This is a tricky one as only a handful—not even—were ever made for a contest and they look exactly the same as the original. Let’s go back in time for a bit. The year is 1982, Imagic just released Atlantis for the Atari 2600 and other systems including the Intellivision or the Magnavox Odyssey 2 for exemple. As the last line of defense of Atlantis you have to manipulate the available firepower to prevent a Gorgon invasion. It’s quite the pitch!
It’s a resounding success. To make sure they were challenging the players, the developers included an entry form in game boxes. As a contestant, you were invited to take a picture of your highest score and send it to Imagic along with the form filled and a proof-of-purchase. Of course there were prizes promised to the best players. Actually, the four best players would be sent to Bermuda on November 14, 1982 to compete for a grand prize of $10,000! But it wasn’t that easy for Imagic to select the challengers.
This is where it gets interesting. As AtariAge puts it, “There were a lot of good Atlantis players […] and Imagic had to figure out a way to decide who the top four would be.” This is why Atlantis II was created. Similar to the first one, this new version is faster, provides less score and is overall harder. Imagic sent it to some players, along with a letter, so they could compete and be selected (or not) to go to Bermuda. However, to this day, it’s still hard to say how many of those they made and eventually sent. Some say 25, others say fewer. The truth is out there but, still, it’s one of the rarest game on the planet.
As it is physically almost the same as the original, it’s very hard to tell them apart. The developers indeed used a regular Atlantis Night Scene package (as opposed to the ever more common Day Scene one) with a standard sticker that simply read Atlantis II. Fortunately, the community noticed a few ways to know if the cartridge you have is on of the rarest ever made. For example, the scoring font is different. Also, according to experts like Racketboy, Atlantis II weighs less than the original. So if you have a digital scale, like the ones used for food, you should be able to tell as it weighs about 5.55 grams.
Although contests like these are a thing from the past, nowadays we live in a world where games are becoming a sport in their own right. Athletes are as much superstars as traditional sports players. And it’s a good thing!