Even of you aren’t a fan of the Atari 2600, there’s a chance you’ve encountered the name Birthday Mania. Probably in one of those lists of The All-Time Rarest And/Or Most Valuable Video Games Ever. It typically appears near the top of those lists because it is insanely rare and because (I suspect) writers use previous lists as their primary resources when doing research for their own list.

Designed to be given as a gift, each copy of Birthday Mania was custom made and displayed the recipient’s name on the screen while playing “Happy Birthday to You.” Approximately ten copies were sold through an ad that appeared in the Newark Star-Ledger sometime around 1984 and only one copy has resurfaced since.

In 2012, AtariAge user Atari_Warlord contacted Birthday Mania’s creator, Robert Tokar, hoping to license the game for a re-release. Rather than license the game, Tokar offered to give the copyright for Birthday Mania over to Atari_Warlord. As the copyright holder, Atari_Warlord had access to the materials on file with the copyright office, which included a hard copy of the source code.  Using that, Atari_Warlord and programmer Thomas Jentzsch were able to recreate the game and have made the ROM available for the first time.

To read the full story and download the ROM to play in an Atari 2600 emulator, visit the Birthday Mania Unwrapped thread in the AtariAge forums.

Ric Pryor (30 Posts)

Ric Pryor started playing video games when he could barely see over the control panel of a Monaco GP machine and he hasn't stopped playing since. Well, except for that break he took between the Crash of '83 and the release of Williams Arcade Classics for the PC in 1995. He collects and plays old and new games for pre-crash systems and is the creator of the Atari 2600 homebrew game Galactopus.