Play Bowling on the Atari 2600 (10-15 mins)

Task: Play Bowling on the Atari 2600

Needed: Bowling cartridge or Altirra emulator

Time: 10-15 mins


Everyone has played classics like Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Missile Command on the Atari 2600. But, have you played Bowling? If not, you are missing out on one of the best and lesser-known titles for this console. Bowling was one of the dozen or so cartridges we had for the 2600, and one my all-time favorites.

Bowling was programmed by Larry Kaplan and released in 1979. The game is pretty simple and consists of a playfield with a top-down view of a blowing alley. The player can be moved up and down and a simple bowling ball released by pressing the fire button. Virtual spin can be placed on the ball at any time after release by moving the joystick up and down in some game variations. This causes the ball to take on a diagonal track as if it were curving left or right on the alley. Everything about the game play and scoring are accurate to the real life game.

The game is deceptively fun with just the right amount of challenge. It is particularly fun to play with someone else in two-player mode. The graphics are quire simple, but the game really works and you may not notice the lack of detail.


The good news is that this is a very common cartridge that can be purchased on eBay for around $3 to $5 without the box. A boxed version runs $10 to $30.

Here is the binary version of the game available for download from Atari Mania. You can play the binary on the Altirra emulator.

You can also play it now in your web browser on the Javatari web emulator. Javatari is nice because it lets you play multiplayer games over the net. Grab a bowling partner!


You must check this game out if you have never played it before. I think it is easily overlooked as many gravitate to the more common arcade titles and classics. Have fun and let me know if you bowl a perfect score!

Atari 2600 Bowling
Atari 2600 Bowling