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Airworld: Real or Hoax? - The Atari Times

Airworld: Real or Hoax?

Was this proto discovered or faked?
by Ron Corcoran

October 1, 2002
In August 2002, Jeremy (aka Fluxored) announced "It's been more than two years in waiting, but the classic is back." He then goes on to state "While no concrete-smoking-gun evidence has arisen to give the game absolute authenticity, I have become reasonably certain that the game is authentic. I have learned specifics about the game written by original developers that resonate in the copy that I have now." The discussion that grew from this announcement spread like wildfire.

Several people immediately deemed this announcement as a hoax, while others, after seeing alleged screenshots, believed Jeremy had indeed found the long lost Airworld cartridge. Estimates placed the potential e-bay sales price in the $2,000-$5,000 USD range. After much debate about the validity of the claimed Airworld proto, Jeremy put screenshots up on his website. This immediately sparked a flurry of discussions as it became immediately clear that the screenshots themselves were in fact forgeries. John Hardie of Digital Press and Jeremy both independently e-mailed Tod Frye directly to discuss the existence of the Airworld cart. The two versions of replies from Tod differed greatly. John's e-mail response was:

O.k According to Tod this is 100% bulls**t! Here is his response to me...

From: Tod Frye
To: 'John Hardie'
Subject: RE: Atari 2600 Airworid
Date: Mon, 26Aug2002 12:18:38-0700

all bogus.

airworld was started, but never completed the screens shown on this website are variants of the fireworld concepts.

airworld prototypes never reached the playable stage. in the real airworid, there was a screen where one flies about, and the centers on a hexagram on the horizon. one then flies into the hexagram, which zooms to fill the screen, and then plays one of 64 scenarios - one per hexagram.

this website is completely bunk.

so saith me, who knows.

tod frye

Jeremy's e-mail from Tod read:

After numerous mailings let this be the final word on the subject. There were TWO Airworld prototypes created back in the heyday of the development phase. I don't know what happened to one of them, it probably got lost in management or something But one definitely made it out of Atari development and into the black market along with a disgruntled project manager Keith Richards, I believe). I can remember the developers raving over it and how starkly different and interesting the play was, it was a dramatic departure from it's three predecessors, with an ending to shock even the most avid Swordquest gamers. The intricacies of the game were never completed, however the game was fully functional from beginning to end, and nothing like what most people would believe to be a traditional Swordquest sequel.

Among the striking differences was that instead of the multicolor sword which splashes across the screen with the first three games, this version used a multicolor man on a flying horse. The differences only started there, but it the whole design was to bring the entire swordquest series full circle in a dramatic conclusion.

Heh, too bad it was never released Good luck finding the proto's as well, rumor has it the one left at Atari was destroyed a long time ago.

Tiger- (Frye)

After seeing these two "responses" from Tod, and I'm owing that John Hardie had spoken directly to Tod, Jeremy posted this little gem.

Okay folks, the Airworld Auction is now officially OFF. HOWEVER, this is pending direct verification of the above-mentioned email from Tod Frye to myself and another independent observer who is an avid collector. But realistically, it's not looking too good.

Which only opens a bunch of other questions, while it's obvious that the game was unique enough to grab the attention of the gaming community, I will not be selling it. If it is indeed proven to be a straight-up-hoax, I will probably be seeing Alex sometime in the future to examine it in detail, determine what it is I have, and yes, dump the ROM because at that point, there would be no legal determinations against doing that).

I apologize for all the hype, but was convinced myself for a while there. I suggest we all hold our horses and see what happens next.


After which, Jeremy promptly removed the "screenshots" from his website with the following message to visitors:

"This site has been removed by it's Administrator. The cartridge featuring "Airworld" information is real enough, yet not authenticated by the developers. It will remain in my closet and may we finally all have peace."

Personally, I would have loved to see this proto come to light as a real deal. It would have made any true collector extremely proud and the envy of just about every other collector out there. Perhaps, someday...

- Ron Corcoran

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