The Starpath Supercharger was an add-on module created by Starpath to expand the game capabilities of the Atari 2600 video game console. The device resembled a long game cartridge with a handle on one end. The Supercharger interface added an extra 6 KB to the Atari 2600's 128 bytes of RAM (increasing its RAM 49-fold), allowing for larger games with higher resolution graphics. A cord coming out of the side of the cartridge plugged into the earphone jack of any standard cassette player. Games for the Supercharger were stored on normal audio cassettes.
By providing these capabilities, the Supercharger made the Atari 2600 much more like the low end home computers of the era, aside from the alphanumeric keyboard the console lacked (simple numeric keypads were available from Atari as add-ons, however).
All Supercharger games were developed by Starpath.
Listed in order of release:
- Phaser Patrol
- Communist Mutants from Space
- Suicide Mission
- Escape From The Mindmaster
- Killer Satellites
- Rabbit Transit
- Frogger, The Official Release
- Party Mix
Mail Order Only
These games were available only via mail order after Starpath declared bankruptcy.
- Labyrinth (early version of Escape From The Mindmaster)
- Excalibur (early version of Dragonstomper)
- Sweat: The Decathlon Game
- Going Up??
Due to the shape of the Supercharger, it will not fit into the ColecoVision's Expansion Module #1, which is an adapter that allows the ColecoVision to play Atari 2600 games. However, if the cover of the expansion module is removed or an extender is used, the Supercharger will work (extenders were sent to customers who called Starpath about such issues).
The Supercharger does not work on many Atari 7800 systems (which is typically backward compatible with the Atari 2600), although it does with some early models of the system. After Atari installed a circuit to fix a compatibility issue with the 2600 version of Dark Chambers, it subsequently caused incompatibility with the Supercharger and some other games that use the FE bank switching method.
The complete library of games, including the prototype Sweat, was also released on CD as Stella Gets A New Brain by CyberPuNKS (Jim Nitchals, Dan Skelton, Glenn Saunders and Russ Perry Jr.). There were two releases, both sanctioned by Atari and Bridgestone Multimedia (who had obtained the rights to the Starpath library some time ago): the first release (a limited number not-for-profit release) also included the previously unreleased Atari prototype, Polo by Carol Shaw, and the second release included the Supercharger prototypes Meteroid (an early version of Suicide Mission) and Excalibur (an early version of Dragonstomper), as well as a number of homebrew games by permission of their respective authors, and the song Atari 2600 by Splitsville, fully licensed from the band.
- Yarusso, Albert. "Companies: Starpath". AtariAge. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
- Grand, Joe; Thornton, Frank; Yarusso, Albert (2005). Game console hacking: have fun while voiding you warranty. Syngress. pp. 393, 504. ISBN 1-931836-31-0.
- Carless, Simon (2005). Gaming Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools. O'Reilly Media. pp. 15–16. ISBN 0-596-00917-8.
- Herman, Leonard (1997). Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames. Rolenta Press. p. 277. ISBN 0-9643848-2-5.