When it first appeared in arcades in July 1983, Crystal Castles amazed players with its sharp graphics and pseudo 3-D mazes.
The game was originally supposed to be a variation on the mega-hit "Asteroids
" and the working title was 'Toporoids' (from TOPOgraphics and asteROIDS). It featured a one-legged robot and/or a spaceship placed in 3-D mazes lined with asteroids and the goal was (of course) to shoot them. The mazes were similar to those in Crystal Castles.
The character 'Bentley Bear' was originally named 'Braveheart Bear' in the released prototypes. But, Atari ran into trouble over that name from the American Indians and so had to change it. Whenever Bentley is killed, he shrinks, and says something in a cartoon-type balloon above his head. The four possible sayings are: OUCH; OH NO; BYE; and #?!.
Originally, FXL designed the game so that Bentley could jump while in a tunnel. But he decided to take that ability away when he saw Bentley's head popping through the roof!
The game was programmed in 6502, and Fortran was used as tool for programming.
All of the musical themes in the game are from works of classical music. The tune when you first start the game and the bonus life music, are both from The Mephisto Waltz by Liszt. The last gem bonus music is from one of the scenes in Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. And, the triumphant theme played when you complete Level 10 is of course from The 1812 Overture, again from Tchaikovsky.
If you hadn't noticed, the color schemes of the castles change during the game, and from one game to the next. The colors in the first level are always the same. From level 2 thru 6, they appear in a set order, but every 100 paid games, this set order changes. Finally, in levels 7 and up, the color scheme is picked randomly. A most odd arrangement! There are 17 possible maze color schemes, and four different color possibilities on every board: gem, floor, front wall, and side wall colors. But, each one is not randomly picked and mixed with the other; they are pre-determined as a group, and then the whole group is chosen randomly. The possible gem colors are red, blue, white, and yellow. The floor can be white, black, or pea-green. And, there are 12 possibilities for wall colors, including pink, maroon, and peach!
On two of the mazes in the game, FXL has built into the structure initials of friends of his. On Hidden Spiral, the DES stands for Desiree McCrorey, who holds a contest record on "Mr. Do!
". SSM is Sam Mehta, who came in 2nd in a "Centipede
" contest held by Atari. And BBM stands for Brian McGhee, a former Atari game designer. On Berthilda's Palace, the initials are harder to make out, as they are cutouts in the floor. EDG is the initials of Eric Ginner, while MAR stands for Mark Robichek. Both of these were famous video game players at the time Crystal was made and are still known by many. Other initials appear in the game, on the above-mentioned scoreboard. While many are made up, some stand for real people. FXL appears in the top 3 spots on a new, or newly reset, game scoreboard and he also appears at other places in the top 250 initials. MEC appears more than once also. This stands for Mark Cerny, a fellow designer at Atari. He is responsible for "Marble Madness
Note : The formula for calculating the points given for the last gem bonus on a particular level and board number is 1,000 + ((((level x 4) - 1) - (4 - board)) x 100).
Frank Seay holds the official record for this game with 910,722 points.
A Crystal Castles units appears in the 1984 movie 'Gremlins'.
Michael Jackson used to own this game. It was sold at the official Michael Jackson Auction on April 24, 2009.