Release Date: April 1984
Deisgner: Robert Vieira (Sound), Michael Kosaka (Graphics), Peter C. Niday (Programmer)
Crystal Castles came out in the middle on the video game crash in 1983. The original game benefitted from the power of the arcade cabinetas and showed a polished and clean trimetric view. The goal of the game is to guide the beat Bentley collecting gems through 37 different castles and 9 levels. Traducing a perfect isometric view on the Atari 2600 wasn’t an easy task, but despite the tremendous limitations of the hardware the final result is definitely not bad, although very different from the aracde original. Crystal Castles was also one of the first arcade games with an actual end so it doesn’t end with a kill screen and doesn’t loop indefinitely
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:
Bentley Bear is trapped in CRYSTAL CASTLES, home of Berthilda the Witch and her evil cronies. To escape he must harvest all the gems in each castle while avoiding the deadly touch of the castles’ inhabitants. Watch for the magic hat. As long as he’s wearing it, Bentley is invincible. But look out! If Bentley isn’t careful, the evil creatures will turn him into bear stew!
The scheduled April release date is confirmed by Atari Magazine Volume 2 N. 5 of March-April 1984, the last issue of the mag.
On page 19 of the same catalog there’s another reference to the game
For 1988 release on the 8-bit computers, in particular on the Atari XEGS, Crystal Castles was cited again, and it was still available for order for the ageing 2600.
After this release, we can even find a review of 1989 that covers the XEGS port of the game, but refers also the the original 2600 port. The XEGS version was probably the most advanced of the many ports of the game (even because it came out 5 years after the original release) and it’s almost arcade perfect.
Ports and legacy
Crystal Castles was originally released in the arcades in 1983 and due to the video games crash saw the light of day on the console only the year after. In the following years it was ported on most of the Atari machines: on the Atari ST in 1986 and on their 8-bit line of computers (plus the XEGS) in 1988. Crystal Castles was also ported on the most important micros of the 80s, namely Commodore 64 in 1985, BBC Micro, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Acorn Electron in 1986; a version of the game (the earliest of them all) was also released for the Apple II in 1983.
Crystal Castle has got no sequels but in more recent years was included in the compilations Atari Anniversary Edition for PS1, Dremcast, Windows and GBA between 2001 and 2003 and Atari Vault on PC in 2016.
Have you played Crystal Castles today?