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A Seth Pohorence Pop-Ed: My Atari

Peer pressure is a hell of a thing.  For many people my age, their big childhood debate was over asking their mom and dad for either a Super Nintendo or a Sega Genesis. My parents thought that video games were a big waste of money and time.

So it's only logical that we had an Atari 7800.

My parents didn't even buy it. My Uncle Rick probably picked it up for next to nothing at a Sears Christmas sale in 1989 or something. That still meant we owned an Atari well past its pop culture relevance.

The Atari 7800 was cool in only the fact that it was backwards compatible with 5200 and 2600 games. Oh, and the controller had a joy stick. I was not bringing up my Atari accomplishments at lunchtime while my friends were playing Street Fighter, Super Mario Brothers and the Ninja Turtles games.

The collection of games we had was like a who's who of Atari.  We had the classics: Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, Dig-Dug, Pole Position and Pole Position II.  We were even fortunate to have some sweet sports games like Real Sports Baseball and one of my favorites, One-On-One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird.

Dr. J and Larry Bird were totally lost on the black-and-white TV my family put downstairs, as Larry Bird was greyscaled to off-white and Julius Erving was just grey.  Though you could dunk and break the backboards before Shaq was doing it.  Yes, they stole Darryl Dawkins move.

The game I was king at was Food Fight.  In that game, you raced from one end to the other before an ice cream cone melted as chefs try to pelt you with food.  It also had instant replay, which seemed so revolutionary at the time.

The creme de la creme of our Atari library had to be E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.  As noted on the news the past week, they started to unearth all those buried copies of the failed video games  in a New Mexico landfill.  When that game was released, it was anticipated to be a big seller for the Christmas season, but it wound up spelling the end of Atari.

E.T. was that game that we owned that didn't work.  You turn on the game, E.T. stands there.  You try to move him, he is frozen in place.  Then out of leftfield, some guy in a trench coat appears and game over.  I can't believe we had that game.

I was so jealous of my friends because they had real video game systems while mine sucked.  Now, people wax nostalgia for some video games, me not so much.  The Atari was nice, but it was not something I would want to own again.  Even though my affinity for games spotlighting Dr. J and Larry Bird persists, I could live without having to play that game again.

Now we have the PlayStation 4 with a game like Grand Theft Auto 5 where one aspect of that game is probably larger than the entire Atari 2600 collection of games memory combined.  Also it's nice to have game systems that go beyond polygons and crappy little sprites.

Though some of my friends still have their SNES or Genesis and always challenge me.  I'm awful, they know all the glitches in Street Fighter or NHL '94 that give them easy wins or huge leads.  If only Food Fight had two-player capabilities.  Man, my childhood was lacking in coolness.
A Seth Pohorence Pop-Ed: My Atari Reviewed by Seth Pohorence on 4/29/2014 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. The 7800 is not backwards compatible with the 5200. And it was only on the market for three years when you got it.


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