Can You Identify These Badly Described Classic Games?

Detail of a box illustration from a “Taiwan Cooper” Atari 2600 game.
Detail of a box illustration from a “Taiwan Cooper” Atari 2600 game.
Image: Credit Unknown (Scan courtesy Steve Lin)

Atari collectors all know about the so-called “Taiwan Cooper” line of bootleg cartridges that were sold around the world back in the ‘80s. They were knock-off copies of Atari 2600 games both popular (Space Invaders) and obscure (Bobby Is Going Home), with weird cover art and bizarre descriptions on the backs of the boxes.

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Nobody has any clue who made these games. They’re only referred to as Taiwan Cooper games because they all say “Made In Taiwan” on the back and use the well-known font Cooper Black for the logos on the front.

Taiwan Cooper games generally have unique cover art that seems to have been designed exclusively for these releases, but which often bears little resemblance to the actual game’s characters. Additionally, the descriptive text on the boxes reads like it was written by a person who watched footage of the Atari 2600 version of the game and tried to make their best guess at what was going on in the console’s typical low-resolution, low-fidelity ports of arcade games.

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For example, here’s the description of the game Demon Attack.

The enemy commands a contingent of space creatures to break down the base which keeps secret illustration of the star Venus. We have six anti-spacecreature tanks with unlimited missiles to attack enemy’s armed corp. After one screen, the moving speed of the enemy creatures in the continuous is faster than that in the previous, and the scores we get by shooting down one creature is added 10 points to the previous unit ones.

As you can see, these are precious gems of video game history well worth preserving. My friend Steve Lin did some high-res scans of some of the Taiwan Cooper boxes recently, which eventually got me thinking about turning them into a quiz. So here’s the game: Read these seven game descriptions taken from the backs of Cooper game boxes, and try to guess what well-known Atari game (often a port of an arcade game, but not always) they’re attempting to describe to the would-be buyer.

These are presented exactly as they appear on the back of the game boxes, with character names redacted if it would give away the answer. At the end, total up your score and see how you rank.

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Detail of a “Taiwan Cooper” Atari 2600 game box art.
Detail of a “Taiwan Cooper” Atari 2600 game box art.
Image: Credit Unknown (Scan courtesy Steve Lin)

Questions:

1. “The flea plays in 21 pieces of solids. It can take the lifts set beside solids to get up to the top in order to escape from Ghost Balls’ and Monsters’ kill. You have 4 fleas to play. You control the joystick on 8 directions. To control joystick obliquely up to make sure the flea getting up safely. The flea can kill the Monsters on the back. To jump over one solid, to get 25 points. To kill down one Monster, to get more.”

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2. “The explorer must get up to the top in 100 seconds, or he will die. Just when the explorer gets up to steal the box, a new video appears. The poison gas blows through the five stories in a random way. The explorer has five chances to get the treasured boxes.”

3. “Olivia is confined in the top hole which fills with many terrible creatures. Olivia throws the cabbage to with the mysterious power which can give [character] ENERGY. [character] must take the cabbage. If [character] have 20 pieces of cabbage, he will have enough energy to attack Brooke who always hurt Olivia. So [character] must rescue Olivia from the terrible hole.”

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4. “Your mission is to help her cross the deadly dangers which are swamps, quicksand, spider monster leopards, and lions in the underground. And there are obstacles, pits and cobras, to obstruct Tomboy from crossing hazards. On the adventuring trip, Tomboy perhaps recovers treasures, diamond ring, gold bar, silver bar, and money bag. She has twenty minutes to go through the jungle.”

5. “You are a famous cook. Now you are performing your skillful cookery. To set up bread, hamburg, and salad is to finish your work, but you should avoid the rotting creatures, otherwise you will fail. If you can not escape, you press the button to use insecticide to kill them.”

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6. “A group of rascals will rebel, and gather in a building. Now you command the [character] who is famous for the technique of clilmbing walls and the jinx to the rascals. Your mission is to climb up the 18-floor building and to arrest them. It is so dangerous to warp up himself and, at one time, catch the rascal exactly. If the rascal appears beside the rope, he will cut up it, and let [character] fall to death. You only have limited rope and time to use, so your action should be fast. You have three chances.”

7. “An enemy has secretly occupied the Bermuda protected by his fuel tanks, battleships, propellers, missiles, and space arsenals. You are a commandant to command an exquisite battlewagon with unlimited bombs. Your mission is to stop all enemy dangerous attacks by launching bombs. You have three perfect battlewagons. In the procession, there are a few icebergs to obstruct your battlewagon.”

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Caution! Answers are below this clown!

Detail of a “Taiwan Cooper” Atari 2600 game box.
Detail of a “Taiwan Cooper” Atari 2600 game box.
Image: Credit Unknown (Scan courtesy Steve Lin)
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Answers:

  1. Q*Bert
  2. Donkey Kong
  3. Popeye
  4. Pitfall!
  5. BurgerTime
  6. Spider-Man
  7. River Raid

Your Scores:

1—2 points: You are confined in the top hole.

3—4 points: You are the jinx to the rascals.

5—6 points: Now you are performing your skillful cookery!

7 points: Congratulations! You command an exquisite battlewagon, with unlimited bombs.

Features Editor, Kotaku. Japanese curry aficionado. Author of the books Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life and Final Fantasy V from Boss Fight Books.

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DISCUSSION

JediaKyrol
JediaKyrol

agh...the only one I didn’t get was #2! My guess was some kind of reverse Dig Dug.

... ... ...which version of DK had poison gas and treasure boxes?