Monday, August 11, 2014

A Gap in the Collection Filled!

My fascination with video games began with my dad's Apple IIe and the few games we had for it: Zork, Apple Adventure (the Apple port of Colossal Cave), Frogger, Sabotage, Repton (perhaps not originally called 'Repton' -- this was essentially a version of Defender), but the fascination became a straight-up obsession on the Christmas I received a Nintendo Entertainment System. This meant, however, that I missed out on the phenomenon of the Atari 2600. My neighbor Mikey had one, and I remember playing Pole Position and Pitfall II on it, but I never had one of my very own.

Until now!
My future father-in-law is an expert at finding hidden treasures at garage sales and thrift shops, and he unearthed this little beauty: an Atari 2600 with two joysticks (the red one is a third-party stick, the 500XJ Epyx, by Konix), a storage case (check out the faux-wood panelling; very Eighties!), and eight games.

It's been awhile since I've tried to hook anything from this era up to a TV, so it took a little doing and a trip to Radio Shack. Some internet research told me to look for an RCA to Coaxial converter so I could take the A/V output from the Atari and turn it into something my TV's input could understand, but Radio Shack seems to be attempting an image change and their collection of adapters isn't as grand as I remember it being when my dad would bring me there in childhood. I did come back with an RCA to BNC adapter and a BNC to Coaxial adapter, and felt like a smart cookie in the process, so there's at least a happy conclusion to the tale.

The crown jewel of my new collection: Pitfall!
Sarah thought I'd get bored with the Atari after a couple minutes, but actually I'm finding these old games to be quite fun, even if the system itself is older than I am (by one year!). Pitfall is the clear winner, but I've also put quite a lot of time into Moon Patrol and Donkey Kong. It's not the best version of Donkey Kong (it seems to only have two levels, instead of three), but it's a testament to Nintendo game design that even this stripped-down port of the arcade game manages to keep the basics fun and intact. Some of the games are less successful: Video Pinball and Super Challenge Football.
Pictured: Less successful. But I did score a touchdown, somehow!
I remember when I was in sixth or seventh grade, you'd often see Atari games and consoles at garage sales, but with the dawning of the internet age you don't see video games on sale as often; now it's easier to find out how high demand is, and what things are worth, and Amazon and eBay are the prime source for old video games. But every now and then you find a surprise, and now I've filled a gap in my game collection. Huzzah!