Save Mary! © 1991 Atari Corporation.
The game title says it all, the goal of the game is to 'save Mary'. Apparently Mary is a rather stupid girl who has somehow got herself stuck in a canyon that's rapidly filling with water. Using only a crane and several odd shaped blocks you must build a platform for Mary to climb onto and make it high enough so you can hoist her out with the crane. However your task is made more difficult due to the shape of the blocks. Not all the blocks come in nice little squares, each level has its own unique set of blocks which require clever planning to successfully link them together into a platform for Mary.
Further complicating things is that Mary appears to have started panicking and will run back and forth around the platform. Remember that Mary is human, and like most humans she doesn't take kindly to being squished with blocks. Take special care when dropping blocks not to hit Mary or it's game over. Also be sure to watch out for the low flying airplane that appears on the higher levels. If the plane hits your crane you will automatically drop the block you're carrying (possibly squishing Mary).
Thankfully there are several power-ups to help you accomplish your task. Power-ups appear on the cliff sides and require that you pick them up and drop them off at the top of the canyon to activate them. These power-ups do a wide variety of things:
The Plug: Stops the water from rising for a few seconds
Stop Sign: Makes Mary stop hopping around like an idiot (very handy)
Oil Can: Makes your crane move faster
Gold Block: Makes Mary invincible to being squished by falling blocks
Number: Gives you bonus points
Mary Figure: Gives you extra life
Save Mary! may have been in development longer than any other Atari 2600 game (over two years according to some sources). One reason for this was Atari management constantly making changes to an already complex game, but another reason for the long development cycle was that programmer Tod Frye may only have been working part time for Atari at the time and was also working on another unreleased VCS game Shooting Arcade. Without any doubts Atari had a winner on its hands, but unfortunately the age of the Atari 2600 was over and great efforts like this ultimately came too late to save the dying system. On an interesting side note Nolan Bushnell himself is quoted as saying that Save Mary! was one of his favorite upcoming Atari 2600 releases. One would think that with this kind of endorsement Save Mary! would have seen the light of day, but unfortunately that was not the case.
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