Meltdown [Model 11029]

Unreleased Atari 2600 cart. published 39 years ago by Fox Video Games, Inc.

Meltdown [Model 11029] screenshot

Listed and emulated in MAME.

Meltdown © 1983 20th Century Fox.

Meltdown is basically a game of hide and seek that place on a 4x4 grid of atoms. At the start of each round you will see a rogue quark move about the reactor agitating the atoms. Each time the quark touches one of atoms it will strip off some of the electrons and atom will shrink. Once an atom has lost all it's electrons it will become unstable and will begin to glow. If all the atoms destabilize the reactor will blow!

As the only remaining scientist, it is up to you to destroy the quarks and cool down the reactor. To accomplish this you will have to make use of the only two tools at your disposal: an atomic stabilizer and Cadmium rods. When the quark jumps to an atom you must line up the stabilizer (on the X axis), line up the Cadmium tube (on the Y axis), and quickly insert a Cadmium rod by pressing the fire button. However as soon as you destroy one quark another one appears to take its place, so be vigilant and don't let your guard down for a moment.

The core temperature is represented by a bar displayed at the top of the screen. As the core cools down, the bar will grow longer, once the bar reaches the center of the screen the reactor will come back under control and the reactor will be saved (for the moment). Each time you successfully save the reactor the action will get more intense; the number of quarks will multiply, they will begin to move faster, and the electrons will strip off more easily. Once you reach the 10,000 mark, missing even one quark will likely blow the reactor.


Model 11029

Meltdown uses both difficulty switches and has fifteen different gameplay variations. The left difficulty switch controls the penalty for firing on atoms without the quark present (B = no penalty, A = the atom will shrink) while the right switch controls whether or not the quarks can wrap around the screen or are bound to the grid (B = wraparound, A = no wraparound). The various game variations generally set the starting score/speed for the game, but there are some variations of note. Games 6-10 feature auto alignment of the Cadmium rod, meaning you only have to worry about moving the atomic stabilizer around while Games 11-15 are two player variations. With so many different variations and options to choose from, the player can easily adjust the gameplay to their skill level.


Unreleased prototype.

This game was completed under the name Atom Smasher, but when it was first offered to 20th Century Fox, they renamed it Meltdown. Why 20th Century Fox decided to cancel Meltdown is unknown, but was most likely due to the collapsing video game market. The decision to cancel the game must have been made at the last moment, as advertisements proudly boasting 'Just Released' had already been printed. Although Meltdown was displayed at the Winter 1983 CES and listed for release in April 1983, it was never seen again after the show closed. Historian Leonard Herman notes Cumma Technology used Meltdown with their MetaWriter display at the 1984 Winter CES, under the original Atom Smasher name. Long thought lost, Meltdown surfaced in a resale shop in 2004 where by chance it was discovered by a passing collector.


Programmer: David Ross


Game's ROM.