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2707200X
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Atari's Legacy, Forty Years On

Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:50 am

Forty years ago today Atari Inc was founded, the first game released was Pong in the arcade format. Of course I was not around when Atari was new but I remember getting my Atari 2600 consul second hand from my cousin when I was very young, of the seven or eight games that I got, only two worked where worth playing, a racing car game and my favorite for Atari, Pitfall!, seems silly today to young gamers but man I loved jumping over logs, crocodiles and scorpions and swinging over ponds.

Though an onslaught of bad games with ET being the straw that broke the camels back caused the video game crisis of 1983, the 2600 did stay in production until 1992. The Atari 2600 consul was pretty much the last word in gaming before the Nintendo NES dominated the industry beginning in 1985. Though Atari never had a successful consul after the 2600, the company is still around.

What was your experience with Atari if you played and what do you think is the legacy of Atari?
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desertjets
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RE: Atari's Legacy, Forty Years On

Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:32 pm

I am an owner of a 2600jr (the later downsized version that was re-released circa 1986) and an XEGS (a console-esqe version of the Atari 8-bit computer). Love em both and have some more games for the 2600 heading my way.


First things first Atari today does not equal Atari of 1972 or 1983 or 1990. As Atari was the first commercially successful video game console on the market there were a lot of unknowns -- both for management and the consumer public. My feeling about Atari was that it was a fairly innovative company at the beginning that made mistake after mistake after mistake. They began the 80s as the top dog in the market and ended the decade as an also ran.

Part of it was due to Warner not really understanding the video game industry and jumping in on some short term cash gain. Part of it was due to consumers not really knowing what to expect, largely the idea that eventually that console you bought would be obsolete and something better would come along to replace it. Finally the later management, Jack Tramiel of Commodore fame (after he bought it from Warner in 85) I feel was too cheap to really invest in the systems to make them good. Atari's legacy was heavily built on quick pick up and play type games, largely ported over from arcades, and by the late 80s Nintendo especially began releasing games that had more depth to them.
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Dreadnought
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RE: Atari's Legacy, Forty Years On

Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:46 pm

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 1):
Atari's legacy was heavily built on quick pick up and play type games, largely ported over from arcades, and by the late 80s Nintendo especially began releasing games that had more depth to them.

As I recall, the 2600 was limited to 4K of memory. You aren't exactly going to get World of Warcraft on there.

But I had a 2600 in 1981, and I had a lot of fun with it. I like Raiders and Missile Command the most, I think.
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KRIC777
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RE: Atari's Legacy, Forty Years On

Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:02 pm

Around 1980, my parents splurged and bought us kids an Intellivision system which was a newer and, by nearly all measures, far superior console with much better graphics (especially the sports games). Unfortunately, the availability of games was hampered, if I remember correctly, by the fact that Mattel maitained a hold on game development for a long time after introduction of the console before they opened it up to 3rd party developers (Activision, etc.) I may not be totally correct on this, but whatever the reason game titles were initially few and far between, and were quite expensive compared to Atari...much to my chagrin as a kid with no money and tightwad parents!

My folks eventually gave in and bought us an Atari 2600 years later, and the Intellivision, despite being a better product in most ways, collected dust in the closet. When I look at XBox and Playstation graphics today, it makes me wonder how we got so many hours of sheer bliss playing those Atari games with such horrendous graphics! Nice childhood memories nonetheless.

And yes, 2707200X, Pitfall was the bomb! I loved the little digitized Tarzan yell when you swung on the vine across the lake or quicksand, and the Dragnet-theme "duh-duh-DUH-duh-DUUUUH" when you got killed  
 
desertjets
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RE: Atari's Legacy, Forty Years On

Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:16 pm

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 2):
As I recall, the 2600 was limited to 4K of memory. You aren't exactly going to get World of Warcraft on there.

But I had a 2600 in 1981, and I had a lot of fun with it. I like Raiders and Missile Command the most, I think.

I certainly don't expect much out of a 2600. Though some of the later games do show off what the system is fully capable of. Look at a game like Pitfall II or Solaris and compare that to Combat or any of the early release titles. Missile Command is a favorite of mine b/c it is proof that you don't need fancy graphics to have good gameplay.

What I am more talking about is how with later systems, both the 5200 and the 7800, that were far more capable, Atari didn't push on the game development side. Especially with the 7800 both Warner and later Tramiel, who was notoriously cheap, did not pay in-house or 3rd party developers to get good titles made.


Remember that the NES wasn't exactly a powerhouse itself, but it had specialized chipsets for video and audio that took a lot of the heavy lifting off of the main CPU. That and Nintendo did various things to ensure it got quality games in light of the shovelware that spewed forth from earlier generation consoles.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
 
Ps76
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RE: Atari's Legacy, Forty Years On

Fri Jun 29, 2012 5:05 am

Hi!

When young we used to have an Atari console system. We had lots of games but I believe our favourites were Raiders of the Lost Ark and River Raid.

As an aside if you like Pitfall there was a game made for the PSII called Pitfall: The Lost Expedition. It is absoloutely awesome and follows an adventure story based on the original Pitfall game. When you complete it at the end you also get to play the original game! I highly reccommend it if you have a PSII.

Many thanks,

Pierre
 
N174UA
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RE: Atari's Legacy, Forty Years On

Sat Jun 30, 2012 5:28 pm

Quoting kric777 (Reply 3):
an Intellivision system which was a newer and, by nearly all measures, far superior console with much better graphics

Couldn't agree more. My uncle bought us an Intellivision system about the same time. We had Astromash, Night Stalker, and a few others. The neighbors, who had the Atari and swore by it, saw the Intellivision and complained about it, the hand holder, etc. Idiots! I remember the cool overlays for the different games. I enjoyed many hours of fun...to think I was playing Astromash 30 years ago now...wow!

Not sure if you have an iPhone or iPad, but there is an app with various Intellivision games...not quite the same, but you can still play all those cool games from way back when!
 
bohica
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RE: Atari's Legacy, Forty Years On

Sun Jul 01, 2012 5:18 am

Quoting kric777 (Reply 3):
When I look at XBox and Playstation graphics today, it makes me wonder how we got so many hours of sheer bliss playing those Atari games with such horrendous graphics! Nice childhood memories nonetheless.

Back in those days, the Atari graphics were the only graphics we knew for home video games. If you wanted better graphics, you had to go to a video arcade. Like you said though, I had a great time playing with the Atari 2600 with my college buddies.

BTW the original NES graphics are ancient compared to today.  
 
ltbewr
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RE: Atari's Legacy, Forty Years On

Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:58 pm

One important legacy of Atari is as to how it changed the business model of video games. Nintendo in particular, Sony and Sega to a lesser degree learned important lessons in the rise and fall of Atari. Among the most important business lessons:

Only make enough consoles and game cartridges to not quite meet actual demand and not more supply than demand. Nintendo learned from Atari mistake of supply being greter than demand. That means no price cutting/discounting, you don't have excess stock when you upgrade your game system and games you have to write off or take a loss on, retail stores make maximum profits. Even today for almost all game consuls and games sell for the same price at Walmart or Game Stop or 'mom and pop' stores. Atari allowed their consuls and cartridges flood the market making more product than demand so discounts, even using the counsels as 'loss leaders' to get people to buy the games and make profits from that (like with computer printers vs. ink cartridges, razor blades, etc)

Keep strong control of product, especially the game cartridges (or later DVD's) within the parent maker for the consoles or very strict contracts with 3rd party providers. Atari let too many companies make games without sufficient control as to quantity, diluting their own games product, pricing wars and bootlegs all killing their profits and eventually ruin it.

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