1992 Atari Games
Platform: Atari Lynx
As part of the launch and release of The Games That Weren’t book, we are adding assets and content that didn’t make it to print as bonus content to share with you.
Within the book is a detailed 10 page full story about the unreleased Vindicators for the Atari Lynx by Atari Games. We speak to developer David Kurensky about the development and the troubles that occurred, which led up to the cancellation.
Below are a series of images which were collated during research for the game, starting off with a number of test assets that were extracted off an Amiga development kit by Harry Dodgson. GTW also brought a number of magazines and catalogs, so you bring you hi-res scans of various screenshots shown at the time in magazines, including a very early version shown in Zero magazine.
There is also a hi-res scan of the unused box cover art, which was specially produced for the Lynx version. Part of the research was trying to figure out who produced the artwork – there was a signature on the work, but the quality wasn’t quite good enough to make it out. On AtariAge, there was once a post made where a series of Atari artworks were shown in frames and saved, which included the Vindicators artwork seen in various adverts for the Lynx version (see scans).
After a bit of investigatory work, we were directed to Ian Baronofsky, who was now the owner of the original framed artwork. Ian kindly confirmed on the artwork that the signature read Mark Wickart. A bit of searching tracked down Mark, who recalled the artwork but not anything else about it.
It was thanks to Scott Stilphen and Ross Sillifant for providing some internal Atari documentation that confirmed the developer credit, and led to us getting in touch with David Kurensky. We cannot share all of this documentation, due to the nature of the content – but we have added details sent from David to Atari about the game and what was remaining to be completed at the time.
During our research, we found this odd video from 2011, showing what seems to be a prototype of Vindicators which had a small controllable segment, but nothing much else:
When shown to David, he confirmed that this wasn’t his prototype at all. But it did seem to include the same mock-up graphics as found from the Amiga dev machine by Harry. It seems that for some reason, a rolling demo was produced (something which Atari was known to do for displays), but not by David. It is possible the Amiga that Harry Dodgson obtained, was what was used to produce the rolling demo.
In late September 2020, AtariAge poster MacRorie declared that he had purchased a number of prototypes, which included Vindicators. Unfortunately just featuring a few levels, but the most significant finding of the game so far and even including music by Bob Vieira. See Gallery below for a screenshots from the video, and here is the video itself: https://youtu.be/NS1O8KWBARw?t=1519
A dump of the prototype was made available in 2022 by Atarigamer website and has been added here for posterity.
But for David’s final and practically complete edition of the game at the point of cancellation, we learnt that all his development kit and source code was kept safe by friend and ex-colleague Chuck Ernst. The systems no longer boot at the moment, but Chuck hopes to get them up and running some day to salvage all the code, in the hope it could be compiled up once more.
With thanks to Ross Sillifant for the additional Games X snippet scan.