Category Archives: anniversary

Box art for Super Mario Bros., a video game by Nintendo, 1985

A Look at How Super Mario Bros. Came to Be, on Its 30th Anniversary

This weekend, Super Mario Bros. turns 30 years old. The game has become so ingrained in popular culture that it’s easy to lose sight of just how important and influential Shigeru Miyamoto and Gunpei Yokoi’s creation was when it hit Nintendo’s Japanese gaming console on Sept. 13, 1985. The Famicom had been enjoying success in Japan, but Super Mario Bros. became such a phenomena in that country that by 1989 there was one Famicom in every two households in Japan. In 1986, when SMB made its way to the North American version of the Famicom, the NES, it helped the system overcome the toxic environment left from the great video game crash of 1983 and became a huge hit here as well.

A couple of years ago TDE celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Famicom, and as part of that celebration we posted a look at the development of the game and the influences that helped shape SMB. After the jump, we present that post to you now, as we pay tribute to one of the greatest video games of all time:

Continue reading

Title screen for Super Mario Bros., a video game for the Famicom by Nintendo 1985

Celebrating Famicom’s 30th – Super Mario Bros.

Here is the last of the TDE articles detailing various aspects of the Famicom, as well as the NES, the North American version of the console released in 1985.  These posts celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Famicom, and lead up to the full history of the Famicom, to be posted tomorrow. The post today also falls on the 30th anniversary of Mario Bros., so two koopa’s with one fireball, so to speak.  While Famicom project lead Masayuki Uemura and his team at R&D2 labs at Nintendo do great work putting together the hardware of the famed video game console, it’s the games for the system that give it longevity.  And there’s few games that boost Famicom and NES sales as much as Super Mario Bros..

Continue reading

blog-dirk-glances

Dragon’s Lair Turns 30

If you entered a video arcade on July 1, 1983, you’d probably wonder what all the fuss was about. You’d be met by a huge crowd of people gathered around a new game. There’d be such a large crowd that the arcade owner would have installed a monitor on top of this game so everyone could watch it being played. If you checked out what was on the monitor, you’d see a video game like none other before it.

You’d be seeing Dragon’s Lair, released 30 years ago today. With rich, vibrant animation by Don Bluth, driven by laser disc technology from Rick Dyer and his RDI Video Systems company, it truly seemed like the waning days of the arcade had just gotten a huge shot in the arm. No matter that, due to the extravagant cost of the game to arcade operators (averaging $4,300), it was the first game to cost 50 cents to play. No matter that, despite the lush visuals, gameplay locked players on a rail that was minimally interactive. It was new, it was cool, and it was wonderful.

Even though Dragon’s Lair and the laser disc game phenomena that followed in its wake were conceptual dead-ends that were quickly left behind by gamers, their memories remain. I don’t think there is another game that so typifies the 80′s video game arcade to me as much as Dragon’s Lair.

To go for a spin through the development and aftermath of Dragon’s Lair, please check out our article on the Laser Game Craze.

Celebrating 15 years online

TDE Facebook Contest

To celebrate our 15th year online, The Dot Eaters is currently holding a Facebook contest. All you have to do is visit the page here on Facebook and enter your details, and then name your favourite retro video game in the post on our Facebook timeline.  There are a number of prizes to win, but here is a taste of just one of them:

Image of a mug emblazoned with The Dot Eaters logo, a video game history website

Perfect for beverage containment

I look forward to reading your favourites. The contest ends this Saturday, June 8, so enter soon!

Celebrating 15 years online

The Dot Eaters 15th Anniversary Re-Launch Party

Tomorrow, May 16 we will be holding a shindig to celebrate our 15th anniversary online, as well as the launch of our revamped site, which came online May 1.  The details are as follows:

The venue will be Saviari Tea & Cocktail Lounge, located at 926 King St. West.  It’s at the intersection of King W. and Strachan, the next major intersection West of Bathurst St., in Toronto, Ontario.


View Larger Map

The event will run from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.  There will be classic video game stations set up to play, including Mattel’s Intellivision and the Coleco ColecoVision. We will also be running a game tournament, playing Atari’s infamous 2600 version of Pac-Man.  Here’s how the prizes will break down:

1st Prize: a $50 dollar EB Games gift card

2nd Prize: a pair of tickets to the Game On exhibit currently running at the Ontario Science Centre.  This is an amazing exhibit of the history of video games, from PONG right up to modern systems and games.

3rd Prize: a $20 dollar gift card for A & C Games, a video game store specializing in retro games and systems.

In addition, each winner will receive a retro video game T-Shirt from Chop Shop Goods.  As well, there are 50 discounted tickets to the Ontario Science Centre for everyone, first come first served.

The event is free to attend, and there is a $5 registration fee to enter the Pac-Man competition.  There is a cash bar, and appetizers will be served.  To RSVP for the event, please shoot an email to contact@thedoteaters.com or use the contact form on this site on the Contact Us page.

See you there!

marquee for Breakout, an arcade video game by Atari 1976

Google Celebrates Breakout Anniversary

It might come as a stinging shock to people that Atari’s Breakout arcade game is 37 years old.  Some of the sting might be mitigated, however, by the clever way in which Google has seen fit to pay tribute to the milestone.

Breakout was a clever one-player riff on Atari’s first (and, in fact, the world’s first) mass-produced coin-op video game PONG.  Instead of two-people bouncing a little blip of a ball back and forth with paddles, one person could bat the ball with a paddle situated along the bottom of the screen, against a wall of bricks that would shrink in size with each impact.  The speed of the ball would increase as the size of the brick wall would decrease, leading to a mad scramble to eliminate the bricks before inevitably missing the ball and losing a life.

The game was conceived by Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, but actually assembled by an early, vegetarian hippie Atari employee and his nerdly friend.  Their names were Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

To see Google’s own riff on the concept, just enter Atari Breakout into their image search field.  For more history of Breakout, consult your local Dot Eaters entry.

Nintendo Offering Classic Games in the Wii U eShop for $0.30.

This July, the NES, or the Famicom as it was known in Japan, will turn 30.  To commemorate this event, Nintendo is offering a game a month at the apropos price of 30 cents, up to and including July.

Here is the list:

Jan – Balloon Fight (NES)
Feb – F-Zero (SNES)
Mar – Punch-Out! Featuring Mr. Dream (NES)
Apr – Kirby’s Adventure (NES)
May – Super Metroid (SNES)
Jun – Yoshi (NES)
Jul – Donkey Kong (NES)

They are the full versions of each game.  Pick up one of these classics each month on the Wii U eShop and get yourself psyched for the summer celebrations!

via N4G.com and post it gamer

Happy Birthday Atari 7800!

 With the 27th anniversary of the proper launch of the Atari 7800 this month, here is a little retrospective on the console.

While the Atari 7800 might be historically viewed as a misfire on Atari’s part, we can at least appreciate the console for what it is. The console was intended to get a headstart on the NES as Nintendo had already approached Atari and asked them if they wanted to handle distribution rights in North America for the console for them. While in retrospect this was a boneheaded move times were different and Atari was a self sufficient company who wanted to remain that way.

After some legal tussling the proper launch of the console was delayed until 1986 and in a somewhat questionable strategic move the 7800 launched with games that were developed 2 years before and as such seemed dated.

The POKEY poking around.

What about the console itself? It’s an interesting beast being capable of playing 2600 software in addition to 7800 games. The hardware was similar to Atari’s earlier systems in that it rendered in between scanlines. The audio hardware was also identical to the 2600 in the console itself but developers could include a POKEY sound chip in the cartridge to enhance the soundtrack of a game. The POKEY was a flexible chip that could be used for a few different things but was mostly used for music generation in the Atari 8-bit family.

What about the games? Unfortunately due to limited developer support the 7800 library pales in comparison to the Master System and NES. That isn’t to say the console doesn’t have its fair share of great games though! The console featured a brilliant conversion of Commando which used the POKEY chip to enhance the sound. This game really stands out as one of the best on the console. 

Screenshot of Commando.

Another great game that used the POKEY was Ballblazer which was a fast paced 3D tank shooter with a great soundtrack.

This doesn’t look like much here but it’s actually quite amazing.


Other beloved games in the Atari 7800 library include the brilliant Ninja Golf which incorporates ninja combat into a traditional game of golf, Midnight Mutants, Desert Falcon and even Xevious!

Ninja Golf being both brilliant and incoherent.

The Atari 7800 really is a great little console. It’s sleek, has a well designed controller and for collectors the library of games is definitely one that is within the realm of completing. The games themselves are fun to play as well with Atari staples like Joust and Centipede rounding out some great third party efforts. In honour of this somewhat forgotten gem from gaming past I highly recommend you pick one up on eBay as the 7800 really deserves another play for its birthday. 

Any Atariphiles out there want to weigh in on the 7800? It’d be great to hear memories from when you were younger or just some nice thoughts about the console!  For more information on the Atari 7800, consult your local Dot Eaters entry.  

PONG Turns 40

The First Serve

On November 29, 1972, a recently incorporated company in California named Atari announced the release of its first product, an electronic video arcade game called PONG.  Two players would stand at the wood-grain and yellow cabinet, twiddling the control knobs that moved two paddles displayed on a B&W TV screen.  With the paddles they would play an electronically abstract game of table tennis, batting a little white blip back and forth in an attempt to “Avoid Missing Ball For High Score”, as the simple gameplay instructions prompted.

Conceived by Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell and designed by Al Alcorn, Pong was a smash success, giving birth to the video game industry.  Fast-forward nearly 40 years later, in 2011 that industry was worth US$65 billion dollars.

Among other celebrations of Pong’s 40th birthday, an attempt to enter the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest game of Pong was made on Nov. 16, 2012.  A 22-story version of the game, complete with festive lighting, was played on the side of the Downtown Marriott hotel in Kansas City, MO.

In a lead-up to the anniversary, earlier this year Atari announced the Pong Indie Developer Challenge.  Offering a grand prize of up to $100,000, the company solicited independent app developers to submit their take on the venerable Pong.  The three winners were announced on Aug. 2, and they will participate in a profit sharing scheme divided between the three Pong apps that will see them collect royalties up to the winning prize amounts.  The top winner, the freemium-based PONG World by zGames, can be snagged at the iOS App Store here.

Pong put Atari on the road to becoming the fastest growing company in American history.  It’s no stretch to consider that when you say Pong is 40 years-old today, you’re also saying the video game industry is 40 years-old.  So like those tipsy patrons of Andy Capp’s bar in Sunnyvale California, who played the original Pong prototype until it broke and convinced Bushnell and Atari to produce the game commercially, raise a glass to the grand-daddy of the video game industry.  Your serve, PONG!

You can play an updated version of PONG online at Atari.com for free.  For more information on the history of Pong and Atari, consult your local Dot Eaters article.