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8 Directions And A Fire Button

I might be old. I am prepared to acknowledge that fact. I remember Pong. I remember the Tandy TRS-80.

And of course I remember Atari. The Atari Video Computer System (later dubbed the Atari 2600). I was 8 when they came out (well...I was 6 when the first rev came out in 1977, but I was 8 when the mainstream push came to get them in every home across America.

I wanted one. My Parents told me to save my chores and save the money (what?).

Papaw to the rescue. Papaw was going to buy me one. Mom and Dad weren't having any of that noise. Papaw changed his tactic. He said he was buying it for him and it would stay down in KY when I came home for the summer (it didn't). Papaw found ways to make things happen.

My first game (besides the included Combat) was Circus Atari. A Breakout clone with clowns, a see-saw, balloons, and a very funny graphic if you didn't last just right.

I have fond memories of the first summer with my Atari, and the following years. I think it wound up being sold in a garage sale somewhere along the way. I've had 3 since my first. My first was a Heavy Sixer. Good luck finding that again. I'm not quite sure how the K-Mart in Ashland even had those in stock. That guy I miss.

Enter my most recent trip to the Farm with Dad. And our requisite stop at the 23 Southbound Flea Market.

$45 later ($15 for the console, Kaboom, and the controllers; $30 for the additional 15 games)...and I have this guy:

Hells yes. Now, mind you, this was on our way to the Farm. There is a TV out there, but no way to really hook this badboy up. So it would be 5 days before I could even hope to test it.

Unlike my 8yr old self, I was actually able to contain myself. Not only did I wait until I got back from our road trip, but it was another week before I actually got the $5 adapter from Radio Shack that would allow me to hook up the Atari (CX2600A, released in 1980) to my 40" flat screen TV from this century. Past and present were about to meet in a big ass way.

I fired up one of my faves first. Only took a few rounds to confirm the joystick might need some maintenance.

And a few rounds of my other go-to confirmed the paddle controllers also might need some TLC.

Back to Donkey Kong.

Annnnnnnnnd shit.

The fire button is toast. No jumping. No shooting. 1/9th of the joystick's functionality was just...gone. Soooooo...yeah. There's that.

But enter Video Game Exchange (screw GameStop)....a quick trip in...

"Can I help you find something?"

Controllers for an Atari2600

"That's a serious machine, man."

That it is. Can you help?

"Yeah. We got controllers right over here."

This is why I shop here.


And with that 10 minute was on like...well...Donkey Kong. Two working joysticks. 1 Working set of paddles.

And hours of happiness. You can seriously have your XBoxes and Playstations. I've had them. I sold them back. You know why I like old school? Because an element of this is imagination. Sure....there might be 4 lines on a screen that are supposed to be walls and the robots look like rejects from Walt Disney's The Black Hole, but in my mind, I am running through a space station, trying not to get zapped and hoping like hell the bouncing smiley face doesn't come through and obliterate me.

It is cheesey. The graphics suck by today's standards. And the only "in-game achievement" you can earn is flipping the scoreboard or getting so bored because you've been playing so long that you turn it off and go outside. And if you turn it off, you start back over again when you turn it back on. There is no saved game. You want to play online? Too bad. You are actually going to have to sit within 6 feet of the person you are playing.

Atari2600....the original social media boyeeeeeee!

8 directions, 1 fire button, and the truth.


Have a great rest of your day my friends!!




Darrin said…
Awesome purch! Circus Atari was awesome.... and Kaboom is da bomb. Ba-da-bing!!! I'll be here all week folks!
Plain Jane said…
Darrin's jealous. Me, too. :) Rock that Atari Todd.

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