Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Very Happy Birthday to a Very Dear Childhood Friend

When Jewbacca was just a wee lad, Papa Jewbacca decided to get in on the craze that was sweeping the nation.

He bought one of these:

This childhood friend is turning 30 this month and I would be remiss if I did not take some time to mention it.

Since the Friendly Friends are all children of the late 70's and 80's, we have been through all of the various game systems. We've tried to figure out the point of ET for the Atari. We've puzzled over the Intelivision's controller. We've beaten Donkey Kong, entered the 30-man code for Contra and been there for Mario during all of his various adventures. Since my gaming career came to a screeching halt with the PS One, I'll let the experts fill in more games and characters.

But the Atari 2600 and I were close. Saturday mornings were for three things: Starstuff, Candy Apple News Company and Atari. Me and the Mighty Malagan were allowed to play with the volume off so as not to wake the parents.

Getting a new game was like Christmas morning (or how I imagine it to be) every time. We had to go to an actual electronics store, the kind that sold early computers and Atari stuff, about 20 minutes from our house. We got to test it out on the store's set-up. And then when we got it home, it was time to marvel over the amazing graphics and colors coming form the 19 inch Zenith (with actual dials and rabbit ears).

I was the master of many games: Breakout, River Raid, Yar's Revenge, Baseball (not the crappy Atari version that made any hit directly up the middle over 2nd base a home run) and Chopper Command to name a few.

In fact, I was a Chopper Commando. I still am a Chopper Commando. I hit some crazy amount of points, Pop took a picture of the screen and mailed it to Activision and 6-8 weeks later I got a patch and a newsletter. Papa Jewbacca was a Laser Blaster.

If I could get back 1/8 of the time I spent playing Atari back and put that toward more constructive pursuits I could probably speak several languages. But such is life. Instead of being multi-lingual, I can kick your sorry ass at several rudimentary video games.

Just don't make me play anything that has two small joysticks that control which way you look and which way you walk. Bad things happen. Bad things.


FFSweaty Irishman said...

Happy Birthday Atari! The Atari was our Red Rider Bee-Bee Gun. The greatest gift we ever received or will ever recieve! I myself was part of the Activision Explorers Club thanks to my Pitfall prowess.

FFMatt said...

I was the kid that didn't own one and so was at everybody else's place. I remember the excitement I felt when Donkey Kong and Venture came to Sweaty's place.

Ahhh... whenever I see needlenose pliers I think about the TV Sweaty's Atari was hooked up to, which needed pliers to change the channel since it had no dialing knob.