Atari goes old school.

Atari has announced that they’ll be releasing the Atari Anthology for the PS2 and Xbox. This $20 single disc collection will contain 85 games from both the Arcade and the Atari 2600 including the one that started it all: Pong. In addition to that they’ll be releasing an Atari console for $45 that comes with 25 games built-in. 20 from the Atari 2600 and 5 from the Atari 7800 and includes a previously never released 2600 title called Saboteur.

Atari isn’t expecting its decades-old games to compete on a technical level, like “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,” “Halo” and “Madden NFL 2005” that feature colorful realistic graphics, fast-moving 3-D action and the freedom to roam at will.

Instead, the company is aiming at the nostalgia market.

“It’s a time machine. You go back to your childhood and you play,” Atari chief executive Bruno Bonnell said.

And for gamers who weren’t even born when the first PlayStation appeared?

“The kids will think this is quick, this is fast to understand, and we don’t need a manual to understand it,” he added. “We’re going after two generations.”

Even “Pong,” perhaps the most primitive of the games with its simple white square bouncing across the screen, may still have some appeal.

“The more primitive the better. It shows that video games are not just about high-end graphics or sophisticated representation. It’s about the game-play, the challenge to the player,” Bonnell said.

My Dad is directly responsible for my video game addiction thanks to the timely purchase of a Sears Video Arcade, which was just a re-branded Atari VCS (2600). This is ironic because my Dad hates video games—always has as near as I can tell—so I can’t fathom what it was that inspired him to purchase a home console. Mom says his friend Richard talked him into it and all I can say is it must have been one helluva speech considering the console back in the day cost around $200. My Dad was of the pinball generation and I can remember going to a local pinball arcade with him and Richard at a young age and seeing my first arcade video games and being instantly fascinated by them. Dad thought they weren’t as good a value for your quarter cause you could die really quickly and there was no way to win a free game like on pinball. Didn’t matter to me, I thought they were cool and when he walked in the door with that Sears Video Arcade my life-long addiction to gaming was set in stone. I’ve never asked him what the hell he was thinking at the time and given how much he bemoaned my hours of gaming on the Atari I’m pretty sure there was more than one occasion he regretted the decision.

Still, the damage was done and I was hooked and I think I came to own close to a hundred or so cartridges over the years. Probably not that many, but close. We had all the big hits at least: Space Invaders, Missile Command, Decathlon, Pitfall, and so on. Later we moved up to the Atari 5200 at which point the market crashed and Dad ended up making his second fateful decision in bringing home a Commodore 64, ostensibly to do his taxes on. He had specifically not bought an Atari 800 computer as I had begged him to because he didn’t want a “glorified video game machine” as he put it. It’s just his bad luck that he’d end up choosing what would become the most successful video game computer system of all time. Irony has played a big role between my Dad and myself over the years.

Today he can admit that it worked out for the best as my interest in video games and computers ultimately has provided me with a pretty decent career so far built largely from my own self-taught skills. None of which I would have developed had he not suffered from a moment of temporary insanity and brought home that original Atari. Needless to say these products are directly aimed at people like me who have very fond memories of a childhood misspent in front of a TV blasting the bejesus out of little electronic blips with the melodious accompaniment of polyphonic sound. I must admit that I was sorely tempted by the original Atari 10-in-1 joystick they offered awhile back (and they’ve also announced a 10-in-1 Atari Paddle version now) so getting 85 games for $20 is probably more temptation I can handle. OK, enough nostalgia for now.

7 thoughts on “Atari goes old school.

  1. I maintain that a game’s design is paramount to stunning graphics every time. I don’t give a damn how beautiful a game is, if it has a lousy story line, is too difficult to play, or is just plain boring no high end graphics in the world is going to make up for it. I STILL prefer the Intellivision Sea Battle, Bowling, B-52 Bomber, and Football games to most of the current generation games out today. I have a full complement of emulators for the Atari 2600, 800XL, and Intellivision games with tons of ROM’s on my computer today. I also have the old consoles themselves if my computer were to crash for some reason.

  2. This is some of the best news I’ve read in a long time.  As a mid-thirtysomething, I spent countless hours of my youth on my old Atari and C64.  I have used an emulator on my Mac but it just isn’t the same…

    *sigh*

  3. Though I’m possibly a little young for the wave of nostalgia invoked by this post, one of my deprived single-parent working class childhood’s most fond memories is of my second-hand 2600 and the many joyous hours I spent blasting away at the mighty Centipede. Of course, this was before my family was upwardly mobile, and my Spectrum 128 was the envy of the neighbourhood.

  4. rolleyes This sounds like something I could get into!  Not real pricey and not to hard for an almost 70 year old to learn.  Think I might just jump in on this one.

  5. raspberry I played on a C64 for a while, I play ‘Red-neck Video Game’,‘Free Cell’ and I’m playing at blogging now so why not?  In fact when you see it come out alert me!!

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