Tag Archives: Atari 2600

The Good Old Days

Introduction

My obsession with retro video games started with mine and Liam’s trip to The Quarters a few weeks ago.A� That’s no entirely true.A� While not often one to fall victim to nostalgia, I have always been a fan of the video games of my youth.A� Let’s say that my most recent obsession with retro video games started with our trip to The Quarters.A� It was just such a fun walk down memory lane.

XBox 360 (Skyrim/Fallout)

My second step on the nostalgia tour took me to my XBox 360, where I planned (yet again) to play and attempt to finally beat Skyrim or Fallout 3 or both.A� I already wrote an article about my latest experiences in Skyrim, so I don’t have to repeat myself here.A� In addition, due to the drive tray issues on my XBox 360, I haven’t even loaded Fallout 3.A� Oh well, best laid plans and all of that.

That’s not entirely true. I did test both games to make sure that they loaded.

While Skyrim didn’t (spoiler alert if you haven’t read the other article) quite sate my appetite for recaptured youth, that’s not unexpected.A� I only ever played Morrowind from the Elder Scrolls series and that was well after I had become (at least in the eyes of the law) an adult.A� I never liked Morrowind much.A� I did like Skyrim very much, but it also came into my life during quite a difficult time, so maybe I just need to recalibrate the game in my brain space to a happier time.

Nintendo GameCube/Sega Dreamcast (Pokemon Colosseum)

Those of you who follow and read the page regularly know that the Nintendo GameCube was a big storyline through the holidays around here.A� The short, short story is that Liam wanted one for Christmas, we didn’t buy one because I was confident that we still own ours, and he ultimately felt jipped by Christmas.A� That led to our trip to The Quarters.A� It also caused a wild search around the house for our old GameCube.

Liam also found my old Dreamcast, which further supported my theory that the GameCube must be somewhere around the house.A� I have my PS1, PS2, DreamCast, and Game Boy Advance.A� I know that I sold my N64 to a local YMCA youth program, and we gave our Wii away to a gift exchange for needy families.A� That is all consoles (not including the more current ones) that I have owned at one time or another.A� All except for that dang GameCube.

I don’t know what happened to you little buddy, but know that you are missed.

As one of our ideas to sooth Liam’s broken heart over Christmas, I decided to load up the Dreamcast.A� I discovered that it has a loose drive door and that it won’t load games consistently.A� I did get House of the Dead to the loading screen.A� Other than that, it keeps kicking me back to the main menu.A� Oh well, best laid plans and all that.

Liam did finally collect enough money by selling some gift cards he got for Christmas to buy the system and the game that he wanted for it, Pokemon Colosseum.A� I’m glad that we could help him come up with the money to buy it.A� I’ve never seen him so happy about a game.A� I suspect that when he’s my age, Pokemon will be one of his go to games for warm and fuzzy feelings from his youth.

Nintendo 64 (Legend of Zelda:A� Ocarina of Time)

I loaded this one on a whim a couple of weeks ago.A� It is probably my second favorite Legend of Zelda game that I’ve played behind A Link to the Past.A� Quinn got kicked out of the living room one night while Christine was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the older boys, so he took a seat next to me and watched me play.A� It has become an almost nightly date for me to sit down and play Zelda while Quinn watches and they watch Buffy or Stranger Things if it is just Christine and Aiden.

Most people hate the water temple level, but I’ve never had much of an issue with it. I am, however, currently stuck on the Jabu Jabu level.

Game Boy Advance (Pokemon Pinball)

I can’t fully explain my interest in these types of games.A� I do know that I played the heck out of Sonic Spinball on my Genesis when I was younger.A� I also grew up with a father who couldn’t really get into video games, but loved a good pinball machine.A� I remember going to the boardwalk and he would go up and down the line of pinball machines with his handful of quarters until he found one that he liked.A� Okay, maybe I can fully explain it.

The thing that I can’t explain is with all of the games that I have available to me on this system, why is this the first one that I play?A� I have a history with Pokemon all the way back to the first games and I played and enjoyed Pokemon Sun a couple of years ago.A� But, I’m not crazy about Pokemon like Liam.A� I don’t know.A� There’s just something about this game that calls to me.A� Maybe it just is the connection to my dad, pinball, and those memories.

Atari 2600 (Various, but mostly Frostbite right now)

And so, we return all the way back to my beginning with video games, the Atari 2600.A� This is the first console I ever owned, bought by my parents for Christmas one year?A� Maybe?A� I honestly don’t remember how we ended up with one in the house, but it was so cool to be able to “play the games from the arcade” in my living room.A� Sure, Pac-Man wasn’t even close to an accurate port, E.T. is routinely blamed for killing the console, but Mario Bros and Jungle Hunt both looked and played as close to their arcade brethren as the limited 2600 hardware allowed.

I know I ask this every time the subject comes up, but what was so bad about E.T.? I loved the game and it is one of the first games I beat.

Jungle Hunt, especially, holds a place close to my heart.A� I played the game in the arcade one time, plugging quarters into the machine until I finished all of the levels.A� I don’t remember how much money it took, but it must have been at least 5 and maybe even 10 dollars.A� Well, I split my head open being a dumb kid.A� My parents said that because I was so good when I got the stitches in my head, I could get a prize.A� I chose Jungle Hunt for the Atari 2600 so that I could play it at home and not have to keep dumping quarters into it.

Frostbite, Pitfall, and the other Activision titles are just very good games.A� I especially played Frostbite and Pitfall so much as a kid.A� One of my most vivid memories is playing Pitfall all the way to the end at my grandmother’s house.A� I don’t remember if she also bought a system or if I brought my system with me.A� I just remember playing it until the timer reached all zeroes.

Post Script

I’m not going to go full “back in my day” mode and argue that games were better then than they are now.A� That is simply not true.A� Graphics on modern systems are better.A� More memory and storage allows for better and deeper stories to be told by games.A� Sure the games were fun then, but they are fun now, too.A� The fun of games from my childhood are the fun of children.A� It’s the repetitive and familiar fun that will get old after a couple of weeks or months.A� But, I will enjoy it while it lasts.

Have You Played Atari Today?

(Editor’s Note: A�Our summer vacation has extended for far too long. A�However, we hope to be back next week and every week for the rest of the year. A�Until then, I will warm up with a gaming article here to break the stretch of comic reviews.)

Introduction

For the last week, the answer to the question posed in the title is emphatically “Yes!” A�My first gaming system was the Atari 2600. A�It isn’t the first one I purchased myself. A�That honor goes to the SNES or Sega Genesis. A�I can’t remember which I bought first. A�However, our family owned an Atari 2600. A�We also got a 7800, but honestly, that one didn’t last long and got quickly eclipsed by the original NES. A�So, while you will often read about me waxing poetic about Nintendo, my gaming lineage has roots much deeper.

Why do I bring this all up? A�Well, recently I had the idea to acquire a method to play my old Atari 2600 games. A�Let’s just leave it at, “My current laptop (after all of my mishaps in the past) is not very powerful and I wanted to test the waters with something that wouldn’t tax it’s meager capabilities too much.

Plus, I have this cool retro joystick to use!

The Good

I’ve spent the better part of my adult life trying to convince people that nostalgia is a liar. A�Things weren’t better then and even if they were, they’re really not all that bad today. A�Well, I’m here to admit that maybe sometimes nostalgia isn’t a liar. A�I mentioned earlier that I’ve played this at least once a day since getting it. A�It has been for at least an hour each time. A�I started with Frostbite, probably my favorite game for the system. A�Then, I moved on to Pitfall, which I played a couple of times until I got 10 minutes of the timer cleared. A�As a kid, I cleared the whole timer more than once.

As I searched the games, I found Yar’s Revenge, which A�was a game that I “borrowed” from a friend and enjoyed so much that I never returned. A�The last game that I got is perhaps a more obscure game, a deep cut if you will, Plaque Attack. A�It is Activision and I noticed that the sound effects were recycled from Frostbite (or vice versa) and maybe that’s why I liked the game so much. A�I mean, it certainly wasn’t gameplay, which revolves around you controlling a tube of toothpaste and shooting food that is trying to decay teeth in a mouth. A�Okay, so yeah, maybe sometimes nostalgia is a liar because I didn’t last long in that game before moving on to River Raid and Frogger.

For those who think I was making up Plaque Attack. I have a good imagination, but not even I would think to make this game up if it didn’t exist.

The Bad

Unfortunately, I don’t any of these consoles anymore. A�I shouldn’t say that. A�Honestly, my mother might still have the Atari, NES, and possibly the SNES and Genesis in her basement or attic. A�Me, though, lacking any foresight and (as we’ve seen) little sense of nostalgia, I have either sold or given away most consoles I’ve owned as an adult.

PS1? A�Gave it away because it only played when flipped upside down. A�N64? A�Sold to a local YMCA for gas money, basically. A�Original XBOX? A�Gas money, too. A�I do still have my PS2 and Dreamcast, so I guess I got some sense in me eventually. A�Granted, the Dreamcast was bought after the console was already dead and I just found it at the bottom of my closet, but I still have it!

The bad about all of this is that I have to resort to questionably legal means to play all these old games. A�I mean, I got a 2600 joystick console one year for Christmas or birthday. A�It was fun and I played it a few times, but the games are limited and most of them aren’t my favorites. A�The classic Nintendo consoles are also limited in the games they play, and the games are often the good ones, but good luck getting one in the current environment of limited runs and eBay resellers grabbing all of the stock. A�So, I go the emulator route and hope that I don’t get a cease and desist from my internet provider again.

I fully admit that I’ve engaged in quite a bit of questionably legal content online and should have been warned. But, really, this was the last straw? It wasn’t even that great of a movie.

The Ugly

You probably think that I’m going to go with the obvious choice of E.T. here. A�Well, if you think that, you haven’t spent much time on the page. A�I know that E.T. is always pointed to as one of the biggest failures in video game history and said to have essentially killed Atari as a company. A�I refer you to the documentary Atari: Game Over for an entertaining look at the second claim. A�As for the first claim, the game might have failed, but I owned one. A�I also enjoyed the game immensely. A�It is one of the first games that I finished completely.

I mean, how is E.T. still considered the worst game ever with this turd out there?

The real ugly is that ultimately, nostalgia is a liar. A�The games are fun and they do the best that they can with limited pixels and colors. A�However, the graphics are still terrible, the sound effects are lame, the gameplay for most games is repetitive, and there’s not much here other than the reminder of simpler times. A�With all of the other options out there, what is the reason to choose a 40+ year old console with all of those limitations?

The Verdict

Playing these games gave me some insight into what people say when they go on about “the good old days”. A�I had some potentially bad news (that has ultimately worked out well as of right now) and going back to the games of my youth when I didn’t have to worry about all of these things was a powerful attraction. A�I have kept coming back to the games daily for a bit of a distraction.

In the end, though, they are little more than that. A�Like the games on my phone that I cycle through on a daily basis, I’m not terribly invested in the games. A�I play them to give my brain a break. A�I’d much rather be playing Skyrim, Fallout, Portal, or even the Lego games with the boys. A�I don’t know if it will have staying power in my daily routine, especially since I’m going back to school and time will be more limited. A�For now, I like the feeling of experiencing the games for the first time again and remembering other games that send me on the hunt for them. A�If you’re not worried about the questionable legal ramifications, I highly recommend the run, jump, and chomp down memory lane.