This week I’d like to introduce you to Pin Pong by Atari. 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 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 and they wouldn’t last. So Atari’s answer back to them 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 and here is my video to try and demonstrate that.
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.