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25 Years ago today I knowingly, wantonly, became a classic gamer


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#1 Justin

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Posted 18 September 2018 - 11:58 PM

25 years ago today I knowingly, wantonly, became a classic gamer. It all began with finding E.T. and Asteroids for .99 cents in the clearance aisle at Kay-Bee. The moment I knowingly stepped into classic gaming, a hobby I thought I was alone in. These are the the actual cartridges I bought that day, the kernel of my collection.

 

PROLOGUE

The entire summer leading up to this moment something triggered in my brain that kept bringing me back to Atari. It was like waking up from a dream and remembering that you had left something behind that you truly loved but had forgotten about. These were the peak years of Mortal Combat and Street Fighter 2. Suddenly games seemed violent and aggressive. One day I was hit with a moment of clarity, going "wait wait wait, hold on a minute.. whatever happened to Centipede and Asteroids and Galaga and Pac-Man? Whatever happened to Atari? Where did that all go?" It seemed like secret knowledge or something. Like a lost civilization. The city of Atlantis and all of the advanced ancient technology lost with it. I had so many fun times playing Atari with my family when I was little, and then we moved on. It had been years. I had forgotten what a lot of this stuff even looked like. Suddenly I felt compelled to get my hands on an Atari 7800 and preserve and play as much Atari stuff as I could. I hadn’t been able to find anything in stores or in classified ads, and my mom suggested dialing the operator and asking for the phone number to Atari in California, calling them and seeing if I could order Atari items through mail order. I called Atari and spoke with Geraldine at the front desk for the first time. She said yes, Atari still had 2600 and 7800 systems and games brand new, and she offered to send out a packet of information to me with order forms for 2600, 7800 and Lynx stuff, along with a brochure. I waited days for that letter to come in the mail. It had been years since I had even seen an Atari game, all I wanted to do was flip through a catalog looking at games, seeing what the game systems looked like again and remembering all the games. Four days later I received my first letter from Atari. It contained black and white order forms for 2600 and 7800 systems, games and accessories, and a nice full color brochure for the Lynx. Unfortunately the brochure was only for the Lynx and didn’t have any pictures or descriptions of anything for the 2600 and 7800. I also realized that I was about to spend the next six months saving up about $300 to take advantage of a special they were running where I could buy a new 7800 with 25 games. I was going to have to wait.

 

 

atari_envelope.jpg

 

atari_order_forms.jpg

 

 

I spent the next 45 days researching as much about Atari as I could find. I checked out all of the outdated video game books from the library (no good pictures!) I spoke with friends at camp and when school started, asking them if they had any old Atari systems or even remembered what it was. One guy had an Atari 2600 at his grandma's house and clued me in on Combat. Another friend, Adam, told me about this thing he bought at a garage sale called "ColecoVision" and that it came with Donkey Kong. "Oh yeah, I kind of remember that!" I called around to every Big Lots and Sears Outlet in the phone book to see if they had any Atari stock left over. All I could find were a few generic joysticks. Then one day it all began to happen.

 

THE UNEXPECTED

It was a Saturday morning. September 18, 1993. I was with my parents at Dutch Square Shopping Mall in Columbia, SC. It was an older mall built in 1970 that we went to less frequently than the new modern mall. It was still a nice place to shop though and we would often go there for a hair cut on the "secret 3rd floor" or to shop around. My mom was making a payment on the phone bill at the AT&T store in the mall. This was back before the cell phone stores we see today. Back then it was all about landlines. You could buy a new landline phone, cordless phone for the home, answering machines and cassette tapes, and pay your phone bill. There was also a place at the mall to pay your electric bill too. I was 11, about to turn 12, and paying bills seemed like a boring idea to me. There was a "locally famous" place in the mall called Cromer's that sold old-timey popcorn and peanuts. My dad and I got a small bag of popcorn and sat on a bench in the mall while my mom did her thing. There was a Kay-Bee Toy Store right next to Cromer's and I asked my dad if it was okay if I went into Kay-Bee and looked around.

 

 

dutch_square_mall.jpg

 

cromers_dutch_square_mall.jpg

 

 

WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND

I didn't expect to find anything amazing that day. I headed into Kay-Bee and browsed around. After checking out the goods up front, and in the video game cabinet, I walked down the left-most aisle and headed towards the back of the store. The whole left side of the aisle was marked "Clearance" with various unloved toys half-open and sprawled across a few shelves that came up to my chest. In the distance, on the left sitting in top of an open shelf was a messy pile of half-crushed boxes, they were a mix of rust orange and silver. Papers were falling out and down onto the floor and I could see a few little black plastic cubes. I can still remember the shock of adrenaline through my system. One of the boxes in the distance stood out. It said "ATARI 2600" in the bright red logotype. It was my first time ever seeing this. My jaw dropped. I think I yelled something out. I ran up to the pile of boxes, they were an equal mix of Asteroids and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT! It seemed so incomprehensible that these games could be sitting in this store after what up to that point had been almost my entire lifetime. These were little time capsules. Many of the boxes were half-crushed and open with manuals, game catalogs, and warranty cards spewing out. The internet as we know it barely existed in 1993 and I didn't have access to it. I hadn't seen an Atari game in years, what amounted to nearly half a lifetime. There were green "illustrated" 1981 Atari catalogs that came with Asteroids, and the red 1982 catalogs that came with E.T. I picked up a red one, opened it, and for the first time in years saw Atari games. The first image I saw when I turned the page was the ad with the Atari 2600 4-switch floating in space above the blue grid, with the games reaching out to either side, centering in on a TV screen in the middle that showed Pac-Man. To the right was a boy and girl playing Atari with the caption “The Adventure Begins”. The moment I saw that image, it triggered something in my mind and all of the memories came rushing back. I had grown up with the 7800 but I knew exactly what the 2600 was and remembered all of my friends older brothers having it in the house. Vague memories of Atari commercials and the 4-switch 2600 being a cultural icon. Everything came flying back to me all at once, so many good memories and the drive to discover more. My use of that photo as the first image that comes up on Atari I/O’s home page is intentional, in hopes that the photo will have the same affect on other people rediscovering Atari for the first time as it did on me. The home page graphic is heavily edited, but it started life as a scan from that page from the very same Atari catalog I picked up that day on September 18, 1993.

 

 

atari_catalog.jpg

 

atari_et_asteroids_original.jpg

 

 

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS

Some of the boxes were in decent shape, and I took one of each for myself. I realized that I wasn't carrying my wallet that day (I was 11) and hid my two games behind some stuffed animals. I ran out to my dad, breathlessly explained to him what I had found and that I needed to borrow $1.98 to make all of my dreams come true. I ran up to the Kay-Bee counter with $2 in my hand and had never been so excited to buy something in a toy store. I stood there waiting in line for what felt like forever. I was processing all the little Atari idiosyncrasies for the first time. “Asteroids 66 Video Games” and what that even means. It seemed so beyond the pale that I would randomly find anything Atari-related in a toy store outside of Lynx games and an occasional off-brand Joystick. A few minutes later the games were mine, and “The Adventure Begins”.

 

This was an exciting time. My family had been somewhat poor for a few years but we were just about to move into a new home. Times were so hopeful. When we left the mall I remember doing some other errands. Fall was setting in and it was the beginning of brisk weather. "Kenny Rogers Roasters" was a new thing at the time, so my family stopped there to pick up dinner and bring it to the new house that we hadn't moved into yet, and ate dinner on the back porch/deck at the new house. I spent the entire car ride examining E.T. and Asteroids. I remember how unreal it felt to hold actual Atari products in my hand, as if they were some major discovery at an archeological expedition.

 

 

atari_et_asteroids_1993.jpg

 

 

That night we returned home and I spent my entire Saturday night "playing" with my new games even though I didn't have a system to play them on yet. I clearly remember it was the night of the Miss America pageant, Regis & Kathy Lee were hosting, and the girl who won "Miss America" that night, Kimberly Aiken, was from the town I lived in and came to visit my school, so it became a memorable event. We didn't have cable so I only had 4 TV channels (on a good day!) and usually I was pretty annoyed if something like a Miss America pageant came on and interrupted my Saturday night tv schedule of Deep Space Nine and who knows what else. But this night I wasn't annoyed. I was completely drawn to these games. Having to wait to play them left my imagination to wander. Spending so much time focusing on the boxes, cartridge labels and catalogs gave me an immense appreciation for the art and level of detail that went into everything to do with these games. I dove into the E.T. manual like it was a new comic book and marveled at how detailed it was, full color with the shiny printed silver. (They did a very nice job with the printing of that game, for sure). I remember the Atari hologram on top of the box and thinking that was so cool, even for 1993. I spent at least an hour flipping through the two Atari catalogs that came with my games that night, discovering all these wonderful long lost games.

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NOSTALGIA AND CLASSIC GAMING

This is the event horizon where I crossed over from simple nostalgia into being a classic gamer. It's the difference between nostalgia for the games you grew up with, and forming an appreciation for the games that came before you. Games outside your experience. Seeing all of these early 2600 titles for the first time with screenshots and descriptions clicked with me. Many of them looked ancient. But I saw the play value in them and they appealed to me. I thought about whoever these people were out there whose job it was to sit there and create these games out of 1s and 0s. I didn't know Howard Scott Washaw or Hiro Kimura's names yet, but I appreciated their work. Some games stood out to me as genius, like Warlords. I knew there would be many great Saturday nights with my family and friends gathered around the TV playing games like Warlords and loving them despite their obsolescence. There was play value in these games that transcended graphics, and my appreciation for them transcended my own experience and personal nostalgia of having grown up playing them. Now I was determined not only to acquire the games I used to play growing up, but to collect the ones that came before me, the ones I never got a chance to play. Suddenly I understood there was an art form to these classic games, and it was going to be a lot of fun.

 

 

:donkey_kong_big:


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#2 RickR

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Posted 19 September 2018 - 12:13 AM

You've perfectly captured that magic moment of gaming goodness shining into your soul.  THANK YOU for taking the time to share and type this up. 


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#3 Justin

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Posted 19 September 2018 - 12:31 AM

You've perfectly captured that magic moment of gaming goodness shining into your soul.  THANK YOU for taking the time to share and type this up. 

 

THANK YOU, RICK!  ^_^


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#4 MaximumRD

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Posted 19 September 2018 - 02:53 AM

Wow what an awesome post, thanks for sharing!


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Bah-weep-Graaaaagnah wheep ni ni bong.

I am Rob aka MaximumRD aka OldSchoolRetroGamer
and THIS is my world http://about.me/maximumrd
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#5 kamakazi20012

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Posted 19 September 2018 - 04:00 AM

Not trying to steal your spotlight, Justin, but my experience was similar.  One day Atari stuff was readily available, the next...it was almost impossible to find anything with the name Atari on it.  It was like it all disappeared overnight.  As I mentioned before, the last 5200 game I got was Moon Patrol on my 11th birthday.  I didn't see anything Atari again until liquidated 7800 stuff hit a Circus World in Springfield, Missouri's mall...and that was by chance.  I believe that might have been 1990, 1991 at the latest.  Then I got a Jaguar advertisement in the mail from Go Atari.  I didn't even know about Lynx until the PlayStation days. 

 

What most newer generations might not ever understand.  Getting an Atari made you the bee's knees.  Yes, there was Intellivision and Colecovision but it seemed like Atari was where all the action was.  If you owned an Atari you were somebody.  Everyone wanted to come to your house to play Atari.  And it was always the woodgrain model that was sought after...not the 5200, 7800, or even the 8-bit computers...it was the little woodgrain console that captured what Atari was about and consumers' hearts.    


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#6 Atarileaf

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Posted 19 September 2018 - 05:54 AM

Fantastic story. I love stuff like this, it makes those experiences we all had more real, knowing that others have felt the same thing. Summer/Fall 1993 was also around the time I started collecting for the 2600, back in the wild west, before the internet and before there was any perceived value in these old games and systems. That wonderful time when I could put a wanted ad in the local paper for atari and people would come to me with boxes and bags of systems and games for pennies on the dollar. 

 

thanks for posting this Justin :)


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#7 Atari Creep

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Posted 19 September 2018 - 11:02 AM

You've perfectly captured that magic moment of gaming goodness shining into your soul.  THANK YOU for taking the time to share and type this up. 

I 2nd that.

 

I love these kind of posts. I was sucked in the other night when you had your games list and told the story of contacting Atari and getting your 7800 and "extra" copy of PP2. 


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Don't just watch TV, PLAY IT!


#8 Justin

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Posted 19 September 2018 - 12:27 PM

Thanks for the wonderful comments guys!  ^_^

 

 

I 2nd that.

 

I love these kind of posts. I was sucked in the other night when you had your games list and told the story of contacting Atari and getting your 7800 and "extra" copy of PP2. 

 

 

Thanks Chris! I've been live streaming on Instagram (you can follow us @atarigames) and got into this a few nights ago when I was playing Pole Position II for our 2018 Grand Prix event we had in High Score Squad. I started telling this story live and showed some of these items, it's what inspired me to write this post. I thought this was a story I wanted to share with everybody here in the site who may not have been on the livestream. Maybe I'll make a YouTube video about it one day.

 

 

Not trying to steal your spotlight, Justin, but my experience was similar. [snip]

 

 

 

Fantastic story. I love stuff like this, it makes those experiences we all had more real, knowing that others have felt the same thing. Summer/Fall 1993 was also around the time I started collecting for the 2600, back in the wild west, before the internet and before there was any perceived value in these old games and systems. [snip]

 

 

 

I'm a few years younger than the average 2600 player. Some of my friends in pre-school had older brothers with 2600. But by 1993 most of my friends had grown up with NES and didn't really remember much about the 2600 other than it was antiquated. When I dove head first back into Atari, NES was still on store shelves. All of my friends were into Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis at the time.

 

I didn't start with an Atari system in the house, having lived through the peak Atari years and thinking I could start collecting games now that they were on discount. For me it was more like a lost memory. There was a bit of an eeriness to it, although it was all positive. Trying to remember so far back to a time that I really shouldn't be able to remember but kind of did. It was like this lost thing that I was determined to get back, remember, rediscover, and the process of remembering things that I had forgotten, little bits at a time, had a serious impact on my Atari experience. I played and loved the games, but now there was a gaming historian side to me. It was a big puzzle that I was piecing together like an electronic archeologist. I'd find an article about E.T. and then learned about the video game crash. Every answer would lead to more questions. 

 

I can tell you I felt incredibly alone in this when I first started. None of my friends really knew what this was or understood my appreciation for classic Atari games at the time. Everyone around me was pretty much on the same page, whatever was going on this month in GamePro with Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. My love of 2600 and 7800 lead to a new interest in Atari Lynx, and then the Jaguar was announced and that was an amazing new edition to the family. In 1993/1994 I used Lynx and Jaguar to drum up interest in Atari. My SNES/Genesis friends would come over after school to check out new games on my Jaguar right when it had first come out. We'd play Cybermorph and it actually went over well. So did Lynx. But then I'd bring out the 7800 and fire up Centipede and we'd play for hours. I remember one kid in the neighborhood, Trey, couldn't get enough Centipede and would always ask me about the 7800 on the bus. I ended up with a group of friends coming over about once a week to play Centipede and the other classic arcade games on the 7800 and it began to outshine the Jaguar and everything else that I had. It wasn't until high school that I met another friend who had a 2600 and 7800 and was excited about collecting for it. 


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#9 Justin

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 12:36 PM

post-1-0-37353300-1537329445.jpg

 

 

 

 

I thought this would be fun to share with you guys! When I first called Atari that August leading up to the Kay-Bee story, Geraldine at the front desk mailed me a little packet. Inside were order forms and a brochure. (You can see the envelope and a few of the pages in the picture above)

 

When Geraldine mentioned that she'd "mail me a catalog" I had it in my mind that it would cover everything. All week I waited excitedly for this cool 30-page Atari catalog to arrive at my house filled with big pictures and descriptions of Atari video games and game systems for 2600, 7800 and Lynx. The catalog was great, but it was like 3 pages and only for Lynx. 

 

The little mail packet included the Lynx brochure, order forms to be filled out, and a "Cartridge List" for each game system. There was one page for 2600, one for 7800, and one for Lynx. These were product lists, black and white text, cx product number and price. No screenshots, no descriptions. Nothing too enthralling for an 11 year-old kid.

 

Without any kind of descriptions I had no idea what many of these games were. Sure I knew the familiar titles, but a lot of these games remained a mystery to me, and they captivated my mind. For half a year I poured over these documents and my imagination ran wild in anticipation of the day that I had saved up enough money to place my order! With nothing to go on but a list of game titles, my imagination filled in the blanks. Some of my ideas were spot-on, others were way off. Here are some memories of misinterpretations I thought you may enjoy..

 

 

 

A few notes, in not knowing what I was ordering:

 

 

  • I thought Super Huey was about a goofy super hero named Huey. (Think of Scrapyard Louie flying through the air in a cape)
     
  • I thought Desert Falcon was a gulf war F-16 Fighting Falcon game
     
  • I thought Ace of Aces was a casino/card game
     
  • I thought Hat Trick was about a magician/magic tricks
     
  • I thought Pole Position II was a sequel to the Pole Position game that I remembered coming packed in with the 7800.
     
  • I thought Motor Psycho was a Mad Max type game.
     
  • I thought Ikari Warriors should have been called Atari Warriors.
     
  • I didn’t buy Donkey Kong or Donkey Kong Jr. because I already had those games on NES with Donkey Kong Classics. I should’ve bought them anyway.
     
  • I purchased Barnyard Blaster even though it required a light gun that I didn’t have and was no longer available from Atari. I have no idea why I did that.
     
  • I thought Tower Toppler would be two medieval castle towers firing cannon balls / missiles at each other until one knocked the other down.
     
  • I had no idea Mean 18 Ultimate Golf would ever have any value, I just thought an 8-bit golf game sounded like a lot of fun so I ordered it. If you've ever played it I think it's better than any golf game on NES.
     
  • I only knew what Scrapyard Dog was because it was shown in the Lynx catalog. I actually really like that game.
     
  • I had no idea what Cracke’ed was but I thought it sounded stupid so I skipped it.
     
  • I had no idea what Jinx was, it sounded like Lynx and I took a shot in the dark.
     
  • I guessed that Fatal Run was the 7800’s Out Run or Victory Run. I ended up being right, but it wasn’t as good as I had hoped.
     
  • I had no idea what Food Fight was but I ordered it because it sounded like a lot of fun. Boy oh boy I was right about that.
     
  • The two games I wanted most were Xevious and Impossible Mission, and neither were available from Atari in 1993.
     
  • I had no idea what Secret Quest was but it sounded cool and I turned out to be right. When the UPS man finally showed up with a large package from Atari and everything inside of it, I was excited and surprised to see Nolan's picture on the Secret Quest box.
     
  • Believe it or not that was my “good handwriting” on my hand-written list of 7800 and 2600 games.
     
  • The worst part was mailing a check out to California with every penny I had and waiting 4-6 weeks for delivery. Every day I came home hoping to find a big package from UPS.
     
  • I had no idea the 5200 existed until 6 months later when I saw it mentioned in an article in Video Games Magazine about the burial at Alamogordo. Nobody at Atari ever mentioned it when I called and nothing was left of it.
     
  • That summer and fall I’d call Big Lots and Sears Outlet every friday night hoping they’d have something in stock, and that I could go out with my family that night and take a look. I’d call and ask if they had any Atari video games or consoles in stock, and they would always call me “ma’am” because I was 11 and they thought they were speaking with an adult. I always thought that was funny.

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#10 Atarileaf

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 09:08 PM

Lol those takes on games based on their names are hilarious. Why wouldnt ace of aces be a card game right? Awesome stories Justin
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#11 BlackCatz40

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Posted 23 September 2018 - 03:01 PM

 

post-1-0-37353300-1537329445.jpg

 

 

 

 

I thought this would be fun to share with you guys! When I first called Atari that August leading up to the Kay-Bee story, Geraldine at the front desk mailed me a little packet. Inside were order forms and a brochure. (You can see the envelope and a few of the pages in the picture above)

 

When Geraldine mentioned that she'd "mail me a catalog" I had it in my mind that it would cover everything. All week I waited excitedly for this cool 30-page Atari catalog to arrive at my house filled with big pictures and descriptions of Atari video games and game systems for 2600, 7800 and Lynx. The catalog was great, but it was like 3 pages and only for Lynx. 

 

The little mail packet included the Lynx brochure, order forms to be filled out, and a "Cartridge List" for each game system. There was one page for 2600, one for 7800, and one for Lynx. These were product lists, black and white text, cx product number and price. No screenshots, no descriptions. Nothing too enthralling for an 11 year-old kid.

 

Without any kind of descriptions I had no idea what many of these games were. Sure I knew the familiar titles, but a lot of these games remained a mystery to me, and they captivated my mind. For half a year I poured over these documents and my imagination ran wild in anticipation of the day that I had saved up enough money to place my order! With nothing to go on but a list of game titles, my imagination filled in the blanks. Some of my ideas were spot-on, others were way off. Here are some memories of misinterpretations I thought you may enjoy..

 

 

 

A few notes, in not knowing what I was ordering:

 

 

  • I thought Super Huey was about a goofy super hero named Huey. (Think of Scrapyard Louie flying through the air in a cape)
     
  • I thought Desert Falcon was a gulf war F-16 Fighting Falcon game
     
  • I thought Ace of Aces was a casino/card game
     
  • I thought Hat Trick was about a magician/magic tricks
     
  • I thought Pole Position II was a sequel to the Pole Position game that I remembered coming packed in with the 7800.
     
  • I thought Motor Psycho was a Mad Max type game.
     
  • I thought Ikari Warriors should have been called Atari Warriors.
     
  • I didn’t buy Donkey Kong or Donkey Kong Jr. because I already had those games on NES with Donkey Kong Classics. I should’ve bought them anyway.
     
  • I purchased Barnyard Blaster even though it required a light gun that I didn’t have and was no longer available from Atari. I have no idea why I did that.
     
  • I thought Tower Toppler would be two medieval castle towers firing cannon balls / missiles at each other until one knocked the other down.
     
  • I had no idea Mean 18 Ultimate Golf would ever have any value, I just thought an 8-bit golf game sounded like a lot of fun so I ordered it. If you've ever played it I think it's better than any golf game on NES.
     
  • I only knew what Scrapyard Dog was because it was shown in the Lynx catalog. I actually really like that game.
     
  • I had no idea what Cracke’ed was but I thought it sounded stupid so I skipped it.
     
  • I had no idea what Jinx was, it sounded like Lynx and I took a shot in the dark.
     
  • I guessed that Fatal Run was the 7800’s Out Run or Victory Run. I ended up being right, but it wasn’t as good as I had hoped.
     
  • I had no idea what Food Fight was but I ordered it because it sounded like a lot of fun. Boy oh boy I was right about that.
     
  • The two games I wanted most were Xevious and Impossible Mission, and neither were available from Atari in 1993.
     
  • I had no idea what Secret Quest was but it sounded cool and I turned out to be right. When the UPS man finally showed up with a large package from Atari and everything inside of it, I was excited and surprised to see Nolan's picture on the Secret Quest box.
     
  • Believe it or not that was my “good handwriting” on my hand-written list of 7800 and 2600 games.
     
  • The worst part was mailing a check out to California with every penny I had and waiting 4-6 weeks for delivery. Every day I came home hoping to find a big package from UPS.
     
  • I had no idea the 5200 existed until 6 months later when I saw it mentioned in an article in Video Games Magazine about the burial at Alamogordo. Nobody at Atari ever mentioned it when I called and nothing was left of it.
     
  • That summer and fall I’d call Big Lots and Sears Outlet every friday night hoping they’d have something in stock, and that I could go out with my family that night and take a look. I’d call and ask if they had any Atari video games or consoles in stock, and they would always call me “ma’am” because I was 11 and they thought they were speaking with an adult. I always thought that was funny.

 

I have every A7800 game on the list on the right that was sent from Atari that you received, Justin, in your picture. In fact, I have over fifty A7800 games in my collection, with some still with the boxes. I have had an Atari collection, starting with the A2600, for over thirty-six years now. We started our collection back in 1982, back when I was going to be eight that year, for USD$129.00 in 1982 dollars. Now, over 300 games later for five platforms, I could not be happier. I can relate to the part where people call you "ma'am". They did that to me when I was twelve. I will be forty-four next month. Thanks for sharing, Justin.


Edited by BlackCatz40, 23 September 2018 - 03:02 PM.

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#12 kamakazi20012

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Posted 25 September 2018 - 09:45 AM

LOL...I still get called "ma'am" on the phone when talking to customer service centers dealing with billing issues.  Hilarious.

 

In my area, the 5200 was known but not well received.  The 2600 was where all the action was.  Then there was like 2 years of nothing before the NES arrived.  Our area didn't get anything video game related until 1987 when the NES mysteriously showed up without any advertising.  Anything Atari was usually found at yard sales from people clearing out their garages, attics, closets, etc.  Even then most of what was found was 2600 or 2600 related.  And cheap!  I think the most I spent on an yard sale Atari was $20.  Mom and I bought them when we found them off and on.  Most of the time the controllers were trashed and the consoles didn't play too well or were missing switches...but we still picked them up.  I think at one point I had 12 2600 consoles with a few for parts because they wouldn't do much of anything.  I'm not exactly sure what happened to those because Mom and I were constantly moving from place to place for a while.  I think they got put in storage...and after a short while Mom neglected to keep up the storage payments.

 

My area never got anything Atari again until long after the company was sold.  Atari Jaguar stuff turned up at a computer store with a bad rep.  I traded off my fairly new AMD K6-2 500 Mhz tower setup for a Jaguar. CD, and a bunch of games.  All of it was new in boxes but the boxes were rather rough.  I don't regret doing it but I do regret selling off all that Jaguar stuff.  I mean, I had DOOM that played better than my PC version less music and I didn't have to fangdangle the computer settings to play it.  Myst was very fun on the Jaguar and the only port of the game I actually completed.  Jaguar got some good games but I felt it could have done more.  It's a shame no well-known third-parties ever jumped on or licensed their good games to be ported to it.  Anything would have helped.

 

Atari remains my favorite because ... well ... it's Atari.  But other consoles in my collection battle for top-dog mostly because of the sentimental memories tied up with them as well.  Every game machine and game I had before leaving high school came from either my Mother or Grandmother.  They were gifts.  And that little NES kept me off the streets, out of trouble, and more.  I might not have done my homework always but I wasn't out causing trouble either.  Atari encouraged my wanting to read and the NES even more with the Nintendo Power magazines.  It's hard for me to not like the other non-Atari consoles as much because they were there growing up with me when, at times, it seemed like no one else was.  Mom would sometimes come and play but often times her asthma kept her from doing too much at once.

 

I love the 2600, 7800, Lynx, and Jaguar consoles but the 5200 is where it all started for me.  And those were very difficult to find in the wild then...and more so now.  I keep it close to my heart.  Every Atari console I have I sometimes just sit and stare at them, thinking back on the memories that put them in my life in the first place and those involved I no longer have.  


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