Archive for September, 2010

Were you an Activision Master Gamer? Part II

Posted in 80s, Activision, Atari, pop culture, video games with tags , , , , on September 8, 2010 by Paxton

Cavalcade Arcade

Yesterday I began my look at Activision’s Master Gamer Program.  I looked at the Activision newsletter and talked about the genesis of the Master Gamer badges.  I also showed you five of those Master Gamer Badges. Click on this link to go back and read Part I of this article if you missed it and see badges for the games Dragster, Barnstorming and Freeway.

Now, without further ado, here are five more of the Activision Master Gamer Badges.

You can click the images to make them bigger and thanks again to Atari Age for the game box scans.

Grand Prix badge Grand Prix box
Grand Prix Driving Team Master Badge – For the game Grand Prix. This was a typical racing game where you drove to be the first across the finish line while swerving in and out of other drivers and avoiding hazards like oil spills. This was one of the first games to start awarding these Master Gamer patches. If you ran your race in 1:00 for Game 1, 1:30 for Game 2 and 2:30 for Game 3, then you became a member of the Activision Grand Prix driving team.

Bucket Brigade badge Kaboom box
Activision Bucket Brigade Master Badge – For one of my favorite Atari 2600 games of all time, Kaboom!  In this game, you use the paddle controllers to control buckets on the bottom of the screen to catch bombs that are dropped by the bandit at the top of the screen.  It’s much harder than you think it is.  My grandmother gave me this game for Christmas one year and I’d never heard of it.  It quickly became one of my “go-to” games that I would play for hours.  To earn this badge you have to score at least 3,000 points.


Laser Blast badge
Laser Blast box
Commander in the Federation of Laser Blasters Master Badge – For the game Laser Blast.  This was a space shoot-em-up in the vein of Missile Command.  If you could score over 100,000 points, you earned this commander badge.  Additionally, the on screen display could only accommodate 6 numbers.  So if you scored over 999,999 points, your score would flip to all exclamation points.  If you could do this, there was an extra 1,000,000 point patch you could earn.

Activision Ski Team badge Skiing box
Activision Ski Team Master Badge – For the game Skiing, one of the few games featuring the winter sport of skiing for the Atari 2600.  This game offered several different downhill races you could do, all timed and the goal was to beat your times.  If you could beat the time of 28.2 seconds on the slalom, you would earn the Activision Ski Team badge.

Sub Club Badge Seaquest box
Activision Sub Club Master Badge – For the game Seaquest.  This game worked very similar to the Atari port of Defender. It was a shoot-em-up. You pilot a submarine shooting sharks and enemy subs while simultaneously saving friendly divers.  If you could score 50,000 points then you earned the Sub Club badge.

Those are your five badges for today.  I have five more badges for you tomorrow.  Stop back tomorrow to see what other Atari games are represented.

Were you an Activision Master Gamer?

Posted in 80s, Activision, Atari, pop culture, video games with tags , , , , , on September 7, 2010 by Paxton

Cavalcade Arcade

In the early ’80s, the Atari 2600 was king. Nearly every kid had one, and if they didn’t, they had a friend with one that they would spend every waking moment with.  The Atari 2600 was the center of most kids’ universes.  At least, it was to me and my friends.
I received my Atari 2600 one weekend when I was in about third grade. I was sick that weekend and my dad just up and decided to get us the Atari 2600 and a VCR. He is, to this day, my hero. Since the Atari 2600 wasn’t a powerhouse graphics machine, the games had to rely on being creative, thereby making game play addicting. There were many awesome, awesome games for the 2600 console and, like today, there were many different companies besides Atari making games for the console. One of the best, if not THE best, third party developer was Activision Games.

Activision logos

Activision was founded in 1979 by a former record executive and staffed by a bunch of former Atari programmers who broke off and started their own company. These developers were upset that Atari’s policy at the time included not giving credit to game developers in the game manuals.  Activision changed all that.  An entire page in Activision’s game manuals was devoted to the people who developed the games.

Being former Atari developers, the Activision team knew the best way to develop for the console’s hardware. How best to get that extra “umph” from the graphics and the best way to make games fun and addictive.  They also knew how to cater to their fanbase.  Activision started a newsletter for their users that previewed upcoming games, reviewed current releases and shared achievements and high scores from readers who would write in their personal bests.  The newsletter was called the Activision Fun Club News (later renamed Activisions).  Below is the Summer 1984 issue of the newsletter.

Activision fun club news

With all of these reader score submissions coming in, Activision realized that they could use this enthusiasm and build a demand for their games. So, Activision created the Master Gamer program.  The program would include a list of Activision games and what achievement you had to perform in order to earn the title of Master Gamer within that particular game.  The program started off small, with only a few of the Activision catalog games participating.  Here’s an info sheet from within the Activision newletter explaining the concept of the Master Gamer and how to achieve and then apply for the status.

Become an Activision Master Gamer

Activision even had patches (or, “badges”) made that they would send to gamers who proved that they achieved the status.  In this info sheet you can see the badges for the games Laser Blast, Freeway, Skiing, Stampede, Kaboom! and Dragster.

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Even more awesomely vintage advertisements

Posted in advertising, comic books, nostalgia, pop culture, Superman with tags , , , , , on September 1, 2010 by Paxton

Earlier this year I looked at several awesomely vintage comic book advertisements (such as the infamous Cube Lube) as well as a bunch of vintage and weird movie posters.  Old vintage ads and posters are awesome and hilarious and they seemed to be pretty popular with readers.  So I thought I’d take a look at some more vintage advertisements from my Flickr photostream.

Click the images to make them BIGGER.

Super Hero Time Machine
The Super Hero Time Machine (1977) – Why they didn’t just call these “watches” I have no idea.  Great looking ad, though.  Interesting that it’s all DC characters except for the one Spider-Man watch.

Chuck Norris Right Guard
Chuck Norris and Right Guard (1993) – Walker Texas Ranger roundhouse kicks underarm odor into submission, one armpit at a time.

Chuck Norris Action jeans
Chuck Norris Action Jeans – “Won’t bind your legs” when you’re high kicking the sh*t out of some punk’s face. (Via Branded in the 80s)

Right Guard Lime Deodorant
Right Guard Lime Deodorant (’70s) – This is weird.  Lime deodorant?  I didn’t know it, but there still exists a Gillette Lemon-Lime Shaving Cream.  What’s next?  Is Kool-Aid releasing a deodorant flavored drink?

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