Atari 2600 40th Anniversary

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scotland
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Atari 2600 40th Anniversary

Postby scotland » September 11th, 2017, 9:32 am

The iconic Atari VCS/2600 was launched in the Fall of 1977. I've found 2 different dates. AtariAge says "September 11th, 1977", but other sites, like MarriotGuy's VideoGameConsoleLIbrary say October 14th, 1977.

What are your memories of the Atari 2600? How important do you think the console was or still is? What's your favorite game?

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scotland
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Re: Atari 2600 40th Anniversary

Postby scotland » September 11th, 2017, 10:01 am

The biggest single memory (not impression, just memory) of the console is kinda bittersweet though. To be fair, my feelings for the console, with all the good and bad, is overwhelmingly positive, so don't let this story think I'm dissing the 2600, cause I've got uncounted hours of fun on it.

The memory comes from the first time I played the famous port of Pac-Man in the Spring of 1982. If you were not around then, Pac-Man was a huge cultural touchstone, like Game of Thrones and spinners. A wealthy family bought an Atari 2600 (still called the VCS then) and Pac-man to both enjoy and possibly to show off, to be honest. This was a family with a huge rear projection tv that rose up out of a cabinet, and a boat, and hot tub, and all sorts of other 1980s status stuff. I helped them hook up the Atari, they opened up the cartridge box, and we booted up Pac-Man.

Well, not really Pac-Man. This is Pac-Man.

Image
and its gameplay.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uswzriFIf_k

This is Atari 2600 Pac-Man

Image
and its gameplay.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtv6SE6RnD8

The real misery of Atari Pac-Man cannot be seen without the video, showing the teleporting flickering 'ghosts'. Not to relitigate the game, but that particular day the overwhelming feeling was disappointment in how inferior the game seemed compared to how we expected it to be. I can enjoy the game now, but then - well, not so much. On that day, I think I enjoyed the hot tub, so all in all, still a good day.

In the many years since, I've grown very fond of my Atari 2600(s). I went throughout the 1990s without ever playing an Atari 2600 game, but (possibly like many here) I came back to it for nostalgia and just to appreciate how fun it could be. Its great to see homebrew games continue to be made. Its a console I often hook up even if I just have a short gaming window. There is nothing like slotting in an Atari 2600 cartridge and putting that big square joystick in your left hand, and seeing what pixelated fun is on hand.

pacman000
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Re: Atari 2600 40th Anniversary

Postby pacman000 » September 11th, 2017, 1:06 pm

My first (or at least 2nd) video game memory involves Atari 2600 Pac-Man. I've told this story to this board before, but it's on topic, so I'll repeat it on this thread, with some expansions:

I went to a birthday party at a skating rink, but did not know how to skate. The rink had an arcade. My mom introduced me to Pac-Man there; when we got home my dad brought out the 2600 from it's hiding place and introduced me to the home version. I had no complaints; to my 5-year-old eyes the 2600's crude imitation of the arcade game was awesome, no worse than the arcade game I'd just played. Over the next few weeks (?) my dad introduced me to Frogger, Donkey Kong, and Zaxxon, all on the venerable Atari. I began to look for carts when we were at garage sales. I got a Game Boy in 2nd grade and was introduced to a new world of adventure and puzzle oriented games like Tetris and Super Mario Land, awhile later the 2600's switch box burnt out; it took us years to get a new one. The VCS sat in my room, on top of my TV waiting to return to life. We finally got a new switch box at RadioShack when I was in high school. (RIP RadioShack :( ) Playing the Atari was like seeing an old friend again. Atari's 1st system with programable will always be high in my mind when thinking of video games.

And no, it did not cause the crash, any more than Yahoo or AOL caused the dot-com bubble, thank-you-very-much. :)

ThePixelatedGenocide
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Re: Atari 2600 40th Anniversary

Postby ThePixelatedGenocide » September 12th, 2017, 12:40 am

We couldn't afford an Atari 2600 when they were new.

Or even when the NES launched.

But by the end of the 80's, they were finally cheap enough for poor children to own them too. There's no feeling today that can match the alien sensation of watching an old television's analog snow fade away for a crystal clear digital picture. Especially since the color tv was new. The only thing I could compare it to, was Christmas lights.

And lasers.

And reading a book. Because the story unfolding on the screen was just a set of symbols. It was up to a child's imagination to bring them all to life. Berzerk was a superhero story more intense than any movie could provide - after all, it was clear the stick man's hand was empty, when he fired a shot. And for a smile and the threat of madness and death and white hot fear, nothing could compare to Evil Otto.

Meanwhile, ET? That was my Grand Theft Auto. Those candies could be anything. If two bored kids decided they were ET's new nicotine habit, or ET wasn't housebroken - hey, it made my brother laugh. No apologies. He needed all the laughs he could get, especially when things around us were going to Hell.

Even a game as limited as Journey Escape told a story - a singer seeking a genuine connection with someone, anyone, while surrounded by endless fantasy. Running forever, never closer than when they began.

It's not like there was enough actually going on in the game itself to keep me coming back.

Somehow, the soundtrack didn't even sound like the first 3 seconds of a drunken car alarm slurring a few wrong notes in an attempt to simulate "Don't Stop Believing." I blame the sea of beautiful lights beneath my feet for that one.

I was a shameless graphics whore.

But -

These days, far more jaded when it comes to seeing a rainbow of pixels on color television, and having made genuine connections with some actually pretty awesome people? I can't even stand to play 5 minutes of the game. Not with the sound on, anyways.

It's not that the technology is just too old for the experience it wants to give. I am.

At least, usually I am.

Still, there are times, when I'm waiting for a bus, or a doctor, or any other time when I need just a few minutes to get away from it all...

There's Defender. There's Kung Fu Master. There's Battlezone.

The nostalgia lasts just long enough for me to fill up a digital cemetery or two.

No regrets.

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scotland
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Re: Atari 2600 40th Anniversary

Postby scotland » September 12th, 2017, 7:00 am

Evil Otto gets a bad wrap. He's not Evil, he's just the security guard

Image

Image


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