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Vintage Atari Cartridges: Where to Get Them

The Atari VCS home video game console launched with nine simple, low-resolution games in 2 KiB cartridges. The 2600 was bundled with two joystick controllers, a pair of paddle controllers, and either the Combat or Pac-Man games. By the time Atari reached the end of its primary lifecycle (1983 to 84), at least 48 games had been released for the 2600, a lot of them using more than four times the ROM of the launch titles.

Collecting original Atari game cartridges has become, in the last years, a more popular hobby. You can get Atari games today on sites like eBay or Amazon, as well as the actual console that will allow you to play them. Of course some of them are more difficult to find (and considerably pricier), but there’s something for everyone. We’ve gathered some of the mot beloved Vintage Atari game cartridges you can find today below. Without further ado… Happy hunting!

The following cartridges are considered some of the most popular games released for the Atari system. Among them, you can find classics like Pac-Man, Asteroids, Adventure and Space Invaders.

Pac-Man (1980)

A maze arcade game developed and released by Namco in 1980.

Asteroids (1979)

A space-themed multidirectional shooter game released in 1979.

An arcade game created by Tomohiro Nishikado in 1978.

Centipede (1981)

A vertical fixed shooter arcade game produced by Atari in 1981.

Breakout (1976)

An arcade game developed by Atari and released in 1976. 

Pong (1972)

A table tennis sports released by Atari in 1972.

An arcade game designed by Dave Theurer in 1980.

Adventure (1980)

A game developed by Warren Robinett for the Atari VCS in 1980.

Battlezone (1980)

A first-person shooter tank combat arcade game from 1980.

E.T. (1982)

A game designed by Howard Scott Warshaw in 1982.

A game created by Howard Scott Warshaw in 1982.

Tempest (1981)

An arcade game programmed by Dave Theurer in 1981.

Atari cartridges were release a while ago. Finding boxed versions of them has proven to be quite a challenge for collectors, which makes their prices fetch sums that can leave you dizzy. However, that’s exactly the reason they are so valuable: there are just a few of them around, and save for some digging up in the middle of the desert, these are not going to be showing up frequently. Take a peek at the most expensive Atari cartridges below.

Air Raid is considered by many as the holy grail of Atari game cartridges. There are only a handful of copies still in their box (and not so many out of it!), and each can fetch a price of $3,000 — add a few decimals if it’s still unopened.

What’s interesting about Air Raid is that it actually had a commercial release, unlike other ‘gems‘ who never saw stores. 

The game The Music Machine sold for a short time and only in religious bookstores. Because of this, it can reach a high price in the vintage game collector’s market and is known as one of the hardest-to-obtain Atari games in the world. 

Not long ago, a copy of The Music Machine fetched a respectable price of $5,250.

Red Sea Crossing actually stayed a secret of sorts until 2007, when collectors first came across it. The game had only been sold by mail order. and had only been advertised once (in a single ad everybody seemed to had forgotten about). 

This is why the price of Red Sea Crossing can reach sky-high numbers, a loose cartridge recently peaking at $13,800. 

The title Gamma Attack was the only game released by Gammation. There are only two known copies in existence, making this game rarer than Air Raid.

The exact price of this game is hard to know, because it has never sold at a public auction. But you never know, so just in case we’ve added a link to an eBay search ;)

Whether you’re new to the world of collecting Atari cartridges or already have a few under your arm, you might need to give them a try in a brand new (but… not really) Atari console. You can find a few suggestions below.

Atari Pong (1972)

This table tennis simulator stands today as the great patriarch of video game play. This is where it all began.

Atari 2600 (1977)

The Atari 2600 contained games on ROM cartridges and popularised the use of microprocessor-based hardware.

The ProSystem included the best features of its Atari predecessors and is compatible with Atari 2600 games and accessories.

Got cartridges? Perhaps you’ll be tempted by an Atari-themed gift or product such as the ones we’ve collected here.