Save the whales

The folks at Atari Protos have uncovered “Save the Whales” — an unreleased Atari 2600 game whose proceeds were supposed to benefit Greenpeace. The description:

You control a submarine that must “Save the Whales” by shooting the harpoons or nets thrown by the ship at the top of the screen. You can choose between harpoons or nets by changing the difficulty switch, harpoons are smaller and faster than the nets so they’re harder to hit. If a harpoon or net hits your sub you’ll have some damage, if you take five hits it’s game over and all the whales die!

Given the pace at which whales have become extinct in the last 25 years, it’s perhaps unsurprising that “the game is very fast and very hard, so lasting for more than a few minutes is a real achievement.” Even better is the fact that the guy who created this — Steve Beck — originally intended to release two other eco-games, “Dutch Elm Defender” and “Attack of the Baby Seals”. Okay, that Dutch Elm thing, whatever … but I would so play a game called “Attack of the Baby Seals.”

But if you really want to bake your noodle, check out Atari Protos’ writeup of “Mind Maze” — “first (and only) Atari game to be based on the unproven (yet still popular) theory of ESP (Extra Sensory Perception).” That’s right: The goal is to try and sense what the next card displayed will be.

(Thanks to Fark for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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