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Game: Bell Hopper
System: Atari 2600/VCS/Sears Video Arcade
Publisher: Atari Age
Programmer: Tomas Härdin
Cartridge Size: 32K w/SARA RAM
Copyright: 2011

Genre: Action
Controller: Paddle; Joystick
Players: 1

Rarity Rating: H (Homebrew)

Bell Hopper is one of four homebrew games released on the multi-cart The Byte Before Christmas

  • Bell Hopper
  • Christmas Adventure
  • Naughty List
  • Santa's Scabs

I will review each game separately. I've mentioned before that I intend to review every Atari 2600/VCS game given a physical release, ranking everything together on one list. So homebrews & hacks, releases from back-in-the-day (including PAL exclusives), along with prototype reproductions, will all be ranked on the same list. With multi-carts I will review each game on the cart separately however. The one requirement that I have is that I must own a physical copy of a game before I review it. Emulators are fine, but they don't always replicate the same experience as playing it on actual Atari hardware. I am currently using an Atari 7800 ProSystem to play games for the 2600.

Game Description: Humanity slept. The animal kingdom did not. The most magical of all creatures, the bunny rabbits, sensed that an evil magical deed had been performed. Being the keepers of good, the rabbit elders knew they had to undo this wrong. They sent forth their youngest jumper. He alone was pure enough to see the magical sky bells, and he alone could jump high enough to ring them. The elders watched him leave on his journey with much anticipation. Would he be able to play the bell song and wake up humanity from the ill slumber? -From the manual.

You are a rabbit. You start by jumping up and touching one of the bells falling from the sky. Once you touch a bell you, the rabbit, will hop upwards toward higher bells. If you attempt to hop onto a bell and miss you will fall. All is not lost however. If you skipped some bells on the way up, they are available to hop onto as you fall. So you may want to skip some on the way up. It's what the manual suggests and it's good advice. As you ascend you will encounter birds. Hopping on one will double your score.


When you hop onto a bird it will double the score that you have earned up to that point. It is because of this that massive scores are possible. In fact, it's possible to hit a high score of over 20 digits! Quite a bit more. After reaching a large enough score the game quits displaying a numerical score and instead displays a mathematical equation, which will first have to be converted to a numerical score before being submitted to High Score. For example: 4.14e17 would come out to 414,000,000,000,000,000. Another example, if I interpret the manual correctly, could be 6.32e32, which would be the same as 632,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. The manual doesn't tell you how to convert such a high score, but it does include one example. 8.14e19 equates to a numerical score of 81,400,000,000,000,000,000. So the 8.14 represents the first three digits, and the e19 tells us that there are 19 digits after the first. That's how I figure it.


If you wish to use a Joystick, plug it into Port One. If you wish to use a Paddle, plug it into Port Two. The Paddle controller seems to be the most precise method.

This is an enjoyable little game. I quite enjoy it. I can't play it on a frequent basis, because it would turn me into a nervous wreck if I did. But that's me. Bell Hopper is a demake of Winterbells. Placed 5th in the game development competition at Assembley Summer 2011.

The Byte Before Christmas is still available here at Atari Age. The cartridge and full-color 16 page manual cost $30, with the box costing an additional $20. Those prices are assuming that you aren't a subscriber entitled to a discount. Boxes may not be reprinted once they run out. You can order this game for either the NTSC or PAL60 standards. The manual states that you can toggle to PAL50 using the TV Type switch.

I am the current World Recorder holder at http://highscore.com with a score of 536,707,160,240. I am currently the only one with a score there for Bell Hopper, so I invite you to join (it's FREE) and post a higher score. Then, I will attempt to regain my title from you. :)

Both are outstanding! The Label and Manual Artwork is by Brian Ostrowski. It would like great under anyone's Christmas Tree.


RANKING: 3 (out of 5)

1. Worm War I
2. Demolition Herby
3. Bell Hopper (Homebrew)
4. Alligator People (Prototype)
5. Fire Fly

Please comment, like, and follow. I have several more games coming, so my next Blog entry will be for either my Game Review series or Feeding My Atari series.


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