[The 2600er] Keystone Kapers

Copyright: 1983

Release Date: April 1983

Developer: Activision

Publisher: Activision

Deisgner: Garry Kitchen

Code: AX-025


Keystone Kapers is an action-platform game in which the protagonist, officer Keystone Kelly is on the trail of the fugitive Harry Hooligan inside a shopping mall. The task for him is to get Hooligan within 50 seconds. There are obstacles slowing him down but he can also obtain more time finding some “power-ups” like coins. As frequently happens in these games there’s no end but the game becomes level after level more difficult. As you reach 1000000 points instead of the counter are shown 6 helmets and if you increase furthermore your score the game “crashes”.

Below you find other two images related to the game: the back of the box and the label of the cartridge itself.

We read from the back of the box

Flash! Harry Hooligan, notorius con-artist, thief and all-around-not-a-nice-person, has escaped! He is now at large and in the vicinity of Southwick’s Emporium. At this moment, Hooligan is failing every attempt to end his felonius freedom.
On the scene is Keystone Kelly, the pride of the man in blue. Officier Kelly, what’s it like in here?
Oh, ’tis a cryin’ shame! Shenanigans like ya wouldn’t believe! Dastardly deeds that defy description! That rogue is hurling everything in reach! Shopping carts, biplanes, beachballs – everything but cathedral radios. LOOK OUT! It’s a cathedral radio!! Gotta go! I mean to recover the loot and bust that brute!
Will that double-dyed hoodlum keep Keystone in triple trouble or will YOU help the greatest gumshoe going catch that no good galoot?? Grab your billyclubs and joysticks! It’s curtains now, Hooligan!!

A slightly rare blue labeled version of the game exist, less detailed and with a more “amatorial” look. It was quite normal back then for Activision, to release games in two “versions”, one, let’s say, official with the detailed label, and one a bit more crude to save on costs.

Here’s a commercial for the game, back in 1983


Here’s the Activision catalog which confirms Aprile release in 1983:

…and this is a review Electronic Fun with Computer & Games:

Ports and legacy

The game was inspired by the series of silentfilms Keystone Cops and was coded by Activision’s Garry Kitchen who also coded Coleco’s port for the Atari 2600 of Donkey Kong.

Originally released only for Atari 2600, the Sunnyvale company in ported the game on their 8-bit line cof computers and the year after, in 1984, even on what it should have been the successor of the VCS, the Atari 5200.

However Atari wasn’t the only company which housed a version od the game: in 1984 Keystone Kapers landed on the most dangerous Atari competitor, the ColecoVision, whose version was praised for the improvements in comparison to the original. An MSX version of the game also exists, very similar to the Coleco one.

Kitchen coded also a sequel of the game, Keystone Kapers II but the project was eventually canned. This is what he said about it:

“I had also done a sequel to Keystone Kapers, which was the Keystone cop on a train. And that was actually a neat thing because I was able to pull off some interesting software kernels where I had eight rotating wheels on the bottom of a train where you could normally only have 2 or 6 It was a very cute game. From screen to screen, from boxcar to boxcar fighting and trying to defeat the character from Keystone Kapers, who was the runaway criminal. That was a very huge game as it had non-symmetrical play and had a really nice, large engine at the front of the game and a very large caboose at the bottom of the game.”

Have you played Keystone Kapers today?

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Mill says:

    Not today but maybe tomorrow…again.
    Its lots of fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. benez256 says:

      A lot…:)


  2. pick3dlast says:

    This was one of my favorite games for the Coleco! Preferred it over the Atari 2600 version. Is this one you picked up with your 2600 haul last month?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. benez256 says:

      Unfortunately no 😦


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