Chris Hanks


Quantum is a vertically oriented color X-Y game released by Atari in 1982. The player uses a trackball to capture sub-atomic particles.


Quantum is a one- or two- player (not simultaneous) game with a color X-Y video display. The game action takes place in a sub-atomic world. The player tries to capture deadly atomic particles without being destroyed by them.

To capture the particles the player uses a trackball to control a sparkling comet. The comet leaves a line-trail behind it. The player must draw a complete circle around the deadly particle to destroy it -- without touching the particle, and before the comet's trail decays (disappears)!

When a player captures a particle, it explodes and the point value appears on the screen. If a player captures more than one particle at a time, double points are earned. The player advances to a new level when all of the NUCLEI have been captured, even if other particles are still on the screen. The comet is destroyed when it hits a particle or the red bonds between nuclei. The game ends when all the player's comets are destroyed.

Players can select their beginning level and receive bonus points if that level is finished. After a player's game ends, the can continue their game at the highest ODD-numbered level that they have finished.

Gameplay becomes more difficult as more and new particles appear and move faster. Also the player's comet grows bigger and bigger as the level progresses, making it harder to maneuver without running into a particle.

The particles are:

Quantum Particles
ParticleDescriptionPoint Value
ElectronRotates slowly around the nucleus.20
TriphonMoves slowly and flashes colors. Leaves Tryd in its trail.100
SplitterTravels in a random pattern. Flashes color, splits into 3,100
and splits into 3 again.
PhotonEnters from the edge of the screen, exits from the other side.200
PositronMade of stray electrons after a nucleus is destroyed. Moves200
off screen quickly.
TrydLeft by Triphon. Slowly shrinks away and disappears.300
NucleusMoves slowly and bounces off the edges of the playfield.300
Cuts off the end of the comet's tail when it crosses it. At the
higher levels, nuclei are joined by a bond. The comet may
pass through the bond when it is blue, but is destroyed when
the bond turns to red.
PulsarAttracts to comet. Pulses as it moves.400

If the player earns the highest score, a special option allows them to sign their name using the trackball, as well as enter their initials into the high score table.


Quantum was the first Atari game to allow a player to try the game without inserting a coin. During the attract mode, the game allowed the player to move the comet to try to capture a particle. During this mode, the messages "TRY CAPTURING THIS ATOM" and "MOVE THE TRACKBALL".

Quantum was released in very limited quantities. Atari employees have said that there were 500 or fewer games produced.

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