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!


atari_jacket

Retro vs Remake: Dig Dug vs. Mr. Driller

Dig Dug, the much loved 1982 arcade game by Namco has been ported, sequel-ed and remade a dozen times over. And why not? It’s a charming, addictive game, despite its age.

Who knew tire pumps made such effective weapons?

Gameplay is pretty simple: drill your way around in the dirt, destroying enemies by inflating them with your bike pump. Yes, a bike pump. Like Pac-man or Galaga, this game has little basis in reality. You play as a little Japanese man (Officially known as Dig Dug, but also known as Taizo Hori) that must rid the earth of monsters. To do this, you must drill underground where the monsters dwell. Moving in any of the four directions on the 2D stage automatically drills the dirt ahead of you, creating a maze of tunnels in your wake. But be careful, drilling underneath rocks causes them to fall, so make sure you’re not in the way; monsters on the other hand… The monsters spend most of their time prancing back and forth in their own little tunnels, at least until you break the walls confining them. (If you take too long, they will transform into phantoms and float through the dirt toward you) Once freed, the monster will start moving along the tunnels you’ve created and attempt to strike you before you can toss the “air hose of death” at them.

Speaking of the bike pump, its actually an interesting weapon. When you press the “fire” button, you throw the hose out in front of you and if it catches a monster, it automatically inflates them. Slightly. To destroy them, you have to keep inflating them by continuously pressing the “fire” button. Interestingly, an effective strategy is inflating the creatures partway so that they remain motionless (at least until they deflate) then you could “arrange” them in a group under a rock and crush them for bonus points.

Now how about that remake…

Mr. Driller.

Namco went from cute to absolutely quirky with this 1999 arcade Dig Dug remake. (indecently starring the son of Dig Dug) Now I use the term remake loosely; Mr. Drilller is kind of a kind of a sequel/spin-off/remake of Dig Dug all rolled into one. The basic concept of drilling underground remains, but the rest of the game is completely different. For one, there are no enemies to harm or harm you. Instead, the environment is your adversary. Your goal is to drill down through a field of colored blocks until you run out of air (you can collect air refills as you drill) or reach the bottom. The blocks come in all various shapes with like adjacent like colors sticking to each other. As you drill, you will invariably cause the blocks above you to come loose since you can and have to drill in any direction. If you’re not fast enough, these blocks can crush you, but if a falling block happens to pass a similarly colored block, it will stick to it and, if it creates a set of 4 or more of the same color, disappear. Needless to say, the falling and disappearing blocks can cause massive chain reactions either to your benefit or detriment. There are also special blocks that don’t merge with other blocks as well as poison blocks, that if opened, can drain a chunk of your precious air supply.

The sound and graphics in Mr. Driller are certainly something to behold. It’s extremely bright and colorful with obvious Anime styling and the sound is every definition of happy and quirky.

So how do these two games compare? Well they both have pretty simple and easy to pick up gameplay. Mr. Driller is certainly more fast-paced and frantic than Dig Dug’s admittedly slow trudge. On the other hand, Dig Dug does allow for more strategic planning to rack up point bonuses. So I’m not sure how to call this one. They’re both great games, but I do have a nostalgic partiality for Dig Dug.

What’s your vote? Dig Dug or Mr. Driller?

Retroist Podcast – Episode 085 – Dig Dug

On today’s show we talk all about the video game classic, Dig Dug. I talk about the game’s creations, gameplay and its many variations and ports. Music throughout the show was provided by Peachy. The Dig Dug art you see above was provided by Sean Hartter. You can find more of Sean’s work at his website (he does sell Prints of most of his work).

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Parallel Thinking in the creation of Classic Games: Dig Dug and Mr. Do

MrNeilESQ posted a great look at the similarities of two games made by two companies at the same time. Two games that demonstrate that similar ideas can come to fruition without being ripoffs of one another. I found it very interesting since I know so many people who really appreciate Dig Dug, but give very little to the superior (in my opinion), Mr. Do.

Which is superior?

Read Parallel Thinking in Classic Games: Dig Dug and Mr. Do [@] Aging Geekfully