Merry Christmas from 7800 Avenue. Today we relive the magic of Christmas morning 1982 with Howard Scott Warshaw’s ambitious take on the hit film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600. E.T. gets a bad rep as “the worst video game ever made”. There’s been a lot of controversy around it. Atari Game Designer Howard Scott Warshaw was famously given just weeks to turn around an E.T. game in time for Christmas. The end result was rushed. Customer returns and a desert dump stained Atari’s reputation and lead to the lore of urban legends. We’re taking another look at E.T. with fresh eyes and shedding a new look at the trash-talk this game has had for years. Does this game deserve the title of “The Worst Game Ever”? Mason plays it for the first time and gives an honest review.
Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Chris Buongiorno plays Atari 2600 Spider-Man, Marvel and Spidey’s first video game released in 1982 by Parker Brothers. You saw Chris about two years ago here on The Jag Bar, if you saw the episode for Supercross 3-D. That was the episode where everybody was getting really nauseous because the game was that good. But Chris disappeared for 2 years… Why? Well that’s because he was working with Spidey himself – assisting Jon Watts, the Director of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
We are back at 7800 Avenue! This is a special episode today because I have got a special Mystery Unboxing to share with you, and I’ve got a special guest with me today! I got an interesting text last week: “Something wicked this way comes to you. You may want to get the video cam ready for a box opening.” Sounds like something from Dungeons and Dragons. Or a bomb or something. So then I said “Well who is this? Who’s texting me?” and it turns out it’s Paul Westphal from Eight Bit Fix! He sent me a mystery package all the way from Portland, Oregon – and today we’re going to unbox it. I honestly do not know what this is at all, I have no idea. Maybe it’s a mini arcade cabinet? I don’t know. We’re going to open it up, and we’re going to see what is inside.
Atari’s Kangaroo hit the arcades in 1982 and hit your wallet even harder – say goodbye to your quarters. This game is extremely hard, if the flicker and glitching won’t get you those pesky monkeys will. In the early 80s Pac-Man and Donkey Kong were the kings of the arcade, so what naturally followed was a slew of games that tried to capitalize on their gameplay. Lots of maze type games where you ate dots or the new style of platforming games which Donkey Kong brought to the table. It was a craze to say the least, everything was about the arcade – cartoons, plush toys and cereal, you couldn’t get away from it.
Ballblazer, Lucasfilm’s first video game, was lightning fast and quite different than anything out there in 1984. It’s the battle of the joysticks – Video 61’s Grip-Stick vs the Wico BOSS! Who will be named the Ballblazer champion? You know, the thing about this game is that it moves SO WELL. It really screams on the system. It’s really shocking. When you put it in for the first time and you just think it’s just some Atari game, or you know, some older arcade-type title, it just blows you away. I mean, it’s got some pretty amazing 3-D effects, it’s doing some pseudo 3-D stuff. For the time, this really would have been impressive. I mean, I’m impressed now. Not just at that time period. And everybody that I show this game, they’re like “Whoa! This game is nuts!”
So today we are playing a very old Atari game, 1979-1980, Sears & Roebuck game. We’re playing Steeplechase, a very old 1980 4-Player horse racing game, but we are going to do something a little different… We’re actually going to place bets in between horse races, and make it a little more, you know, adult fun. We don’t have any real money because we are all artists, so we’re using Monopoly money. But we’re going to have fun none the less. Are you guys ready to play some Steeplechase? Sounds like a challenge! Here we go, Steeplechase for Atari 2600!
In this episode we play Mario Bros. on Atari 7800 using the Atari 7800 control pad, and I’m joined by Armando and Carlos from Pixel Vault Games for Nintendo on Atari! Just think, the game that would come right after this would change the world of video games. Super Mario Bros. This was it right here. This was where it started. The game introduces you to the story of Mario & Luigi for the first time working together to fight these baddies. Mario Bros. feels like a cross between Donkey Kong, with the levels and platforms and avoiding dangerous sprites coming at you, and Super Mario Bros., with the turtles and pipes and different characters. You can definitely see the seeds being planted for what would become the World of Mario.
In this episode, Armando, Carlos and I play Donkey Kong Jr. on the Atari 7800 using the hard-to-find Atari 7800 control pad, which was never officially released in the USA. Nintendo games on Atari. It’s really hard to imagine now, playing a Nintendo-exclusive game on another console. Everybody knows how strict Nintendo is on their licensing. Seeing a Nintendo-exclusive game on a different console is crazy. As you’ll see in the episode, Armando and Carlos were surprised by the quality of Donkey Kong on the Atari 7800 and the responsiveness of the Atari 7800 control pad using the short-throw thumbstick. They weren’t expecting an Atari console to push graphics nearly identical to the NES version of Donkey Kong
In this episode, Armando, Carlos and I play Donkey Kong on the Atari 7800 using the hard-to-find Atari 7800 control pad, which was never officially released in the USA. Nintendo games on Atari. It’s really hard to imagine now, playing a Nintendo-exclusive game on another console. Everybody knows how strict Nintendo is on their licensing. Seeing a Nintendo-exclusive game on a different console is crazy. As you’ll see in the episode, Armando and Carlos were surprised by the quality of Donkey Kong on the Atari 7800 and the responsiveness of the Atari 7800 control pad using the short-throw thumbstick. They weren’t expecting an Atari console to push graphics nearly identical to the NES version of Donkey Kong
Watch us play Atari 7800 Centipede in Team Play mode using Trak-Ball controllers with a very special guest, my son Mason who’s joining us for the first episode. I think of Centipede as one of the main pillars of Atari. Space Invaders, Asteroids, Defender, Missile Command, Pac-Man, and Centipede were like the big heavy hitters that you’d want to be playing. Seriously, what’s cooler in the World of Atari than using Trak-Balls for Team Play on Centipede? Hmm.. I can’t think of much.