Back in the early 1980s, when video games were still a fairly novel idea, a promotional concept was hatched that would be fairly complicated to pull off today, never mind back then. It did not end well. Now a new comic book series will take a trip back to that story, with a modern twist. Comic books were an integral part of the original Swordquest video games, now a new series of books is being released that will continue the story, but also deal with the real life video game contest that failed to see a conclusion.
If you're old enough to have played any of the Swordquest games on the Atari 2600 then you'll likely remember the story. Swordquest was the spiritual successor to Adventure the original, well, adventure game, on the Atari 2600. It was a very simple game where a character ran around a maze collecting items and trying to locate the proper place to use them. However, Swordquest had a twist, there was a real life contest in which players could pull clues out of the game as well as a packed in comic book, to solve a puzzle. Doing so could win you incredibly valuable real life prizes. The problem was that in the middle of it all the video game crash of the 1980s happened, and the games, comics, and contest were all ended before their conclusion.
Now, as reported by Polygon, Dynamite Press is going to release a new series of comic books that won't just continue the story of lead game characters Torr and Tara, but will actually follow a character who competed in the original contest, and then goes back to the games only to have his obsession with them return.
The Swordquest series was supposed to be made up of four titles, Fireworld, Earthworld, Waterworld, and Airworld. Along with each game came a contest, and a prize valued at about $25,000, and that's in 1982 money. The first two pieces, the Talisman of Penultimate Truth and the Chalice of Light were given out, however, following the release of the third game, Waterworld the contest was canceled because Atari was dealing with major financial difficulties and couldn't afford to continue. The home console market became flooded with consoles as well a massive quantity of unregulated games. It hit a saturation point and most consumers simply gave up, since figuring out which games worked for their console, and which games were any good was essentially impossible. Contrary to popular belief it wasn't all E.T.'s fault. The fourth game in the Swordquest series, Airworld, was never even completed, much less released.
While I didn't really work very hard on the contest, I do remember playing the Swordquest games when I was a kid. I played them on the Atari adapter for my ColecoVision, a device whose mere existence goes a long way to show just how out of control the video game industry was in the early 1980s. It will be interesting to see how this new comic series goes over. Are there enough people who remember Swordquest who will want to pick this up? Let us know if you do in the comments below.