VCS-IFIED: Make Trax by Williams

Hey Arcaders!

Welcome to VCS-IFIED. Where I take a look at a classic arcade game and imagine what it would be like on the Atari 2600- because it was never released back in the day. The game I want to focus on is one of the only outsourced games from 80s arcade giant Williams, and one of my personal favorite games of my youth (that I have done another article on- check it out here!) that SHOULD HAVE HAD A HOME RELEASE (sooner…) Make Trax!

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You control a paintbrush, named J.J. who must paint the entire maze in order to advance to the next stage. Two fish — one yellow, the other light blue — emerge from separate aquariums to pursue the paintbrush around the board, and if either of the fish succeeds in making contact with the paintbrush, the player loses one of three lives (four if the player has attained a certain score, generally set at 10,000 points) — after which the paintbrush disappears momentarily, then over the next approximately eight seconds is replaced by what appears to be an reddish-orange cowboy hat with an arrow shot through it, while the machine plays the chorus of the “Twelfth Street Rag,” a hit song by Pee Wee Hunt in 1948.

The player may use two “rollers” to attack the fish. They are located on two overpasses, one vertical in its orientation, the other horizontal. To use them, the player positions the paintbrush on its forward end, waits for either or both of the fish to approach, then pushes the paintbrush along the roller, attacking the fish. The fish is removed from the maze for a few seconds, then returns to one of the aquariums and resumes its pursuit of the paintbrush. Killing fish in this manner scores bonus points. The nice part- the rollers never go away- use em’ again and again!

The fish initially are dumb, but as time goes on they get “smarter” learning to avoid the roller when the paintbrush nears it, and develop strategies to trap the player between them.

A third character, appearing to be an animal, rolling tire, or invisible man depending on the level, may enter the maze and leave tracks that must be painted over in order for the board to be completed. The player can limit the damage by running over the figure, which not only stops further tracks from being left but also awards the player a score, which progressively increases as more boards are cleared.



The one thing with this game- unlike the ghosts in Pac-Man,  the fish can always see you, and strategize to corner you. Which makes this game extremely hard. When Williams got their hands on this game, they added warp holes to help you escape. But, now we have Make Trax Turbo! It’s a speed up chip to make J.J. move fast! Now, you can clear so many mazes!




Unlike most games in this series, there were some home ports made of this game.

Brush Roller-  This is a awful unlicensed port on the NES. the colors are drab, and the music is annoying.


Crush Roller-  (Make Trax original name) is a amazing port on the rare Neo Geo Pocket that offers bright colors, multiple mazes, and branching! even the original maze makes a appearance in the last level! this game is amazing!

A great maze chase with some unique twists that I think would have done well on the VCS.

so- let’s VCS-IFIY this game!


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Make Trax could be done on the VCS! there was a similar fill in the maze game.. Amidar. Instead of painting the maze- you filled in boxes.

Lets talk sprites…  and the evolution of them.


I started the idea for a Make Trax 2600 game back in 2006.Here’s where I started-

The maze was fine- but I was never happy with the sprites. So, in doing this article,  I thought I would try a redesign.

I think they look better.

Some have been reused- like the mouse, cat and dog from the 2600 Mousetrap- instead of the whole pest, just have their head looking around, ready to cause trouble. They would leave their respective color paint on the maze that J.J. would have to repaint. I also decided to use a overtop view of a car- I would be easier to animate.

Now for J.J. the paintbrush… does he look familiar?

So- what do you think? Would you like to see Make Trax on the VCS?

It’s the one game I’ve always wanted on my VCS (Champ Games- PLEASE MAKE THIS GAME HAPPEN!).

I think would make the conversion to the VCS in a fun, playable way.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Keep Playin’ Like It’s 1981!


  1. I gotta say, this is one game that I’m surprised never saw the light of day VCS-wise. But in looking at how you would have done the game design-yeah, why not VCS-ify the title?

    Oh, and that paintbrush/ghost comparison-didn’t realize that until now! 😀 😁


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