Lost In Translation/Crystal Castles

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This page is a stub for arcade games that are part of the Lost In Translation series using information based on MAME (version 0.113u2).
For an example of preferred content and layout please refer to Out Run or The Ninja Warriors.

Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles marquee.
No screen shot.
Crystal Castles control panel.
Manufacturer Atari
Released 1983
1 Button(s)
Main CPU M6502 (@ 1.250 MHz)
Sound CPU Mono
(2x) POKEY (@ 1.250 MHz)
Raster (Horizontal)
319 x 255 pixels
61.04 Hz
32 Palette colours
Screens 1
ROM Info 11 ROMs
58,368 bytes (57.00 KiB)
MAME ID ccastles · ccastle2 · ccastle3

About The Game

Crystal Castles is a merry chase into a mythical land of incredible creatures that thrill at every turn of game play. Its hero, Bentley Bear, collects gemstones as he moves around 16 different playfields, including a castle, fortress, palace, and even a dungeon. Scary creatures, such as nasty trees, gem eaters, a swarm of bees, and Berthilda the witch, chase Bentley Bear as he explores tunnels, elevators that take him from one plateau to another, and sometimes a secret ramp.

Crystal Castles has 3 new features. Even if you are familiar with Atari games, you should note these important differences :

Lighted Midi Trak-Ball. The Midi Trak-Ball on the control panel of this game is translucent. A small lamp controlled by the game PCB shines through the ball. The result is a glowing Trak-Ball. During game play, the lamp flashes on and off creating a spectacular effect.

Crystal Castles is a fast-action, 1- or 2-player, third-person adventure game. By using the Lighted Midi Trak-Ball, the player moves Bentley Bear about the castle walkways and walls to collect gems. To avoid being overpowered by gem eaters, nasty trees, or bee swarms, use the left- or right-hand jump buttons.

The player's objective is to collect all the gems from the castle walkways and walls by moving Bentley Bear about the castle with the Trak-Ball controller. Bentley Bear must collect all the gems without being killed by any of the 8 possible computer-controlled opponents-crystal balls, trees, a swarm of bees, gem eaters, Berthilda the witch, a ghost, a skeleton, or a dust devel. In the lower levels of game play, this feat is easily learned by new players. In higher levels, experience, skill, and luck help the player to accomplish the objective.

When game play begins, Bentley Bear is at the lower right corner of the castle walkway. Immediately after the player's control is enabled for moving Bentley Bear, the opponents are displayed about the castle walkways and walls. The player may move Bentley Bear either up or down the stairs or the elevators to get the gems. When Bentley Bear passes over a gem, the gem disappears. Points are scored for each gem collected by Bentley Bear and shown in the score display area. If Bentley collects all the gems from the castle, the player receives bonus points. The initial bonus is 1,000 points for the first castle of the first level. The bonus is increased by 100 points for each subsequent castle (i.e., the bonus for castle 2 of level l is 1,200 points; castle 1 of level 2 is 1,400 points; etc.).

When a start button is pressed, the gems and Bentley Bear appear on the castle walkway and the game tune begins. Soon afterward, three crystal balls (the only opponents of this wave) drop from above and land at the far right corner of the castle walkway. These three balls begin a slow pursuit of Bentley Bear. As the Trak-Ball is rotated, Bentley Bear moves about the walkway. As he passes over a gem, the gem disappears and a score value is added to the score in the window at the top left of the display. If Bentley Bear gets all the gems, the three balls rise out of sight above the castle. Then Bentley Bear also disappears. If Bentley Bear gets the last gem, the message YOU GOT THE LAST GEM. BONUS 1000 appears across the castle. If the opponents get the last gem, the message THEY GOT THE LAST GEM. NO BONUS appears across the castle.

Crystal Castles consists of 37 castle mazes that are laid out with a walkway between each castle. The castles are arranged in ten levels with four castles on each level, except for level 10, which has only one castle. As Bentley Bear advances to the next castle on each level, the difficulty in collecting all the gems increases. Each level also increases in complexity. The result is a nice variety of mazes, from the easy first castle of level l to the extremely difficult castles in the higher levels. At the beginning of play at each castle, a message appears in the window at the top right of the display. This message identifies the level being played. Other messages, such as next bonus point level, also appear in this window.

Bentley Bear has 8 opponents : crystal balls, trees, a swarm of bees, gem eaters, Berthilda the witch, a ghost, a skeleton, and a caldron. If Bentley Bear touches a gem eater while it is in the process of eating a gem, the gem eater dies and 500 points are awarded the player. However, if the gem eater is not eating a gem when Bentley Bear touches it, Bentley Bear dies. When Bentley Bear is wearing his magic red hat, he is invincible. When he is wearing the hat he has the power to kill Berthilda the witch when he touches her. However, the magic of the hat only lasts about 5 seconds.

Each of the opponents has its own characteristic. The swarm of bees appears near the honey approximately every five seconds. However if Bentley Bear takes the honey, he collects 1,000 points for the honey, and the bees will appear less frequently. The gem eaters are relatively stupid creatures. The only thing they are interested in is eating gems. However, if gems are not in their area, the gem eaters will rush around randomly looking for gems. The crystal balls and trees act much the same. They will go directly for Bentley Bear. However, if Bentley keeps obstacles between him and either of these opponents, he is relatively safe from attack. The skeleton and the ghost usually stay within their immediate areas, move about randomly, but not very fast. They guard their area well. Berthilda the witch flies around on her broom in one small area in the lower levels of game play. However, in the higher levels she boldly flies about the castles.


When it first appeared in arcades in July 1983, Crystal Castles amazed players with its sharp graphics and pseudo 3-D mazes.

The game was originally supposed to be a variation on the mega-hit "Asteroids" and the working title was 'Toporoids' (from TOPOgraphics and asteROIDS). It featured a one-legged robot and/or a spaceship placed in 3-D mazes lined with asteroids and the goal was (of course) to shoot them. The mazes were similar to those in Crystal Castles.

The character 'Bentley Bear' was originally named 'Braveheart Bear' in the released prototypes. But, Atari ran into trouble over that name from the American Indians and so had to change it. Whenever Bentley is killed, he shrinks, and says something in a cartoon-type balloon above his head. The four possible sayings are: OUCH; OH NO; BYE; and #?!.

Originally, FXL designed the game so that Bentley could jump while in a tunnel. But he decided to take that ability away when he saw Bentley's head popping through the roof!

All of the musical themes in the game are from works of classical music. The tune when you first start the game and the bonus life music, are both from The Mephisto Waltz by Liszt. The last gem bonus music is from one of the scenes in Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. And, the triumphant theme played when you complete level 10 is of course from The 1812 Overture, again from Tchaikovsky.

If you hadn't noticed, the color schemes of the castles change during the game, and from one game to the next. The colors in the first level are always the same. From level 2 thru 6, they appear in a set order, but every 100 paid games, this set order changes. Finally, in levels 7 and up, the color scheme is picked randomly. A most odd arrangement! There are 17 possible maze color schemes, and four different color possibilities on every board: gem, floor, front wall, and side wall colors. But, each one is not randomly picked and mixed with the other; they are pre-determined as a group, and then the whole group is chosen randomly. The possible gem colors are red, blue, white, and yellow. The floor can be white, black, or pea-green. And, there are 12 possibilities for wall colors, including pink, maroon, and peach!

On two of the mazes in the game, FXL has built into the structure initials of friends of his. On Hidden Spiral, the DES stands for Desiree McCrorey, who holds a contest record on "Mr. Do!". SSM is Sam Mehta, who came in 2nd in a "Centipede" contest held by Atari. And BBM stands for Brian McGhee, a former Atari game designer. On Berthilda's Palace, the initials are harder to make out, as they are cutouts in the floor. EDG is the initials of Eric Ginner, while MAR stands for Mark Robichek. Both of these were famous video game players at the time Crystal was made and are still known by many. Other initials appear in the game, on the above-mentioned scoreboard. While many are made up, some stand for real people. FXL appears in the top 3 spots on a new, or newly reset, game scoreboard and he also appears at other places in the top 250 initials. MEC appears more than once also. This stands for Mark Cerny, a fellow designer at Atari. He is responsible for "Marble Madness".

Note : The formula for calculating the points given for the last gem bonus on a particular level and board number is 1000 + ((((level x 4) - 1) - (4 - board)) x 100).

Frank Seay holds the official record for this game with 910,722 points.

A Crystal Castles units appears in the 1984 movie 'Gremlins'.


Points awarded for collecting gems.

Killing Gem Eaters : 500 or 1,000 points.

Collecting the honeypot : 1,000 points.

Collecting the witch's hat : 2,000 points.

Killing Berthilda : bonus points.

Tips and tricks


There's a 'continue option' warp on the first board. It won't take you any higher than level 8, though.

  1. The first warp is behind the palace on the upper-right hand corner of the first board. Go there then jump. It'll take you to level 3.
  2. The second warp : get the hat, run to an elevator, and at the back corner of the hidden ramp, jump before the hat expires. The warp always gives you four lives (not including the one you're on) and takes you to level 5.
  3. The third warp is on the third screen of Level 5, titled 'Crossroads'. It is extremely easy to trigger; just move to the very upper left corner and jump. You will be transported to the first screen of Level 7, again with four lives to spare. There are no other warps.

A Trick

If you jump at least 128 times in the front right corner of any maze, the next maze that is fully drawn from the beginning will have a string of the words ATARI stretched across the middle of the screen. It disappears on the next maze, unless you are playing a two-player game, in which case it can appear on two screens.

Another Trick

On Level 5, Berthilda's Palace grab the hat and enter the large door where Berthilda is. Run over her for 3000 points, then head to the corner of the room (where Berthilda was) and jump. The initials FXL will appear in the lower-right hand corner of the screen, which stands for Franz Lanziger, one of the designers of Crystal Castles!

This Trick Is Free

When the machine is in its demo mode, wait until the first stage appears. When Bentley gets killed, hold down BOTH jump buttons and the accounting screen, which shows customer play information, will appear.

Secret Message

When you complete level 10, a special screen appears that says, I GIVE UP : YOU WIN YOU MUST BE _______________.

What goes in the blank depends on the number of lives you have left.

Lives Left Status

Time Bonus

For every four seconds of game play, you lose 1000 points. The amount of time bonus starts at 200,000, so you can figure that a 5 minute game will have a time bonus of 125,000. Also, for every life you lose, you lose at least 1000 time bonus points, so even though you can make up for your life as far as the life bonus, you still lose in time bonus.


Franz Lanzinger (FXL)
Sam Ly
Project Leader
Scott Fuller
Team Leader
John Ray (RAY)
Barbara Singh (BAS),
Dave Ralston
Paul Mancuso
Gardner Crosby

Cabinet and Artwork


Atari 2600 (1984)
Atari XEGS
Sony PlayStation (1998, "Arcade's Greatest Hits - The Atari Collection 2")
Sony PlayStation (2001, "Atari Anniversary Edition")
Sega Dreamcast (2001, "Atari Anniversary Edition")
Sony PlayStation 2 (2004, "Atari Anthology")
Microsoft XBOX (2004, "Atari Anthology")
Tandy Color Computer (1984)
Commodore C64 (1985)
Atari ST (1986)
Amstrad CPC (1986)
Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1989)
PC [CD-Rom] (2000, "Atari Arcade hits 2")
PC [CD-Rom] (2001, "Atari Anniversary Edition")
PC [CD-Rom] (2003, "Atari - 80 Classic Games in One!")
Atari Flashback Classic Game Console (2005)
Nokia N-Gage (2006, "Atari Masterpieces Volume 2")

External Links

The contents of this page are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
The sources used include MAME (version 0.113u2) and history.dat (revision 1.28 - 2008-10-18).
Please see http://www.arcade-history.com for credits.