Zap: The Rise and Fall of Atari

Yet another good retro video game book I found on Scribd: Zap: The Rise and Fall of Atari.

Zap is actually about as old as the video game history it covers.  It was published in 1984, a fact that really becomes evident in the later half of the book.  Though it would be easily to laugh at or complain about some of the dated material in that half, it still remains that Cohen gives us a pretty decent history of the very early games of Atari.  If you are reading these books just to connect with your childhood (as I am), this book will suffice.  I recommend checking it out.

 

Also be sure to check out my video game books ANESthetized and Arcadian, or listen to my Atari 2600 podcast with author Justin Kyle.

100 Computer Games To Play Before You Die

I’ve bragged about my free Scribd account before.  Yesterday, I used it to read this book: 100 Computer Games to Play Before You Die by Steve Bowden.

100 Computer

Bowden fills this book with 100 reviews of great video games from both the classic and the modern eras.  The reviews are short (usually 3 Kindle pages) and yet seem pretty info-packed.  This results in the desire to keep reading.  It did for me, anyway. I always wanted to see which game was next and what he said about it.  The entries are in alphabetical order, and since they span the entire video game era and not just the retro era, they include only a few retro games (Donkey KongDefender) or franchise (Super Mario Bros.Legend of Zelda, and Metroid are each represented by later games, not the originals).  And being limited to 100 keeps a lot of good stuff from being included.  Still, it is a fun and quick read which I recommend.  If you don’t have a Scribd account, you can get it from Amazon.com here.

 

And after you finish with this one, check out my video game books ANESthetized and Arcadian, or listen to my Atari 2600 podcast with author Justin Kyle.

E.T. In Alamogordo

At least one urban legend is true.  Or maybe we should say the story about a truckload of 2600  E.T. cartridges being buried in a New Mexico landfill is not an urban legend at all.  However you parse it, cartridges were indeed found in that spot.  You can read about the discoveries in this article.

On one hand, this is relatively awesome.  Not only is a “stranger than fiction” story true, but a veritable time capsule of Atari 2600 merchandise has been released.  On the other hand, though, this is rather horrible.  I actually like E.T.  I remember playing and beating it as a kid.  I recently gave it a play as an adult and still find it enjoyable.  Do I think it is a great game.  Not really.  But I think it is better than the Pac-Man clone Spielberg originally pitched.  The fact that truckloads of this game, as well as all the other cartridges and gear, were just discarded in such a way is pretty shameful.

Still, it will make a good documentary, and I look forward to watching it.  If you are looking forward to it as well and are looking for something to fill the time until it is released, check out my video game books ANESthetized and Arcadian, or listen to my Atari 2600 podcast with author Justin Kyle.

Atari 2600 Manuals and Nintendo Club Magazines on Scribd

As a Smashwords contributor, I was recently given a free subscription to Scribd. I found a way to sideload the Scribd app on my Kindle and immediately searched for Atari and Nintendo stuff. I was very happy with what I found. There were several collections of Atari 2600 Manuals and several issues of both Nintendo Club and Nintendo Power magazine.
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Access to these manuals and magazines is just more of my portable nostalgia. It is bits of my childhood that I can check out and spend a few minutes with anytime I want. If you ate similarly looking for portable nostalgia, I suggest you get the Scribd app and look around. Also, my books ANESthetized and Arcadian are there. Apparently you can get them there for free. If you do, please give me a good review at Amazon.com!

Space Invaders Laser Base

When does an Atari 2600 arcade port have better graphics than the original?  Is such a thing even possible?  It was with Space Invaders.  If you’ve read Arcadian, you know that I wasn’t happy with the Space Invaders laser base.  I thought it looked like  a bracket put on its side.  I still think that today.

Well, when Atari ported the game to the 2600, they refined the laser base a little.  Here’s how it came out on the Atari.

Is that better?  I think it is.  And so it is a time, perhaps the only and only time, when the Atari 2600 had better graphics than an arcade game.

Activision Patches – The Original Achievements

I didn’t log hour after hour on Valve’s Left 4 Dead just because I love shooting zombies.  I also did it for the achievements.  Earning something for playing a video game was even more motivation to keep playing that game.

Valve didn’t invent achievements, however.  Activision, one of the leading makers of Atari 2600 games, did.  They offered patches for players who could get a high score in their games.  Not software patches.  Fabric patches, patches you could sew on your jean jacket and proudly display in school.  Here are a few of them:

 

 

 

You can find several more, as well as the points required to get them, here.

Which one was my favorite?  This one:

This was the patch for SeaQuest (which had nothing to do with the NBC action series of the same name).  This one was my favorite because I earned enough points to get it.  I also had Dad take a picture of the TV screen showing my qualifying score.  Unfortunatley, i never sent that picture in and so never got my patch.  I earned it, though!

Retroist Video Game Podcasts

I’ve mentioned the Retroist, his podcast, and his blog several times here on authordougmccoy.com.   What I haven’t told you is how I first found the Retroist.  I was searching Itunes for podcasts on classic video games.  He had done several, so I listened to them and then to all his other episodes.

 

 

I count 21 video game-related Retroist podcasts covering everything from the NES, the Master System, the Atari 2600 & 5200, the Colecovision, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Missile Command, and  Mr. Do.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Nintendo Missteps

Pitfall

Dragon’s Lair http://www.retroist.com/2011/02/25/retroist-podcast-episode-081-dragons-lair/

You can find all these podcasts here.