for the love of the atari 2600

June 3, 2020
Recently walking with a friend I found a Sylvania 20" TV ("6420FE") waiting for trash pickup - I had been thinking of looking on FB Marketplace for a CRT TV for my Atari 2600...

Its excellent picture kind of revitalized my interest in the Atari. I had a Harmony Cartridge that lets you put as many ROMs as you want on an SD card and play them on the Atari, and nostalgia led me to recreate the collection of games I grew up with.

(My parents managed to get a lot of closeout games during the crash (a lot of overstock was being dumped to their Salvation Army employers) so I had a relatively huge collection, and that was my main system even as it all became pretty "retro")

I went through Wikipedia's List of Atari 2600 Games (Oh, look, technically I am on Wikipedia, via my homebrew JoustPong! Just not enough to have my own page yet, sigh) and assembled the list of games I had - amazing how easy it was to do that by memory, these games have really stuck with me.

I angtsted for a bit on how to sort the games on the cart - no one wants to scroll through a list of ~120 titles - and realized "by publisher" was what made the most sense - that's how I would organize them with physical carts (many of which I still have!) since each manufacturer had a distinct look and feel.

Atari: Adventure, Asteroids, Basketball, Battlezone, Berzerk, Breakout, Centipede, Combat, Crystal Castles, Defender, Dig Dug, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Galaxian, Haunted House, Indy 500, Joust, Jr. Pac-Man, Jungle Hunt, Kangaroo, Krull, Mario Bros., Missile Command, Moon Patrol, Ms. Pac-Man, Othello, Pac-Man, Pele's Soccer, Pengo, Phoenix, Pole Position, Space Invaders, Space War, Star Raiders, Stargate, Super Breakout, Vanguard, Video Olympics, Video Pinball, Warlords, Yars' Revenge

Activision: Boxing, Chopper Command, Commando, Crackpots, Dolphin, Dragster, Enduro, Fishing Derby, Grand Prix, H.E.R.O., Ice Hockey, Kaboom!, Keystone Kapers, Laser Blast, Pitfall II, Pitfall!, Pressure Cooker, River Raid II, River Raid, Robot Tank, Seaquest, Sky Jinks, Spider Fighter, Tennis

Parker Bros: Amidar, Frogger, Gyruss, Popeye, Q-bert, Reactor, Return of the Jedi - Death Star Battle, Spider-Man, Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back, Super Cobra, Tutankham

M-Network: Adventures of Tron, Armor Ambush, Bump n Jump, Burgertime, Dark Cavern, Frogs And Flies, Lock 'n' Chase, Super Challenge Baseball, Super Challenge Football, Tron - Deadly Discs

Imagic: Atlantis, Cosmic Ark, Demon Attack, Dragonfire, Fire Fighter, No Escape!, Riddle of the Sphinx, Star Voyager

CBS: Blue Print, Gorf, Mountain King, Wizard of Wor

Coleco: Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior, Front Line, Venture

Sega: Buck Rogers - Planet of Zoom, Spy Hunter, Star Trek - Strategic Operations Simulator, Tac Scan

US Games: Entombed, Gopher, Name This Game, Sneak 'n Peek, Space Box, Squeeze Box

20th Century Fox: Deadly Duck, M.A.S.H, Worm War I

Xonox: Ghost Manor, Spike's Peak

Apollo: Lost Luggage

Finally, I decided to complete the nostalgia trip by thinking on what games from this pile really mattered to me, and why:

SIGNIFICANT TO MY STORY GAMES

IMPRESSIVE GAMES GAMES OR WITH SOME DETAIL I LOVED GAMES I PLAYED A LOT OF IN COLLEGE GAMES MY MOM GOT GOOD AT REALLY GOOD HEAD TO HEAD GAMES GAMES I JUST REMEMBER PLAYING A LOT OF
Last night some friends and I had a Zoom/NetflixParty to watch Michelle Obama's "Becoming" - it talked about her father - a man who never had opportunities to equal his intellect - and who was a lover of Jazz. Last night I line in a dream, something like "Most Jazz is like a 747, it will fly you there ok, but Bebop is like one of those F-17 Fighter Jets..."