PGP-1 (Personal Game Programmer)

Atari 2600

Review by Al Backiel



Graphics: n/a

Sound: n/a

Gameplay: n/a

Overall: n/a

The PGP-1 exists in prototype format only. It is a unique Atari 2600 peripheral device built by Answer Software and was available directly through them for a brief time. Answer is probably best known for their 2600 game Malagai. The PGP-1 is in essence a Game Genie for the 2600. As a matter of fact, it operates quite similarly. The game you want to alter is uploaded into the module where it is stored as a source program. The program instructions can then be modified so that the game plays differently. Unlike the more sophisticated Game Genie which uses macro instructions, you must specify the exact address location in hex notation by using the special keyboard on the PGP-1. The current values of 4 consecutive addresses are given and can be individually changed.

I, along with one of my gamer friends, managed to each buy one from Answer Software (for a hefty price). I had to sign a document stating that I would not resell or copy it, or in any way infringe upon their proprietary rights. I, in turn received a letter stating that my unit was only one of twelve in existence. The rest of them, I assume, were review copies sent to people in the industry prior to starting up production. Both PAL & NTSC versions were made.

The PGP-1 console fits atop the 2600 and is brown and gold with white keys. There are two cables attached - one goes to a cartridge for the 2600 port, the other goes into the 2600 power receptacle. The power adapter cord goes directly into the PGP console. When you reset, the main system menu pops up showing the four options: Load, Read, Modify, and Play. The system came with four manuals: "The PGP Owner's Manual" (featuring Combat), and "Reprogramming Guides" for three different games (Frogger, Demon Attack, and Malagai). I haven't had time to go over all the documentation yet. You can do things like change colors, sizes, shapes, sounds, lives, difficulty, speed, etc. I was playing around with Dolphin and I hit upon a code which eliminates the seaweed barriers. This enabled me to always stay ahead of the octopus and jump up at the bird for points. Piece of cake! With this code, I achieved 300,000 points and received the hidden message "AMAZING!". I don't think I could have ever gotten that far without the cheat.

The major drawback to the PGP-1 is that it is probably limited to games up to 8K in length. Too bad. It would have been nice to cheat with Taz and finally get to see the mystery dessert!


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:30 PM