By Scott Stilphen (1997)
This unreleased Atari game is a recent unknown discovery. It has the classic, black Atari "Loaner Cartridge" prototype label, and is dated 8-12 (no year, but 1983 appears onscreen). Little is known about this game, as it was never mentioned in any Atari documentation, and the programmer names (Tod Frye and Gary Shannon) are unconfirmed. Gameplay is similar to the underwater portion of Fathom; in fact, if you put a harpoon gun in the hands (er, flippers) of Fathom's dolphin, you get Aquaventure.
You must 'venture' down to the bottom to retrieve an object, and bring it to the surface where a mermaid awaits. Various fish and sea creatures will thwart your efforts while an air meter shows how much time you have. You start out with 4 divers and a limited amount of air, which is measured by a turtle crawling across the top of the screen, left-to-right, towards an air sign. The object is to retrieve an item (treasure chest?) from the bottom of the ocean and return it to the mermaid, who appears near the surface. Starting out, you move down to the bottom of the screen (either avoiding or shooting any sea creatures in your path) which then scrolls up to show you the next section. If any fish (sea horse, etc) is shot, a faster one takes its place. There are always 4 enemy creatures on the screen (except the last one, with the mermaid). The sides of the screen will increase in size the further down you go, and touching the sides is fatal. The number of screens/sections you have to swim through start at 2 and vary up to 5. If you move up a section without the item, you'll have to go to the top and touch the mermaid. You won't get any points for doing this, but you will advance to the next "wave" or series of screens.
Aquaventure's graphics are crisp and the various creatures contain anywhere from 1 to 4 different colors (although your diver is just solid blue). Sound effects are adequate. There's no other game variations, and the difficulty switches seem to have no effect. Overall, it's not a bad effort, but it's only half the game Fathom is, literally.
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