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Receiving a call from Atari themselves had us over the moon. In our eyes, they are veritable industry royalty. Given that our team is fairly young, we may not have experienced many of their classics at the time of release…

However, we all had spent countless hours on games that would have never happened without what Atari started, like Motherload or Downwell. Needless to say, working with Atari meant all hands on deck and excitement bursting at the seams.


Caverns of Mars is a vertically scrolling shooter originally released in 1981. In the game, you descend through the titular Caverns of Mars while piloting a spacecraft. At the time, it was a pulse-pounding adventure that required you to manage movement, combat, and a precious fuel resource.

The game was outright addictive, and its pacing and difficulty set a standard in the industry that inspired many games.


Our job was to give Caverns of Mars a new life in the 21st century, by creating an outright remake dubbed Caverns of Mars: Recharged for the PC, PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox One; Series S and X, Switch, and Atari’s own VCS console.

We had to make sure the new game looks as good as you might remember it from your childhood or even better while bringing more depth, intrigue, and difficulty to it. On top of that, being such a beloved and well-known title, it required in-depth and frequent cooperation with the customer, to make sure the progress is proceeding as per their expectations.


The new content additions for COM:R were extensive: from new maps and navigational challenges to new enemies and game-changing powerups, randomly generated levels, as well as a co-op mode.

But as with most projects, there were definitely a few hiccups along the way. One of the first being feature creep. As we neared the deadline, we came to the conclusion that adding all the features we wanted to see in the rebirth of this classic simply wasn’t possible. This was compounded by the client’s requests to change certain decisions and features during development.

However, the silver lining was that we were able to experiment. Through the help of game testers, we ended up flushing out which features simply weren’t fun and had to be cut and expand upon those that made the game as addictive as the original was in 1981.

Lastly, another challenge was porting the game to the Switch. The problem stemmed from random level generation, which heavily impacted the platform’s ability to run the game. We solved this by rewriting the level generation logic to take advantage of features exclusive to the Switch, like boosting cores to get a silky smooth 60 FPS.

For us, Cavers of Mars: Recharged was truly a labor of love. It was a privilege to reimagine one of Atari’s classics with the help of talented musicians, artists, and clever game testers.

Now you can experience the game that took 1981 by storm anew on the PC, PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox One; Series S and X, Switch, and Atari’s own VCS console.


Game Engine: Unity 2020.3.32f1

Languages: C#

IDE: Visual Studio

Assets used:

I2Localization - localization

ReWired - controller support

Cinemachine - camera control

Shader Graph - Shader editor

Odin - editor assistance tool

DOTween - animation tool