A few months ago, when this adventure began, I had no idea what a homebrew game was. Although Atari stopped development of games for the 7800 and 2600 twenty years ago, some dedicated and creative folks have continued to develop games. In fact, in the past few years, more than fifteen new 7800 games have been released and several more are in development. Guys like Mark Ball, Ken Siders, and Robert (Bob) DeCrescenzo (aka PacManPlus) have developed games like Wasp, Beef Drop, and Pacman for the 7800. Bob alone has developed more than a dozen games for the 2600 and 7800!
Others have developed label and box art for the games and many homebrew games are available with professional looking manuals and boxes. One key individual who develops the art and has boxes printed is Marc Oberhäuser (Freelancer Games) from Germany. Many of these games can be purchased at AtariAge, run by a fantastic guy by the name of Albert Yarusso.
What’s even more amazing is that these guys don’t do this to make money, they just do it because they love the hobby. It is a lot of work to put together a cart for one of these games. First they have to buy up old carts, remove the labels, clean the cart, shell, and unsolder the existing eproms. They then have to program the new eprom, solder it in, reassemble the cart, and apply the labels. They also have to arrange for the manuals and boxes to be printed. All of this is time consuming work on top of the actual development of the game.
And…if you think that these homebrew games might not be that great, think again! Most of them are really amazing and are better games than the ones that Atari released for the 7800. They also help to fill in gaps in the 7800 library. For example, the ‘Pac-man Collection’ (the cart is pictured in my blog header) by Bob DeCrescenzo offers Pac-man, Ms. Pac-man, and six other variations. Pac-man and Ms. Pac-man are nearly perfect translations of these arcade classics and show both Bob’s talent and the 7800’s capabilities as a home arcade system. If you have a 7800, or have now decided to get one because of this blog, be sure to plan to include some homebrews in your collection!