From the pages of the past! Ads of yesteryear – Jawbreaker

Jawbreaker 1981 ad

One of On-Line Systems’ earlier titles, this doesn’t seem to be a terrible Pac Man clone judging from the video below.

On-Line Systems,  who would be better known as Sierra On-Line later on, put this Pac Man clone out on shelves in 1980 for the Apple II though this particular ad came out in a copy of Atari’s Analog in 1981 announcing its availability for the Atari 400/800.

The simple, black & white ad has everything drawn in though the game didn’t boast anything too crazy. It was almost as straightforward a clone as it could be, though with a number of differences to keep it from treading on the toes of Namco’s moneymaking muncher.

Instead of a yellow sphere with a pizza-slice mouth chomping dots, you play as a set of teeth roaming around eating “sweets” in a maze-like “candy store” while avoiding “bratty kids” who resemble smiley faces instead of ghosts. There were also power pills that turned them into blue, frowny faces that you can chomp on just like in Pac Man.

Getting tagged by one of the smiley faced kids made all of your teeth fall out while finishing the current maze brought it a brush from offscreen to clean them up before moving on to the next one. Game difficulty “esculated” from maze to maze, just like Pac Man’s did, and the whole thing ran on an Atari with 24kb of memory.

Another version of Jawbreaker also came out for the Atari 2600, though it was very different. Instead of a typical maze, you had a vertical “layer cake” of barriers between which lay the wafer-dots you munched on as another pair of teeth. Moving holes in the walls allowed you to go from level to level, or you cold travel around the outer border instead, and there was no “central pen” where the kids hung around like in the computer versions. Power “vitamins” would appear in the maze and eating these turned the faces red allowing you to consume them faster than Soylent Green.

Even today, the game still has its fans one of whom put together a remake of the game that you can get here at an outfit called Fingerspoil Games. It has a one hour demo that you can try before ponying up $14.95, though the site doesn’t seem to have been updated in years. Or you can rot your teeth out with the Atari 2600 version at 2600 Online for free.

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3 responses to “From the pages of the past! Ads of yesteryear – Jawbreaker

  1. Because development iteration from game idea to finished product back then could often be insanely quick, and seeing how successful Pac Man was becoming, my guess is that the initial release was cranked out in either weeks or months later to capitalize on the same formula – just tweaked a bit to avoid getting in hot water with Namco or their US distributor, Midway. Namco hit on something big and it looks like On-Line Systems also wanted a piece of that pie…so to speak.

    Thanks for reading!

  2. Pingback: From the pages of the past! Ads of yesteryear – Pogo Joe « World 1-1·

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