Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy 40th, Atari!

This past week marked the 40th anniversary of Atari, the company responsible for making a lifelong gamer out of me. It was until about 1978-1979, when my parents brought home the Atari Video Computer System, and I became instantly obsessed. I was roughly five years old at the time, and I spent countless hours playing early 2600 games likes Breakout, Surround and Combat with my mom and dad. We played Atari Bowling all the time as a family, and it's still one of my favorite sports games of all time. My cousin and I bonded over Adventure and Flag Capture, and Outlaw was one of my earliest multiplayer experiences.

Another reason I have such fond memories of the Atari 2600 is that my parents bought the console as much for them and their friends as they did for me. This was their game console, and they put a lot of time into it as well. I remember my parents getting together with the neighbors to play the 2600 version of Space Invaders when it came out. There were times where the kids would have to remind the adults they they needed a turn with the console as well. Those are some great memories.

In the early 1980's, I was old enough to be getting good at playing games, and there was a great wave of Atari 2600 games that I immersed myself in. Activision made some of the best 2600 games ever, from the legendary Pitfall, to super fun games like Kaboom! and Keystone Capers. Megamania is one of my all time faves from them as well. Some of the arcade ports that started making their way to the 2600 were pale imitations of the originals, but I loved them nonetheless. The Atari version of Pac-Man is considered one of the worst games ever, for me its' one of my most cherished. The sounds of Atari Pac-Man are forever embedded into the music player in my brain. My favorite arcade game of all time, Jungle Hunt (originally Jungle King), was ported over to the 2600 in 1983, and it might be the last 2600 game I was completely obsessed with.

So as I look back at my lifelong love of games, Atari essentially built the foundation for the hobby I still spend so much time with today. For that, I will be forever thankful.

Happy Anniversary, Atari!