Questions, Questions
by Al Backiel

I have been writing articles on video games for many years now. I have read all I could on the subject. I’ve played hundreds of games and always strived to max them out. Even still I don’t profess to know anywhere near everything there is to know on the subject. As a matter of fact there are many questions that I don’t have answers for. So I thought this column would be a good forum to lay the them all out on the table. Hopefully, our readers may be able to provide some insight. A programmer, or a person with inside information, or a video gamer based on his/her personal experiences might be able to help. I have included the names of the programmers involved when known. Somebody out there may know them personally or know where to find them on the Internet. Here then are my top 10 video game questions:

Is Impossible Mission (7800) really impossible? Here is a game that can be mapped out without too much trouble. The object in a nutshell is to find all 36 puzzles pieces scattered throughout the game, so they can form 9 completed puzzles of 4 pieces each. This is supposed to yield a 9-letter password to open the control room door and win the game. The trouble is there are only 23 puzzle pieces attainable. Even if you consider the upper corner of the one screen that seems to be unreachable, there still wouldn’t be enough pieces. All 32 rooms are accounted for. Is the game incomplete? There was a C-64 version. Maybe that can provide some clues.

What is the final "dessert" in Taz (2600)? You have to run through the game completely 3 times to see it. This is extremely hard to do. My best effort was between 1 and 2 times. The only person I heard of coming close was Sean Kelly who got through over 2 times.

What is the significance of the hidden password "TEALPEHN" in Blueprint (2600)? The manual refers to it as a "clue to up and comings surprises from CBS Games". Is it referring to a future release? The password can be anagrammed into "elephant". The only elephant game I ever heard of was Dumbo’s Flying Circus, so that can’t be it. What the heck were they working on?

At the end of Quest For Quintana Roo (2600), what is the "fraction" 18/30 supposed to mean? After solving the map rock jigsaw puzzle correctly, this cryptic "treasure" appears. Other than the fact that it can be reduced to three-fifths, I’m at a loss. No, it has nothing to do with the catalog number.

What the hell does it take to kill the final boss in Midnight Mutants (7800)? It is hard enough fighting your way through a cavern that is crawling with demons to reach this guy. You have to have plenty of reserve strength. You need a very detailed map or an excellent memory. Dr. Evil must be hit in his weak spot repeatedly. The problem is you don’t know where this is, so you fire away until you die. With the other bosses you at least were given hints.

How does one uncover the "Easter egg" in California Games (2600)? I only have myself to blame for this issue. I saw it, I reported it to a few of my fellow collectors. But, to this day, I don’t know how I did it. I found it soon after I bought it , so I thought it was commonplace. I did not take any notes, nor do I remember the steps taken or what character name was chosen. I do vividly remember it was during the half-pipe competition and it popped up in place of the score after a series of high jumps. It was a sort of hamburger shape containing the programmer’s initials (SAB). Anyone who knows how to read 2600 code and would like to take a crack at solving this, I can provide with a copy of the listing. I am an IBM mainframe programmer, so it’s Greek to me. I planned to someday, somehow learn the code. This has been bugging me and I would like to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible. [Programmed by M. Peter Engelbrite & Steve A. Baker]

Is there a second screen/level in Ghostbusters II (2600)? This game I believe was started by Activision and sold overseas by Salu. It is PAL and was/is available from Telegames England. The box shows an additional screen containing The Statue of Liberty moving through the streets like a float. There are several references to a second screen throughout the instructions. The object of the game is to descend to the bottom of a shaft by moving from side to side while fending off enemies and collecting prizes. You must also complete a slime scooper along the way. After reaching the bottom, you are supposed to dig for a slime sample. What happens is you that you keep digging and digging until time runs out. The manual is unclear as to how this is supposed to work.

Do the Crypts of Chaos (2600) have an exit or a final screen? If so, when and where? The maps for the 4 possible mazes were published in DP #31. I did the mapping and Joe Santulli made it look real nice with wallpaper and such. The four mazes repeat in sequence for x number of levels. The manual states "Consider yourself a Noble if you can descend to Floor 18 and still get out alive". Notice it is not saying specifically that this will end the game. It is also saying that you still have to get out alive. Does this mean resurfacing by going all the way back? God, I hope not! I got pretty far by starting on the lower levels rather than the higher because it allowed me to build up my reserves. [Programmed by John W.S. Marvin]

In Grover’s Music Machine (2600 prototype), what are the selections? At the risk of sounding like I’m regressing back to my childhood, I’m still curious as to the song titles. Grover plays a little tune and does a little dance for almost every letter of the alphabet. I find myself unavoidably playing "Name-That-Tune". Reminds me of Joe’s Sound Bytes on the Web. Now where have I heard of that sound before ? Here is what I think I’m hearing. Any corrections or fill in the blanks will be appreciated:

A= Old McDonald Had A Farm

B= Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

C= Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush

D= Over The River And Through The Woods

E= Hush Little Baby

F= The Itsy Bitsy Spider

G= ?

H= Skip To My Lou

I= Three Blind Mice

J= Hickory Dickory Dock

K= Do You Know The Muffin Man ?

L= A-Tisket, A-Tasket

M= ?

N= ?

O= I’m A Little Teapot

P= ?

Q= This Old Man

R= The Farmer In The Dell

S= ?

T= ?

Have the following contests been resolved?

Swordquest:Waterworld - No record of prizes or cerificates known yet.
Rescue Terra I - $5,000 first prize in playoff competition.
Defend Atlantis - $40,000 in total prizes in high score playoff. $10,000 first prize.
Popeye - scratch off card = Popeye arcade machine or t-shirt.
Keystone Kapers - scratch off card = $5,000 savings bond or other prizes.
Name This Game - $10,000 first prize. Winner has been reported as Galleon’s Gold, Treasure of the Deep, Guardian of the Deep or was it something else????
Death Star Battle Sweepstakes - Simple quiz. First Prize = Star Wars Arcade Game, Second Prize = Darth Vader phone, Third Prize = Ewok Adventure cart (yeah right!) Fourth Prize = Return of the Jedi baseball cap

Any winners out there? Write us.

Al Backiel is just one of those guys that can't get enough of video gaming. How well we can relate to that. His specialty is Atari 2600, and you can reach Al at

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Last updated Tuesday, February 13, 2007 06:01 PM