Some History on Atari’s Agent X

Agent X Logo

I have met one owner of an Agent X arcade game, although I didn’t know anything about it when I met him, nor did I even see the game during my visit. It wasn’t until successive conversions later that I found out about Agent X’s rarity.

Sideart on Agent X / Cloak and Dagger

This is what Joe had to say about Agent X, recalling as best he could the history of the game off the top of his head and what he had to go through to find his;

“On the Cloak & Dagger, it gets a little collector/geeky/anal. When Atari originally developed the game, the name was Agent X. Then Hollywood made the movie Cloak & Dagger and asked Atari to make a game for it. Agent X was already a version of the game. Rumor has it that only 20 dedicated Agent X units were ever made and these were only made for field testing purposes, they were never meant for public release. Of those 20, 7 were Agent X, and the other 13 were Cloak & Dagger. Cloak & Dagger was released for general purchase in kit only form, for converting other games, specifically Williams games (Stargate, Defender, Robotron, Joust). So game play wise, Agent X and Cloak & Dagger are exactly the same, only difference is the title screen.”

“Cabinet wise, conversion units are cheap and relatively easy to find. They sell on ebay for less than $400. Dedicated units are close to impossible, as there were only 20 or so made, and the ones out there are typically in collectors hands that don’t want to sell them. The last one I heard selling was a Cloak & Dagger which sold for $3,000. An Agent X is even more rare. At one point someone offered me $10,000 for my Agent X. I’m sure that’s no longer a valid offer as that person has since got a dedicated Cloak & Dagger. But it was a nice offer to get. Certainly one of the most valuable in my collection.”

“Probably way more information than you wanted, but it’s one of my prize games, so I like talking about it! It was a pretty big search to find and get.”

So basically my interpretation of this information is that of the few Agent X’s that were produced, most of them are or at one time were owned by Atari employees. Now they made have made their hands into serious collectors who know their value, similar to Joe, but the only way you might get one is to start the way he did and track down some old Atari employees.

Why reproduce artwork for Agent X?

Well, for two main reasons. I like the two people I have met, so it is a good opportunity to show them some good will in networking. Also, because Agent X is so rare, hopefully it will mean I am one of the few people who have a copy of vector artwork for the Agent X kickplate, sideart, marquee, speaker overlays, control panel, or whatever else I decided to vectorize and prepare for reproduction.

Update – March 23, 2009
If you look below in the comments, one of the original creators that worked on Agent X left a comment, and basically confirmed all of the information that Joe shared about the game. I have no doubts that on his hunt Joe probably talked with Rusty about the history and that is where most of his ‘unconfirmed’ rumors came from.

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It is a bit amazing (and gratifying) to me that this game has grown stronger in the game world years after it was no longer in production. When I designed and produced it years ago, I certainly had fun in the making of it and got to throw in a number of “sneaky” details ‘n such (it was a spy game after all), but I think it was some of those that have given the game its legs .
As a minor correction to your blog, there were only 20 dedicated cabinets made and used solely for field testing. All 20 of them were Agent X marquee (and had the original Agent X logo in the programming). When we did the deal with Universal to tie the game into the movie, production created 20 new Cloak & Dagger attract plex’s and artwork decals that were needed and we hand-converted most of the games to Cloak & Dagger. I had all of the old attract plexes for many years that were removed and eventually sold them to local collectors in the Sierras around Oakhurst, CA area in the late 90’s. Out of the original 20 cabinests, about 15 of those were eventually sold with the remaining 5 going to the design team. I sold mine about 7 years ago to a collector in L.A. before I had to move with it yet again from MA to WV (too many moves with too many huge games). Still have my Paperboy and sit-down Star Wars though… BTW, the dedicated cabinets were the only ones to actually give stereo sound. The other games that were converted never had that, though I bet if you added additional speakers and have the schematic that could be added.
Hope the artwork project works out! Enjoy the game!

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In the last three months or so I’ve been lucky to have a number of classic arcade game creators stumble across this arcade game blog and leave a nice comment. Thanks for writing up some information for us here Rusty, and pretty much confirming what Joe M. said. I have no doubt he spoke with you when he was trying to find his Agent X so many years ago.

The artwork project is still slowly moving along, the Agent X control panel overlays have been finished now I understand and the kickplate artwork (which I redrew) or the sideart should be next.

Great to hear from you. Hope we can stay in touch.

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