Raiders of the Lost Ark (video game)

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Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders of the Lost Ark Coverart.png
Developer(s) Atari, Inc.
Publisher(s) Atari, Inc.
Designer(s) Howard Scott Warshaw[1]
Platform(s) Atari 2600
Release November 1982[2]
Genre(s) Adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

Raiders of the Lost Ark is an adventure video game created for the Atari 2600 based on the movie of the same name. The game was designed by Howard Scott Warshaw.[1]


The player controls Indiana Jones as he searches for the lost Ark of the Covenant. The game requires the player to use two different controllers: controller 2 moves Jones and its button uses an item; controller 1 selects the item to use and its button drops the item. This control scheme anticipated later game controllers with more buttons and games where buttons would allow the player to switch items without interrupting gameplay.

The video game is set in the city of Cairo in 1936, represented by an entrance room and a marketplace. From the entrance room, the player can blast a hole in the wall with a grenade and enter the Temple of the Ancients. Two paths await inside the Temple, both of which contain various dangers, after which the player will at last find the treasure room. Gold and artifacts can be picked up in the treasure room which will help the player later in the game.

The player must cross a mesa, on the other side of which lies the Map Room where the location of the Lost Ark is revealed. South of the Map Room is a Thieves Den and a Black Market. The Black Market contains various figures, such as two sheikhs, a Tsetse fly and a lunatic, and items needed to win the game (most notably a shovel).

After acquiring all needed items from the various rooms, the player returns to the mesa and jumps off using a parachute. The player goes inside the mesa, via a small hole at the end of a branch, and digs up the Ark, after dodging more thieves.


The game began development in late 1981. In order to collect inspiration, Howard Scott Warshaw walked around the offices at Atari, Inc. wearing a fedora and cracking a bullwhip, which became an inside joke among those who worked at Atari at the time. "When I was coding [Raiders of the Lost Ark], I really tried to get into character", said Howard Scott Warshaw. "I wore the hat and had a real ten-foot-long leather bullwhip. Man, it was loud. Like a gunshot! I said it was for R&D – Research and Discipline. If people were snooping round the building, I'd sneak up behind them and crack that whip. They'd jump out of their suits and I'd be like, 'Hey, how ya doin'?"[3]

The packaging, manual, and advertising artwork was painted by Atari art director James Kelly.[citation needed]


Video Games in 1983 called Raiders of the Lost Ark "a more complex adventure game" than E.T., released at the same time. The magazine noted that the documentation was incomplete and advised players to experiment with multiple ways to progress.[4] Electronic Games stated that the game "doesn't quite live up to its inspiration ... does not excel in excitement", and was inferior to Pitfall!.[5]

Skyler Miller of AllGame, who rated the game three and a half stars out of five, criticized the "average" graphics and "almost nonexistent" sound effects and music. However, Miller praised the "original style of gameplay," calling it a "refreshing change of pace" from most games released at that time. Miller concluded that the game "works as a movie adaptation that stresses thinking over mindless button tapping. If you can look past the less-than-stellar graphics and sound, you'll find a surprisingly complex game that will definitely give your problem-solving skills a workout."[6]


  1. ^ a b "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers". 
  2. ^ "Raiders of the Lost Ark Starring You!". Atari Age. The Atari Club. 1 (4): 9. Nov–Dec 1982. ISSN 0731-5686. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Wiswell, Phil (March 1983). "New Games From Well-Known Names". Video Games. p. 69. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  5. ^ "The Players Guide to Fantasy Games". Electronic Games. June 1983. p. 47. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  6. ^ Miller, Skyler. "Raiders of the Lost Ark - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2016. 

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