Monthly Archives: February 2013

Dead Frogger

The Game Over Tinies

The Gashlycrumb Tinies is an infamous 1963 book written and illustrated by Edward Gorey.  In it 26 children, each one with a name that starts with the next letter of the alphabet, die from various causes, all put to rhyme.

Over at brentalfloss, they have adapted Gorey’s work as the Game Over Tinies, where various video game characters meet their demise in similar fashion.  It is a masterfully done tribute to both the original work and the dangerous lives of video game characters.  Here’s a sample:

 

What Nolan Said: Innovation

Nolan Bushnell founded Atari in 1972, sold it to Warner Communications in 1976, and was eventually ushered out of the company in 1978.  The writing had been on the wall for awhile, for the man who had kept Atari alive by constantly innovating, by constantly swimming forward in a sea of ravenous competitors.  By then, Atari had gone from a company about innovating to a company about marketing past successes, and that attitude eventually helped sink the entire industry in 1983-84.  What Nolan Said:

Nolan Bushnell and quote

Nolan Bushnell and quote

Quote comes from a 2007 interview of Bushnell by Benj Edwards for Vintage Computing and Gaming.

Image is of Bushnell at the Campus Party Brasil Expo in Jan. 2013.  By Camila Cunha.

The Ad Game: Vanguard for Atari VCS/2600

Vanguard was an arcade game developed by “shadow” developer TOSE, and released in Japan by SNK in late 1981 and licensed for North America by Centuri.  It was an important intermediate step towards modern side-scrolling shoot-em-ups such as Gradius and R-Type, improving on a genre first formed by William’s seminal Defender.

Today in the Ad Game we feature a TV commercial for the Atari 2600 port of Vanguard:

Vanguard was definitely a great arcade game, and the 2600 version a spectacular port that demonstrates the amazing things Atari programmers were able to pull off with the platform as it matured.  This ad, however, doesn’t do any of that justice.For instance, who trades off the joystick to their buddies in the middle of a game?  Hard to keep your concentration and momentum going with some jerk begging for the joystick.  Just wait until he crashes, it won’t be long to wait.  Try shouting “The wall, the wall!” into his ear, that oughta speed up his destruction.One of the big innovations touted in Vanguard was the ability to shoot in four directions, but in the ad the shooting looks pretty spastic.  The key to any successful shooter is the precision of your shots, and here it looks like the gunner is having a seizure.Then, of course, we have the hulking Luthor, who’s sole responsibility is to defeat the Gond, the boss at the end of the round.  A man of few words, it is rumoured that Luthor once, when a kid refused to give up the joystick to him, stuffed the poor bastard’s hand completely into the cartridge slot.  We can only know his moods by his demented chuckling.Perhaps Luthor is related to Beavis?

video game collection

Instant Video Game Collection. Only $500K

Got some discretionary spending money burning a hole in your pocket?  If so, you could buy this game collection on eBay.  It’s the culmination of 30 years of collecting, and as the seller mentions in the description, even though he has spent the last two months working eight hours a day to catalog what he has, he’s still not sure he’s covered everything!

The collection is composed of over 6850 games, over 330 game consoles, and 220 controllers. He seems to be like me and doesn’t like to throw out packaging (who knows when you might need to sell this stuff on eBay?), so the vast majority of equipment comes boxed. There’s also tonnes of promotional items such as game-related action figures and soundtracks, books and strategy guides. Even arcade games are represented, with a collection of PCB boards available so you can finally come out of the dark alleys and play games legal on MAME.

As the sellers says, you could make yourself an instant video game museum with a one-time payment of only $500,000.  Start yours, today!

Thanks to @freemantim for the heads up.

What Nolan Said: The 70th Birthday Edition

Today is Nolan Bushnell’s 70th birthday. Before co-founding Atari and the video game industry, a previous job he had held while a student attending the University of Utah was as a carnival barker. It was a job he ended up doing his whole life.  In today’s What Nolan Said, Bushnell states the ultimate goal he had on the midway of the Lagoon amusement park back then:

Photo via kandinski’s flickr photostream