Halo 2600

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Halo 2600
Designer(s)Ed Fries
Platform(s)Atari 2600
ReleaseJuly 2010
Mode(s)Single player

Halo 2600 is an action-adventure video game developed for the Atari 2600 video game console, inspired by the Halo series of video games. Halo 2600 was written by Ed Fries, former vice president of game publishing at Microsoft, who was involved in Microsoft's acquisition of Halo developers Bungie.[1][2]


Halo 2600 screenshot

The player uses the joystick to control the character of Master Chief as he makes his way through 64 screens, divided into four zones: outdoors, Covenant base, ice world, and a final boss area.[3][4] Weapons and power-ups are available to combat the many enemies that appear. The player and enemies can each be killed by one hit unless a shield is collected.[3][5] There are two power-ups in the game, both guarded by what appears to be nine enemies but is actually three. The first is a gun with a faster rate of fire. The second is a pair of boots that allows the player to move faster. In addition to these, by killing certain enemies, the player can obtain an energy shield that will take one shot to prevent the loss of one of the player's three lives. After successfully completing the game once, the game returns to the menu screen, but with a red sky. If the player chooses to play again from that screen the game will run in "Legendary" mode and the player will move and shoot at a slower rate.


Fries decided to create a version of Halo for the Atari 2600 after being inspired by a book called Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System by Ian Bogost and Nick Montfort.[6][7] The Atari 2600 has such limited RAM, only 128 bytes, that drawing Master Chief was difficult, and creating a game with other characters even more so.[8] Fries later stated that making the game taught him that constraint is sometimes a fuel for creativity.[9]


The game was released in July 2010 at the Classic Gaming Expo.[10][11] At the exposition, 150 physical copies of the game were on sale. It was one of four new Atari 2600 titles released by AtariAge at the 2010 Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, including Duck Attack!, K.O. Cruiser (a boxing game) and a port of Sega's 1981 arcade game Turbo.[12][13] The effort was called "rough" but "amazing" by TechCrunch, citing the immense size constraints involved in creating the game.[8] Destructoid called the game's controls "surprisingly capable", and The Escapist called the game's chiptune soundtrack "perfect".[5][14] The A.V. Club noted the incongruity of seeing a "modern blockbuster" transformed into a devolved version on the 2600's "aesthetically abrasive" hardware.[15]

The source code of the game was used to create an 8-bit poster representation of Master Chief.[16] The cartridge version was rereleased through AtariAge in 2013.[17]

In 2013 Smithsonian American Art Museum added Halo 2600 to its "The Art of Video Games" exhibition.[18]


  1. ^ Melanson, Donald (August 3, 2010). "Former Microsoft VP brings Halo to the Atari 2600". Engadget. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  2. ^ News, Bloomberg (March 24, 2004). "Microsoft to simplify its Xbox software". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Good, Owen. "It's All Headshots In Halo 2600". kotaku. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  4. ^ Doree, Adam (August 3, 2010). "Interview: Ed Fries reveals Halo 2600". VideoGamesDaily.com. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Zimmerman, Conrad (August 2, 2010). "Master Chief joins the Atari age in Halo 2600". Destructoid. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  6. ^ Fries, Ed (August 1, 2010). "Halo for the 2600 Released at CGE!". AtariAge. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  7. ^ Beschizza, Rob (August 3, 2010). "Former Microsoft VP brings Halo to the Atari 2600". BoingBoing. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  8. ^ a b Biggs, John (August 2, 2010). "Halo 2600: Halo Redone For the Atari 2600". Tech Crunch. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  9. ^ Pearson, Dan (May 12, 2011). "Ed Fries: Creativity and constraint, Halo 2600 and a Donkey Kong haiku". Gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  10. ^ Kohler, Chris (September 14, 2010). "Retro Halo 2600 Reaches Into Videogames' Past". Wired.com. Retrieved September 15, 2010.
  11. ^ Gilbert, Ben (August 1, 2010). "Promise you'll play Halo 2600 (that's a covenant we can get behind)". 1UP.com. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  12. ^ Yarusso, Albert. "AtariAge at CGE2010". AtariAge. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  13. ^ Kent, Brian (August 1, 2010). "Halo 2600: The seminal franchise finally comes to the Atari 2600". 1UP.com. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
  14. ^ Chalk, Andy (August 2, 2010). "Halo 2600 Brings Seriously Old-School Action". The Escapist. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  15. ^ Agnello, Anthony John (November 19, 2013). "Back from the dead: 9 modern games for obsolete consoles". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  16. ^ Hannley, Steve (December 31, 2012). "'HALO 2600' POSTER INSPIRES ATARI NOSTALGIA". hardcoregamer. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  17. ^ Good, Owen (March 31, 2013). "Play Halo's Atari 2600 'Port' With This Cartridge Now On Sale". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 17 April 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  18. ^ Wawro, Alex (17 December 2013). "Flower, Halo 2600 head to Smithsonian American Art Museum". Gamasutra. Think Services. Retrieved 17 December 2013.

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