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Original Release
Atari 8-Bits

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Atari's Answer to Duck Hunt (No, Really)

By the time 1987 rolled around, it was pretty obvious who had won the video game revival, and it wasn't Atari. Still, the company tried. With the 7800 left in the dust by the Nintendo Entertainment System, Atari decided to market a new game system. And by "new" they apparently meant old, because the result was the Atari XE Game System, a mere redesign of the Atari 65XE, which itself was a simple update of the Atari 8-bit computer line going all the way back to 1979. The good news was, this meant the new game console had a lot of games already available at launch. The bad news was, they were old games the Nintendo crowd was largely uninterested in.

Atari didn't rely completely on old games and hardware for their "new" arsenal, though. Noticing Nintendo was having success with light gun games like Duck Hunt and Hogan's Alley, Atari created a light gun for the XEGS. Then, to make sure players actually knew there was a gun for the system, Atari bundled them together, along with a gun game, Bug Hunt. Something of a literal spin on the phrase "computer bug," Bug Hunt challenges players to pick off bugs scurrying around on a circuit board.

Bug Hunt probably wouldn't have stolen any attention from Duck Hunt and the rest of Nintendo's line-up even if the XEGS had been given good marketing, and Atari's light gun hadn't garnered complaints about inaccuracy. As is, the game and the console were both quickly trampled by the Nintendo juggernaut, and forgotten. Ironically, after releasing the XEGS, Atari decided to continue supporting the 7800 after all, and even made a few light gun games for the console. Bug Hunt was not among them, and so the game remains an obscure "exclusive" for an obscure console... an exclusive that just happens to be compatible with every other Atari 8-bit home computer as well!