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Fun from yesteryear
April 21, 2008 3:19 PM   Subscribe

"So I hit up a garage sale over the weekend and bought a genuine, working-condition Atari 2600, with a huge stack of games nearly mint in their boxes, for a song. I thought I’d scan the box covers and give you all a look back into the fun of yesteryear."
posted by sveskemus (74 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
I see what you did there.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 3:22 PM on April 21, 2008


"Dude - we shouldn't have done that acid, my hands feel like Twizzlers... oh, man, Twizzlers."

Awesome.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:24 PM on April 21, 2008


Coincidentally I think the artists who did the box art for these games also made all the covers for every textbook of that era ever.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 3:24 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


My childhood. Nooo. I'm speed dialing my congressperson to try to get the Atari Cartridge Font protected as a national treasure...
posted by felix at 3:25 PM on April 21, 2008


My favorite : IT'S FUCKING CHECKERS(tm)
posted by Afroblanco at 3:28 PM on April 21, 2008


Gay French Mario Brothers! Loved that game. Miss the relay bounce and splat on the ground, your arms are flailing in a pool of red that was your body. Graphic. Put on some Really Rosie and you've got all the gruesome fun you could have as a kid in the 80's when it was too cold or rainy to play lawn darts.
posted by cashman at 3:30 PM on April 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


more
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:30 PM on April 21, 2008


I used one of those images for my first album cover.
posted by BoatMeme at 3:34 PM on April 21, 2008


That's nothin'; I found a working, good condition Intellivision in the dumpster last year (no games tho).
posted by Brocktoon at 3:36 PM on April 21, 2008


This... oh my God. This is the bestest thing in the history of best. "It's Fucking Checkers", "Every Sport Ever In Pong Form" and "Backgammon For Friendless People" are particularly inspired. There was a reason for all those crappy translations of board games, though: the game companies thought that since most people weren't particularly familiar with the concept of video games, they felt they needed to make checkers, chess, backgammon, etc. games in order to gently introduce the concept. Thus, every pre-NES system had crappy board games which no one bought or played.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:37 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


What's really scary is that I was able to identify almost every single one of those games from the artwork alone. I think there were maybe two or three that I wasn't certain on.

Then again, if I weren't able to, I'd feel really ashamed, considering I have an Atari logo tattooed on my body...
posted by evilangela at 3:39 PM on April 21, 2008


Oh, the hours we spent playing "Old-Timey Cop With A Stick".

Then, later on, we got an Atari 2600.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:41 PM on April 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


Also, on this one: they did decide, your little insect guy is the "Yar", and the big alien bad guy is the "Qotile". "Yar" was Atari head Ray Kassar's first name backwards.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:42 PM on April 21, 2008


Is it just me or does that art look like '80s clip art?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:48 PM on April 21, 2008


EMRJKC, the OP's link is a bit funnier generally, but the Alien-vs-Predator on page seven of yours is the best one yet.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:58 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


My joystick... it only goes to the left ..... oohhaahhhhrrrggg.
posted by R. Mutt at 3:59 PM on April 21, 2008


At least my thumb doesn't start pounding after playing Numbness for hours.
posted by Big_B at 4:03 PM on April 21, 2008


I always liked the style of the Atari boxcovers. The Basic Programming cart, in particular. Hey, I'm a programmer-- where are my shiny, button-studded chrome wristbands?

Most tech firms will cheerfully furnish the explosive collar, though.
posted by phooky at 4:03 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


"My joystick... it only goes to the left ..... oohhaahhhhrrrggg."

Sir, might I interest you in our line of NASCAR games?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:07 PM on April 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think these were also covers of Choose Your Own Adventure books.
posted by GuyZero at 4:22 PM on April 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


As I said in a recent thread about Atari, I remember playing Superman on the Atari 2600.

Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep. {This was Superman walking}

STATIC NOISE. {This was Superman flying. Wonkily. Forcing me to land.}

Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep. STATIC NOISE. Beep. STATIC NOISE. Beep beep. STATIC NOISE.

Yep, I remember playing Superman on the Atari 2600. For all of 30 seconds before giving up on it.

Pitfall was the only decent game on the whole system. And this ad proves it! Still makes me wanna play it.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:32 PM on April 21, 2008


Metafilter: It's every game ever in Pong form!
posted by WidgetAlley at 4:32 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, Atari 2600 nostalgia. Gee this is really cutting edge considering that a good portion of this sites membership was in toilet training when the 2600 was released. Also, the 1980's were a shitty decade, quit trying to open it's coffin. Thanks.
posted by jonmc at 4:34 PM on April 21, 2008


Pretty funny.

hey, jonmc: WHOOSH!
posted by mrgrimm at 4:40 PM on April 21, 2008


mrgrimm: my Uncle Vinny had an Intellivison, which blew away the fucking Atari.
posted by jonmc at 4:42 PM on April 21, 2008


I wish we had inline images again, so I could post a picture of "JONMC POOPS ON YOUR FUN". Designed by David Crane. From Activision!
posted by blacklite at 4:43 PM on April 21, 2008


Effigy2000 I must disagree with your claim about Pitfall. It was ok, but Adventure beat it in every possible category, except the "really quite pasable considering hardware of the era Tarzan yell" category.
posted by sotonohito at 4:43 PM on April 21, 2008


Also, the 1980's were a shitty decade

Some of us peaked there.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 4:47 PM on April 21, 2008


blacklite:....
posted by jonmc at 4:48 PM on April 21, 2008


worst game ever: Tax Avoiders
posted by sswiller at 4:48 PM on April 21, 2008


I Am A Vegas Showgirl.

If only that were a real game.
posted by Miko at 4:51 PM on April 21, 2008


Apparently every sport used to include the word pong at the end.

/me goes outside and plays some frizpong.
posted by Null Pointer and the Exceptions at 5:11 PM on April 21, 2008


Wait a minute.... I've been had!
posted by Null Pointer and the Exceptions at 5:12 PM on April 21, 2008


my Uncle Vinny had an Intellivison, which blew away the fucking Atari.

B-2 Bomber! The game ... TALKS!
posted by mrgrimm at 5:12 PM on April 21, 2008


And seriously, you do know this is a parody, right. right? right.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:13 PM on April 21, 2008


"Gee this is really cutting edge considering that a good portion of this sites membership was in toilet training when the 2600 was released. Also, the 1980's were a shitty decade, quit trying to open it's coffin. Thanks."

Silly, silly child.
posted by oddman at 5:19 PM on April 21, 2008


No, no no, Pitfall was the best: I never could beat it, I'll get right to the end and call my eight year old to get me across the last bit. He is way more coordinated than I ever was. Those hypnotic birds, and the hypnotic sound...
posted by francesca too at 5:20 PM on April 21, 2008


And seriously, you do know this is a parody, right. right? right.

Yes, I do, and I'm still sick of it.
posted by jonmc at 5:21 PM on April 21, 2008


Now he does.
posted by yhbc at 5:22 PM on April 21, 2008


Wow. The fake BASIC PROGRAMMING cover made me think about the real BASIC PROGRAMMING cartridge, which I had. Am I really the only person in the whole world that loved that cartridge? Really???

I think you only were allowed 10 lines of code or so. It taught me the importance of writing really tight code, which came in handy when I upgraded to the Commodore Vic-20.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:23 PM on April 21, 2008


(come to think of it, I had the Timex-Sinclair 1000 between the Atari BASIC PROGRAMMING cart and the Vic-20. Sorry for the derail. I'm getting old.)
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:27 PM on April 21, 2008


I actually have a 2600 + dozens of games packed away in the closet. It was left for years, unused, in our summer cottage. About ten years ago I hooked it up - worked perfectly. Might be time to dig it out again. I wonder if it would work with a flat screen tv...
posted by R. Mutt at 5:38 PM on April 21, 2008


B-2 Bomber! The game ... TALKS!

B-17, Sir. B-17 Bomber.

B-17 Bomber

B-17 Bomber.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:05 PM on April 21, 2008


My claim to fame is that I once beat E.T.

I've led a sad life.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:17 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Intellivision is the Bose of video game consoles. George Plimpton shills overpriced hardware based on snob appeal for Volvo-driving suburbanites who would never consider a lowly game console in their living room, sign me up.

Weak sauce - the Colecovision and C64 kicked its butt.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:26 PM on April 21, 2008


Wow, Atari 2600 nostalgia. Gee this is really cutting edge considering that a good portion of this sites membership was in toilet training when the 2600 was released.

...and some of us weren't. I remember the first time I saw an Atari VCS used in anger. I was 10 or 11, and it was the first, but decidedly not last, time I looked at a new piece of technology with undisguised lust.

Also, the 1980's were a shitty decade, quit trying to open it's coffin. Thanks.

It was a decade where we had pacman fever and turned on our heartlights, and before it was done we had the Gold Box D&D games for the pc.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:34 PM on April 21, 2008


Pitfall was the best, Adventure's puzzles and easter eggs really drew me in, and River Raid was great.
posted by zippy at 6:43 PM on April 21, 2008


Is this a poll?

I vote for 'Old Timey Cop With A Stick'
posted by mannequito at 6:58 PM on April 21, 2008


Intellivision is the Bose of video game consoles.

Yes, but... Advanced Dungeons & Dragons!

Of course Coleco Turbo (with the steering wheel and pedal) was awesome, but there's something amazing about the fact that Combat never got old.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:58 PM on April 21, 2008


For me, the 2600 was all about Robot Tank...although River Raid, Pitfall and many other Activision games came close.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:00 PM on April 21, 2008


Combat still hasn't gotten old. Invisible Tank Pong!
posted by wanderingmind at 7:03 PM on April 21, 2008


Robot Tank freakin blew me away. It didn't seem possible that the 2600 was delivering that kind of experience.

River Raid was great, but made Babylon 5 completely unwatchable.

Also, am I the only one who fiddled with the power switch to get it to go half-way and create all kinds of demented ruins of games? Cause I can't find a single reference on the net to anyone else doing this.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:38 PM on April 21, 2008


Combat
posted by zekinskia at 7:57 PM on April 21, 2008


Durn, ROM Check Fail was a game made for you.
posted by Nelson at 8:35 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is an awesome post, and an awesome thread. It made me realize that if I had heard "Let's go pound nails through our dicks" while playing Pitfall, I would have been like, Hell yeah.

I'd love to see something like this for those Choose Your Own Adventure books.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:35 PM on April 21, 2008


Pitfall came out in 1982, but Dungeons of Daggorath came out the same year and kicked every games ass for the next three or four years. Of course, it wasn't for the Atari.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:34 PM on April 21, 2008


Wow. The fake BASIC PROGRAMMING cover made me think about the real BASIC PROGRAMMING cartridge, which I had. Am I really the only person in the whole world that loved that cartridge? Really???

I've read about it, but I've never talked to anyone who actually had it. Rumor was that Atari only put it out because they felt they had to, since the VCS had the word "Computer" in the name.

What was the BASIC PROGRAMMING cart like? Could you actually write anything usable with it?
posted by Afroblanco at 9:41 PM on April 21, 2008


Ha! Thanks, Nelson.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:57 PM on April 21, 2008


A dead Quaker: I'd love to see something like this for those Choose Your Own Adventure books.

Voila!
posted by Pronoiac at 12:30 AM on April 22, 2008


North American video game crash of 1983.
posted by R. Mutt at 4:26 AM on April 22, 2008


Ah, yes, this is funny, ha ha....

And yet, it is beginning to border on not funny. The Atari 2600 was the first popular home game system, of course, the box art doesn't match the games very well. Of course, when compared to a game with a high polygon count the games don't match up (or do they? Adventure and Haunted House are surprisingly playable even now)... But how many dozens of Something Awful goons have rustled themselves up a mess o' page hits by taking something old and mocking it with Photoshop? And they all read like they written by the same guy. The same guy!

I'm starting to get tired of that guy. We get the point already.
posted by JHarris at 6:41 AM on April 22, 2008


A dead Quaker: I'd love to see something like this for those Choose Your Own Adventure books.

Voila!


I see your 'voila' and raise you all-in.
posted by felix at 6:43 AM on April 22, 2008


Noobs. We got an Odyssey for free when we got our first color TV in 1972. Color was provided by taping plastic overlays to the TV screen, the cartridges didn't really do anything, no sound, no on-screen score, and every game was basically a pong variation, but, man, we were the most popular household on the block for a while--I remember whole families coming over just to watch that little blip go back and forth across the screen.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:48 AM on April 22, 2008


Yep, I remember playing Superman on the Atari 2600. For all of 30 seconds before giving up on it.

Well, all I can say is you wouldn't be making a big deal out of how much the Superman game sucks if you had ever tried to play the "ET: The Extraterrestrial" game.
posted by aught at 8:27 AM on April 22, 2008


I see your 'voila' and raise you all-in.

Sorry, no string raises are allowed at this table. Your first action is binding and you can only call.
posted by splice at 8:56 AM on April 22, 2008


Also, am I the only one who fiddled with the power switch to get it to go half-way and create all kinds of demented ruins of games?

I enjoyed many a demented hour of bizarro Centipede on my 2600. That game really seemed to like being messed with!
posted by retronic at 9:12 AM on April 22, 2008


Whatever, whatever, wake me up when somebody on here buys a stand-up original version of Qix and puts it in his/her living room. (Then I'll expect a meetup.)

I just got rid of a Vectrix game system with all the cartridges when I got divorced; now THAT was some old technology.

These covers are pretty hilarious, though.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:28 AM on April 22, 2008


A single-link post to a bunch of jokey photoshopped covers from Mightygodking? Worst post ever.
posted by UKnowForKids at 1:31 PM on April 22, 2008


Should've kept the Vectrex, u-o-t-c. (I've got a Qix tattoo. I don't think there are any pictures of it on the Internet.)
posted by box at 2:13 PM on April 22, 2008


And seriously, you do know this is a parody, right. right? right.

Yes, I do, and I'm still sick of it.
posted by jonmc


Suuure you did Jon.

The only thing more awesome than this thread, or the 80s, is the whole thing flying over your head.

:)
posted by Dennis Murphy at 2:32 PM on April 22, 2008


Box, I demand you Flickr that tattoo. Otherwise, I'm driving up there to get a look at it myself... no way you have anything that mega-awesome.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 4:47 PM on April 22, 2008


I'll consider it, u-o-t-c. In the meantime, do a Google image search for 'qix control panel,' and look at the 2-player button.

(Or, y'know, drive up here--we can reminisce about raves.)
posted by box at 5:00 PM on April 22, 2008


felix: w. t. f. Do you recommend that book? That could be awesome or just dumb. I liked John Dies at the End, if that helps you gauge anything.
posted by Pronoiac at 6:09 PM on April 22, 2008


You know how some things in life are just finishers? Like tubgirl, goatse -- they're not paths to anywhere, they're natural stopping points. They represent the familiar 3 yellow diamonds in front of you attached to a guardrail, telling you that the road has ended, that it's time to turn back.

In much the same sense, Ocean of Lard is an empty place from which there can be no continuation. It pegs the meters so hard you start wondering if the meters ever measured anything. As you turn the pages, you start wondering what a meter is, and if it's even appropriate to think of anything along any scale at all.

But this is a Choose Your Own Adventure ripoff, so you think no, that can't be it. You marshal your strength and go back to the beginning, trying to find the ending where, like all the other books, structurally -- you find the pie! Or the unicorn. Or somehow you end up with your kindly grandmother shaking you awake at the end of a long car trip and offering you some grape juice.

There is no grape juice.

So if you want to be in a place where there is no grape juice, I recommend this book.

Look, it's like this. JG Ballard wrote a book called Crash, with which you may be familiar if you are reading metafilter. It postulates a world in which people are so desensitized that they have to witness, or better yet, participate, in violent car crashes to get off. Long story short, the practice is treated as normal and the reader's left with the question about how the hell reading that book made him feel -- in the presence of real, unalloyed nihilism, are we shaken, do we feel an impulse to reject, do we recognize the secret impulse, or do we suffer/enjoy a break in our worldview?

The author, Carlton Mellick III (yes, III) is no JG Ballard. He's pretty insufferable, self-absorbed, and appears to slide vertiginously close to the cliff of shock value in many of his books ("Baby Jesus Butt Plug", "Haunted Vagina"). He's trying to create his own genre ('bizarro') and most of the time it doesn't pan out.

But in all of his clowning around and sophomoric hijinking, there's some intriguing solidity there, a solidity that can push you off your foundation a little; the ending to Punk Land will stick with me for the rest of my days.

So if you enjoy a sense of dislocation that comes at you from all angles, messily, with a general lack of force but occasional interesting elements you find yourself thinking uneasily about for a while, then maybe his stuff is the stuff for you.
posted by felix at 3:26 PM on April 23, 2008


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