“Star Castle” Finally Ported to Atari 2600

Fun & Games Technology
“Star Castle” Finally Ported to Atari 2600

Absolutely epic maker tale from former Atari dev Scott Williamson, who writes:

So, you may be wondering why anyone would bother to make a version of a 30 year old vector arcade game on an arcane 33 year old platform? I was inspired by one of the greatest and most influential game programmers of all time to make something that he said was impossible. I don’t consider this a game development project, rather an alternative history art piece, a demonstration that it could indeed be done.

Back story: Porting Star Castle to the 2600 was the first assignment of now-legendary Atari game pioneer Howard Scott Warshaw, who eventually decided that “a decent version couldn’t be done” on the console hardware, and reorganized the core gameplay elements of Star Castle into Yar’s Revenge, which went on to become Atari’s best-selling original title for the 2600.

Now story: Williamson, who worked for Atari starting in ’87, became fascinated with the Star Castle challenge. He dug into the attic for his old Atari notebooks, cobbled together a development environment, and after much head-scratching and code-crunching, managed to pare Star Castle—sprites, sounds, AI, and all—down to 8K ROM / 128 bytes RAM (yes, that’s individual bytes, with no prefix). Then he designed fantastic retro Atari-style packaging for the game, including a clear-cased custom cartridge with internal LEDs that flash during gameplay.

That’s right: The cartridge lights up.

Don’t miss this one, folks. Link below. [Thanks, Scott!]

Star Castle 2600, the Story

14 thoughts on ““Star Castle” Finally Ported to Atari 2600

  1. GeekDadof4 says:

    Awesome. Back when Video games were fun to play!

  2. Kris Southerland says:

    In true Maker fashion the original clear cartridge case was machined on a CNC that Scott built from scratch

  3. Star Castle finally finds a home on the Atari 2600, gets a redesigned cartridge | tekifeed.com – Gadget Feeds, Gadget News and more! says:

    […] PermalinkMAKE Magazine Star Castle 2600 Email thisComments […]

  4. rodaniel says:

    I loved that game on the arcade console and seeing this just makes me miss my old Atari 2600 all that much more. Now he needs to port that game to the iOS platform!!

  5. D. Scott Williamson says:

    Only 45 hours left to get a cartridge!

    It’s the only Star Castle 2600 that could have existed in 1981! (except for the blinkin’ lights)

    Star Castle 2600 works in a stock Atari 8K ROM cartridge just like Asteroids. The other one uses extra RAM and around 24K of ROM in a brand new cartridge format, not even supported in emulation until the emulator was updated to support it. It’s another great implementation though, a truly modern rendition.

  6. Lady Eklipse says:

    Where can I download the ROM?

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).