Archive for the Atari Category

Today is Atari National Pac-Man Day

Posted in Atari, pop culture, video games with tags , , , , on April 3, 2014 by Paxton

Atari National Pac-Man Day

Nerd Lunch Episode 77: Atari 2600 VCS retrospective

Posted in Activision, Atari, pop culture, video games with tags , , , , , , on March 19, 2013 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

This week on the show CT abandons us so Jeeg and I invite The Retroist back for his second appearance and he brings along Vic Sage, one of the head writers on The Retroist blog, for his first appearance on the show.  We bring in these retro experts to help us discuss one of the greatest gaming systems of all time, the Atari 2600 VCS.

Atari 2600

We each talk about our own history with the system, then we discuss a bunch of our favorite and least favorite games. Yes, we even discuss our own views on the extremely controversial E.T. game.  Also discussed in this episode are the Activision Master Gamer Badges, the Atari port of Pac-Man as well as the bootleg Atari Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween video games.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner.

Or listen to it online here.

Tour of the vintage Pinball City arcade in the 1980 movie Midnight Madness

Posted in 80s, Atari, movies, pop culture, video games with tags , , , on November 27, 2012 by Paxton

Cavalcade Arcade

I love video arcades.  I always have.  I also loved it when arcades popped up in movies.  It was fun trying to pick out what games I could see and identify.  So, I thought it would be a fun exercise to pick some of my favorite movies that have an arcade scene and do a “walk through” to see what games we could see.  This should be interesting because video arcades during the the late 70s to mid 80s are ancient history.  There’s nothing really like them anymore.  These walk throughs should be nice snapshots of a moment in time at a video arcade during their hey day.  So let’s begin.

One of my favorite movies from childhood is the 1980 screwball road race comedy Midnight Madness.

Midnight Madness poster

The movie stars David Naughton, Stephen Furst, Eddie Deezen, Debra Clinger and a very young Michael J Fox as a group of college students split up into colored teams (yellow, blue, green, red and white) who go out on an all night long clue hunt.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the arcade scene at a place called Pinball City.  It’s here the characters play a game that I thought was fake, called Star Fire. I’ve talked about this scene before.  You can watch that full scene here. Well, there’s a wealth of other awesomely vintage video games in that scene, so let’s start off this first walking tour with Pinball City from the movie Midnight Madness.

This movie was released in early 1980, which means it was probably filmed in mid-to-late 1979.

MM 008
This is the clue the players receive for the arcade. It essentially is a word game that tells them to go to PIN + BALL + SIT + E, or Pinball City.

MM 009
Here’s the entrance to Pinball City.

MM 010 Atari Football
Here’s the adorable Debra Clinger checking out an Atari Football game which was produced in 1979.  Behind her is a carnival shooter game called Shark Bait.  However, I could find no information on that game anywhere.  I can’t believe that this was created specifically for the movie to be used in a background shot when they didn’t even bother to do that for the Star Fire game.

MM 011 Indy 800
In the background of this scene is a giant game called Indy 800. It was manufactured by Kee Games in 1975. The game cabinet was huge and took up 16 feet of space.

MM 012 Death Race
Here’s a very young Michael J Fox leaning up against a Death Race game. It was manufactured by Exidy in 1976.  This game is based on and inspired by the movie Death Race 2000. There were only 500 or so made. When it came out it was banned in many cities due to its violent content.

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Happy Atari National Pac-Man Day

Posted in Atari, Pac-Man, pop culture, video games with tags , , , , on April 3, 2012 by Paxton

Cavalcade Arcade

30 years ago today on April 3, 1982, Atari announced National Pac-Man Day.

Atari National Pac-Man Day

National Pac-Man Day coincided with the release of Atari’s port of the Pac-Man arcade game.

Atari Pac-Man
Via John Mundy

Despite that game being one of the worst ports of a game ever created, it was the highest selling game of the year and received an enormous marketing push from Atari.

Pac-Man Phenomenon

Above is an ad touting the popularity of Pac-Man and it includes pictures from Pac-Man release parties all over the world.  Atari even held several Pac-Man Championships. Here’s an ad for the UK Championship.

UK Pac-Man Championships

Atari’s Pac-Man, along with E.T., probably killed not only Atari but the entire home console video game market.  At least for 4 or 5 years until the Nintendo Entertainment System took off. Because, despite selling millions of Pac-Man cartridges (as well as E.T.), Atari had over estimated demand and made many, many more than was sold and they were left with tons of extra cartridges.

So, enjoy Atari National Pac-Man Day! One of the nerdiest holidays ever!

Other Pac-Man articles:

1. Anniversary of the 1st Perfect Game of Pac-Man
2. America’s Love Affair with a Man Named Pac

Only 5 More Days Until Atari National Pac-Man Day

Posted in Atari, Pac-Man, pop culture, video games with tags , , , on March 29, 2012 by Paxton

Countdown to Atari National Pac-Man Day

10 custom Atari 2600 cartridges based on movie video games

Posted in Atari, movies, Tron, video games, War Games with tags , , , , , , on March 2, 2012 by Paxton

Cavalcade Arcade

In May of last year I wrote an article talking about video games in movies that I thought were fake but were actually real. Then, CT over at Nerd Lunch used an image of a Nerd Lunch Atari 2600 cart for Episode 26 of the Nerd Lunch podcast. This immediately got me thinking about all those movie games I want to exist. So, I went out to the custom Atari 2600 label generator and just went buck wild.

Here are some of my creations (click the images to make them BIGGER).

Global Thermonuclear War
Global Thermonuclear War (War Games) – I did a bunch for WarGames. This was the first one that popped into my mind. How cool would this game be?

Falken's Maze
Falken’s Maze (War Games) – Another WarGames creation. The name of this game appears in the scene where David Lightman lists the games available from Joshua (aka WOPR). I think Eddie Deezen even tells Matthew Broderick to research Falken’s Maze to learn about the enigmatic programmer. Atari released a similar maze game called Maze Craze (from which I got the picture on the cartridge).

Joshua's Tic Tac Toe
Joshua’s Tic Tac Toe (War Games) – Essentially just a themed Tic-Tac-Toe game. This may seem a bit thin, but Atari actually released a 3D Tic-Tac-Toe game which could probably be re-branded and maybe skinned to match the movie game.

WarGames: NORAD
WarGames: NORAD (War Games) – This is not necessarily based on anything specific in the movie.  It could be a conglomeration of all the Joshua Games or maybe even a video game recreation of the final NORAD sequence in the film.  I just thought it sounded cool.

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Video Games in movies that I totally thought were fake…but aren’t

Posted in Atari, movies, nostalgia, pop culture, video games with tags , , , on May 18, 2011 by Paxton

Cavalcade Arcade

So, the other day,  I was watching one of my favorite movies, Midnight Madness.

Midnight Madness

In case you didn’t know, it’s about a group of college kids that take part in a city-wide game of chase.  They are given clues that lead to specific destinations which eventually end up at the finish line.  It’s a great movie and is one of Michael J Fox’s earliest roles.  Anyway, about 3/4 of the way through the movie there is a great scene that takes place in a video arcade.  It’s always been one of my favorite scenes, especially now, because you can see a bunch of old school video games as the camera changes perspective.

So, after arriving at the video arcade (which is run by a young Paul Reubens in a cowboy costume), the players discover they must play the game Star Fire, and beat it, in order to get the final clue.  They gather around the machine with like a million quarters and start playing.

Star Fire 1Star Fire 2

For years, I thought this game was a creation of the movie.  The logo was obviously a rip off of Star Wars and the game play was disjointed and just looked manufactured.  You could even see images of TIE Fighters in the game.

Star Fire 3Star Fire 4

How could this crappy ass game be real?  Am I right?  However, just recently, while searching around the Internet I discovered that Star Fire was an actual video game.  It was manufactured in 1980 by a company called Exidy.  The graphics, game play and cabinet were slightly altered in the movie for the purposes of the script (which explains why it felt fake), but the game was most definitely real.  Not only that, it is considered a ground breaking shoot ’em up.  It was the first arcade game to use the sit down cockpit (however the movie used the stand up version) and was also the first game to keep track of player initials and high scores.  Here’s a flyer from 1979 advertising the Star Fire arcade game.


Star Fire

(Via the Arcade Flyer Archive)

I was blown away.  I couldn’t believe this was real.  I’d seen Midnight Madness thousands of times and I just assumed Star Fire was fake.  For me, this is nearly akin to finding out Mattel actually made hoverboards back in 1989.  Earth.  Shattering.  I’ll have to see if I can download an emulator ROM for it.

This got me thinking about other movies with awesome video game machines that I assumed were fake but are, in fact, real.

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