Atari Fever … Catch It!

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So for whatever reason, the universe has been bombarding me with memory triggers of my old Atari 2600 lately …

Bomb #1: A couple months ago, I ran across a very funny blog entry at, wherein he’s photoshopped alternative titles onto some classic Atari/Activision games.

Bomb #2: The Daily Shark has been posting his memories of his favorite various Atari 2600 games the past few weeks, including Adventure, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Missile Command, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Bomb #3: The other day I found a site called, which along with other great material has pages upon pages of screenshots of dozens of Atari games.

Bomb #4: On Friday, Wil Wheaton posted a link to a great article he’d found …

Bomb #5: Atari: The Golden Years … A History, 1978-1981.

If you’re old enough to be at all nostalgic about the 2600, do yourself a favor and click some of the links above. And save yourself a block of time for that last one, the history — it’s long, but there’s a lot of great behind-the-scenes info in there. My favorite part is the section about “Adventure”, which any diehard fan knows contained the first “easter egg” in a video game, and which prefaces a discussion of Atari’s failure to credit its programmers, leading to the birth of Activision.

It’s hard to believe that there were hundreds of games created for the 2600. My brother and I only had couple dozen, and it still managed to consume most of our recreational time for a few years. In fact, we played so much, the joysticks couldn’t even keep up with us. The plastic inside would crack after a while, and every few weeks, I’d have to open them up and reinforce them with bent paper clips and duct tape … partly because even back then, I never missed an opportunity to take something apart, and partly because buying new joysticks would have meant we couldn’t buy a new game!

The games I can remember owning were: Adventure (click to play it), Combat, Battlezone, Centipede, Chopper Command, Defender, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong, E.T., Frogger, Kaboom!, Missile Command, Outlaw, Pac-Man, Pinball, Pitfall!, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back, Tennis, and Yars’ Revenge.

To wrap things up, here are some screenshots, with commentary …

“Excuse me, Mister Adventure Duck. But can you please tell me the way to the Yellow Castle?”

Combat: Yes, those ARE tanks. And yes, I was the master of the ricochet levels.

Defender for the 2600 actually played pretty close to the arcade version.

Empire Strikes Back: An example of a GOOD video game based on a movie.

E.T. the Extraterrestrial: An example of an UNGODLY BAD video game based a movie.

Dude, nothing induced seizures like playing Kaboom! Those bombs fell so fast!!!

Pinball on a TV screen. I don’t why it should have been any fun at all … but it was.

Okay, so Pitfall! was a blatant ripoff of the Indiana Jones character … a ripoff that some say was actually better than the Raiders of the Lost Ark game.

But the Raiders of the Lost Ark game had puzzles, which I enjoyed.

Yars’ Revenge. You know, for the life of me, I don’t remember what happened to Yars (who looked kind of like a dragonfly) that required so much revenging. And I’m not sure I ever quite knew exactly how to play this game. Yet somehow, I enjoyed myself for hours playing it. Go figure.