Atari is releasing a new cartridge for its 46-year-old 2600 console

Save Mary was actually developed during the golden years, but never hit store shelves.


Atari just announced preorders for a physical cartridge for the company’s once-ubiquitous 2600 console. You read that right. A gaming console that counts 1982 as its most successful year is releasing another new cartridge in the year 2023. The game-in-question is called Save Mary and was actually developed during the console’s golden years, before being shelved when the 2600 went the way of the dodo.

Save Mary was in development for two whole years, which is a lifetime in the generation of gaming that preceded the NES. The normal timeframe to produce a game back then was six to nine months, with some notorious titles taking just five or six weeks. Save Mary was originally developed by veteran Atari staffer Tod Frye, the guy behind the 2600 version of Pac-Man and the Swordquest series.

Preordering one of these cartridges for $60 nets you a silver collector’s edition box and a full-color manual, in addition to the game itself. There are only 500 of these carts available, making them an attractive collector’s item for Atari diehards.

A screenshot of the game.

As for the game, Save Mary tasks you with, well, saving a lady named Mary. She’s stuck in a steep canyon that’s rapidly filling with water. You use a crane to build platforms to help her escape the dire predicament. Power-ups appear on the cliffside to help you out, an idea that Atari says was likely inspired by Pac-Man. Atari’s founder Nolan Bushnell lauded the title in a 1989 interview, saying that it was the “first game in which you rely on construction rather than destruction to save the princess.”

Save Mary joins several other recently-manufactured Atari 2600 cartridges, many of which are brand-new titles like Mr. Run and Jump or unreleased “lost” games like Aquaventure. Each cartridge in the Atari XP line is “manufactured to exact standards” from yesteryear with some modern flourishes like beveled edges to prevent pin damage and gold-plated connectors. You don’t have to track down a dusty old 2600 to play these games, as Atari currently sells an upgraded version of the console, called the 2600+.