Being the 26th of the month once again it is time to celebrate Atari Day. There is so very much to love and celebrate as well when talking about Atari of course. Although as usual I am focusing on a particular game for the Atari 2600. A port of the massively popular as well as legendary Space Invaders from 1978!
When Tomohiro Nishikado set out to create Space Invaders I certainly doubt he realized how popular it would become. In Japan there were arcades that offered nothing but the “fixed shooter”. Just rows and rows of Space Invaders for gamers to spend their money on. As a matter of fact it’s been reported that by the end of 1978, Taito, who produced the game had manufactured over 100,000 arcade cabinets.
To say nothing of the amount of money that the success ofSpace Invaders earned for the company. I ask you, how does 600 million dollars sound? Having said that, bear in mind that was only for Japan in its first year alone.
Now as you might imagine when Atari announced they were going to be producing a home port for their Atari 2600. It was kind of a big deal. Not only did it mark the first arcade title to be licensed for home use. It smashed sales records for the 2600 as well. Steven L. Kent’s 2001 book The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon has in fact said that it helped to quadruple the sales of the Atari 2600.
Which leads us to why in particular Atari made sure to mention their home version of Space Invaders in print. As much as possible. As well as producing rather charming television ads like in the case of the one below entitled Uncle Frank.
[Via] Dig That Box RETRO
Far smarter people than myself have pointed out that the Space Invader themselves have become almost an iconic symbol. Representative of video games itself – more well known than even the likes of Mario!
Image courtesy of The Golden Age Arcade Historian Blog.
Doing a little research led me to the awesome The Golden Age Arcade Historian , not only finding that awesome photo of Uncle Vic himself but explaining that the musician who was born Victor Earl Blecman got the idea for a song about Space Invaders when in 1980 at a show he was performing at his own night club, he kept losing the attention of the audience to the Space Invaders machine in the back of the club.
Claiming he wrote the song in about 30 minutes in his bathroom, Space Invaders it seems caught on thanks in no small part to the delightful Dr. Demento radio show. Although that isn’t the only arcade game related song that Uncle Vic produced, he also had 1981’s “It Won’t Beat Me” which was inspired by Pac-Man!
We’ve seen a lot of arcade game documentaries over the past couple of years. King of Kong was one. Chasing Ghosts was another. Recently, I learned about a third. It’s called The Space Invaders: In Search of Lost Time.
The hook of The Space Invaders is that it focuses specifically on individuals who not only play arcade games but collect them. The bulk of the film is interviews with several of these collectors. Intercut with these interviews is old footage of 80s video arcades and news stories about arcades. All this information is divided into three parts: 1) Time, which briefly covers the history of 80s arcade games, 2) Space, which covers the modern efforts of the collectors, and 3) Time Space, which covers the future of these games.
Most of us are going to going to feel some good-natured envy mixed with enjoyment while watching The Space Invaders. I know I did. But there are plenty of things we are going to enjoy in the movie. Seeing all the old machines, all of which look to be in great shape, is one. There is a segment which shows how one of the interviewees was on Starcade. There is another in which they make the connection between wanting to own an arcade game and Silver Spoons (Ricky Schroder’s arcade collection is one of the big reasons I want to own an arcade game today). There is yet another that discusses the California Extreme expo (I spent that time looking for blinddog and myself in the footage). Not only so, but the collector’s edition which I got had a dvd full of great extras (such as the collector’s thoughts on the Colecovision mini-arcade units), a blu-ray copy of the film, and a poster.
You can rent The Space Invaders on amazon.com or you can buy the collector’s edition here. I’m pretty sure the time you spend watching it won’t be “lost time”.
I always assumed the Space Invaders in the classic game Space Invaders were spaceships when I was a kid. Not sure why the faces did not give away that we might be dealing with something more disturbing. So now you got to ask, what would one of those guys look like if they were done with modern graphics? Artist Tom Carruthers has an idea and it is rather unsettling…
I really hope he find the time to finish versions of all the Invaders.
Do you love chocolate? Do you love video games? Did you, just like me, take a look at the picture below and realize that chocolate blocks make perfect pixels? You knew already? Okay, I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes, but don’t judge me. Let’s not have that fight again…
Where was I? Oh yeah, Chocolate Space Invader!
This pixelated beauty is handmade from bean to bar and would make a wonderful gift for the retro gamer in your life. The process for making this bar is documented on the Chocolate Invader website and it doesn’t look like they cut any corners, from the chocolate, to the mold, all the way to the presentation, the Chocolate Space Invader Candy Bar looks like a winner. Each 50g bar you order is shipped for free and comes gift-ready with: