Atari 50: Memories of an Arcader

As a kid growing up in the late 80s/early 90s I knew nothing about video games before Nintendo. In fact I thought it was Nintendo that created this industry. Little did I know at the time that it was Atari that kickstarted the idea of this new form of entertainment called video games and was the prelude for what was to come.

For me my first Atari experience was my cousin’s Atari 2600. My folks, sister and myself had just moved to Florida and sadly my NES was in one of the many boxes that was being sent from New York to the Sunshine State so I had no video games to play, or so I thought.

Shortly after we arrived in Florida and were staying my aunt’s house my cousin had this strange looking box. I didn’t know what it was but then he turned it on and the game I was first exposed to was none other than Pac-Man. It wasn’t much, and I hadn’t been exposed to what the original Arcade game was yet but I was enthralled by it given that it wasn’t anything I had seen before, though the graphics were more primitive than what my NES had.

Then we tried Pitfall, Pac-Man Jr. and Empire Strikes Back, and they were good, but as someone who had already been brain-fed by the NES I wasn’t as appreciative of the games as I am now. Plus given what the system was capable of these games were some of the best Arcaders had at the time. Since there wasn’t anything else I went ahead and played the games, and I had some fun.

I could not get past those alligators to save my life.

It was definitely a new experience given that the games were older than what I had been used to playing, but after a while I got into it and it was definitely memorable.

Then fast forward many years later during the early 2000s when I discovered G4 and the show “Icons” which was later renamed “Game Makers”, which was my personal favorite show to watch on the channel. Knowing that there was so much more history behind these games/franchises and the people who helped bring them to life was quite the eye-opener. And the story of Atari was definitely one of them.

Then years later when I transferred from Hollywood Studios to Disney Quest I discovered a whole plethora of Atari Arcade games that I had heard of but never got a chance to play until that point in time, and it was a total blast (Missile Command, Centipede and Asteroids being the notable ones for me)!

Not too long ago I had gotten a copy of the Flashback Classics collection for my switch and I was just hooked. As others who have this game will know, Arcaders have access to some of Atari’s classic Arcade games as well as some 2600 and 5200 titles. Plus you can also tweak the settings much like if you were using the actual VCS box itself. In all, not too shabby of a collection.

Now one would think that would be it, but no. Because it seems that not only is Atari still around even after all these years, but the people now running it are putting together a brand new compilation. One that is far more bigger and more ambitious than the previous compilation.

With everything Atari that I have seen and played, there’s no question that Atari truly deserves a place in the pantheon of video game legends because of what it helped create. Although it did have a spectacular fall, Atari’s impact on gaming cannot be denied. And the fact that many still celebrate it to this day show that it isn’t completely forgotten. Far from it. As to what Atari may do in the coming years is anybody’s guess, but I say let’s celebrate the 50 year milestone of this company and may we all as Arcaders keep the legacy alive!


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