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disambig 30px.png This article is about the computer game Hacker. For further uses see Hacker (Disambiguation).

Title image from the game
Game No. 325
Developer Steve Cartwright
Company Activision
Publisher Activision
Musician no music
Release 1985
Platform C64,ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Amiga, Atari ST, Apple II, Atari 800/XL/XE, PC (DOS)
Genre Adventure
Gamemode Single player
Operation {{{Width}}}{{{Width}}} C64-icon.png
Media Icon disk525.png Tape-icon.png
Language Language:english
Information Follower: Hacker II: The Doomsday Papers


Voting of the C64-Wiki users (10=the best vote):
6.61 points at 18 votes (rank 498).
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C64Games 3 02nd July 2012 - 4909 downs
Lemon64 7.2 02nd July 2012 - 50 votes
The Legacy 9 23rd June 2014 - "excellent" - 4 votes
Kultboy 8.67 02nd July 2012 - 6 votes
64er Magazin 12/15 Issue 1/86
Happy Computer Sonderheft Test report without votes! Issue 3/85
Happy Computer Test report without votes! Issue 12/85
Computer & Videogames 9 Issue December 1985 - S.26
Commodore User 88% Issuee March 1989 - p.56
Your Computer 3/5 Issue December 1985 - p.36
Zzap!64 87% Issue November 1985 - p.24


Hacker Magma Logo.png
Hacker SRU Big.png

Hacker is a graphic adventure game by Activision from 1986. Steve Cartwright and his team took orientation in the image of the hacker from the 80s. Therefore, when the game was realised, it was assumed that the Hacker does not know anything at all about the system he wants to hack into and that he can reach his goal by mere trial and error. So in the excluded manual it was only described how to start the game and the following hint was given:

Other computer games often have lengthy instructions to explain how the game is played. Hacker™ is not like other computer games. We've told you how to load the program: everything else is up to you. A real-life hacker would proceed by trial and error: and that's how you play this game. The only tip we'll give you is, don't play Hacker™ like a standard adventure. You'll get further, faster, if you just try things out, instead of trying to decide what the next most logical step would be. So start hacking!

This unusual game idea brought a completely new game concept for the year 1986.

Story & aim of the game

The game starts with a login screen. After three attempts to login you are lucky and get into the system due to a dysfunction. Then you learn that you are in the system of the company Magma Ltd. At the same time, the player has now full access to the Subterranean Remote Unit (SRU). Obviously, at Magma Ltd. they think by this that you are an official employee, because you get the information that 10 spys have stolen a sensitive document about the Magma project for world domination. Each spy has now one part of an important document. The mission is now, to obtain the single pieces of the document that are scattered around the whole world with the help of the SRU. For this operation you also receive an amount of $5000 as start-up aid to be able to negotiate with the agents. But in the end the player will of course hand over the sensitive letter to a government agent and thus end the ploy of Magma Ltd.


The SRU programming through the world's tunnel systems.

After the login procedure and the SRU test the rest of the game takes only place on the screen with the world map. Here, you need to navigate the SRU around the world, to negotiate with agents at different places.
In the lower part of the screen you see the world map, that is overlaid with a grid pattern. Here you can set the destination of the SRU to let it go to a fixed position. If the player moves the SRU to the surface, the world map disappears and at this place the discussions with the agents appear. In the upper half of the screen you see the selectable SRU commands at the left, in the middle the player can follow everything from the view of the SRU camera. At the right, there is also a compass and a box in which the currently conducted command is displayed.


The meeting with the spy in France.

Joystick controls[edit]

  • In all directions: set mark on the map (west, east, north, south)
  • press fire button: let SRU move to the marked position.


SRU - underground

  • M  (message) - when the 'MSG' symbol flashes you can read the message
  • U  (up) - move the SRU to the surface

SRU - above ground

  • I  (infrared) - when it is night, you can switch to infrared view
  • I  (inventory) - shows the inventory
  • C  (call) - calls the spy
  • E  (evidence) - shows the collected evidence document
  • D  (Down) - lower the SRU to the underground
  • Y  (yes) - to buy the good that the spy offers
  • N  (no) - to not buy the good that the spy offers


The hack into the system[edit]

framedAt the start you only face locked doors.

At the start of the game you see a simple login screen. Here you can only type something in. After two failed attempts you get the hint, that you can get help by with 'H'. If you press 'H' you get the hint that the password is the location of a test area. Another login attempt causes a system error and then you are in the system..
Alternatively you can enter the password AUSTRALIA , with this you skip the procedure with the system error and the SRU test.

Subterranean Remote Unit (SRU) test[edit]

After the login process you have the absolve a SRU test. Here you need to identify 5 parts of the SRU. This is done with the joystick, you have to repeat this test as often as it takes until you have identified all 5 parts without fault.

The SRU test.

Time zone[edit]

The choice of the time zone is not releveant for the course of the game. When you have arrived at a target destination, where it is currently night time, you can switch to infrared with the key I .

World map[edit]

The world map is overlaid with a grid pattern on which the SRU can be moved. Additionally, all possible paths are shown.

Hacker World Map.gif

Security Check[edit]

A satellite has discovered you!

After 55 steps you get a message that the system is infiltrated (see at the right). From this point of time onwards you can see satellites flying over the map. If a satellite flies over our SRU, we will be confronted with a security question. After you answered four different questions, you will be left alone.

  • Level 1 Security Check - Identify Company Name: MAGMA, LTD.
  • Level 2 Security Check - Identify SRU Model: AXD-0310479
  • Level 3 Security Check - Identify Motivator Type: HYDRAULIC
  • Level 4 Security Check - Identify Location of Test Site: AUSTRALIA

The answers can be found in the game. The company name can be found often in the messages. The SRU model and the motivator type need to be noted down during the SRU test. The answer to the 4th and last question is a bit more difficult to find out. Because only when you move with the SRU below the Australian continent, you will be thrown out of the system. "YOU HAVE ENTERED A RESTRICTED AREA ALL REMOTE UNITS HAVE BEEN ORDERED TO EVACUATE TEST SITE" …

List of agents[edit]

In the following overview you find the list of places and agents sorted chronologically. It shows what you have to give them to get a part of the desired documents and what you have to buy from them. Each spy speaks only in its own tongue and only 4 of them know English. But this is not so bad as the trade always follows the same scheme: When arriving at the surface of the destination, you press C  to fetch the agent. Then you press I  as often as is needed until the desired object is chosen and with RETURN  you hand it over to the agent. After that the agent offers you some items to be bought, which you can buy with the keys Y  ‚Yes’ or not buy with N  ‚No’.

The exact solution is not the same in each disk of the game. E.g. sometimes the Greek agent takes the statue and the Indian the scarabaeus, in some games it is just the other way round. When there are several possibilites given in the following table, only one of them works. As seen in the table there are three possible variations. One of them (carving vs camera) is harmless, since you will meet the one that only takes one of those first on the proper route. The second one (diamond vs stocks) is more evil because you won't know which it is until you try and you cannot buy both. The third is the most evil, because the first location you will visit will take either of them (tut or scarab), but the second one will only take ONE of the two, and you have a 50/50 chance of having given the one you need for the second guy to the first. Once you have determined which choices are correct for your copy of the game (through trial and error), you can actually win.

Pos. Country/town give Offers Buy offers Number of steps to go
1 Switzerland $5000 swiss chalet ($9500) and chronograph ($200) YES 10 steps
2 Egypt chronograph emerald scarab ($1500) and gold statuette of tut ($1000) YES 14 steps
3 Greece gold statuette of tut or emerald scarab ancient artifact ($1000) and grecian urn ($1000) NO 3 steps
4 India emerald scarab or gold statuette of tut star of india ($5000) and jeweled lamp ($1000) NO 9 steps
5 New York swiss chalet uncut 3KT. diamond ($2000) and stocks & bonds ($2000) YES (only stocks & bonds or only uncut 3KT. diamond) 21 steps
6 Japan stocks & bonds or uncut 3KT. diamond cultured pearls ($300) and 35mm camera ($300) YES 27 steps
7 China cultured pearls ming vase ($2000) and jade carving ($2000) YES (only jade carving) 4 steps
8 Cuba jade carving or 35mm camera spanish doubloons ($500) and treasure map ($700) NO 29 steps
9 London 35mm camera or jade carving autographed beatles album ($900) and crown jewels ($9500) YES (only autographed beatles album) 16 steps
10 San Francisco autographed beatles album gold nuggets ($1500) and 49er season tickets ($200) NO 19 steps
11 Washington DC document 20 steps

The 10 pieces of the sensitive document.
We have made it an are honourably mentioned in the newspaper.


Login with "AUSTRALIA" and you will bypass the SRU Test section.


Wecky: "Somehow the game had something mysterious and it fitted into the times. The trial and error is also fun, but when the game has been finished once, the motiviation to occupy with it any further drops to zero. For me it is a pure nostalgic game and I give 8 points."

Starkiller: "A manual would not have been bad, the reason for its absence seems to me like a lame excuse. It is very far-fetched that you should find everything out for yourself like "a real hacker", because except for the start the game has nothing to do with "hacking", for me it is just an adventure without a manual. Actually, I have only played it for so long because I had hoped that finally at some point something interesting is going to happen."

Shmendric: "Manual and saving function were originally planned - at least that is what Wikipedia says. But whether they really renounced it because of the feeling in the game, or due to time and budget reason, can probably not be determined for sure any more. That "HACKER" was originally planned as an underground post simulation, does really not make me wonder, because that is what it seemed to me. The finicking, however, was still a bit of fun to me."



  • The development of the game took 9 months.
  • The game was originally planned as Underground Post Simulation
  • A load/save function was omitted intentionally, as this would have brought too much of a "game" and they did not want to influence the Hacker feeling by this.


  • If you drive with the SRU to Australia you have lost.
  • After having received the piece of the document in China, you have to go on the map without SRU (so blindfold).
  • You must not go more than 172 steps wit the SRU or else you will be kicked out of the system.
  • The name that you enter at the beginning after the login, will later appear in the newspaper.

Difference between the ports[edit]

APPLE II[edit]

  • The logon screen differs.
  • There is only one satellite on the world map.


  • The logon screen differs.
  • The map is significantly bigger in the PC version so that you need altogether 213 steps to the destination.
  • The SRU model is AX-0310479 and not AXD-0310479.


The UK cover cassette version by Flashload
The UK cover cassette version by Mastertronic



Disk label[edit]

Disk label


No highscore possible!


WP-W11.png Wikipedia: Hacker_(video_game)