Keystone Kapers

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Keystone Kapers
Keystone Kapers cover.jpg
Developer(s) Activision
Publisher(s) Activision
Designer(s) Garry Kitchen
Platform(s) Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, MSX, Xbox 360, Windows
Release date(s) 1983
Genre(s) Platform
Mode(s) Single player

Keystone Kapers is a video game published by Activision for the Atari 2600 in April 1983, and later ported to the Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit family, ColecoVision, and MSX in 1984. Inspired by Mack Sennett's slapstick Keystone Cops series of silent films, the object of the game is for Officer Keystone Kelly (the player) to catch Harry Hooligan before he can escape from a department store.


Screenshot from the Atari 2600 version

In the game, Officer Keystone Kelly and Harry Hooligan are in a four story department store. Each round, Kelly starts on the first floor at the store entrance at the lower right hand corner of the screen, while Harry starts on the second floor elevator door. When the 50 second countdown begins, Kelly must run to the left toward the elevators at the center of the store. The player has to catch Harry before the countdown ends and before Harry can escape off the roof of the store. Each time Kelly succeeds or fails, the round ends and a new round begins if Kelly manages to catch Harry or at the expense of one life. Extra lives are awarded at every 10,000 points; however, the maximum number of lives that can be held in reserve is three. The game is over once all of Kelly's lives are lost.

The player uses the joystick to control Kelly. Moving the joystick left or right will move Kelly in that direction on the screen. Kelly can jump to avoid obstacles, which is done by pressing the fire button on the controller. He can also crouch, which is done by the pressing down on the joystick. The obstacles include cathedral radios, which are stationary. There are also bouncing beach balls, as well as moving shopping carts, which will cause the player to suffer a 9-second penalty if touched. Additionally, there are flying toy biplanes in later levels that will cause the player to lose a life upon contact.

Both Harry and Kelly can make use of escalators to take them up to higher floors. Harry will typically run toward the next escalator on the opposite end of the floor. Kelly can make use of the elevators at the center of the store to go to different floors; however, if he takes the elevator to a floor that is ahead of where Harry currently is, Harry will change direction. While he is being pursued, Harry can move past the escalators and go down to a lower floor, although Kelly cannot do this. Once Kelly takes the escalator to the roof, he will not be able to get back down to any of the lower floors until the round ends.

Once Kelly catches Harry, the player will score points based on the amount of time they have left. On levels 1-9, the player will score what is left on the clock multiplied by 100 points; on levels 10-15, the amount left on the clock is multiplied by 200 points, and afterwards the amount left on the clock is multiplied by 300 points. Kelly can also pick up suitcases and bags of money for 50 points each.

As with most early video games, there is no end to the game; each level gets progressively harder, adding more and/or faster hazards until Kelly loses all of his lives.

There is a map of the store at the bottom of the screen; the map shows where both Kelly and Harry are, which direction they are going, what floor the elevator is on, and which direction the elevator is moving.


On May 12, 2010, the Atari 2600 version of Keystone Kapers was released on Microsoft's Game Room service for the Xbox 360 and Windows-based PCs.


The Atari 2600 version of Keystone Kapers received a Certificate of Merit in the category of "1984 Videogame of the Year (Less than 16K ROM)" at the 5th annual Arkie Awards.[1]:40 Deseret News gave the ColecoVision version of Keystone Kapers 3 stars. It praised the game's graphical improvement over the original, unusual for an Activision port.[2]


  1. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (January 1984). "Arcade Alley: The Arcade Awards, Part 1". Video (Reese Communications) 7 (10): 40–42. ISSN 0147-8907. 
  2. ^ Holyoak, Craig (1984-05-30). "Here are ColecoVision's jewels". Deseret News. pp. 4 WV. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 

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