Dark Cavern (Atari 2600)

Dark Cavern for the Atari 2600 was developed and published by M Network in 1982. The original Night Stalker for the Intellivision was developed and published by Mattel in 1982.


Dark Cavern is the Atari 2600 version of Nightstalker. It is the only port with a different name (the Mattel Aquarius, Apple II and IBM PC version keep the original name). It is generally considered a simpler version of the game.

You control a man that is trapped in a spooky, cavernous maze. The maze is a single screen of twists with the bunker in the middle. The maze is full of spiders, energy entity and robots who will either paralyze you and shot you down.

Unarmed, your man must get the gun, which spawn not far from it. Then, you can shoot 6 bullets from it before the gun become useless. At that specific time, you must gather another gun that will spawn around the maze. You can shoot in four directions but cannot shoot again until the projectile exits the screen.

In Dark Cavern, there are four kinds of robots. They will change colour and speed depending of how many they are in the screen :

  • Yellow Robot: 5000 points if destroyed.
  • Green Robot: 3000 points if destroyed. They change to this colour if there are 2 robots on the screen.
  • Red Robot: 2000 points if destroyed. They change to this colour if there are 3 robots on the screen.
  • Purple Robot: 1000 points if destroyed. They change to this colour if there are 4 robots on the screen.

Robots appear at the left or right side of the screen. With the difficulty switch, they will spawn faster, eventually preventing you to score faster by destroying the yellow or green one. At random intervals in the game, the spawning rate will get slower, but will come back to a faster speed.

Various strategy gives advantages to the man. He can shoot in a precise way to bypass the robot’s projectile and hit it.

Dark Cavern playthrough

The goal of the playthrough is to have the highest score possible before overflowing and not lose a man in the process. Anticipated shot is crucial at latter part of the game since the robot will always spawn to a specific place and their behaviors are not random.

Another viable strategy is to force one of the robots to shoot its projectile from a side of the screen. Since only one enemy’s projectile can be on the screen at a time, the robot is harmless until the projectile is gone. The difficulty caps right at the beginning of the game, but there is an interval which causes the spawning time to be slower.

The player gets an extra life every time a yellow robot is shot down. However, the player can’t get more than 9 Lives at a time.

The maximum visible score is 999 000. If you score over the limit, the game will overflow to 0.

TAS tools were used in this playthrough.

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