Popeye VBXE - An arcade port, but this time for the Atari XL/XE with VBXE! (RC1)

Now here's a blast from the past, as we've just been informed by Liqmatrix, that the classic Arcade game of 'Popeye', has been released as an RC1 build for the Atari XL/XE with a VBXE as an Arcade conversion by woj. In a similar vein to Donkey Kong albeit not as good, you play as Popeye and must collect hearts, musical notes and the letters H-E-L-P that the lovable character Olive drops from the top of the screen. But be warned, just like the cartoon, Brutus will get in your way with the help of the bad Sea Hag!

Here's what the creator says about the RC1 version that was released in Feb. " Doing this today is no coincidence, it has been exactly one year since this was started here. The CAS version is mostly for laughs and masochists, the UF2 files though are genuine A8 Pico Cart files that you can install natively (be careful though, it will remove anything you have on the Pico Cart, including the uploaded images / files), and it then also has the score saving function (it is something only tested today for some minutes, had big problems making it work at first, but it seems OK now)".

The following is the list of know issues that are not likely to ever get fixed:

  • If the NTSC version happens to have screen glitches (including on Altirra), press V at any time to rectify (this is due to recently discovered "feature" on NTSC VBXE installations). Once the consistency of this feature is confirmed, the support for the V key will be removed
  • Saving scores to a very high speed SIO device causes the "Saving scores..." sign to only blink and otherwise the scoreline becomes uniform color of the last level's background for the duration of saving. Not fixable without rewriting larger parts of code. Also, this screen flick is likely to swap the interlace fields. So better not to use too high speed SIO ;

  • Some sounds (most notably walking flat and on stairs) can have a "phasing" left/right sound effect to it on some occasions

  • Not all game speeds, including music, are 100% match between PAL and NTSC systems, however, effort has been made for both versions to be similar enough.

  • The Rybag's interlace hack mode was not properly tested on NTSC machines, on PAL machines also moderately in fact. Generally, the interlace mode is a hit and miss situation depending on the particular setup. The most sure option to have it working is to have Sophia 2 installed along the VBXE.

  • Exiting the game through RESET will not restore the VBXE palettes or Sophia 2 settings in all situations (not fixable IMO due to system's architecture). Also, when ran on NTSC machine the colors are (if/when) restored to the recently introduced NTSC VBXE palette, even if the installed / active core has PAL colors (this is not detectable from the game code).

  • The mono mode of the sound was only moderately tested, stereo setup is advised.

  • Exiting the cartridge version to SpartaDosX (regardless of Ctrl-X or RESET way), or starting the cartridge for the second time with the CAR command takes considerable time due to SDX saving / restoring the memory contents (thinking this is a productivity cartridge whose RAM memory is worth saving ;)). Refer to the SDX manual on how to neutralize this to speed things up.

Links :1) Discussion 2) Download


  1. Truly incredible port. I have never seen so faithful version of Popeye (especially having in mind that it was made on a seriously inferior hardware in comparison with the arcade)

  2. VBXE looks great, can we have something similar for the VIC II pretty please!

    1. and AMIGA ! We need JOTD to help port !

  3. Tried running this on Altirra and Retroarch. Get a message "No XBXE found or no FX Core!"
    Any help would be greatly appreciated. I really want to play this game.

    1. Altirra (v4.21) > System > Configure System > Devices > Add > VideoBoard XE (VBXE) > Carry on gentlemen!

    2. Great it works! I have 3 versions of this game. Not as many ports as I have of Donkey Kong or a few other games but Popeye has always been an arcade favorite and I collected many old games over the years. This is the arcade at home finally!
      Yes the port we have been waiting for! This game was why I couldn't wait to go to Chuck E Cheese back in the day.

  4. If you find the game has a flicker to it set interlace to on: System > Configure System > Video > Interlace


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