The Planet Of The Apes Atari game was a 20th Century Fox Videogames title that never saw the light of day. It still had some work to be done, but was finished enough to go through initial play-testing in 1983. However, before programmer John Marvin could finish it he left 20th Century Fox to work for Epyx. Though advertised, when 20th Century Fox closed down its video game unit three months later during the industry crash that brought the Atari VCS era to a close, the Planet of the Apes game was left uncompleted.

In 1999, the prototype ROM was found in a case marked "Alligator People". With no documents and nothing to give any indication to the contrary, it floated around for about three years, while collectors puzzled over what the game might be and how to play it. Collector Matt 'Tempest' Reichert, webmaster of, uncovered the game's true identity in 2002 - it's assumed that this prototype was simply put into the wrong case (they probably just used an old case they had lying around).

In 2003 the game was reproduced from the original prototype with permission granted by the original programmer, John Marvin. Renamed Revenge of the Apes for copyright reasons, the game is fully playable and was enhanced from 4KB to 8KB with additional graphics and a soundtrack added by Thomas Jentzsch and Paul Slocum. Planet Of The Apes had still been in the prototype stages when development was halted, so undoubtedly more features would have been added prior to the cartridge hitting retail shelves.


In what may be the first video game ever to put the player in the shoes of Charlton Heston, Planet Of The Apes for the Atari VCS placed you in charge of the fate of lost-in-time astronaut Colonel George Taylor, stranded on a future Earth where apes have risen to the top of the food chain and keep human beings in cages. As with the title of the game, references to the copyrighted name 'Taylor' were removed from the revived version of the game.


The action takes place over several screens: Deserts; Forests; the Apes' Village; a River Crossing; Subterranean Caverns; and the climactic Statue of Liberty scene from the film. There are three different kinds of apes in this game: chimpanzees - these little guys are harmless and can be touched without fear; orangutans are a bit bigger and a lot more dangerous than the chimpanzees, touching them will get you captured; gorillas are the most dangerous of all the apes, not only can they capture you, but they can shoot at you as well.

You must keep an eye on your 'life energy' (which is diminished whenever you are shot) and 'escapes' (which allow you to escape the cages, but also cost you life energy). When the life energy hits zero, the game is over. In a worst-case scenario, you may get trapped in a cage after you've run out of escapes, unable to do anything but wait until the apes shoot you to death. Your ultimate goal is to reach the Statue of Liberty level, at which point your health and escape ability will be recharged, and the game starts over at a higher difficulty level. [1]



The Forest/The River

You start out in a forest with several apes after you. You can shoot at the apes by pressing the fire button, but since they just keep on coming it’s best to run for it. There are also pits scattered throughout the forest, falling into one of these pits will cause your life to deplete rapidly. Your goal is to cross the river to the south - only going south will bring you towards the Forbidden Zone. Touching the river isn't deadly, and you can move through without any trouble - it may be that the river was going to be deadly and a bridge put across it in the early prototype.


The Village/Prison

If you touched an Orangutan or a Gorilla you end up here. When captured, you're treated to a newly-added full-screen graphic of a man behind bars. You need to be extra careful in the village since the area is cramped, and there are lots of apes roaming around. It's very easy to escape and be captured again right away. You'll also want to escape from the cage as quickly as possible since the apes will constantly hit you while you’re trapped in the cage. Moving south will bring you to the desert.


The Desert

After the village you'll encounter a large featureless desert (formerly the ‘Forbidden Zone’). There are more apes here than in any other zone, so you'll have to be on your guard. Moving south will bring you to the caverns.

The Caverns

The caverns are the last obstacles on your way to the human stronghold. There are no apes to worry about in the caverns, but unfortunately the caverns are a giant maze. You'll also slowly loose life points as you traverse the caves. There are several ways out of the caves but not every exit will lead you to the stronghold. If you take the wrong path through the caves you'll end up back on the forest screen. Hurry, you are close to reaching your goal!


The Statue of Liberty

Once you reach the Statue of Liberty there's a newly-added ending which is impressive. You'll also get a brief glimpse of the original ending, which looks pretty pathetic by comparison. The screen will begin to flash and you'll see the Statue of Liberty displayed while the background scrolls through all the screens you've crossed. After this you will start back at the forest screen on the next higher difficulty level. Each new difficulty level has a few changes: the apes will do an extra point of damage when they shoot you; the apes move faster; more apes appear on the screen at once and come out more often; the bonus points for reaching the Statue of Liberty increases by 100.



The last thing you remember was a terrible solar storm which caused your spaceship to crash land on the planet. You desperately tried to contact your home base but received no response. After scouting the area you have noticed that there are apes everywhere. And to your surprise they are armed and hunting down all the humans they can find! Your task is to locate the last human stronghold before you are captured by the apes and then turned into a slave for the remainder of your life!

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