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Earliest Mention of 1979 Atari 2600 Games in Newspapers

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Atari 2600 Games Released in 1979
(Earliest mention in newspapers that I've found so far.)

Bowling: April 14, 1979 (review), April 15, 1979 (Sears ad)
Canyon Bomber: April 14, 1979 (review), April 15, 1979 (Sears ad)
Football: April 14, 1979 (review), April 15, 1979 (Sears ad)
Human Cannonball: April 14, 1979 (review), April 15, 1979 (Sears ad) [as Cannon Man]
Miniature Golf: April 14, 1979 (review), April 15, 1979 (Sears ad) [as Arcade Golf]
Casino: April 15, 1979 (Sears ad) [as Poker Plus]
Sky Diver: April 15, 1979 (Sears ad) [as Dare Diver]
Slot Machine: April 15, 1979 (Sears ad) [as Slots]
Superman: September 2, 1979 (Sears ad)
Backgammon: June 12, 1979 (coming soon), July 1, 1979 (premature photo shown in ad), November 22, 1979 (Sears ad)
Video Chess: June 12, 1979 (coming soon), June 15, 1979 (coming this summer), July 1, 1979 (premature photo shown in ad), November 22, 1979 (Sears ad)
BASIC Programming: July 1, 1979 (premature photo shown in ad), July 10, 1980 (next mention found so far was a year later, so I'm moving the game to 1980)







1979y_04m_14d Xenia Daily Gazette Saturday, April 14, 1979, Xenia, Ohio
(A newspaper review of Bowling, Football, Miniature Golf, Canyon Bomber, and Human Cannonball.)
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Video games can never be charged with having built-in obsolescence, not the way the manufacturers keep coming up with new additions.

Take the Atari people; they just released five brand new cartridges. And it looks like at least three of them are sure winners. The specific game programs cover bowling, football and miniature golf, and two others called Canyon Bomber and Human Cannonball. I've tested all five, and I like the bowling, football and the Canyon Bomber cartridges.

The bowling game is far and away one of the best cartridge games released by any of the programmable game manufacturers. It's so realistic that you feel just as if you're in a real bowling alley. My kids sit and play it by the hour, without getting bored. And they're getting so proficient that scores in the 230-250 area occasionally turn up.

There are three distinctly different bowling games. In the first, the ball starts out straight and may be curved either left or right by the player, but once it starts curving it cannot be reversed. In the second variation, the ball is more maneuverable. It can be curved in either direction at any time. In the third selection, it can't be curved at all.

In all three variations, however, the player can position the bowler anywhere behind the lane's foul line, just as in real-life bowling. You hear the sound of the ball rolling in a rumbling manner, and by carefully planning the curves in coordination with the number of seconds from the ball release, you can learn to curve the ball accurately.

It's quite realistic. When a spare occurs, the bowler jumps up and applauds, and when a strike happens, he goes absolutely berserk. In all, it's a load of fun. There are games for either a single player or for two players against each other.

The football game is somewhat similar to the one recently put out by Ballye. You're given a set of distinct plays from which to choose on both offense and defense, and you can control the movement of your players as well as the ball in flight when a pass play has been selected.

Like the Ballye game, the Atari version offers a battle of wits between players, as you try to outguess your opponent on the direction he'll move, whether he'll pass, run, punt, etc.

Whereas the Ballye football game moves from left to right, the Atari version goes from the top of the TV screen to the bottom, or vice versa. The Ballye version shows almost a whole team of players on the field, while the Atari game only uses three on each side. But the effect is similar. The feeling is that you're focused in on just those few players in the middle of the action.

The third Atari cartridge I liked, Canyon Bomber, is really two different groups of war games. In one set, you maneuver planes above moving warships, and attempt to bomb or torpedo the moving boats. In the second, your planes move across a stack of blocks or cartons, and, as your missile drops through them, others fall into the vacated slots. You pile up points based on different layers of the targets in varying colors.

In the miniature golf cartridge, the object is to strike a golf ball with a club, with the longer distance the club starts out from the ball determining how far the ball will move. There's also a moving pendulum-like obstacle that keeps getting in the way of the ball. It's hard enough to hit the ball so as to get it through barriers and around stationary obstacles; the moving obstacles makes the game worse. In some of the hole layouts, it's almost impossible for the ball to fit through the slots you must pass to reach the hole.

As for the Human Cannonball, the object is to shoot a man out of a cannon and catch him in a slender, very tall water tank. The tank can be moved, but not easily and not with any regularity. The cannon can be moved, but again it's almost impossible to predict where the man will land.

On the whole, however, three good cartridges out of five is not at all bad for Atari.







1979y_04m_15d Orland Park Star Herald Sunday, April 15, 1979, Orland Park, Illinois
(Enjoy adventure with Dare Diver [sky Diver], Cannon Man [Human Cannonball], or Canyon Bomber; sports with Football, Arcade Golf [Miniature Golf] or Bowling; game skills with Poker Plus [Casino] or Slots [slot Machine]. [sears])
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1979y_05m_22d Fairbanks Daily News Miner Tuesday, May 22, 1979, Fairbanks, Alaska
(New cartridges: Football, Canyon Bomber, Slot Machine, Miniature Golf, Sky Diver, and Casino. [Pay 'n Save])
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1979y_06m_12d Fairbanks Daily News Miner Tuesday, June 12, 1979, Fairbanks, Alaska
(Coming soon: Video Chess and Backgammon [Pay 'n Save])
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1979y_06m_15d Gettysburg Times Friday, June 15, 1979, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
(Coming this Summer: Video Chess. [baker's Electronic Services, Inc.])
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1979y_07m_01d Oak Forest Star Herald Sunday, July 1, 1979, Oak Forest, Illinois
(Newspaper ad shows 3 piles of games that include Video Chess, Basic Programming, and Backgammon, but the newer games were probably advertised prematurely, especially since the release date for Video Chess was delayed until November. [schaak Electronics])
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1979y_09m_02d Frankfort Star Sunday, September 2, 1979, Frankfort, Illinois
(Superman listed among other games with prices. [sears])
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1979y_11m_22d Brownsville Herald Thursday, November 22, 1979, Brownsville, Texas
(Backgammon and Video Chess listed among other games with prices. [sears])
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1980y_07m_10d Chicago Heights Star Herald Ad Visor Thursday, July 10, 1980, Chicago Heights, Illinois
(Many games listed, including BASIC Programming. [Matt's TV & Stereo])
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The 1979 history page has been updated and BASIC Programming has been moved to the 1980 history page.
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Ballye?

 

And what's this about "curving" a bowling ball? Everyone knows the proper term in bowling is 'hook', not 'curve'. Oh wait, no they don't... even the manual talks about "curving" the ball. :ponder:

 

At least they got the proper term of rolling down. You 'roll' a bowling ball down the lane, not 'throw' it. :lol:

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Yeah, figured as much... but the first time I saw it spelled "Ballye", thought it was a misprint. The second, third and fourth time I saw it, knew he was a little out of touch. Or a little touched. One of the two, possibly both. :lol:

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Cool classic advertisements!

 

I'd never heard of Brain Games shown in the Fairbanks Daily, it has another version of Touch Me, probably the first port. I like the collection:

 

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Cool, "Sears will be closed on Thanksgiving Day"! I also like the old ads where they call them "Atari Tapes".

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Updated the first post. Found an ad from July 1, 1979 that shows a photo of Video Chess, Backgammon, and BASIC Programming.

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BASIC Programming is a weird one. It showed up in some 79 ads but then seems to largely vanish until 1980. I think it must have been pushed back or something.

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Updated the first post. Found an ad from July 1, 1979 that shows a photo of Video Chess, Backgammon, and BASIC Programming.

BASIC Programming is a weird one. It showed up in some 79 ads but then seems to largely vanish until 1980. I think it must have been pushed back or something.

Looks like that ad used a generic promotional Atari photo and probably didn't really have some of those games.

 

The 1979 history page has been updated and BASIC Programming has been moved to the 1980 history page. Speaking of 1980, I'll do a new thread about that next, then update the 1980 history page after that.

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I love these threads. Keep em coming,

The one for 1980 is going to suck for trying to find release months, but at least some of the ads are pretty.

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