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Atari 2600 chronogaming video project: Atari Archive

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#1 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:51 AM

Inspired by chronogaming projects about the NES, the Game Boy and other post-crash consoles, I kicked off a video series last month called Atari Archive over on youtube focused on the Atari 2600. It's the first video project I've actually done, but early gaming history is a topic I've been interested in since the 90s, and I'm excited to compile what info I can find (along with interviews from the creators when possible) about  each game on the 2600 library (or at least until I get sick of the whole thing). I'm pulling video directly from an unmodded 2600, through an RF demodulator to a Framemeister for that 720p/60fps Youtube video goodness. I figure that's as close as you can get to it looking like it does on a classic CRT on the site.

Take a look if you'd like! I'm attaching a link to the first to videos here, and will probably be updating as I produce new ones.

 

 



#2 up2knowgood OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:48 AM

Inspired by chronogaming projects about the NES, the Game Boy and other post-crash consoles, I kicked off a video series last month called Atari Archive over on youtube focused on the Atari 2600. It's the first video project I've actually done, but early gaming history is a topic I've been interested in since the 90s, and I'm excited to compile what info I can find (along with interviews from the creators when possible) about  each game on the 2600 library (or at least until I get sick of the whole thing). I'm pulling video directly from an unmodded 2600, through an RF demodulator to a Framemeister for that 720p/60fps Youtube video goodness. I figure that's as close as you can get to it looking like it does on a classic CRT on the site.
Take a look if you'd like! I'm attaching a link to the first to videos here, and will probably be updating as I produce new ones.
 
https://youtu.be/LNtI90yiOOU
 
https://youtu.be/0l0AQ5LuvQM


...please tell me you're going to do some third party games too.

#3 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:23 AM

That's the plan, as soon as I make it through the 70s!



#4 Stewart_Pidd OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:41 AM

Such a great idea. Not just highlights of the games themselves, but information from the creation of the games and the inner workings of the companies making the games. 

 

Great videos!



#5 up2knowgood OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:50 AM

That's the plan, as soon as I make it through the 70s!


Woohoo!

#6 Karl G OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:52 PM

These are awesome so far!  I like how they are being done in chronological order.  I look forward to seeing more!



#7 vidak OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2017 4:52 AM

I'd love to help!

I can provide explanations from disassemblies about how the games work!

Sent from my ASUS_Z012D using Tapatalk

#8 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:36 AM

Just posted the third video - hoped to have it along sooner, but had some technical difficulties (the joy of working with 40 year old gear). 

 



#9 Rom Hunter OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:31 PM

Keep up the good work, ubersaurus.

Really like the style of your videos.

8)



#10 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 8, 2017 10:06 PM

New video is up - Indy 500 is my highlighted game this time!

#11 atarifan88 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 9, 2017 7:20 AM

New video is up - Indy 500 is my highlighted game this time!

 

Keep those videos coming!  They are very well done and informative.



#12 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:39 AM

Finished up a new video last night, covering Street Racer! According to Larry Kaplan this one wasn't based on an existing arcade game, making it something of a rarity in that 1977 action lineup. Unfortunately, it's also kind of a mess.

 



#13 vidak OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:12 AM

Very nice!

#14 high voltage ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:37 AM

Very good so far, I like it, but I hope you're not going to chronothingy all ~7000 VCS titles, it'll take ages.

 

I like Street Racer, but it is a two player game, alone it's no fun. You need Potato chips, beer and a second player, great fun.



#15 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:53 AM

The plan is to go through all the unique games or until I get sick of it - my count is around 421 titles. Still a lot, but not as bad as 700 I guess?

#16 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 2, 2018 1:42 PM

New video is up, focusing on Star Ship, the pop culture surrounding it (ie Star Wars), and all the events leading up to the 2600's first outer space-themed game (as well as its influences on games down the line).

 



#17 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2018 5:19 PM

No joke: Star Ship is actually one of my favorite VCS games. :)

 

Differences of opinion aside ( :P :-D), I love these videos.  :thumbsup: They are basically everything I want to see with this kind of content (or any content, really), namely how thorough and well-researched they are. And they cover everything I usually preach about these early golden oldies ("Always explore the variations and difficulty switch settings!").

 

I can tell you take great pains to get things right (ex: the release date of Galactic Space Wars for Channel F) instead of just regurgitate incomplete or incorrect information from Wikipedia like so many other "game historians" do. And on top of that, the production and presentation is perfect. 

 

Keep up the great work--I look forward to more! :)



#18 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2018 7:50 AM

No joke: Star Ship is actually one of my favorite VCS games. :)

 

Differences of opinion aside ( :P :-D), I love these videos.  :thumbsup: They are basically everything I want to see with this kind of content (or any content, really), namely how thorough and well-researched they are. And they cover everything I usually preach about these early golden oldies ("Always explore the variations and difficulty switch settings!").

 

I can tell you take great pains to get things right (ex: the release date of Galactic Space Wars for Channel F) instead of just regurgitate incomplete or incorrect information from Wikipedia like so many other "game historians" do. And on top of that, the production and presentation is perfect. 

 

Keep up the great work--I look forward to more! :)

Thanks! I was fortunate on Galactic Space Wars in that Zircon put out a press release (that has since been scanned) announcing it coming out, along with three other games. I do try to actively confirm with my own eyes any dates I see mentioned online, which isn't always easy when you're talking about stuff from the 70s and 80s that may not necessarily be scanned. One resource I like is an Atari timeline put together by a librarian in I think Wisconsin, and a good chunk of his stuff comes from old newspapers and magazines that he has generally had better access to than I have. Now that I have the Library of Congress in my relative backyard, the hope is I can start digging into their collection in the coming weeks to confirm anything I have questions about and fill in some more gaps on non-Atari platforms!

 

I think I got spoiled on Star Ship when I was younger - I played a lot of Starmaster and Star Voyager, but all I had of Star Ship was a copy of the Sears manual from my aunt. It sounded so cool, and when I finally played it I was kind of disappointed. Never really bounced back from that one for me :)



#19 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 11, 2018 1:28 PM

I think of all the first-person space shooting/exploration games for the VCS, Starmaster is probably the best overall, objectively. I think it strikes the best balance between arcade-style gameplay and simulator- or strategy gaming, and I like its crisp but not overly complicated graphics and sounds. Star Raiders was a noble and ambitious effort (and the use of the Video Touch Pad was a nice touch) but is a little rough and clunky for my liking. Star Voyager is *thisclose* to being my favorite of the lot, but its weapons system ruins it for me--I feel like it punishes you for playing the game the way it wants to be played (that is, with the lasers, and not those stupid torpedoes that never hit anything). Phaser Patrol is very nice overall, but I have to be in the mood to horse around with setting up the Supercharger and tape recorder...and the game itself doesn't really inspire that kind of motivation.

 

Star Ship, though...that's my guy. Straight-up, no bullshit arcade gameplay. It is essentially a stylized, electronic, carnival shooting gallery game. The 2-player modes, various difficulty settings, and the Space Race and Lunar Lander games mix things up nicely. Even within the simple gameplay, there's more than meets the eye, as the game can really be distilled into split-second decision-making, risk vs. reward, and racing against time--even deciding when to press the Reset switch and "jump into" the game can have an effect on your score. Small modicums of strategy even come into play, such as intentionally crashing into things to get in position to shoot at higher-value targets behind them. "Primitive" may not even begin to describe the graphics, but I actually really like the use of color, and I love the retro sci-fi "beep-boop-bleep" sound effects. And being a 1977 release, it's about as retro as retro gets. When I think of "retro games," this is the kind of game I think of*. Overall, not a bad way to burn 10-15 minutes in my book.  :)

 

(*Although, I'm still a bit stuck in the early 2000s, when "retrogaming" actually meant these kinds of games, and not SNES. :P )

 

In the interest of full disclosure, I do have a little bit of personal attachment and history with Star Ship as well (which doesn't make that other stuff less true, mind ;)). I "discovered" this game very early in my collecting career, in 2003, I think. I don't think I'd even heard of it when I found a crusty old copy in a game shop I frequented with my girlfriend (now wife). When we got it back to my parents' house that night (I was still in high school), I remember not being able to figure out why the controls didn't seem to respond, nor--thanks to the fairly abstract graphics--could I immediately determine what was actually supposed to be going on, until my kid sister played around with the second joystick and actually got the game to do stuff. We figured the games out pretty quickly and the three of us had a blast with it for hours, with my sister making up goofy backstories and things like only an 8-year-old could. Still one of my favorite gaming memories. :)


Edited by BassGuitari, Sun Mar 11, 2018 1:32 PM.


#20 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 2, 2018 6:36 AM

Newest video is up: A look at Blackjack. It's, well, blackjack.



#21 thegoldenband OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 3, 2018 10:43 AM

Great stuff! I've enjoyed every one of your videos so far. Well-researched and well-presented material.

 

One comment: in your commentary, the overall audio levels are a bit on the quiet side. Have you considered running your voice recordings through a compressor to boost the average volume? That, combined with the proximity effect (speaking close to the mic), is how radio broadcasters get that smooth, evenly balanced, rich sound. :)



#22 5x7 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 4, 2018 5:17 AM

I recently got the launch titles, this adds so much to having those carts, put life in them, looking forward to the next video.

#23 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 4, 2018 8:18 AM

Great stuff! I've enjoyed every one of your videos so far. Well-researched and well-presented material.

 

One comment: in your commentary, the overall audio levels are a bit on the quiet side. Have you considered running your voice recordings through a compressor to boost the average volume? That, combined with the proximity effect (speaking close to the mic), is how radio broadcasters get that smooth, evenly balanced, rich sound. :)

That had not occurred to me, I'll give it a whirl next time. Thanks! I know the voiceover was really quiet in the first video (as I was just getting used to the mic) but I'm always interested in ways to improve it.



#24 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:34 AM

Newest video is now public: time to dredge up my math skills and look at some 1977 educational games with Basic Math! 

 

I've also started up a Patreon to support this project at www.patreon.com/atariarchive. If you like what I'm doing, consider backing it!



#25 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 29, 2018 10:47 AM

The new video is now publicly available, wherein we finish out 1977 with Surround. Great little game with some interesting arcade predecessors. My next video will either be on Space War or digging into the history of the Studio II, but either way I'm looking forward to talking about two early game topics I love!







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