Jul 6, 2012


Yesterday my mother in-law gave me the gift that keeps on giving, an Atari 2600. Yes the gaming console that started it all is now in my possession. With it came a bunch of games that varied in quality. The wife and I decided to plug it in last night and reminisce about the joys it brought to our childhood.

I never technically owned an Atari as I had a Coleco Vision which had an expansion module that let you play Atari 2600 games. Since Atari games were much cheaper than their Coleco competitor, my parents bought me the inexpensive ones.

I first put in Pitfall, one of the games to end all on that console. Yes the seemingly never ending game of a jungle adventurer who lept on the eyes of crocodiles and jumped over cobras, barrels, and disappearing ponds was filled with much amusement as the first side scroller. I played it for a few minutes, but I found my skills lacked as Pitfall Harry kept dying.

Next up was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, a game I played the crap out of thinking their would be some kind of cool ending should I keep back all the AT-ATs, but I was but a child, and should've known that the Empire would win that battle no matter what. Still I spent hours trying. It's a fun little game where you mount a snow speeder and shoot the Imperial Walkers over and over again until they explode. Last night though, I only defeated one AT-AT, and then the rebellion was over run.

In what I felt was quite a surprise, I found a M*A*S*H video game. Yes based on the anti-war film and series, the producers must've sold the license for whatever reason. In it you pilot a helicopter and rescue little men who are as tall as trees and try and escort them safely back to a M*A*S*H unit, all the while avoiding tank fire from your North Korean enemies. It was actually kind of fun.

I tried other games, such as Outlaw and one of my all time favorites, Combat, and most were fun if only for a few minutes, but I saw one title that gave me pause, E.T. Yes the much hyped game that is considered largely responsible for the death of the console is now in my possession. I took a look at the cartridge and remembered the hours of frustration I had trying to figure out whatever in the hell I was supposed to do in the game, and quite wisely decided against reliving that nightmare.

Nostalgia was short lived, but for a few moments I felt the excitement I did as a wee lad, when video game consoles were new and exciting, and the games were really friggin hard.

"People worry I might be sensitive about the ET debacle, but the fact is I’m always happy to discuss it. After all, it was the fastest game ever done, it was a million seller, and of the thousands of 2600 games, how many others are still a topic? Another thing I like to think about is having done ET (consistently rated among the worst games of all time) and Yars' Revenge (consistently rated as one of the best) I figure I have the unique distinction of having the greatest range of any game designer in history." - Howard Scott Warshaw

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