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 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.



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!

Atari T-Shirt

I’m not into cosplay.  Not even one bit.  (Yes, I wear a kilt to Scottish activities several times a year, but that’s living my heritage, not cosplay!)  I did, though, want to have a video game t-shirt to wear to the California Extreme Arcade and Pinball event, so I stopped by Target and picked this one up.


Now you might think it is weird that a guy who has been as thoroughly aNESthetized as me would go for an Atari shirt when there was this Nintendo shirt right next to it.



But it actually makes perfect sense.  The Atari shirt is more fitting to the venue, after all, as Atari made lots of arcade games and the Nintendo gamepad is for a home console.  Not only so, but I still have a lot of affection for Atari.  Yes, I am primarily a Nintendo guy.   But Atari was my first love.  Not counting the Telstar Alpha I had as a little kid, the 2600 was my first home console.  I played just about every classic game on that console.  I played it for hours.  ZIn fact, just this morning I saw this video

and I was surprised by how many good memories and feelings it evoked.  Sure, I’m pretty much wedded to Nintendo.  I look at it as the trophy wife.  But Atari was the girl next door for quite a few years, and it is hard to stop caring about those girls.

P.S. – Sega?  Yeah, Sega’s kind of like the your best friend’s hot wife.  You look, but you don’t get that attached.


Sega Master System

I barely mention the Sega Master System in ANESthetized, but the truth is that I spent a couple of months with the console in the waning days of 8-bit gaming.  I hadn’t even heard of the SMS until after the Genesis was released, at which time it began appearing in the Toys R Us barbain bins.  Since it was such a bargain, and since the Genesis had made a name for Sega, my friends and I picked it up.  That makes the SMS just about the only example of backwards console awareness in my gaming history.


Those who know computers better than I say that the SMS was more powerful than the NES and that it’s colors were brighter.  I don’t know about all that.  I remember the SMS graphics (which was my only standard of measurement) being less than those on the NES.  I also remember the SMS having a very ugly brand design.  Where the NES had the black label/single game image design, the SMS had drawings over a grid.

Not so much










And where the NES had those beautiful gray square cartridges, the SMS had Atari 2600-like chunky, small cartridges which had just the game title and a red-and-black grid.


The console was pretty nice looking, though.


And the SMS had some good games.  I could have done without Alex Kidd in Miracle World (which was built into my SMS, starting if the power was turned on when no game was inside.  But there was also Phantasy Star (unbelievably aweseome), Trillion (pretty cool), and my favorite, Cloud Master.

The SMS also had a light gun, like the NES Zapper, and a few superfluous accessories, like the 3-D glasses.

Again, those in the know say the reason for the SMS’ failure in North America was the lack of third-party games (which Nintendo monopolized through their exclusive policies).  That may well be true.  To me, though, it just doesn’t seem as good as the NES.  That’s not to say that it should be dismissed as all bad.  It wasn’t.  The couple months I spent with it were fun enough.  It just wasn’t what the NES was, at least not to me.