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How did you enjoy your VCS back in the day?

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#1 Keatah OFFLINE  


    Missile Commander

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Posted Mon Oct 2, 2017 3:56 AM

Just as the box says, how did you enjoy your VCS back in the day?


When I first got one in 1977 I was equally amazed and relieved. Amazed because there was a way to make a game console not become obsolete via cartridges. It was revolutionary. Relieved because I would not have to shell out hundreds of $$$ every year every time a new variant on Pong was invented.


And so in the years ahead I amassed cartridges and accessories, even other systems. Gameplay was everything. Learning Apple II was everything. Everything! Coming home from school on Friday, especially early on select days, we'd trek to Toys'R'Us. and perhaps Venture or Minnesota Fats. And even the computer store. It was a double whammy - entering into the uniquely "smellfull" department store from the oppressive humidity and going right to videogame section. It was an adventure all its own.


Looking up and down the literal ROWS of cartridges they had was near-overwhelming. The only thing that made it bearable were grandparents willing to purchase more than one cartridge. That way I didn't have to agonize over choices and thus cast a dark spell over the outing.


Then the anticipation of the ride home, hoping the 20-year old beater car didn't break down. Finally we'd sit our assess down on a vinyl beanbag, sweat summore, and "place our orders" for junkfood snacks or TV dinners. We'd open the cart box, toss it and the instructions aside, and immediately begin playing. Only on occasion would we reference the Game Matrix Chart printed on the back of the manual.


We'd sometimes play for hours. Not on the same game, but cycling through several, and even swapping systems! ..if we were fortunate enough to have buddies with a different console or even lucky enough ourselves to have more than one. Gameplay was typically interspersed with reading Astronomy books, computer books, space and Star Wars stuff, EGM and Omni and Popular Science. Even building model rockets and playing slot cars (Aurora, Tycho) and a visit to the hobby shop for RadioControl cars was in the equation sometime. We'd do this all day Saturday and Sunday if the weather was bad outside. Maybe even a trip to the arcade. And when we were done we'd make up sci-fi stories about advanced computers and arcades of the future. On really cold and snowed-in days we'd build blanket forts with a moon/lunar theme to them. Craters and mountains of Styrofoam. Drinks served in anodized aluminum "space cups". My friends loved me when I would get into reading a Larry Niven or Arthur C. Clarke book. It essentially meant they'd have control of the videogame consoles and computers while I was content to eat barbecue chips with cream cheese and Pepsi or Coke. Bunking in the cutout lofts, makeshift reading alcoves - throw those in too.


Good food, good company, not a care in the world beyond the living room or basement. And as kids we couldn't get enough of it! The weather forecaster announcing an additional 20" inches of snow by Monday morning meant an extension of all the above!


Time rolled on and a few years later all of us had amassed cartridges and disks for numerous systems like the Atari 400/800, C64, Apple II, Colecovision, and others. Some of us had the makings of a genuine library and dedicated fully 1/3rd of a room's wall to displaying them. Though that was not the purpose, to create a showcase. It was for easy access. That was the downfall of a large library of several hundred cartridges, not to mention boxes of disks with multiple games on each. Finding a specific something could take 10 minutes depending exactly what it was. But it was a nice problem to have.


I had tried paper lists and even a PFS database on my Apple II - of which the purpose was to catalog everything and list a number that would locate exactly where something was. A card catalog! In this context, a cart catalog! Ha! It worked for a bit. It was novel. It was sophisticated. And it grew to be so big it took my 1MHz Apple II longer to search through the list than we ourselves did. This happened around 500 records. PFS was fast on one field, all others was an arduous exercise in disk grinding. And little kids didn't know much about designing and optimizing databases. So that was the end of that.


We trudged on through the early 80's, enjoying the "hobby". It wasn't called a hobby back then. It was game playing. And we had to be careful about discussing what we liked otherwise girls wouldn't like us. Neither would the "real" bigger kids. So our computer stuff and videogames kinda became less important out of social pressure. It didn't help any that my grandparents started calling my videogame collection "baby toys".


In the mid 80's the Amiga had taken center stage for a while along with the Apple II. And then the PC in the 90's, by which time had long abandoned all cartridge systems. They were "one way" no real easy and practical way to program them like a computer. We didn't have the tools then like we do today. I had viewed all the early 1st generation 8-bit consoles as literally e-waste. Though part of me was sad to see the greatness fade.


I even tried to do a "collection rebuild" sometime in the 90's. But it wasn't the same. The internet was too new. And there really was no place to drive to that had mountains of cartridges like the department stores of 1979 and 1980 did. I could travel 100 miles, and maybe come home with 2 or 3 ratbaggy & grungy cartridges and some nameless AC adapters and RF cables. The pickings were unbelievably thin. The little bit there was people's throwaway garbage. The unwanted systems were still sitting in closets - awaiting whatever sentence fate would bequeath them in the future. It was a hopeless cause.




Fast forward today. Today we can play VCS in like 5 different ways, real hardware, fpga rigs, emulation, store-bought portables and all-in-ones, and more. I chose software emulation and The Grand Richness of my childhood library has returned. Every day is an extravaganza. There's reliable hardware, wide selection of games instantly available. All of it can be contained nicely and built to be compatible with aesthetically pleasing classy interiors without the stigma of "old". Not that old classics are a stigma to begin with.


It's great fun to re-read books like my astronomy stuff, early material on the micro-chip, and other forward-thinking material like stuff on science and space colonies and the space shuttle. And at the same time have an arbitrary VCS game going through a demo in attract mode. And then to go play it. Yeh, that's cool.

#2 AtariLeaf OFFLINE  


    Epic Godlike Canadian

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Posted Mon Oct 2, 2017 4:22 AM

 how did you enjoy your VCS back in the day?



With my hands

#3 totallyterrificpants OFFLINE  


    Chopper Commander

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Posted Mon Oct 2, 2017 6:01 AM

I was born in 1990 so I enjoyed them by not existing. Haha but the plus is these days I have an old set up with VCS and VCR. Wish I had a Betamax, too. It's weird to be nostalgic for a time I wasn't born. Sure I have fond memories of growing up in the 90's and early 2000's but almost everything I love from the 90's was aimed at teens and young adults which I discovered much later.

#4 ubersaurus OFFLINE  



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Posted Mon Oct 2, 2017 9:08 AM

We had ours set up in the basement on an older tv (circa 87), so I would play games on that. My aunt had one in her basement too with a different library of games that I would play - eventually she gave them to us. I also remember playing games at my grandparents' for years on their 2600 jr. my grandma didn't believe in buying new game systems, so she picked up that set and basically stuck with it until they sold the house in 2002 (when she gave it to me).

I do recall getting new games on clearance at Big Lots and at yard sales and thrift stores pretty consistently. Even though the 2600 wasn't exactly known for being cutting edge by that time I still really dug it.

#5 NE146 OFFLINE  


    Dumbass Atari Fan

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Posted Mon Oct 2, 2017 9:35 AM


How did you enjoy your VCS back in the day?


Well I enjoyed it very much, thank you. :)

#6 zzip OFFLINE  


    River Patroller

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Posted Mon Oct 2, 2017 9:48 AM

by the my family got one in 82, I was already salivating over newer technology and the 2600 felt limiting. I still enjoyed playing it, while wishing things like Centipede could have actual mushrooms and not just blocks shooting blocks, that games like Crystal Castles and Zaxxon had proper perspective, and Donkey Kong and Pacman actually felt like the arcade.

#7 Flojomojo ONLINE  


    in the rain or in the snow

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Posted Mon Oct 2, 2017 10:01 AM

Well I enjoyed it very much, thank you. :)



Took the words right out of my mouth, you wanker!  :lolblue:

#8 accousticguitar OFFLINE  



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Posted Mon Oct 2, 2017 10:17 AM

It sounds like you had a good childhood to me.

#9 save2600 OFFLINE  



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Posted Mon Oct 2, 2017 10:25 AM

I enjoyed my VCS on a black and white TV at first, then moved up to color soon after. :grin:

#10 VectorGamer OFFLINE  


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Posted Mon Oct 2, 2017 10:33 AM

I enjoyed it until the ColecoVision came out in 1982

#11 KaeruYojimbo OFFLINE  



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Posted Mon Oct 2, 2017 8:01 PM

At someone else's house. My family never owned a 2600. I got my first one at a garage sale in 1997. Before that it was at my dad's Air Force buddy's house. Or my cousin's house. A little later it was at the house of a friend who got a discarded console and a pile of games from someone (He wouldn't stop talking about Night Driver and Swordquest. I was unimpressed with Swordquest, even then.)

#12 Jinks OFFLINE  


    River Patroller

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Posted Mon Oct 2, 2017 9:01 PM

In a basement on an old zenith circa 70s still have the tv in my fathers shop still works as well. Played for hours and hours.
Had lots of fun with friends. Later on would cone by to play yars and river raid to get away from big nose mario nes.
I knew they were jealous..:P
It was rock'n! My ataris today and me are still 80s and living the dream only my atari never lost any hair.

#13 bradhig1 OFFLINE  



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Posted Tue Oct 3, 2017 7:14 AM

Used to play it only on weekends when I was a child.

#14 EvoMikeUK OFFLINE  


    Space Invader

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Posted Tue Oct 3, 2017 7:49 AM

I only got one in 2016 and never looked back (or further back) lol

#15 Karl G ONLINE  

Karl G


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Posted Tue Oct 3, 2017 7:56 AM

I was hoping to hear a good wine pairing suggestion. 

#16 JBerel OFFLINE  



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Posted Tue Oct 3, 2017 8:14 AM

I had to trudge 3 miles to a Camelot Music, in the snow, both ways, just to get the new arcade port of space invaders, and in my day it only came in two colors, black and white, and we liked it! Damn Millennials.



#17 RamrodHare OFFLINE  



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Posted Tue Oct 3, 2017 8:57 PM

I can't recall the year I first played a 2600. I know it was after the NES had came out. My friend had a 2600 in his basement, hooked up to an old B&W TV. We played Combat and I was hooked on it. Of course I didn't know where to find one and didn't have the money for one, so eventually, I got over it... Or so I thought! Fast forward many years later, after playing on every system from the NES to PS3, I was introduced to the Atari Flashback 3. YAY! I could play Combat again, plus, I had now discovered a lot more games I liked. I got a job working at a local Collectables/Comic shop where I was paid in store credit. There I found 2 2600s, around 80 games, 60 instruction manuals, a boxed 7800 and a huge lot of assorted joysticks. I also got a few hundred dollars worth of Star Wars figures, but that's another story. Anyway, when my health and lack of actual pay caused me to quit working there, I started spending most of my free time on these forums and playing 2600 games. I'm not sure that's the kind of answer people wanted to see, but that's what I wanted to write! ;)

#18 thegoldenband OFFLINE  



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Posted Tue Oct 3, 2017 9:04 PM

I was hoping to hear a good wine pairing suggestion. 


I'll admit that "with some fava beans and a nice Chianti" popped into my head on seeing the thread subject.

#19 Osgeld OFFLINE  



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Posted Tue Oct 3, 2017 9:42 PM

I didnt, we had a colecovision, my cousin had a vcs and I never got tired at laughing at it


course all he had was pac man and donkey kong ... and in the late 80's when we had our colecovision and he had a 7800 I all of a sudden wanted a new machine, so I started saving and got a genesis ... and he got a 286 tandy DAMMIT!!! (course by then he was old enough to have a job) 

Edited by Osgeld, Tue Oct 3, 2017 9:43 PM.

#20 Keatah OFFLINE  


    Missile Commander

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Posted Tue Oct 3, 2017 10:57 PM

I had to trudge 3 miles to a Camelot Music, in the snow, both ways, just to get the new arcade port of space invaders, and in my day it only came in two colors, black and white, and we liked it! Damn Millennials.


When I got my Space Invaders cartridge it was given to me at Barnaby's Family Restaurant. Me and my buddies then went to Great America to ride the roller coasters. Really incredible times. I didn't have to do a damned thing. This stuff just kinda happened like magic! You know?

Edited by Keatah, Tue Oct 3, 2017 10:58 PM.

#21 cvga OFFLINE  


    River Patroller

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Posted Tue Oct 3, 2017 11:25 PM

I enjoyed my VCS on a black and white TV at first, then moved up to color soon after. :grin:


Me too. I played my Atari on a black and white TV in my bedroom. I wasn't allowed to hook it up to the family television because my dad was afraid it would ruin it. However, I received Starmaster for my birthday and showed my dad that a color tv was required for playing. It said so right in the instructions! He still didn't want me to hook it up in the living room so we purchased a 13 inch color RCA television. I had to save money and pay him back for half of it. I was delighted.

#22 Keatah OFFLINE  


    Missile Commander

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Posted Tue Oct 3, 2017 11:45 PM

I had the same problem hooking up to the big Zenith 25". I countered with the idea that the game console would be conditioning the phosphors and teaching them how to stay one color for extended lengths of time.

#23 kennetzel OFFLINE  


    Chopper Commander

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Posted Wed Oct 4, 2017 11:19 AM

I was in my early twenties when I got mine...I bought it for Space Invaders. Little did I realize I would get such a collection of games. But I had a friend back then who came over and we played the heck out of that thing. To the point that we actually started getting bored with it. We would make comments like "we have the latest in computer entertainment technology and we're bored..." We still played it however getting re-interested with each new game I got. Adventure kept us busy for hours and days. I was a victim of the great Atari loss of '81. My left firing switch was stuck in the fire mode, no matter what joystick you used, so I took it to Sears to have it fixed. Turns out that a few weeks later, Sears lost mine and about twenty other games between here and Sunnyvale. It took weeks to settle the situation with Sears giving me a brand new system. Talk about withdrawl. But once I got the new one we were back at it again. It was gone for so long it was like the games were new again. 


It was only within the last year that I pulled out the old system and hooked it up again and recaptured my youth playing these great games all over again. But the left difficulty switch was stuck in the advanced mode on this old thing, so I bought a heavy sixer to replace it. But that quit on me and it was living the sears debacle all over again. But I got it fixed and I am back at it again. It's a lot of fun and I am glad these things hold up  over the years.

#24 davyK OFFLINE  



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Posted Wed Oct 4, 2017 1:52 PM

Got mine when I was 16 in '82 with Combat and Asteroids. Soon built up a good collection. My brother and I played a lot of 2 player games. It was played every day for at least a couple of years - we played A LOT of Asteroids (variation 39).


My cousins got one too pre-owned with a pile of carts so we swapped quite a few and when they stayed over we had multiplayer marathons on the B&W TV in my bedroom - and in colour downstairs if my parents weren't watching TV.


Many, many happy memories.


Combat, Space War, Decathlon, Asteroids, Breakout, Fishing Derby, Surround, Yars Revenge, Kaboom & Megamania - they are the ones that seemed to get the most play as far as I can remember.

Edited by davyK, Wed Oct 4, 2017 1:55 PM.

#25 gauauu OFFLINE  



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Posted Thu Oct 5, 2017 3:24 PM

 We'd open the cart box, toss it and the instructions aside, and immediately begin playing. Only on occasion would we reference the Game Matrix Chart printed on the back of the manual.



You'd wait until you got home to open the box?  We'd open the box the second we got out of the store, and spend the entire car ride home reading and re-reading and re-reading the manual in anticipation.

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