This week I’d like to introduce you to Atari Pin Pong. It came out in 1974 and is the oldest game I own. Just so you know I debated on whether to include the flyer on this one because it really does nothing to show off the game. Not to mention I believe the man on it is playing ping pong but Pin Pong is supposed to be a pinball game. Maybe there was some miscommunication between the game designer and the artwork guy. Anyway in my opinion it’s definitely not their best game flyer. Here is a picture of the game in action.
The story I heard was that Atari Pin Pong came to be because Atari was getting flak from the pinball industry. They were saying that the new video games were just a fad. That they wouldn’t last. So Atari’s answer was to create a video version of pinball. The control panel is setup like a pinball game you have one button located on each side of the game to control the corresponding flipper and a start/launch button on the front of the game.
The playfield consists of 8 drop targets, 4 bumpers and a spinner in the middle of the playfield that spins counter-clockwise. The target values and flipper labels are decals that are attached to the screen. It seems like a fairly simple playfield. But considering that everything about the game is done without the use of a CPU, RAM, or ROMS just logic gates, counters and such it really is pretty impressive. Here is my video to try and demonstrate that.
See Atari Pin Pong in Action
Atari Pin Pong is going to be a difficult one to find out in the wild. It’s not a well-known title and there just doesn’t seem to be many still around. It’s not found in MAME either because without a CPU or ROMs there’s nothing for MAME to emulate. I imagine the closest cousin would be Video Pinball for the Atari 2600. Which is a good game but not quite the same. They did try the concept again 4 years later in 1978 with the arcade game Video Pinball. They did a good job with it too, a very nice looking game with a blacklight lit playfield.
It is kind of an obscure title this week but one I felt deserved a little time in the spotlight.