Codex Gamicus

This article is about the Adventure video game for the Atari 2600. For other entries, see Adventure.

Adventure for the Atari 2600 is considered the first action-adventure video game. Its creator, Warren Robinett, also introduced the first easter egg to the gaming world.


The game was published in 1980 by Atari.[1] It was inspired by a text adventure, Colossal Cave Adventure, created by Will Crowther and later modified by Don Woods. Despite discouragement from his boss at Atari who said it could not be done, Robinett created a graphic game loosely based on the text game. Atari's Adventure went on to sell a million copies and is considered by many to be one of the company's finest games.


The object of the game is simply to find the chalice and return it to the gold castle. The character, represented by a square dot, explores a multi-screen landscape containing castles, mazes, and rooms. Hidden throughout the world are a sword, a key to unlock each of the three castles (yellow, black, and white), a magic bridge which allows the player to travel through a wall, and a magnet which will pull any of these objects towards it.

Also roaming the world are three dragons: Dragon.png

  • Yorgle, the yellow dragon. He is afraid of the Yellow Key and will run away from it. He guards the chalice when he can find it; otherwise he wanders around or helps the other dragons guard their possessions.
  • Grundle, the green dragon. He guards the Magnet, the Bridge, and the Black Key.
  • Rhindle, the red dragon. He guards the White Key.

A dragon can be "killed" by touching it with the sword. If the console's right difficulty switch is in the "A" position, the dragons will run away when they see the sword.

When a dragon touches the player, it will "strike" (remaining motionless for a moment with its mouth open, waiting for a shorter time if the console's left difficulty switch is in the "A" position) and then "swallow" the player, who becomes trapped in the dragon's belly. While the dragon's mouth is opened, it cannot be killed. Pressing the Reset switch on the console will "resurrect" the player and put him in front of the yellow castle, without moving any other objects in the world; however, this will also resurrect any dragons the player has killed.

A bat flies around randomly, occasionally picking up or dropping objects (including live or dead dragons). The bat can steal the player's sword and give him a live dragon in return, or vice-versa. The player can catch the bat and carry it around.

There are three different games (via the Game Select switch) available:

  • Game 1 is a simplified version of the game and did not have the red dragon, the catacombs, the white castle, or the maze inside the black castle.
  • Game 2 has all the features described, but the location of the objects at the start of a new game is always the same.
  • Game 3 has all the features, like Game 2, but instead of objects appearing initially in known locations, objects are placed in pseudo-random locations, making the level easier or harder to solve, depending on where things start out.

The player in the catacombs of the White Castle, carrying the White Key and being chased by the dragon, Grundle.

Easter Egg[]

Adventure is often noted as having the first video game "easter egg." At the time of its creation, Atari didn't credit any of its authors for their work, so Robinett included a hidden message in the game identifying himself as the creator, thus creating, at the time, the first known easter egg.

Not only was Adventure the first action-adventure game and the first to include an easter egg, it was also the first ever to allow a character to carry and use moveable objects. Until then, other games of its type allowed a character to have a stash of items, but required the player to select which one to use at any given moment, usually through keyboard or joystick input. Adventure allowed the player to drop one item and pick up another without having to type in any commands.

In 2004, an easter egg was found in the video game Video Whizball for the Fairchild Channel F console, which was released a full year before Adventure was, thus making it the first easter egg. Coincidently, the easter egg in Video Whizball was the developers name, as the easter egg in Adventure was.


A homebrew sequel of this game, called Adventure II, was released for the Atari 5200.

GameTap features this game as a downloadable adventure-type game.


External links[]

Indenture links[]