I’ve eagerly awaited the publication of Art of Atari since I first read about author Tim Lapetino’s in-progress book project many years ago. Art of Atari is aesthetically striking in a number of ways. It’s big, heavy, colorful, and exudes the feeling of a quality, professional product. The Deluxe Edition with its cartridge-emulating leather-bound cover and heavy-duty cardboard slipcase is artwork in itself, if you ask me. These were clearly not produced by some fly-by-night publishing house — it’s professional quality through and through. The subject matter necessitated high-quality printing in order to show off color, texture, and other subtleties in the artwork, and the book certainly delivers on that front, using extra-white paper to really make the imagery “pop” off the page. As someone who grew up with Atari (but somehow never owned another console until a PS3), and as someone with an admittedly lacking fantastical imagination, the artwork that accompanied Atari products made an enormous impression on me as a kid. It’s the talented artists and designers under Atari’s employ who deserve the credit for allowing me to dream of ideas and worlds bigger than those generated by glowing phosphor lines on a CRT screen, and Art of Atari does a spectacular job in affording them the recognition and credit they well deserve.
Gamers who grew up with Atari will fondly remember the striking box, instruction manual, and label artwork as artifacts of a bygone time, when dressing up a game in proverbial fancy clothing wasn’t seen as an act of deception or otherwise underhanded. Art of Atari promises to be much more than a simple compendium of artistic sentimentality, however. Tim Lapetino, graphic design director and author of Art of Atari, has gone to great lengths to chronicle memories and stories from the artists and designers themselves. Since Atari artists’ handiwork comes from a time when even game programmers weren’t given credit for their work (let alone artists), Art of Atari will be a long-deserved recognition of their important contributions to video gaming history and lore. On behalf of Atari.IO, I spoke with the author earlier this year about his project-turned-book labor of love.
What do Patrick Swayze, Road House and Pit-Fighter have in common? Don’t be a jabroni – tune in and find out! Pit-Fighter hit the arcades in 1990. And it had some pretty amazing tech behind it, because this was the second game to use digitized actors as the actual sprites in the game. Pit-Fighter, to me, is a “guilty pleasure” game. I have guilty pleasure movies, Flash Gordon would be one of them. Another one would be Road House. Now, I equate Road House and Pit-Fighter almost on the same plane. Like, I feel like it’s the same universe, and I’ll tell you why. Let’s check out Pit-Fighter right now, as we walk down memory lane and check out our arcade ports on the Lynx Lounge. Get ready for some Pit-Fighter.
Today we’re looking at arcade ports for the Atari Lynx. And umm.. what time is it? Umm, hmm.. I don’t know, it’s the ’90s so there’s always time for some KLAX. Am I right? I mean that’s what I always told myself in 1990. Time for some KLAX! Now if you want to talk about a solid arcade port, to a portable system no less, I would say that KLAX is right up there. It’s a hall of fame as far as arcade ports go. The gameplay is simple, yet addictive. There’s a lot of different objectives within the game. The tiles are coming down this conveyer belt and you’ve got to stack them up. You can stack a bunch of them up on your little pallet, and then decide how you want to disperse them below.
Paperboy on Atari Lynx is completely filled to the brim with charm. It’s like living a cartoon fantasy. The music and sound effects are just iconic. Basically you are a paperboy delivering papers. You have a certain number of houses that you have to deliver your papers to. There are houses that don’t want your paper, but you get points whenever you vandalize their houses. All of the other things that are happening that are very very time specific. You’ve got guys breakdancing that you can throw your paper at and mess them up, there’s dudes fighting on the street, there’s people breaking into houses, there’s kids on big wheels, the grim reaper will chase you, you’ve gotta make it across the street without getting squashed. There’s just so much fun stuff happening in this game.
RoadBlasters had everything. It had speed, it had adrenalin, it had weapons. You could blow up cars. It had amazing control. That’s the thing, as good as it looked, as good as it sounded, it played even better. One of the best Atari Lynx games hands down. RoadBlasters was an arcade game that came out in 1987. Race as fast as you can, you try to pick up the little fuel orbs, and you just blow everything up. Let’s take a look at RoadBlasters in today’s episode of Lynx Lounge!
Adam Savage says he’s not a gamer, but the co-host of the Discovery Channel television series MythBusters is absolutely enthralled with Atari’s Millipede, and has been ever since he first discovered the game as a teenager while working at a bar as a busboy in 1984. Now a bit older and more successful, Adam has had the privilege of finding a Millipede arcade machine on Craigslist and bringing it home to his San Francisco workshop.
Lost Ark Video Games is steeped in arcade culture with a really cool vibe all it’s own. Walls overflow with old Game Boys, Retron consoles, and used cartridges for Atari, Nintendo, and Sega systems, but there’s a lot of stuff at Lost Ark that you wouldn’t normally find. The store has a feel best described as “retro-otaku.” As you walk further into the store, you see that Lost Ark also has a retro arcade that includes classic arcade games, pinball machines, and one of the largest collections of Japanese candy cab import games in the United States. General admission to the arcade is usually $5, and all coin-op machines are on free-play.
In late 1983, as the affects of the video game crash were taking hold, Atari was putting the final touches on a brilliant retail concept that would present Atari as a lifestyle brand and place Atari in retail locations across the continent. Called “Atari Adventure,” the stores would have been a retail experience unlike any other. Atari Adventure mixed ideas of arcades, interactive cinemas, amusement park attractions, computer learning, video game and computer stores, and world’s fair pavilions.
Atari founder Nolan Bushnell spoke at Google about his history, passions, what made things work and what didn’t. It’s a fascinating talk that’s about an hour long and well worth watching. Google has made the talk available on YouTube, and we’ve embedded the video along with stray observations.