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Chase the Chuckwagon (Atari 2600) artwork

Chase the Chuckwagon (Atari 2600) review


"To pick up your own copy of Chase the Chuckwagon, you had to buy a bunch of Ralston-Purina's products and send in the proofs of purchase. Not surprisingly, very few of these games wound up in gamers' hands and the majority of the cartridges were destroyed. This ingenious idea might go a long ways towards explaining why, a decade after this site's creation, I still had to add Spectravision to our list of developers in order to include it with this game's data."



If the game has no other merit, at least Chase the Chuckwagon has an interesting bit of history behind it.

Back in the days of the Atari 2600, it wasn't difficult to make your own game and get it released. That's why those porn games that tended to have horrible play value only "redeemed" by short cutscenes of two vaguely human shapes going at it were able to get on the market.

Well, around 1983, Ralston-Purina decided they wanted a piece of the video game pie. They were running a line of commercials featuring a dog chasing a miniature chuckwagon around which led to it eating a yummy bowl of Chuckwagon dog food. At this point, you might be wondering how this translates to a video game.

Well, Spectravision had a special vision for Chase the Chuckwagon -- creating the world's worst Pac-Man rip-off AND making it tricky to obtain. To pick up your own copy of Chase the Chuckwagon, you had to buy a bunch of Ralston-Purina's products and send in the proofs of purchase. Not surprisingly, very few of these games wound up in gamers' hands and the majority of the cartridges were destroyed. This ingenious idea might go a long ways towards explaining why, a decade after this site's creation, I still had to add Spectravision to our list of developers in order to include it with this game's data.

As an epilogue to this tale, Chase the Chuckwagon is now a collector's item which I really have to put on eBay or somewhere, as people have been known to spend a hefty chunk of change to get a copy of it for some inexplicable reason. It's not the most rare Atari 2600 game out there and it's horrible, but a lot of collectors look at it as a must-have.

Oh, as for the game itself -- you're a dog and you have to go through a number of simple mazes to get to the chuckwagon in a certain amount of time (60 seconds on easy, 30 on hard). There's a dogcatcher who aimlessly wanders around the maze and will take a life if he touches you. There also is one of a number of items bouncing around that will freeze you in place for a couple of seconds if it touches you. If you make it to the wagon, you get to play a bonus game where you have to catch a descending bowl of food before it falls off the screen. Then, it's on to the next maze until you've either lost all three of your lives or turn the Atari off out of boredom since there's only four maze designs and no goal other than to get to the wagon in the alloted time without getting nabbed by the dogcatcher.

Yeah, this one was a real winner.....

Rating: 1/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (August 06, 2008)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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