Remember Atari? Specifically the Atari 2600? if not, you may want to just wait for the next post, since this one is gonna be all about the good old days.
Back before the original xbox, or even Nintendo 64, there was the Atari 2600, one of the first game consoles hooked up to the your colour TV. I specifically mention colour TV, because believe it or not, around this time there still were black and white TVs out there in the wild being used, in fact i think most people had their big 20″ colour “Sylvania” TV in the family room and then maybe an old B&W in the basement for the kids. Before the Atari 2600 there were other gaming consoles of sorts, but none really caught on, and calling them that is a bit of a stretch anyway. PONG was really popular but people grew tired of it and realized there must be a way to play other games.
The year was 1977 and video games were something played mostly in dark dingy smoke-filled Pinball Arcades, hidden away in the corner of the bigger malls, with as much drug selling going on in them as there was quarters being fed into the slots of the games. Good times… cough, cough, weez, click click click…
For those with a bit of money, you could bring the fun home without all the drugs, smoke and other bad influences. The consoles were priced pretty high for the time at $199, but for many the fun was worth it and the era of at-home-gaming really began to develop. After the reign of the Atari, its numerous revisions and re-releases, and the development of the competing Coleco console, third party companies started making games for those platforms, which caused some problems of its own, but really was the beginning of the multi-billion dollar game developing industry of today.
Enough history though. What prompted this nostalgic look back was something i saw at the local Costco store – the Atari Flashback2+. The console is a meager $29, which by todays standards is about what it costs to go to the movies and have refreshments, as opposed to the original cost of $199 which by 1977 standards was enough to buy food for an entire family for a month.
This re-release of the Atari console isn’t aimed at the current generation of gamers, after all the graphics and simplicity of the games are less than what most people have on their cel-phones, but is aimed more at those of us who look back fondly on our misspent youth and want to recapture a small part of it. The console itself is the third re-release of the console, following the 2004 Atari Flashback and the 2005 Atari Flashback2. Some of the games have changed in this version, and for me the Flashback2 is actually sounding like the one i’d prefer since it had a personal favorite of mine on it, “Climber”, but if you like the sports games of old then the Flashback2+ may be your retro-console of choice.
It’s not going to rock your world with the graphics, and your kids may look at you like you’ve lost what’s left of your aging mind when they see the old styling and simplistic games, but sometimes its fun to step back and be a teen again, reliving moments and memories from long ago. Now if only i can find a local supply of Grape or Orange flavoured potato chips and Chocolate Charleston Chews i’d be in retro-heaven.