Saboteur and The A-Team: Unreleased Atari 2600

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Saboteur and The A-Team - A Side-By-Side Comparison

Image: A homebrewed packaging for Saboteur and a classic ad for the A-Team. Saboteur (c) Atari; A-Team (c) Universal Television

Today we will be taking an exercise in video game comparison by examining the similarities and differences of two unreleased Atari 2600 games. Saboteur and the A-Team were thought lost due to the 1983 crash of the video game market but were resurrected thanks to some leaked prototypes, which bounced around from collector to collector until a couple of generous hackers unleashed them onto the ​world wide web.

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Saboteur - The Intro Screen

  • Title: Saboteur
  • Platform: Atari 2600
  • Designer/Programmer: Howard Scott Warshaw
  • Development Year: 1983
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The A-Team – Intro Screen

  • Title: The A-Team
  • Platform: Atari 2600
  • Designer/Programmer: Howard Scott Warshaw
  • Development Year: 1983
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Gameplay – Saboteur

The first iteration of Howard Scott Warshaw’s missile building threat brainchild was Saboteur, which was a competently designed sci-fi shooter featuring Hotot the Robot who has discovered that alien baddies are building a warhead to destroy his world.

With the help of his buddies, the Gorfons, Hotot must rush from side to side in the warhead factory, blasting away construction robots and Yar flies (from Yars’ Revenge) to stop the Warhead from being built as the Gorfons try to steal pieces of the missile.

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Gameplay – The A-Team

As Saboteur was nearing completion, the execs at Atari decided to dump the original game and reskin it with one of the most popular action shows on TV at the time, The A-Team.

This decision didn’t exactly make a lot of sense as the overall design of Saboteur didn’t match a real-world shoot ‘em up style action series, but that didn’t stop Atari from giving it a try, at the A-Team video game was born.

The basic gameplay remained the same, with B.A. Baracus on a mission to save his Colonel Hannibal Smith, who has been kidnapped by some thug-types who also happen to be building a nuclear missile.

B.A. is represented by the disembodied head of Mr. T, shooting at robots and criminal types out of the top of his Mohawk hair and from the gold chains at the base of his neck.

Instead of the Gorfons, B.A. is aided by his loony tunes comrade Howling Mad Murdock who looks like a court jester and has somehow multiplied himself so he can appear multiple times on the screen at once.

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Boss Battle & Saboteur

If the warhead is completed, a countdown to launch begins as the missile factory disappears leaving Hotot to a one-on-one battle with the evil alien Master Robot. Hotot must now take down the Master Robot while avoid being blasted by or touched by the mechanical monster before the countdown reaches zero.

Even though Saboteur didn’t see a release for the original Atari 2600, starting in 2004 it was included as part of the Atari Flashback line of plug-‘n-play reproductions of Atari’s classic console system and has been included in every subsequent model of the dedicated retro console system.

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Boss Battle & The A-Team

Mr. T’s floating head must face off against Colonel Decker, a leader of the Military Police who is bent on bringing the A-Team to justice for a crime they didn’t commit. In an out of character move, Decker is somehow involved with this plot to launch the nuclear missile as this boss battle also has a countdown to launch, and in an even more out of character move, B.A.’s job is to kill Decker.

Unfortunately, The A-Team for the 2600 never saw a release, but several prototype cartridges were leaked and now numerous websites have it available to play with an Atari 2600 emulator.

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