Penult RPG


Screenshots | Public Demo | Tech Info | Links

The kingdom of Faradur has been overrun by hordes of creatures from the Shadow Realm. You are a simple villager who, for reasons unknown, was chosen as the companion of a fey creature pledged to assist you. Can you find the cause of the calamities, and save the kingdom?

Penult is a work-in-progress RPG for the Atari 2600 in the style of the Ultima RPG series. There is currently a public demo available with a subset of the game. The full game is complete apart from further testing, and is planned to be released in 2023 through AtariAge.

Screenshots and Video

See the ZeroPage Homebrew Twitch channel play an older demo of Penult. The Penult gameplay portion starts a little after the 1 hour 20 minute mark.

Here are some screenshots of the game:

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Public Demo

The public demo of Penult features a limited world map with one city, a castle, and one fully-playable dungeon. Saving is enabled in the demo, and your character can advance up to level 6.

Penult Game Manual (Draft)
Penult Technical Manual (Draft)
Penult demo ROM (NTSC – includes North America)
Penult demo ROM (PAL60 – includes Europe and Australia)

Running the Demo in an Emulator

The Penult demo will run in recent versions of the Stella emulator. If you are only testing it in an emulator, you might as well use the NTSC version. In Stella, you will want to set the right controller port to emulate an AtariVox or SaveKey device to allow you to save your game.

Playing the Demo on a Real Atari

To play the Penult demo on a real Atari, other than the console, you will need either an Unocart or a Harmony Encore cart that has been updated to the latest firmware. Download the version that matches the region of your console.

You will probably also want a device that will allow you to save and restore your games, such as a SaveKey or an AtariVox.

If screen flicker is too much of an issue, try switching the Color / B&W switch to B&W mode. This displays a more solid image at the expense of some accent coloring.

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Technical Information

Penult is a homebrew game for the Atari 2600. The Atari has very limited graphics capabilities and even more limited RAM, making the creation of an RPG very challenging.

Some modern homebrew games for the Atari 2600 use a separate faster ARM processor to help with the creation of more complex games, but I have chosen not to go that route with Penult.

One difference between Penult and games that were produced during the lifetime of the console is the size of the former: Penult is a 128K game. For comparison, the original Combat cartridge was 2K, Adventure was 4K, and Asteroids was 8K.

Development Blog Entries

Penult Maps
Penult Timing
The Problem Of 2048 Treasure Chests
Penult Conversations and Transactions

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Penult discussion on AtariAge forums
Stella Atari emulator homepage

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