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Atari revives rare, lost game once described as too difficult for wide release

Akka Arrh to get the trippy treatment from veteran coder Jeff Minter

Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Jeff Minter, the reclusive developer of trippy, surreal arcade games like Tempest 2000, Space Giraffe, and Polybius, has announced his next project: a “hypnotic new wave shooter” (surprise!) called Akka Arrh, coming in early 2023 to Atari VCS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X.

Akka Arrh reunites Minter with Atari, the company with which he collaborated on Tempest 2000, his blistering 1994 reimagining of the 1981 vector-graphic arcade game Tempest. Minter and Atari later fell out, and the company effectively blocked the release of his spiritual sequel TxK on some platforms. But it seems current Atari boss Wade Rosen has patched things up with the legendary coder.

Akka Arrh, described by the press release as “a chaotic explosion of synthwave madness” and “a frenzied kaleidoscope of neon insanity,” is an adaptation of an incredibly rare 1982 Atari arcade cabinet — a prototype that was tested but never fully released after players found it too difficult. Only three original Akka Arrh cabinets are known to exist, but the game was recently made available as part of the 2022 compilation Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration.

Minter, who lives in a remote area of rural Wales and has been making games since he was a teen in the early 1980s, looks to have supercharged this vintage curio with his trademark bleary acid-trip visuals, impish humor, and chaotic energy. It’s not his first time adapting a legendary lost arcade game, either — although the inspiration for Polybius, his 2017 VR shooter, was in fact an entirely fictional urban legend.