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Justin

Clear Mario Bros. Atari 2600 Prototype Game Cartridge

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Here's a cool bit of gaming history I picked up this week for our growing Atari I/O classic gaming museum...

 

This is a prototype Mario Bros. game cartridge for Atari 2600. There are a few reasons (obvious) that make this a great addition to the museum:

 

  1. This is not the retail release. The game is playable, but not entirely complete. 
     
  2. It's essentially two prototypes in one. This isn't just a prototype of the game, it's a prototype of the physical cartridge itself. Or rather an engineering sample. Most Atari prototypes were placed in black "Lab Loaner" Atari cartridges. I'm sure we've all seen these at some point. This cartridge is different, because it's half clear.

    When Atari redesigned the game cartridges to house both 2600 and 7800 games and removed the dust cover mechanism, they likely shot off a few samples in clear plastic to test the molds. This is one of those clear cartridges. So it's a pre-production engineering sample of a clear cartridge with a prototype game inside of it. This cartridge was originally found among the clear Atari 7800 console shells.
     
  3. It's not just any prototype, it's Mario Bros.! How cool to think that this would be one of the very first game cartridges in the world to bear the "Mario Bros." name and take Mario & Luigi on their first adventure together  :nintendo_mario:

 

Pretty cool stuff. I've made this image openly available so feel free to use it and share it in any way that you'd like:

Atari_2600_Prototype_Mario_Bros_Crystal.jpg

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I find it cool/interesting that only one of the three visible part numbers shows up in the Jan. '84 Atari Engineering Information System Item Master List, which is chock full of parts and other things that never went to retail.

 

C010312 - listed ("TOP HOUSING CARTRIDGE")

C017782 - unlisted (PCB Rev 3?)

C025351 - unlisted (?)

 

Post more collection photos!  :thumb:

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