This wasn't an official Atari title. The programmer, Mark Hahn, did it in his spare time, and offered it to Atari, but they declined it. From Hahn:
From the programmer: "The history of Elk Attack is not very interesting. In the spring of 1987, finding myself unemployed, I wrote a VCS game based very loosely on Yo-Yo. Those things that were easy to do I did; those that were hard, I changed or dropped. I named my cart Elk Attack as a joke and sent the cart to Atari and Epyx for them to evaluate. Neither were interested, so I stuffed my test EPROMS in a drawer and forgot them until I ran across the STELLA emulator. Brad Mott had a wonderful emulator but no binaries to distribute with it. I gave him permission to include Elk Attack with distributions of STELLA."
Enemy movement is too erratic; player craft always drifts to the left, which makes no sense (if there was a large mass pulling the player through gravity, it would affect everything, not just the player)
For NTSC users, set display format to NTSC to correction color like PAL colors in Stella emulator.
I absolutely loved the Imagic and Activision titles for the 2600 and played Atlantis and Cosmic Ark for hours and hours. Now, 30 years later, I am playing it again, and my wife comes and looks over my shoulder and says, "Wow, that looks and sounds cool". Now she plays it for hours and hours!
As with Donkey Kong (from Coleco) a year later, I remember the critical drubbing the 2600 version received upon release. And I was one of them. I enjoyed the arcade game like the rest of the world back in 1981, and with Atari having the ubiquitous rights for the home version (and generally doing a good job overall), what could wrong? Plenty. I hated the new scoring scheme (e.g., 1 point instead of 10, 5 instead of 50, etc.). It made it feel like I hadn't accomplished anything after the game was over. Also I disliked putting an eye on Pac-Man (maybe Atari didn't want kids to think Pac-Man was blind?), and that items were renamed -- monsters became ghosts, energizers became power pills, etc. In fact, I remember that so strong was Atari's "influence," if you will, that after the 2600 version came out, anyone playing Pac-Man in the arcades were now referring to the new naming schemes. What also made this game awful was the poor color scheme and headache inducing flickering, not to mention the crude sounding sound effects. And there wasn't even an attempt to have the classic theme song to start the game; it just sounded like a couple of random notes that didn't even sound anything like a tune.
Oh my... this confirms my fears, and opens up a whole host of possible conspiracies between Atari and the Chinese.
All of these games are the same as on this http://atariboxed.com/index.php?go=detail&modul_refnumber=1627 and even the title font is the same. What this likely means is that Atari, in their transition from producing Game Cartridges in El Paso to Hong Kong, made a deal with the devil: they would let this Chinese printer clone/steal all of its games with impunity (and sell then anywhere but North America) in return for producing cartridges for quite cheap. 2600 Compatible and Silver cartridges could have been molded from the same plastic in the same factory! I bet that if you melted it down and chemically analyzed it, it would be a perfect match! This isn't so outlandish when you consider how Tax Avoiders was created to dupe investors. Or how the makers of the Dendy, a Russian "Clone" of the Famicom, became the official distributors of the SNES in Russia.
The only 2600 cartridge I still own from the early 80's, and the game that had me actively trying to earn the patches that Activision would send with a picture of your score on the screen. Since first-person-shooter games are so popular now, we have Starmaster to thank as being one of the pioneers of the genre.