                  around 30% CPU time (=0.36MHz) left for game logic.


                  • Yes, but that's an issue of the other hardware... as he points out, the CPUs in the Atari 2600 and the NES (and several 8 bit computers) are all comparable. The reason some of those systems handle sprites well while others struggle has nothing to do with the specific CPU (the actual single chip). It has to do with the other chips that assisted it. The OP said that the problem was with the disparity in the CPU, and he rightfully pointed out that it had more to do with the other hardware, not the CPU.

        • workblocked

          • Ah, I apologize.

            They recreated the 2d game in 3d. It's not like an emulation or anything like that, it's like playing the old 8-bit game with a 3d camera flying around it.

      • Also: What's so impressive about SMB on the Sega Saturn? That's a 32 bit CPU and ought to be able to handle an 8 bit game easily.

        It's not exactly impressive, but it is hilarious and in 2.5d.

      • Re:Simply amazing (Score:4, Informative)

        by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @04:17PM (#41100751)

        The closest we had was Great Giana Sisters...

        Which you can celebrate by joining in at Kickstater for Project Giana [], the grandchild of Giana Sisters (8 days to go). Sorry, I don't think they will be targetting the C64.

      • Also: What's so impressive about SMB on the Sega Saturn? That's a 32 bit CPU and ought to be able to handle an 8 bit game easily.

        Two of them actually..and 6 slave processors. That's why it was so hard to develop for...but in his case the BASIC interpreter took care of all of that nonsense.

      • Back in the c64 days, I saw a version of The Great Giana Sisters that had had its art hacked to be Super Mario Brothers. Well, a reasonable facsimile of the first level, at least; as the game progressed it pretty much reverted to being the Giana Sisters with a Mario sprite.

    • From the linked post:

      Press the fire button to jump.
      Press Up to run and to shoot fireballs if you are FireMario.

    • All it takes is some skill in working with the TIA which is the video chip. The CPU does all the work and the TIA sends that to the TV. Graphics processing occurs when the electron beam is scanning the screen and other processing is done during blanking. Some developers narrowed the playing field sometimes to allow more time for non graphics processing.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by wermske ( 1781984 ) *
      I'm not sure what amazes me more. That someone thought enough of Super Mario Bros to invest time and energy to porting it... or that someone holds the Atari 2600 in such high esteem that porting anything to it satisfies the definition of "impressive." With absolutely no evidence, I'd venture that there are more billionaire conservatives struck by lightning while fighting soviet foreign agents on donkey-back in the Grand Canyon, than their are people with Atari 2600s joyfully anticipating the release of th
      • "I find your lack of faith disturbing." Imagine instead that this article was about a port of Final Fantasy 7 to the Super Nintendo and the response it would get.

        Atari sold 30 million consoles. I figure one-quarter of those kids-now-adults still remember the console fondly and will enjoy reading this news. Probably 1 million of us will be curious enough to download and play it. About 1000 will buy the actual cartridge (That's how many bought the arcade-realistic version of PacMan). Those of us who are

        • by jdavidb ( 449077 )
          Sometime around 1986, when I was a very young and naive boy, I searched every store all over the place for Super Mario Brothers for Atari 2600. I just didn't get why it wasn't available. :) I don't know if I'll download and play it, but I am delighted at the news, and to see the video.:)
        • I was exactly in the target demographic for the Atari 2600, "too young to know better". If I had about 20 more IQ points at the time I would have seen the immense leap in quality between 1982ish to about 1986 when the 8 Bit era was in full swing.

          "Citations as needed"
          " 1982, the VCS was renamed "Atari 2600", after the unit's Atari part number, CX2600"
          "It is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and cartridges containing game code, inst

          • >>>If we talk about "progress per year" I was lucky enough to experience it in exactly the correct order, because once I got my Commodore 128 in about 1987 I could never go back to the Atari 2600. Compare that to me being a holdout of Windows XP today and the difference is telling.

            +1 for the last paragraph.
            I've made the same observation that progress has slowed to almost nothing. I'm still using a PC that is 11 years old and can run the latest software (just need to boost the RAM space). You woul

      • ...or appreciate any antique. There are plenty of retro gamers who can see the beauty in this including me.

        This isn't for you. Go back to MW3.

        • As a retro gamer myself, I thought to myself 'Go back to MechWarrior 3? Don't you mean MechWarrior 2? That was the classic.

          Reactor, online. Sensors, online. Weapons, online. All systems nominal. Or something like that. It's been a while. Ah, the joys of dominating Solaris VII in MW2: Mercs with a mech with nothing but a NARC and a fuckton of LRMs. Tag the enemy, run away, start shooting straight up.

      • by Hatta ( 162192 )

        The first run of Halo 2600 was 500 carts and it sold out. I forget how large the 2nd run was, but it sold out too. I think you'd be surprised at how much love there is for this glorified pong machine.

    • Yar's revenge had tons of colours in the static shield
    • could be up and button combo

    • To start level, press fire button at intro screen (That shows world level and lives). Move left or right to move left or right.
      Press the fire button to jump. Press Up to run and to shoot fireballs if you are FireMario. Press Down to duck or to go down an open pipe. To finish a level, run into or jump on flagpole. The higher you land on it the more points you will get. The status bar on the left of the score is your timer. Don't let it run out! The status bar on the right of the score is your coin counte
  • Mario Bros (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dwedit ( 232252 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @03:51PM (#41100347) Homepage

    The rule about Super Mario Bros is that you NEVER refer to it as "Mario Bros". They are two completely separate games. Mario Bros was even made for the Atari 2600 back in the day.

  • by H0p313ss ( 811249 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @03:53PM (#41100385)

    This must be a new usage of "impressive" with which I was previously unfamiliar

    And stay off the lawn... uh, ugly dead weeds.... damn drought.

    • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @04:03PM (#41100557)

      A side-scrolling game on a console that only has 128 bytes of RAM is impressive.

      • by na1led ( 1030470 )
        I don't remember any 32k cartridges made for the Atari 2600 back in the 80s, so I'm guessing this would have been impossible to make back then.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Actually there was one. It was called Fatal Run (sort of a Road Blasters kind of game) but it was only released in Europe ( There was even a 64K cartridge released in Brazil called MegaBoy but all the space was used by educational questions so it really wasn't a 'game'.
        • by narcc ( 412956 )

          To my knowledge, there's only one 32k cart: Atari's Fatal Run (1989) not to be confused with the same title on the 7800.

        • I thought Junior Pac-man had 32K in order to hold the double-sized mazes, 6 different levels, and ghost AI (they actually chased you rather than wander aimlessly). But I might be wrong on that.

          Jr. Pacman was released 1984, then yanked off the market by Idiot Jack Tramel when he said, "We're not a gaming company anymore." Then it was rereleased in 1986 when Tramel realized he had made a mistake and that games were a cashcow that could fund his computer development.

          There was also an Atari Baseball game tha

          • Nope, Jr. Pac-Man is only 16K. It only looks like it should be 32K because of some amazing programming (GCC really knew their stuff).

            The only Atari Baseball game that I can think of that used a 3D-ish perspective was Pete Rose Baseball by Absolute. That was also 16K.
      • There were sidescrolling games written for the 2600 when it was still the current gen console. How about Moon Patrol or Defender? A quick Google search came up with additional names, but as I wasn't familiar with them I'll let someone else look into it.
        • Also, Pitfall.

          • by narcc ( 412956 )

            Pitfall wasn't a side-scroller in the sense we're talking about. The screen didn't scroll, it "flipped" between scenes when you exited the screen on one side or the other. When exiting on the left, the screen would change and your player would appear on the right and vice-versa.

            On the 2600, that kind of thing is much easier to do than horizontal scrolling. Vertical scrolling, in contrast, is trivially simple, which is why there are virtually no horizontal scrolling games, and zillions of vertical scrolli

            • Why is vertical scrolling so much more technically straightforward than horizontal scrolling?

              • The atari VCS has no frame buffer. Each rectangular pixel is calculated in realtime as the screen is drawn. It is tied very closely to the way that CRT screens draw their picture. They scan left-to-right (depending on perspective) drawing complete horizontal lines from top to bottom of the screen. If I recall correctly, the standard background in one of these games could be up to 40 blocks wide. It's (relatively) straightforward to shift those 40 blocks up or down by just not turning them on until a pa
              • by narcc ( 412956 )

                To add to L1mewater, the PF register is 20 bits wide (made up of PF0, PF1 and PF2) PF0 (4-bits wide) marks the left 4 columns, and PF2 ends in the middle of the display. For the other half of the display, a flag determines if this will be duplicated or mirrored.

                To make matters worse, the bits in PF0 and PF2 are in reverse order.

                So, yes, horizontal scrolling on the 2600 is always impressive.

          • But Pitfall didn't scroll the whole screen like a regular side scroller.
        • >>>Moon Patrol or Defender? Or Pitfall?

          Sorta, sorta, and no. Moon Patrol/Defender did side-scrolling but it was only the 10-pixel high mountains (or city) that moved across the bottom. Everything else is static. These games don't move the whole freakin' screen sideways like SMB on the NintendoES or Sonic on the SegaMS.

          And Pitfall was a screen flipper. Not a scroller. When Pitfall Harry ran off the screen it just "flipped" from screen 1 to 2.

      • by narcc ( 412956 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @04:33PM (#41100953) Journal

        Indeed. Side-scrolling on the 2600 is not easy.

        What is so astonishing here is that the developer used batari Basic and not straight 6502 assembly.

  • a coder over at the Atariage forums has released a clone of the original Nes [sic] game Super Mario Bros with video

    The original NES game had video? No, of course not, it's just an editor not doing any editing again!

  • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @04:33PM (#41100947)
    1. Invent Super Mario Bros for Atari 2600
    2. Time travel to 1982
    3. Profit!
    • >>>1. Invent Super Mario Bros for Atari 2600
      >>>2. Time travel to 1982

      I'm working on my time machine in my basement. So far all I've managed to do is set the viewer to the "dead past" of 1995 and "peep" on the teen daughter next door. (Too bad she weighs 200 pounds in the present... else I wouldn't need the time gizmo.)

  • Naming is fucked (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tarlus ( 1000874 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @05:01PM (#41101373)

    Mario Bros != Super Mario Bros != Super Mario World

    Also, this is far from being a clone...

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.