Did You Call The Atari 900 Phone Number?

I will be upfront and honest as always. I have neither any recollection of an Atari 900 phone number. Moreover I’ve not seen this 1984 television commercial featuring that number until just a few minutes ago. As a matter of fact I would be willing to wager this ad ran on MTV back in the day. A channel that wasn’t carried in my neck of the woods until a bit later.

Retro Commercials Forever

I must admit a bit of confusion however. So was the gaming fan at home supposed to call the Atari 900 phone number and buy one of the games? If this commercial truly was aired in 1984 – that would be after the gaming crash. I vaguely remember picking up Atari 2600 carts at my local Kay-Bee toy store for a song at that time.
Atari 900 Phone Number

Or was the whole purpose in fact to purchase one of the MTV jackets? Furthermore was the likes of Pole Position, Moon Patrol, Dig-Dug, Mario Bros., and Joust the mystery bonus?
atari-900-phone-number-mystery-bonus

Looking online hasn’t brought me any answers to these questions. That of course doesn’t detract from the awesomeness of that TV ad. That MTV jacket looks pretty neat but without a doubt it cannot beat the majesty of the Atari jacket. Granted that is of course only my personal opinion on the matter. On the other hand I did in fact own one of these beautiful Atari jackets back in the day.
atari-jacket

All right. Forget about that Atari 900 phone number. Join me as we keep looking at the Atari jacket!


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Parker Brothers video games movie theater commercial

Parker Brothers video games movie theater commercial

When commercials started showing up in movie theaters, people started freaking out. It really didn’t bother me all that much. As long as the commercial was well-made and short, I didn’t mind extending my time in the theater. Although, when a commercial was well-made and featured something I was interested in, then you could show me a dozen commercials. Sadly that rarely happened. For example, I saw this Parker Brothers video games movie theater commercial only once as a kid. Yet, I remember seeing this jeans commercial of people jumping up and down about a dozen times.

This commercial started running in 1982. I don’t think it survived 1983. By that time the games would have been outdated and the video game crash was in full swing. Still this is an amazing snapshot of the height of video game mania. It is also super-high quality. Shot in 35mm it looks great in HD, even at 1080p.

The premise for the ad is simple. The Parker Bros. games for Atari are so hot, they cause fires. So you get footage of people playing games, with smoke in the background. Pretty standard stuff. But the real magic happens when they cut to the footage of the games. Instead of the real game footage, you get animation. Here you see games like you will never see them in any other context. Some are just minor improvements over the original. Others though are MASSIVE leaps. For example, the character work on their version of Popeye is downright beautiful.

Parker Brothers video games movie theater commercial popeye

A lot of great advertising was created for that first wave of video game culture. We tend to focus on the TV and print material. But with its unique animation for the games and its cinematic release, I would say this one ranks up there with the best of them.

Watch the Parker Brothers video games movie theater commercial

Holiday Special 2016
Tunnel Runner

Celebrate Atari Day With Tunnel Runner!

Tunnel Runner is another vintage Atari 2600 game that possessed the RAM Plus chip. You might remember I talked about that last week. With the post about Stuart Ross’ Wings. Since this is the 26th of the month – you know what that means, right?
Atari 2600

It’s Atari Day! Furthermore what better way to celebrate that day than looking at 1983’s Tunnel Runner? A rather scarce CBS Electronics game as a matter of fact. Programmed by Richard K. Balaska Jr., his only title for the Atari 2600.

[Via] Retro Commercials Forever

So what is Tunnel Runner about?


You must navigate your way through a 3-D lair, a complex of mazes. To successfully make it through a maze or a Run – hence your title of Tunnel Runner. You will have to locate a key and then the proper escape door. A fact made a little more difficult as there can be multiple types of doors on a level. Like the image you see below which represents a transport door – which will drop you in another part of the maze!
Tunnel Runner
If the door had an up arrow next to it, that would have meant you would go to the next level. Two arrows next to said door means you are advancing two levels in difficulty. In contrast to a door with two downward arrows which means you will go back to the last played maze. The only reason to take such a door is to avoid being caught by an enemy.

However you do have a little help by way of a map. By pressing the fire button on the joystick you can take a look at it. It will show you the layout of the maze, the locations of the Zots, and which direction you are facing.
Tunnel Runner

You can’t move while checking out that map but the Zots can. Similarly they are moving through the maze too – but in their case they want to eat you up. They come in three colors. Grey are rather slow and easy to lose. White versions are a little quicker and will hunt for you but can be left behind if you beat feet. The Red Zots on the other hand are fast and most dangerous.
tunnel-runner-zots

Now that you know a bit about the game, why don’t you watch it in action?

[Via] Vizzed Gameplay Videos

Atari Day? What is that again?


Image courtesy of Atari I/O's Facebook page.

Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.


To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari I/O’s site by following the link here!

Wings

Do You Remember Wings For The Atari 2600?

Wings was an 1983 game intended to be released on the Atari 2600. I say intended as while you might remember seeing the TV ad online – it was never released. Programmed by Stuart Ross for CBS Electronics. The Video Game Crash of ’83 scuttled it’s release. I have to say that judging by the television commercial it looks to have been rather in-depth.

[Via] Retro Commercial Forever

As you could see from the TV ad. You would have had to keep an eye on the various gauges of your aircraft. Power, Altitude, Airspeed, Fuel, in addition to the Compass, Radar, and Artificial Horizon.
Wings - Gauges

Wings was designed to be played using the Booster Grip. A device that would slip over your standard joystick. It would plug into the 2600 unit and give a player two buttons to operate. One button would control the engine throttle with the second button required to engage your weapons system. However I can’t say whether the third button – the one on the base of the joystick would have any use.
booster-grip-atari-2600-cbs-electronics

As was pointed out in the ad, the game had the addition of RAM Plus, which is how it was able to include so many features. RAM Plus was an additional chip on the cartridge board that would give the 2600 game more memory. Letting Stuart add those extra bells and whistles.

[Via] hyperspinbrasil

Here is an excerpt of an interview with Stuart Ross from Scott Stilphen of Digital Press.
“The game was basically finished (although marketing wanted clouds added…which were never implemented). We were about 2 weeks from having Wings ROMS manufactured when CBS pulled the plug. They even had some promotional material ready (hats and scarves), as well as a TV spot!”

Definitely make sure to follow that link to the full interview on DP for more about Wings. Furthermore when you hop on over you will get to see a bit of awesome behind the scenes photos. Of the development of not just Wings but Tunnel Runner. As well as the RAM Plus chips and even some of the merchandise Ross mentioned in that quote!

While the game was shelved before release – two prototypes have surfaced. Back in 2004 the prototypes were found and while buggy you could at least get a feel for what the finished product would have been like. Moreover if you would care to try the game for yourself, you can locate it on the Internet Archive!

What about other flight simulators for the Atari 2600 other than Wings?


I definitely wish that Stuart’s game could have seen the light of day – that it could have been completed. On the other hand I don’t think we should forget the most challenging flight simulator for the Atari 2600. Released in 1983 by Activision and programmed by Steve Kitchen was the amazing Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space. A game that required an overlay for the 2600 unit itself as all switches were used during gameplay!
space-shuttle-overlay-atariage

Seriously. Check out the instructions for flying the Space Shuttle – courtesy of AtariAge!

Overlay and Manual Images courtesy of AtariAge.

Overlay and Manual Images courtesy of AtariAge.


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[Via] High Retro Game Lord

Ubisoft Releases Assassin’s Creed: Heresy And The Essential Guide!

It is fair to say that I am in love with Assassin’s Creed.

Krull and BB-8 aren't actually art of Assassin's Creed...I just have them there.

Krull and BB-8 aren’t actually part of Assassin’s Creed…I just have them there.

Ubisoft hit that sweet spot for this particular retro-loving gaming aficionado when the first title was released. That hook was History. Moreover they reeled me in with the storyline right off the bat. As a player finds themselves plunged into a war that has taken place between two powerful and secretive factions through the ages. Two orders that desire above all things…peace. They just have a very different way of achieving that goal.

The Templar Order have a viewpoint that if humanity is to know peace. It must be guided with a firm hand. So that order and reason will prevail. Of course this also means that they feel world control is a viable choice to that end. A task made easier as they’ve become a global corporate power known as Abstergo Industries.
assassins-creed-templars

The Assassin Brotherhood on the other hand desires to protect free will. Believing that the Templars will in fact harm humanity by attempting to shepherd it. They also have set themselves as guardians to oppose tyrants and defend the weak. Naturally this sets them on a path against the Templar Order.
assassins-creed

In addition when these two factions cross paths it gets rather violent…quickly.

To say nothing of the fact there is a science fiction story running through the entire game series. The Assassins and Templars both covet the surviving technology of the Precursors. A lost civilization that was technologically superior to the point of being worshiped as Gods. That technology has a tendency to affect human thoughts and behavior. So you can easily see why both sides would want to claim these items.
precursors-assassins-creed

While the series started in the Third Crusade, the 9 core game releases since have expanded the periods of history you can visit. Vastly. From the Renaissance to the October Revolution of 1917. Add to the fact you have iOS game titles, comic books as well as novels, you can see how the lore has become deep.

Which is why it is was a great idea to collect all of that lore into a handy single volume. Hence Ubisoft’s release today of Assassin’s Creed: The Essential Guide. A 216 page collection that is perfect for not just first time players but longtime fans of the series.
Assassin's Creed

It covers the historical settings in the the games, the important characters, and insider information. After browsing the book you’ll be in the know on everything from the Animus to what the true fate was of Anastasia Romanova.
the-essential-guide-assassins-creed-precursor

Now that would certainly be reason to rush out to your local bookstore…but there is more. Much more. Ubisoft today also released Assassin’s Creed: Heresy, the brand new novel by Christie Golden.
assassins-creed-heresy-christie-golden

An Author that I have a great deal of respect for to say the least. I have followed her work since back in 1991 when she penned Vampire of the Mists for Ravenloft.
ravenloft-vampire-of-the-mists

I have continued to follow her work through the World of Warcraft novels as well as Starcraft. Which is why I pretty much begged Ubisoft to allow me to share the news of her latest novel with you all.

One of the key aspects of the game series in terms of the lore has been showing that both factions, the Assassins and Templars are not wholly good or evil. Well…perhaps the Templars do tend to rank a little more on the villain scale. Which is why Golden’s new book is such a treat. It’s not told from the viewpoint of a member of the Assassin Brotherhood. We get to experience the point of view of one of the Inner Sanctum of the Templar Order. An historian by the name of Simon Hathaway, the head of Abstergo Industries’ Historical Research Division. He has taken up the task of locating the sword of none other than Joan of Arc. Which is believed to actually be a powerful Precursor artifact. Along the way he uncovers secrets about the legendary Saint of soldiers and of France as well as himself.

With the permission of Ubisoft here are some excerpts from an interview with Golden about her new Assassin’s Creed novel.


Photo Credit Elizabeth Golden

Photo Credit Elizabeth Golden


christie-golden-assassins-creed-heresy
christie-golden-interview-assassins-creed-heresy
christie-golden-interview-b-assassins-creed-heresy
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So I very much hope that you are ready to head out and pick up these new books from Ubisoft or order them online. But I feel I should let you know in the case of Assassin’s Creed: Heresy you have two options. You can choose the softcover edition or go with the Special Edition. If you go for the hardcover edition you also will have access to exclusive art sketches and behind the scenes interviews, as well as a special code to unlock Assassin’s Creed rewards through Ubisoft Club’s loyalty program!

So why not delve into the captivating world of Assassin’s Creed today? You can get prepared for the upcoming movie this December!

[Via] 20th Century Fox

Nintendo Powerline

The Nintendo Powerline is Back

To celebrate the release of the mighty, but tiny NES Classic Edition, Nintendo has revived their iconic Powerline for one weekend only. Starting today, November 11th, the Powerline will be available until November 13th. So what do you get when you call the famous phone number?

To start with you get about a one minute introduction and sales pitch for the classic edition. Then you get to the point of the line, the tips. This is not like the Nintendo Powerline of old though. Here you get to pick from three retro games: Legend of Zelda, Metroid or Super Mario Bros. Once you choose, you hear from a person who worked at the Powerline when it was still active. They share memories of what it was like and then give you a valuable tip to help you game. If hearing these veterans tell tales of their early days doesn’t bring a smile to your face, then you need to hang up your Power Glove.

This is nothing you couldn’t learn from doing an online search, but it give you insight into our gaming forebears dealt with being stuck. The 2016 Nintendo Powerline is a nostalgic romp. Sure, it is not as useful as it was back in its heyday, but it certainly has me excited to pick up a Classic Edition. So overall a great idea from the people doing Nintendo’s marketing on the Classic Edition. I just hope it is enough to counter the people angry at number of consoles that are available.

The phone number is 425-885-7529. Make sure to get your parent’s permission before you call.

If you can’t stand pushing all those numbers, I did it for you this morning and recorded it. So you can listen to the entire call, along with all three tips and stories by clicking the player below.

Listen to the 2016 Edition of the Nintendo Powerline