Atari 2600 Game
Produced by: 20th Century Fox
Year of Release: 1983
Programmer: Frank Cohen
and Doug Neubauer
You are Hawkeye Pierce, Chief Medical Surgeon of the 4077th MASH. Your responsibilities include rescuing injured men from the battlefield, performing surgery in the operating room, or, in an alternative game, picking up Colonel Potter's skydiving medics. You pilot your chopper low through the trees, avoiding shells fired at you from a North Korean tank. After picking up the medics ORR wounded and rushing them back to the hospital, the pressure really starts to get heavy. Time is running out for the injured men and you must operate. You have to work fast. You are competing with your fellow surgeons, either B.J. Hunnicut, Trapper John McIntyre or Frank Burns.
There are certain things that always remain constant in the video game industry. One of those things is the fact that games based on movies and television shows are usually not very good. M*A*S*H for the Atari 2600 made no attempts to change that fact. This could have been a good game, but it tries to combine two unrelated subjects (helicopter piloting and surgery), and ends up being mediocre at both of them. The game alternates between two screens, the piloting screen and the surgery screen.
The Piloting Screen
The piloting screen has you controlling a helicopter in an attempt to rescue wounded soldiers. There are two base camps to the left of the screen, and there are always two helipcopters in action. You control the blue copter, while the yellow one is considered to be your rival. Who is actually in the other copter changes from level to level, the manual can tell you if you really need to know who is piloting the the yellow pixel copter at any given time.
The wounded soldiers are scattered among the trees on the right hand side of the screen. Just run into them and they will be loaded onto your helicopter. Now all that would be too easy, so there are a few things to get in your way. The most annoying obstacle is the trees themselves, apparently these helicopters are mildly defective, as they cannot fly over a tree, they must fly around them instead. Your other obstacles include the other helicopter and a little Korean tank that goes back and forth at the bottom of the screen trying to shoot your helicopter. When you collect enough wounded you will advance to the next screen.
The Surgery Screen
This is where the game begins to fall apart. The surgery screen is essentially the board game "Operation" translated to the Atari 2600. It seems that very little effort was put into this. You simply remove an infection with your tweezers, only to have it immediately replaced by another infection somewhere else. This part of the game has a real feeling of hopelessness associated with it, because it seems that you can't ever actually finish operating on anyone, the time always runs out with an infection still in the patient. You go back to the helicopter screen after about 20 to 30 seconds of operation.
This game is valued at around $5 USD. Games with boxes and manuals are worth more. The box to this game was the standard black 20th Century Fox box, and it bore a sem-realistic picture of four medics rushing away from a tent, with a helicopter in the background. None of the people in the picture seem to be identifiable as anyone on the television show.
This game originally came with a medium sized M*A*S*H t-shirt as a pack in bonus. The game also included an entry form for the "$25,000 M*A*S*H game design contest". It is unknown if anyone actually ever collected the prize. It seems that only the original run of the game came with the shirt and contest, later releases did not.