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Drunken Pooper: Strange Tales from Classic Game Development

My first Atari 2600 game was far from original – although its origin was. A certain amateur developer entered a coding contest sponsored by the now defunct video game import company Lik Sang. His chosen genre for his entry: “fecal shooter”. He chose to reenact a situation in which his roommate placed a stinky, fully organic log into the bathtub. Apparently, after a long night of drinking, the tub became a toilet. The morning after the developer was soundly accused by the hungover roommate of the dirty, dirty deed. Blamed for his roommate’s actions, the developer did what anyone else would: Turn his experience into a homebrew game!

Fast forward a few years – yours truly was on a hunt for public domain ROMs. What I found was Drunken Pooper. It played out as sort of a reverse Kaboom. The player (wearing his best birthday suit) maneuvered across the top of the screen ready to drop steamy torpedoes into the tub below. The tub rolled erratically at the bottom of the screen seemingly purposefully evading the players shots. Miss enough shots and your life bar diminishes until death. Hit the tub enough times and you go on to a newer, faster level.

I’d been eying Atari 2600 development via Batari BASIC for some time but never pulled the trigger as no robust IDE existed for it. After growing up with QuickBASIC and fully integrated editing tools using a plain text editor just wasn’t acceptable. 2010 saw the advent of VisualbB: the first full featured IDE for Batari BASIC. You could organize project files, draw sprites and even cobble together music. I took turns studying the original game, reproducing its features and learning the Atari 2600 capabilities all at once. Drunken Pooper for the Atari 2600 was the result.

Years after my Drunken Pooper conversion I got in contact with the developer in hopes of getting his blessing for a newer, official game. After an e-mail exchange or two he wrote back that I could do whatever I want with it under one condition: I’d never mention him by name. Seems he had become a professional game developer and didn’t need the Drunken Pooper accreditation in his portfolio. I have not used this golden opportunity to continue the Drunken Pooper series. Still, the original Drunken Pooper and my Atari 2600 port has kept this golden college roommate moment alive – out of the tub and into our collective hearts.

Jason Santuci

Jason Santuci has worked in the I.T. industry for decades. At various times a Tech Monkey, Software Tester and finally Indie Game Developer. Focusing on using beginner friendly tools Jason has created over a dozen games ranging from Atari 2600, Sega Genesis and PC.

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