Monday, February 09, 2015

2600 DREAMS - Let's Play Atari!

Growing up, I was just old enough to play (and lose miserably to) the adults when Pong broke on to the home entertainment scene. So I was in the prime market group for the Atari 2600, Star Wars, and coin-op arcades.
In spite of their functional inferiority, I do miss joystick controllers. There is however, an element of frustration mixed into my 2600 nostalgia (beyond the resolution; which in truth is uniquely charming). From the beginning, I had an unrealized dream of playing Atari with a fixed, stable joystick like the games at the arcade. As Intellivision & Colecovision  ruthlessly out shined the 2600, I quietly rooted for Atari to keep up (Thank you Activision!). I believed that if Atari introduced an innovative joystick device, replicating the sensation of a fixed arcade joystick, that the 2600's appeal and relevance could be restored in the face of clearly superior technology. But alas, it was not to be. Deep in my heart, I knew the arcade joystick feel could have elevated the Atari experience in a way the other consoles simply could not offer (after thinking about it, I seem to recall that Atari controllers worked with Colecovision, but whatever, you get the idea). The feeling of missed opportunity left an aching, unhealing wound...  Until about 5 years ago, when I got burned buying a used Williams home multi-game.
Beaming with the excitement of realizing a childhood dream, I fired up the 3/4 sized arcade game in my garage. Only to discover malfunctioning  buttons that weren't disclosed during the brief demo at the sheyster's house (ei? ey?). It was like running out of cocaine at 9:30 p.m. But, still rushing with the adrenaline of dream realization, I suddenly saw an opportunity to hang on to and even surpass the rare and powerful high I was experiencing.
Later that night, in a cloud of sawdust and wood fragments, my Atari joystick theory was confirmed valid, the wound was healed, and an even greater dream was realized...







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