Welcome to Flashback Friday! If you did not have the chance to read last weeks edition of Flashback Friday covering the Sega Dreamcast you can read that here. This week we will be covering the system that essentially started it all, the Atari 2600.
The Atari VCS (Video Computer System) was known as the Atari 2600, after the release of the Atari 5200 in 1982, was originally released September 12th, 1977, which means it has been out almost 39 years now! In the United States, it was the console that popularized microprocessors as well as game cartridges that were the standard that soon followed suit all the way until the Nintendo 64 stopped being produced in 2003. Before this hardware style, most consoles were only able to play games that were built internally into the the hardware. Once done with the games built into a console, you would essentially have to purchase another console in order to play additional games. Imagine that every time you beat a select few modern games, you would have to go and buy another console. That would be insane in today’s day and age.
The Atari 2600’s game library was massive. At the time, there wasn’t things today such as the Nintendo seal of approval which is to certify that the game was thoroughly tested. Anyone who could get their hands on an Atari developers kit was able to release their own games for the console no matter the quality. Some of my absolute favorite games for the Atari 2600 are Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Yar’s Revenge, Asteroids, Spiderman, Donkey Kong, Frogger, and Space Invaders. These games, in my opinion, are all classics, the graphics of the time are obviously no one near what they are today but for quick pick up and play games they are still amazing even by today’s standards.
In 1982 following the success of E.T. the movie Atari was very anxious to sink their teeth into the possibility of an E.T. game for the 2600, this however was their unfortunate downfall. in July of that year, Howard Scott Warshaw was tasked with creating said game, the catch was that Atari wanted it released in time for the holiday season of the same year. Meaning Mr. Warshaw had under 5 months to have the game complete and ready to send to retailers for the upcoming holiday rush. The results were very poor to say the least. The game was considered a colossal failure and largely linked to the “Videogame Crash of 1983.” Console and software sales plummeted and did not recover until the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System. On September 26th 1983 it was rumored that Atari had buried thousands of copies of not only E.T. but also other games such as Pac-Man and Centipede in order to cut their enormous overstock. This was only a myth amongst video game fans until April of 2014 when a team was granted access to see if there actually were games buried in the reported location [New Mexico]. During this excavation, under a slab of concrete, what was discovered was around 1,300 of the reported 700,000 cartridges and the proof of the video game graveyard was found.
What are your opinions on the Atari 2600? Do you see any of your favorite games listed above, if not please let me know in the comments about your favorites! and make sure to join us next week when we cover the Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System!