Thursday, August 17, 2006

Atari vs. Intellivision




I want to start this post out by saying that I do not consider myself a "gamer." I don't pay $15 a month to be on a W.O.W. or Eve server, nor do I play Unreal Tournament or Guildwars. I do, however, own a PS2, and the most recent game I played on that was Arena League football. Other than that, I might play some occasional games that do not require a minimum of 4 hours straight of play a night.

With that said, we at work had an interesting conversation about the Atari 2600 - Intellivision wars of the late 1970's and early 1980's. As you can see, we are often very busy at work. Anyway, I figured I'd share my experiences, and encourage your thoughts, opinions, and experiences (if you too are old).

I owned an Atari way back in 1980, back when it was named Atari VCS (yeah, I'm old as mud, I know). I remember being overwhelmed with surprise/happiness when I opened this particular Christmas present. I wasn't really expecting to get it, even though I had asked for it repeatedly. My mom had informed me that the $120 price-tag on this system was far too high for "Santa" to pay for. Boy, did my mom ever sucker me in with that one.

As some of you may know, Combat was the game that was included with the Atari. It was a fun 2-player game, but since it came with the Atari, most of us thought it was lame. My parents (Santa) did purchase a second game for the system - Football. Looking back, the graphics and gameplay were kind of lame, but at the time, I didn't think life could get any better. I remember the sheer jubilance that swept through my soul when buying blockbuster games like Asteroids, Space Invaders, and Pac Man. It was like having an arcade in my basement (except, the arcade games were
always cooler).

I became friends with someone who had an Intellivision, and immediately my heart sank. The sports games were infinitely better than anything the poor Atari had to offer. Immediately, I felt like a second-class citizen, because I wasn't able to select from a multitude of football plays, nor was I able to get put in the penalty box in Atari's version of hockey. I wanted to go over to this kid's house every day to play Intellivision sports games.

But, as bad as Atari was with sports, they did have an edge (in my humble opinion) in other games. They had the rights to games like Pac Man, Centipede, Asteroids, and Space Invaders. All Intellivision could do was offer cheap rip-offs of these classics. Plus, Atari's Pitfall and Raiders of the Lost Ark were nearly impossible to put down (there were other classics from Activision like Stampede, Kaboom, Laser Blast, and
Freeway).

Of course, once Collecovision came out, the argument was moot, as it blew both aging systems out of the water. I passed up the Collecovision in favor of getting the Commodore 64 - probably another great discussion would be how many games people were able to collect for this system with all of the hacker disks that came out.

Anyway, I felt like I had to "nerd-out" for just a post, so anybody who hates video games, I apologize with providing my early experiences.

11 comments:

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I was a fellow Atari 2600 geek.

And I was jealous of the Intellivision kids too. Bill Morris had the Intellivision in my neighborhood and I was at his house playing away.

Yet the one that stood the test of time was Atari. Having the rights to certain games helped.

One more thing about Intellivision... their controls were not that user friendly. That disc you had to manipulate sucked.

Steph said...

Wow you're like older than GOD!
Kidding, ha.

My first game console was the Sega Megadrive. I thought i was da shit when i got that for my birthday.

Los said...

Smokin' - I never had enough time to understand the controllers for the Intellivision.

Steph - I believe the Megadrive was the U.K. version of the Sega Genesis. I had that system too, and it was awesome!

sirgeb said...

For those of you C64 fans out there, some new Epyx games will be released in the near future:

http://www.gamespot.com/news/6156004.html

Ink and Stone said...

You ARE a gamer Karl, just not hardcore. There is nothing wrong with being tagged a gamer.

I had an Atrai with a whole mess of games (Adventure FTW!), and a neighbor of mine, Ivan, had an Intellivision. I like both systems equally, actually. Also at that time I had a Texas Instruments computer. The TI was an excellent little system with a tape deck for playing games, my favorite was Tunnels of Doom, probably the first RPG I ever played.

We stuck with the TI and it's different version for a while, then switched to the Tandy, then to good ole IBM. Good stuff.

Jeff said...

561 words about games ... Good thing you're not a gamer!

El Padrino said...

first thing i had was sega genesis too. ima young'en

Superstar said...

we had pong. Other than that I had to get my fill at the pizza parlor. I did get fair to advanced w/ Ms Pac-Man and Frogger. Ahhh them are the days huh? Remember when big wheels and noisey spokes in your bike were the "in" thing? Going to the corner store and getting candy w/ your allowance? Remember parents calling you home for dinner and "pretending" not to hear it, but you could hear an ice cream truck a mile away with your head phones on??? LOL ;o)
How about the "walk-mans" and the advances in music from records to CD's??? Seriously...

I did notice that while I was home everything seemed SMALLER...Anyone else feel that???

Los said...

Sir Geb - unfortunately, no compilations as of yet for EPYX.

Ink and Stone - I remember seeing the TI, and thinking, "my God, that's the cutting edge!"

Jeff - O.K., maybe I'm a partial gamer.

El Padrino - I had the Genesis as well ... after I had the C-64, and the Nintendo (and, of course, the Atari).

Superstar - You just about made me cry with that one - all those memories!

Snowelf said...

I loved Combat...and Frogger. Nothing like graphics that are shaped like squares... sigh

We were really poor when Atari came out, so we never had one, but the neighbors did and we all played it like crazy.

I am a gamer...but kinda in the same league as you. I do get mindlessly sucked in for any Legend of Zelda game though...and I had to get really good at some wrestling game so I could whip up on my guys friends. ;)

Bob Kaelin said...

Yea I had the Atari 2600 too and later the Atari 7800. A friend on my street (you may remember him, Tom) had the Intellivision but like you and Steve said, that control was just insane to figure out. I had Colecovision envy though. Aaron and Erik Frankie had Colecovision and I would always try to go over there to play it but never really got the chance more than once or twice.

And Karl, you are a gamer. You were one out of the couple dozen people that actually had the Sega Saturn. Don't tell us you're not a gamer.