Raster Fahndung
My 3rd Game Development for the Atari 2600.

The Story of Raster Fahndung

While producing the limited edition of A-VCS-tec Challenge I pondered about the next game project and thought that a game for either one or two players simultaneously would be nice. I already programmed some small demo effects - one of them being a rotating chessboard tube. The demo effects form the intro of Raster Fahndung now and the chessboard lead to the idee of searching for small patterns inside a board with a big pattern. I considered if such a game would be possible on the Atari 2600, because the limited RAM of only 128 bytes would have direct influence on the size of the pattern. When the main display routine proved to be possible all the game elements were added aswell as the one or two players option.

The game title itself is a german description of the game's objective: to search for a specific pattern, but notmally it's used by the police. The expression "Rasterfahndung" itself was the german "bad word of the year 1980" and may be translated to "dragnet investigation". As 1980 was about the time of the Atari VCS being strong, I concidered this title being perfect.

The Introduction Sequence

The cartridge starts up with displaying the bouncing game logo and two rotating chessboard tubes.

After some seconds the cartridge displays the copyright information along with a conversion of my "Denker2000" picture which I first drew some years ago on the C64.

The One Player Game

In the intro you can choose to play a one or two players game by either pressing fire of joystick one or joystick two. The one player game starts with a random board and your cursor located in the middle. Above the board is a countdown timer and the player's score is shown below the board.

Pressing the fire button of your joystick shows the pattern which you have to find inside the board.

Releasing the fire button brings you back to the board where you have to search for the pattern. Pressing the fire button at the right position awards you with the remaining time as points and the next level. Pressing the button at a wrong position shows the small pattern again.

The game ends when the time counter runs to 00. To make things a bit more difficult, the time counter runs faster when the small pattern is displayed.

The Two Players Game

If you chose the two players game in the intro, the game starts with two different cursors inside the board and individual scores for each player.

The objective is the same as in the one player game: look at the pattern and search for it inside the game board. Both players can watch the small pattern individually, but remember that the time runs faster when the small pattern is shown.

Releasing the fire button brings you back to the board where you have to search for the pattern. Pressing the fire button at the right position awards the winning player with one point and the game continues with the next level. Pressing the button on a wrong position shows the small pattern again.

The game ends when either the time counter runs to 00 or one of the players manages to reach 9 points. To make things a bit more difficult, the time counter runs faster when the small pattern is displayed. It runs even faster if both players press the fire button at the same time.

The Game Time Modes

You can choose one of the two game modes with the left difficulty switch. The "Easy" setting gives you a fixed time limit per level, starting at 90 and decreasing by 5 per level until a minimum of 20 seconds is reached. All following levels give you 20 seconds time limit.

The "Hard" setting gives you 90 seconds at the beginning of the first level. You start the next level with the remaining time of the previous one. This means that the time is running from 90 to 0 and you can solve as many levels as possible within this time. Solving each level gives you a bonus time of 5 seconds.

General Game Controls

Technical Details

The game is written in 6507 assembly and consists of 4 KB (4096 Bytes) of coding, graphics and sound effects. The VCS only offers 128 bytes of RAM of which 80 Bytes are used for the random playfield alone. The remaining space is needed for the position coordinates of the players, the scores, the timer, the small pattern and some technical information. Creating the excerpt of the small pattern from the random playfield uses a lot of bit shifting due to the complex way the Atari handles its display - every second value is stored with the bits in reversed order for example.

Due to differences between PAL- and NTSC-consoles, the game needs to be adjusted to both TV-standards. The first development version was PAL format (312 scanlines, 50 Hz) and converted to NTSC (262 scanlines, 60 Hz) afterwards.

The development was performed on a Pentium-PC using a normal Text-Pad as editor and DASM V2.12 as compiler. Testing was done using the emulator z26 V1.52 and V1.58.

Download of the Game

You can download the PAL version of the game file here and the NTSC version here. Use a VCS emulator to play the game. Please notice that you use the emulator and my game at your own risk, I don't take any responsibilty for problems occuring to your computer when using an emulator.

Production of Original Cartridges

The game is released as a limited edition of 75 copies first. The limited edition contains these items: PAL/NTSC-cartridge, plastic box, instruction manual, photo print, serialnumber and signature. Every limited edition cartridge contains a switch on the back of the cartridge to choose PAL or NTSC mode.

Beneath the limited edition of 75 copies, the unlimited run (normal cartridge and manual only) will supply as many copies as requested. Please order your copy of the unlimited edition game cartridge (PAL or NTSC) with manual directly from this retailer:

Pictures of the Limited Edition

The back of the cart showing the PAL/NTSC-switch.

A complete copy of the limited edition.

All 75 boxes.

Purchase of the Limited Edition

RasterFahndung is currently on sale through this site. The price for the limited edition is 35 EURO. Shipping is not included in the games prices and varies from your location and the kind of shipment you want. 25 EURO including worldwide postage.

Payment is accepted through Paypal, bank-transfer or cash (USD or EUR) in envelope (I recommend using insured envelopes only). Germans should pay by bank-transfer only. In any case the buyer takes the risk of the shipment.

All items have been tested by me personally and I ship them in perfect working condition. Anyway I will not take any responsibility for damages appearing on your consoles or cartridges in usage. I'm not able to replace or refund any of the games.

ATTENTION PLEASE! Even if I tested all cartridges on different machines, there seem to be problems with some models of the VCS or 7800 consoles where the cart will not fit into the slot. I only used original Atari cartridges so I wonder where the problems come from.

However: the cartridges always work on 2600junior consoles, so please make sure that you have such a machine before ordering. It may also work on your other machines, too.

As all the items are handmade there may be a few of them having spots of appearing not as perfect as others. This makes them even more unique and should be regarded as being something special and not as a bug. I'm not able to replace items in case you don't like them.

The limited edition consists of exactly 75 copies, so there might be more interest than copies available.

Please do only order your personal copy if you accept all the mentioned facts.

How to order

If you are interested in a copy of the limited edition of RasterFahndung and accept the mentioned conditions, then please send me an e-mail containing the following information:

  • Your full name, address and country
  • The kind of postage (un-/registered) you want
  • The way of payment (paypal, bank transfer, cash) you want

  • Please use this address for ordering (replace [DOT] and [AT] with . and @ please). Thank you!

    Owners of the Limited Edition

    # Name Country
    01 Simon Quernhorst Germany
    02 Christian Keller Germany
    03 Marc Oberhäuser Germany
    04 Jeff Rothkopf USA
    05 Remowilliams USA
    06 Rick Weis USA
    07 Jose Garcia USA
    08 Kai Darius Kohl USA
    09 Carl Howard USA
    10 r_type2600 Austria
    11 Christoph Pistner Germany
    12 Mat Allen England
    13 Walter Lauer Germany
    14 Richard Lecce USA
    15 Mike Chassin USA
    16 Luke Sandel USA
    17 Michael Weiß Germany
    18 Cyril Denis France
    19 Jörg Lennhof Germany
    20 Dieter Kosancic Germany
    21 Jose Artiles USA
    22 Michael Garber USA
    23 Al Backiel USA
    24 Leonard Hermann USA
    25 Fabian Grossekemper Switzerland
    26 Philip Rubin USA
    27 Ingo Boyens Germany
    28 Michael Tausendpfund Germany
    29 Gregor Houghton England
    30 Matthias David Germany
    31 Ed Mann USA
    32 Ryan Hefferan Australia
    33 Andy Ryals England
    34 Dan Cremins USA
    35 Rob Neitzke USA
    36 Jerry Greiner USA
    37 Syd Bolton Canada
    38 Lance Bohy USA
    39 Chris Austin USA
    40 René Meyer Germany
    41 Horst Lienert Germany
    42 Jörg Konzan Germany
    43 Lori Burgener USA
    44 Marco Kerstens The Netherlands
    45 Alain Kohn Luxemburg
    46 Hartmut Ahl Germany
    47 Yannis Pachnis England
    48 Mr. Atari The Netherlands
    49 SOLD Germany
    50 Jim Donahue USA
    51 Lars Willemsen Germany
    52 Lukas Meller Germany
    53 Dan Cage USA
    54 Gilles Bordelais Belgium
    55 Jörg Müller Germany
    56 Computerspielemuseum Berlin Germany
    57 Ron Engel USA
    58 Christian Gleinser Germany
    59 Michael Braun Germany
    61 Binarium Germany
    64 Arne Israel Germany
    65 AntaBaka Germany
    67 Florian Germany
    68 Russ Perry jr. USA
    69 Holger Meller Germany
    70 Oliver Schlesier Germany
    71 Ralf Griewel Germany
    73 Boris Kretzinger Germany
    74 Jörg Dröge Germany
    75 Tim Benish USA

    This game for the Atari 2600 was written in 2006 and is (C) by Simon Quernhorst.
    The URL www.quernhorst.de is owned by my brother, who is not to be connected
    with the development of this Atari 2600 game, so don't bother him with mails.
    Atari is a registered trademark, 2600 and VCS are trademarks of Atari Corporation.

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