Atari 2600 Skindiver is an underwater adventure game that has two levels: 1. Hunting fish and 2. Searching for treasure. The game offers four speed levels for players to choose from, affecting the speed of the fish and sea monsters. The background music starts as soon as the power is turned on, and the player can choose the speed level using the selection switch. If no speed level is chosen, the game will start at the default speed.
In the game, the player controls a skindiver who sits in a boat and can jump into the water by pressing the red button on the joystick. The player must be careful not to jump when fish are directly beneath the diver, or the diver will be caught. The player has a total of 4 divers, and the number of remaining divers is shown at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. The score is displayed at the bottom center.
When the diver is underwater, the 60-second oxygen supply countdown is shown at the bottom of the screen. The player must guide the diver to shoot fish one by one using the firing button on the joystick while keeping an eye on the oxygen supply. Harpooning each fish is worth 500 points.
To advance to the second level, the player must harpoon all fish in the first level and then immediately enter the sunken ship at the center of the screen. Inside the ship, the player must navigate through the ship while avoiding the three sea monsters and collect treasure chests. The treasure chests are worth varying amounts of points depending on how many are collected during a single dive. The player must be careful of their oxygen supply and return to level one by reaching the surface when the supply is low or after retrieving a treasure chest.
In conclusion, Atari 2600 Skindiver is an entertaining underwater adventure game that challenges players to hunt fish, collect treasure, and manage their oxygen supply while avoiding dangers like sea monsters and treacherous walls within the sunken ship.