Just let me babble for a moment . . .
First point: Back "then", we just called it "the Atari", right? We left off the "VCS", because it was shorter, and before 1982 the "2600" portion of the title wasn't ever mentioned because there was no other Ataris from which to distinguish it. I've been calling it the "Atari VCS" because that's what it literally was, and to contrast it with its eventual title change into the "Atari 2600". I did the same thing with the Channel F/VES. No consumer in 1976 called the Fairchild Channel F, the "Fairchild Channel F" -- the name didn't exist. I'm not quite sure when it became the "Channel F", but I think it was sometime around when the Atari came out (VES ~ VCS, too confusing). But, to be clear, we never called it "the Atari VCS", we just called it "the Atari" which, in my misguided effort to talk about it like I was in 1978, I've neglected to do.
My point is "gee, it's hard to talk about this stuff the way we might've talked about this stuff 25 to 30 years ago." Yeah, I know it might seem easy to those of you with the big brains out there, but my merely "above average" brain is still coming to terms with it.
Second Point: You know that I'm trying to write about each game as if I were writing from the perspective of the year in which the debut of each particular game takes place, pretending that the only games I'd ever played were the games that existed prior to the "current" year (and from the same forced perspective). Right? You do know this, don't you? We've covered this material already, you should all know this! *mumble mumble*
Oddly enough, I began to find this game of "make-believe" more difficult as I started to reach the games that I had actually played back when these games were the "fresh episodes" of the videogame universe.
I'm no psychologist, but this is probably because I'm dealing with two sets of memories. The memory of playing these games back when they were new to me, and the memory of playing them within the last week or so, with my son. I find my 37-year-old self arguing with the 12-year-old version of me (whom I still keep imprisoned in my head) about the merits of each game.
For instance, my last entry Space War. I had really liked Space War when I played it waaay back when. Yet, playing it more recently with my son, I didn't enjoy it so much. I know the game hasn't changed any, I guess I've just been exposed to the Cinematronics version more often and more recently so I find that I really enjoy that version far and away above the Atari home version. So, I've got the 12-year-old saying "hey, can't wait to play Space War!" and I'm, like, "meh". And then he's, like, "don't be a prick, you love this shit" and, again, I'm like, "meh". Then he calls me an asshole and goes off to watch Star Blazers.
OK, so, my second point would be "gee, it's hard to talk about this stuff the way we might've talked about this stuff 25 to 30 years ago." which is the same point as the first point, but it's such an important point that I thought I would say it twice.
Slot Racers is another game on which my memories conflict. I clearly remember being completely unimpressed by it back in the day. It was slow. It was dull. It was completely "charm-free". We didn't have the instructions for it (and no, we couldn't download them, this was before telephones, remember?) (heh) so we had to fudge our way through it and eventually throw up in disgust. Um, throw up our hands, that is.
I take it [slot Racers] out recently, find the handy-dandy instructions for it on AtariAge (Hail AtariAge! Let it never fade from the net!) and proceed to have a half-hour of joy and laughter with my son as we merrily play through this interesting little game.
Meanwhile, my inner 12-year-old is saying "you dork! we hates this game! we hates it!".
The game is two-player only. Meaning, one person can't play it. Neither, can three. Five is right out! (Ni!)
Each player controls a vehicle in a maze. The vehicle can move forward and you can choose to turn it to the right or the left in the maze, but you can't make it turn around or go backwards. When you press the red button, the front portion of this vehicle becomes a missile and, as you might guess, you fire it at your hated enemy to destroy them. In some variations the missile may impact a wall, or deflect or turn a corner, but the result desired is the same: destroy your enemy. The exciting part, if you're playing it right, is getting to watch your opponent, who is unable to turn or turn around and run, be driven towards their inexorable doom. They get a big kick out of doing the same to you, too, I might add.
The first versions of it are a little slow, but for every slow version, there are one or two faster versions. There are four different mazes. Get the right maze and the right speed, and this game is can be quite a tickle. My wife said she is surprised by how much she hears us laughing while we play this.
My inner adolescent really can't come to terms with it, but screw him. WTF does he know? He didn't even want children!
Okay, next entry: the last of the actual carts that I have from 1978, Home Run aka Baseball!