SwordQuest: WaterWorld, programmed by Tod Frye
, is the third and final installment of the SwordQuest
series of Atari 2600
games. The game is centered around a contest to win the "Crown of Life." It was bundled with a comic book
, and as the player goes around the game they will find clues that point them to pages and panels in the book. Words from the comic book eventually spell out a sentence that the player could send in for a chance to compete in the finals and win the gold Crown of Life
, encrusted with aquamarines, diamonds, tourmalines, rubies, and sapphies, which was valued at $25,000.
WaterWorld is very rare and was originally only available via mail order by the Atari
Fan Club. It saw a limited retail release afterwards but was never widely distributed and remains highly sought after.
SwordQuest: WaterWorld is a set of minigames
joined by various rooms. Various objects were in the seven rooms of the game, which needed to be placed in the correct room to activate a clue. Unlike the previous SwordQuest games, WaterWorld gave out hints to what object needed to be placed, making the game much less frustrating. The seven rooms in the game were based on the seven major Chakra, or energy centers in the body. Like many Atari 2600 games limited by the hardware, the room layout is physically impossible to map and is full of confusing "warps." Every time the player travels between a room they are forced into one of a variety of minigames. The minigames are based on getting from one side of the screen to the other and can either have platforms for the player to use or enemies for the player to avoid. There are only 3 action sequences in WaterWorld: Sea of Sharks, School of Octopi, and Ice Floes. One where the player must avoid sharks
, one where the player must avoid octopi, and one similar to Frogger
in which the player jumpers across a river on floating ice. If the player misses a platform or is touched by an enemy they might be transported back to the beginning of the room, but they will never die. There is no game over
screen in SwordQuest: WaterWorld, as the contest was completely timing based, however if the player fails an action sequence there will be one less item in the room they are about to enter. This was done to make the game more forgiving than the previous games in which the player would lose the item they were carrying if they failed.
The graphics in WaterWorld are generally better than most Atari 2600 games. There is a short 3D motion effect while leaving a room, and the water is full of colorful blue gradients. There are more than a dozen detailed objects for the player to pick up in the game, and the hallow, acquatic sound effects are much more pleasant than the jarring beeps of the first two games.
- Crown - Allows the player to skip all action sequences and travel through rooms freely.
- Medallion - Allows the player to skip all of the Ice Floe action sequences.
- Money Purse - Allows the player to skip 1 School of Sharks and 1 Ice Floe action sequence.
- Royal Seal - Allows the player to skip all of the School of Octopi action sequences.
Being a "contest game" the main purpose of SwordQuest: WaterWorld was as a contest tool. As an advancement over the previous two games, the game world resets after each clue is found so that the game does not need to be beaten in one sitting. This feature is often criticized for ruining the game-feeling of WaterWorld and just making it into a competitive contest. There is no real way to win in WaterWorld other than to discover all of the clues on your own in seperate playthroughs.
Despite all of this, the contest of the $25,000 Crown of Life was canceled right before it was scheduled to occur. The fifteen finalists were given $2,000 each. Steven Bell
and Michael S. Rideout, the winners of the FireWorld
contests, recieved $15,000 each. The Crown of Life is presumed to be owned by Jack Tramiel
and the grand prize, the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery, is known to be in his possession.