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Why the fascination with the 2600?

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I also recall back in the day it was "discovery unlimited". Imagination unlimited. Amazing that one box could do so many games, even if the count was 10 or 15. But each game was its own world to be discovered and unveiled.

 

There was nothing quite like going to see a movie, like the Black Hole or somesuch similarly flavoured flick, and then coming home on a night you could stay up late and experiment with a mix of last weeks carts and a couple 2 or 3 new ones. Talk about escapism for a kid!

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Still playing it nowadays, enjoyed Dungeon II, great game, Chase It!, weird game but good.

Also played Demolition Herby, like it a lot.....

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I had always thought about this regarding cell phone games and have actually found many gameplay elements in new cell games would work really well on the Atari.

As for my fascination, it is a combination of nostalgia for my first system as well more of an understanding of just how amazing and pioneering some of those early programmers were when making games around the limitations of the system.

I agree about mobile games -- that "indie" spirit, often the work of a single programmer or small team -- is quite common in the app stores, which I consider the heirs of retro gaming. It bugs me a little bit that some people think "can't play proper games on a touchscreen," but that's their loss. Mobile games are great!

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For me, it's the simplicity of it all. One stick, one button. That's all you need. Simple to learn, hard to master. And once you mastered it, usually there were several variations of that game to keep you coming back for more. Yes, the games didn't look great, but you used your imagination in concert with what was happening on screen.

 

Then there are the 2-player modes so you and a friend could play together, in the same room, on the same screen at the same time. Remember when you'd have your friend come over, sit in front of the tv and you would settle the score over a game of Combat, or Outlaw? OR, you could play together as a team to save the earth in Space Invaders.

 

Not to trash today's games, but for me, they're just too complicated. 2-3 sticks, 10+ buttons. I got as far as the SNES before I gave up on the control schemes and didn't play a "modern" console again until the Wii came out. Never got the hang of the Xbox/PS controllers. And sure, the games look amazing, but it's just too much for me. Part of me envies my kids/grandkids for being able to handle it, but I'm not interested in learning how to manage all those controls. Also, there's no need to go over to your friend's house and actually interact with your friends, face to face anymore. There's something to be said for that. When I bring my grandson over to his friend's house, he actually brings his Xbox and his television with him. He'll set it up in another room in the house to multi-play with his friend. My initial thought is "What's the point? You can do that from home." Not to mention listening to him yelling at his "team" all the time through his headset. I prefer yelling only at my television. :)

 

These are probably just the ramblings of an old(er) man, not understanding the kids of today. It was just a simpler and happier time for me. That's what keeps me coming back to the good old Atari. :)

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If I may ask, how old are you that you have this tremendous insight?

Well I'm not so young that it's totally foreign to me. But I didn't have a positive view of 2600 or Atari in general until maybe four years ago. I'm 40. .. The key was finding reliable hardware and narrowing the list of games.

 

As far as insight, I like to think of video games as poetry, high design or artistic engineering, and the rawness of the early consoles as well as the advent of homebrew, leads more in that direction.

 

I studied art and filmmaking and had a better response to scholarly criticism and theory than most film/art students and I tend to apply those sort of principles to everything.

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1. I grew up during the 16-bit generation, but was always interested in older stuff--essentially, anything that didn't say "Nintendo" or "Sega" on it. At some point I came to hear of "The Atari," and was fascinated. And at the time I was starting to get serious about classic gaming and collecting (a.k.a. the late '90s), the Atari 2600 was the definitive classic game system. (The NES was at that weird age where it wasn't cool anymore, but not "retro" yet.) For me, digging into the Atari 2600 was like discovering long lost treasure.

 

2. It's so great to collect for. There's so much weird stuff that came out for it! Tons of great games in such an eclectic assortment of cartridge shells and label designs. More controllers and peripherals than you can shake a joystick at. Most of it's not too hard or expensive to track down, either (although that holy grail stuff is out there, too, for those inclined to seek it).

 

3. If you have nostalgia for it, great. But speaking as somebody who came up in the platformer/beat 'em up/early 3D era, the system stands on its own. It doesn't need the rose-tinted glasses.

 

4. The breadth of gaming history it covers. It begins at practically the beginning and ends when Sonic The Hedgehog, Street Fighter II, and SNES had taken over the world. It's got everything from Pong, Spacewar, and other late '70s fare to Double Dragon, Rampage, and Xenophobe.

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https://www.wired.com/story/how-atari-2600-led-videogaming-home-invasion/

 

oh snap, there's a link to Stupid Atari at the bottom of that. I'll just quote it in full, because it was well written up to that point.

 

PUNDITS USED TO joke that there were four major TV networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, and Atari. In 1977 the first Atari Video Computer System sold for $200. Buyers could plug it into the TV, letting the family play seminal, interactive games like Asteroids and Pac-Man, while broadcasters tried to keep viewers' attention with Falcon Crest and Mork & Mindy. Atari's console wasn't the first to commandeer TV screens, but in the late '70s the VCS skyrocketed in popularity because it was so versatile. The system let users pop game cartridges in and out, giving its audience a near-endless array of options. Atari was also in the coin-operated arcade machine business, which gave it ready access to fresh material (including the Japanese title Space Invaders). The company let outside publishers build games for the VCS too. But, as the saying goes, sometimes too much of a good thing … Abundance and lack of quality control were blamed for the videogame crash of 1983, when industry earnings took a 97 percent nosedive. Still, that collapse ended up being just a bump in the road. In 1982, Atari relaunched the VCS as the 2600 (bringing out the low-cost 2600 Jr. soon after), and it persevered until 1992. That's a record for a console. In those 14-plus years, the original games achieved plenty of nostalgic popularity—and revenue.

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Why is there still a connection with this primitive outdated machine 40 years later? I wonder if anyone else feels the same way, and if so, can you articulate why?

 

 

 

Cuz it was the #1 console of the era.

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Well I'm not so young that it's totally foreign to me. But I didn't have a positive view of 2600 or Atari in general until maybe four years ago. I'm 40. .. The key was finding reliable hardware and narrowing the list of games.

 

As far as insight, I like to think of video games as poetry, high design or artistic engineering, and the rawness of the early consoles as well as the advent of homebrew, leads more in that direction.

 

I studied art and filmmaking and had a better response to scholarly criticism and theory than most film/art students and I tend to apply those sort of principles to everything.

I hear that, you think along the same lines as myself and Mike Mika

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I think nostalgia has a part. For some, when you revisit things from the past, like music or movies, you have a different perspective or opinion then when first experienced. Some can appreciate both. I am reminded fondly of waking up early, running to the basement, and playing Dig Dug or Atlantis. I definitely spent more time playing NES and later systems but those early games were simple or fun and I think they had shaped what games I sought out in the future.

 

As I had mentioned before, I appreciate what was accomplished. While I had only played the games in the past without thinking, seeking mindless enjoyment, I know see what went into making a game - especially since I started making my own game and reading about the in and outs of the system. It is amazing to see how programmers developed tricks or pushed the limits. Or how companies expanded on it using newer chips or things like the Supercharger or even newer things like DPC+ or the Harmony. The things this community is accomplishing is amazing and also raises so many "what ifs" about what could have happened back in the day.

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Each new cartridge was to my 10-year-old self BITD a new world a whole new "something" or other to be explored and interacted with. A new flavor, a new mood, a new atmosphere.. that one little box could contain stuff to do things on the TV set. Completely amazing and intriguing that a tiny sliver of elemental silicon could play a game of chess. What other stuff could be hiding inside?

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My best childhood friend, whom I met around 1982, is not really the type for nerdy stuff in general, like I am. But then, a few years ago, his young son started taking an interest in Transformers, which my friend and I absolutely loved back in the mid-late 80s. Suddenly, this Transformers thing with his son turned my friend into full nostalgia-nerd mode and he was buying up G1 Transformers on e-bay, reading forums, learning all kinds of obscure details about Transformers collecting, sending me photos of his toy shelf, the whole bit. One night a few years ago, we were sitting at a wedding after dinner, having some beers and talking about old Transformers toys. Some of the women at our table were like "OMG, you guys are such dorks, lolz" and the way my friend responded to them has always kind of stuck with me. He looked at them and said, with perhaps a sternness of tone that exceeded the needs of the situation, "listen… that stuff was *real* fun for us. We didn't care about who we were impressing, we didn't need any kind of validation, we didn't need booze to have a fun time, we were kids and it was just the purest form of fun. So what's wrong with talking about that now?"

 

He's right. And I think, for me, the same sentiment extends to playing Atari 2600, which at least partially explains why it holds such a special place.

 

But there's more to it than just the nostalgia-related factors. After all, if nostalgia were all that mattered then I'd have very similar feelings about the NES, and I don't. I still enjoy NES very much, just not at the same level as the 2600. I've struggled to figure out why, and what I've come up with is that it comes down to the style of games that typify the experience of these 2 systems. These days, I just really enjoy arcade-style score-attack type games, because I find my relationship with those games to be very non-intrusive, comfortable, and easy to manage. I walk up, play till I die, then either walk away or play again. No commitment, no nagging sense of leaving something unfinished, etc. At the end of a play session, I can essentially "cash out," having just enjoyed a complete, self-contained experience with a final result (i.e., my score.) By comparison, the vast majority of NES games are more focused on "getting to the end," so a quick walk-up-and-play on those games feels a bit hollow and, at times, pointless. On the one hand I'm not going to get anywhere in the game with just a few minutes of playing, and on the other hand, I'm disinclined to invest the time/effort needed to "beat" any one game when I have millions of others to enjoy and so little time to enjoy them.

 

As for modern games, you take the basic concept of what I said about NES games and you put it to the Nth power. It's just not for me; I see no way of accommodating it in my life even if I wanted to.

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The very idea of just "walking up" to a coin op machine -- wow. It just hit me that outside of a casino, that isn't happening anymore. Yeah, I pull my miracle computer out of my pocket and try something from the App Store, which gives me a similar buzz. But being in a new place with a mix of old and new games was a very unique, specific, early 80s thrill.

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For me it's partly nostalgia, but also it's just sheer admiration of how hard it is to make games for it. There's so little to work with, if you see an engaging game on the 2600 you know what kind of genius-level tomfoolery is involved.

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The 2600 was my second console ever(Pong was the first). I grew up playing Atari and evjoyed it emensely. Yeah, I play modern games(Red Dead 2 is possibly the greatest game I ever played and the first game I was dissapointed that I beat it because I wanted to keep playing), but there is just something about the 2600. I can always go back to it now and have a great time playing it. Maybe it's because I like old things, like comics. Yeah, I buy and read new comics and enjoy them, but, again, there's just something about reading a comic from 35 years ago(when I started collecting comics). Same with my action figure collecting. I would rather have vintage GIJoe and Star Wars figures then the new stuff. I guess it just brings me back to a simplier time in my life when I was a kid and didn't have a job, bills, etc. The nostalgia factor I would call it.

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My fascination with the 2600 is the nostalgia of my first video game system. The graphics were incredibly primitive...just look at Donkey Kong or Pac-Man, even in comparison to the other systems at the time...but they were still fun games.

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Nostalgia and memories of a time in my youth where things were a lot different in the gaming world than they are today. This console has been in my household for years. I think I've gone through many consoles and PC systems, only to come back to Atari 2600 time and again. The games required a certain level of imagination, and the artwork was amazing for it's time. Games today don't require too much thought to imagine their worlds, but Atari games certainly did. Pac-man was and still is well-liked to this day, plus many others like Asteroids and Space Invaders. Classics that are different from the arcades they were born from, but still are awesome translations. Sometimes I become disillusioned with today's modern games and step back, plug in my favorite Atari games from yesteryear, and feel those tingles of good times from the 80's kick in.

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There's definitely a nostalgia component for me, but there are also some other things I really like about this era of gaming. It was pointed out that the dev groups were small, and I dig that. I also love how strange the hardware is, and it led to a lot of interesting solutions and a distinctive look and sound. It's incredible to think about this all being 1970s consumer tech, too. And, I enjoy the abstract nature of many of its games. From a modern game design perspective, I do think a lot of its games are simplistic for scoring-based games (since the ability to marathon a game seemed more important than specific scoring tactics in the absence of multipliers, chains, and the like). But, it's still a lot of fun, especially if you keep a score notepad.

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I'd imagine for many it was their first console and they grew up with it. The other, for me anyway, is how they did so much with so little. I can still cruise through a game like Adventure or H.E.R.O. and enjoy it.

 

Well, sure, that is a very logical, reasonable and good explanation. But remember, there's the 'good reason' and then there's the 'real reason'.

 

If your first computer or moped was a piece of crap, it doesn't mean you still automatically somehow treasure and cherish it necessarily. There's more to this story than that immediate explanation.

 

This might become a bit 'esoteric', so people that can't handle that sort of stuff, are advised to avert their eyes. You've been warned.

 

Now, while there are most certainly various reasons to love or like, appreciate or treasure, drool over or get excited about Atari 2600 (and other older systems), it's never quite the same with the modern systems, no matter how 'powerful' they are in realtime 3D-projection rendering (Yes, all '3D' graphics are just two-dimensional projections, even those that use '3D-glasses' or 'virtual reality helmets' or whatnot).

 

Why people get very tingly, excited, nostalgic and almost teary-eyed, when they talk about Atari 2600, but can talk about their latest PC technology without any emotion?

 

The real reason is that every time something is manufactured, there's a quality to it. If some genius, for example, lovingly creates and designs a work of art, pouring his finest self into it and makes it into some beautiful utility or machine, it can serve people faithfully for generations without causing problems or breaking down.

 

If some factory employee is tasked to design a new, 'fashionable and trendy' product for maximum profit, and it's built by robots (either the 'human NPCs' or actual, metallic monstrosities), it can cause many problems and in the end, even turn against its user.

 

When some visionary group comes together to create something they have always wanted to create, the result will have this 'finest self' radiation in it that makes it a pleasure to use and excites the user. All older computer systems have this, because seventies and eighties were not yet as corporatic hell as today's world, and there was room for creativity and individuality, and a little bit craziness - free-flowing fluidum and energy was the norm in these small companies, so creativity flourished and people were able to make their visions come true, as they gave birth to their work of love.

 

This is how the Amiga, for example, was born - a group of wacky, weird visionaries with mutual goal poured their ideas and energy into the machine, so it became a really good creative computer for creative people, Heck, I still use my Amiga to create pretty much all my pixel graphics, from sprites to backgrounds to just 'fun pictures' and animations, and whatever I may require or want to do.

 

Atari 2600 was born in a similar way, and it also radiates that 'atmosphere', 'feel', 'excitement' or 'energy' - it's difficult to put to words, because this physical world lacks much of 'esoteric vocabulary' to describe these very real things.

 

Everyone knows that it just FEELS better to use a real machine than emulation. Why is that? There's a deep reason, even if you don't agree with me what that reason is, but it's very, very real difference that even the most lunkheaded deniers usually agree - it JUST does feel better to use a real Atari or real C64 or real Amiga than emulator (or even Dreamcast).

 

People in this world are very nostalgic, but they're not comfortable in explaining this nostalgy in any other way than 'because it was my first machine' or 'because it can do so much with so little'. Some of these reasons are almost completely cold, pragmatic, intellectual and sound good on paper.

 

But we all know there's a deep, unexplainable FEELING attached to this whole phenomenon. Someone here even mentioned that "it's almost emotional", sort of admitting that it's really a feeling, that's the core reason for all this nostalgy and admiration of the older computers.

 

Mere memories could not create this kind of enthusiasm, there's just something very 'feelable' about these older systems, while the newer systems lack it completely.

 

Multiple things happened simultaneously, so it's easy to just pick one of the surface reasons and be happy with the explanation. Oh, modern games are just corporate cash-cows, when older games had better playability, etc.

 

While this is of course true, the thing is, back in the day of Atari 2600, an individual programmer could envision a game, design and write it all by himself, while creating also exactly the kind of graphics that the vision requires, and the end result was something wonderful, colorful and exciting. He could pour all his finest self into a game, and the player would -feel- the game creator's excitement.

 

These old games have great playability (maybe out of necessity), but they also have a lot of 'feel' to them. They look nice and colorful, and they are still the epitome of what makes video games so interesting and mesmerizing - great sounds, great color effects, simple but charming sprites, especially on a bright CRT television, mesmerized kids back then, and they still mesmerize me even now.

 

Make a modern computer put out zillions of polygons with shaders and effects and enormously high resolution, and even HDR, on a huge monitor, and my soul will yawn out of boredom and wonder when it can see an Atari 2600 game again.

 

I am sure that all that 'it was my first console' and other explanations do play a part in some people's fascination for the machine. But it can never explain it all.

 

For example, I never had an Atari back in the day, I only saw Commodore computers as a kid, and Amigas as a teenager - it took a long time for me to start seeing the wonderful worlds that the other systems express, and I intuitively always compared everything to the Commodore experiences. If something sounded even a bit like SID, it was exciting to me (so I got excited about old synths, OPL2 and OPL3 chips, and Atari 2600 sound as well), and so on.

 

I didn't think a console as old as Atari 2600 could be of much interest to me, but then I accidentally found an Atari 2600 emulator for my Dreamcast. So I started going through some games on a whim and out of curiosity, and - whoah! Atari's games started to mesmerize me even through Dreamcast (of course it was connected to a bright CRT television).

 

So I found a new appreciation for the Atari 2600, and started wanting to get a bit more authentic about it, and wondered how close those emulators get. So I got some joysticks that had 'inbuilt Atari 2600', but they were done so badly, I got angry about it, and now I wanted REAL Atari 2600!

 

One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had Atari 2600 jr., Harmony Cart (although it had some problems in the beginning), and I was LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOVING it!

 

It certainly had that 1970s and early 1980s 'magic' to it, that's so hard to explain - it completely and totally seduced me, and I am very grateful for being able to own a functional Atari 2600 jr. that runs those great Atari 2600 games so nicely on my CRT television (that's shared with C16 and VIC-20, though).

 

I am telling this story just to give an example of someone that never had Atari 2600 back in the day, and _STILL_ fell madly in love with those wonderful games, the great sound (Nothing can sound better to my ears than Atari 2600 'Enduro'), the amazingly high amount of beautiful colors (makes me wonder why C64 only had 16, I almost feel duped!), and of course the perfectly honed playability that so many Atari 2600 games had.

 

I began finding versions of games that are actually better than the C64 counterparts, which used to be the only versions I even knew about. For example, 'River Raid' has a bit tighter gameplay and more exciting soundworld, although it's very similar, and I do like the C64 version as well.

 

I am sure there are still plenty of gems that I haven't even found yet, that I hope to stumble upon soon. But my 'favorites' list is long and growing, and I feel more complete having been able to experience this wonderful console and its glorious games. It's a terrible thought to never have played these masterpieces.

 

So in my opinion, there's AT LEAST something deeper than the usual explanations, there's something 'esoterically magical' about Atari 2600, there's something 'unexplainable' or at least 'lacking in vocabulary to explain' about why people love Atari 2600 so much. It's not just those 'cold reasons', there are very, very warm reasons indeed, and it's just undeniable, that it just feels GOOD to play those games on real Atari system.

 

But hey, that's just MY opinion..

 

 

 

 

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Well, sure, that is a very logical, reasonable and good explanation. But remember, there's the 'good reason' and then there's the 'real reason'.

If your first computer or moped was a piece of crap, it doesn't mean you still automatically somehow treasure and cherish it necessarily. There's more to this story than that immediate explanation.

This might become a bit 'esoteric', so people that can't handle that sort of stuff, are advised to avert their eyes. You've been warned.

Now, while there are most certainly various reasons to love or like, appreciate or treasure, drool over or get excited about Atari 2600 (and other older systems), it's never quite the same with the modern systems, no matter how 'powerful' they are in realtime 3D-projection rendering (Yes, all '3D' graphics are just two-dimensional projections, even those that use '3D-glasses' or 'virtual reality helmets' or whatnot).

Why people get very tingly, excited, nostalgic and almost teary-eyed, when they talk about Atari 2600, but can talk about their latest PC technology without any emotion?

The real reason is that every time something is manufactured, there's a quality to it. If some genius, for example, lovingly creates and designs a work of art, pouring his finest self into it and makes it into some beautiful utility or machine, it can serve people faithfully for generations without causing problems or breaking down.

If some factory employee is tasked to design a new, 'fashionable and trendy' product for maximum profit, and it's built by robots (either the 'human NPCs' or actual, metallic monstrosities), it can cause many problems and in the end, even turn against its user.

When some visionary group comes together to create something they have always wanted to create, the result will have this 'finest self' radiation in it that makes it a pleasure to use and excites the user. All older computer systems have this, because seventies and eighties were not yet as corporatic hell as today's world, and there was room for creativity and individuality, and a little bit craziness - free-flowing fluidum and energy was the norm in these small companies, so creativity flourished and people were able to make their visions come true, as they gave birth to their work of love.

This is how the Amiga, for example, was born - a group of wacky, weird visionaries with mutual goal poured their ideas and energy into the machine, so it became a really good creative computer for creative people, Heck, I still use my Amiga to create pretty much all my pixel graphics, from sprites to backgrounds to just 'fun pictures' and animations, and whatever I may require or want to do.

Atari 2600 was born in a similar way, and it also radiates that 'atmosphere', 'feel', 'excitement' or 'energy' - it's difficult to put to words, because this physical world lacks much of 'esoteric vocabulary' to describe these very real things.

Everyone knows that it just FEELS better to use a real machine than emulation. Why is that? There's a deep reason, even if you don't agree with me what that reason is, but it's very, very real difference that even the most lunkheaded deniers usually agree - it JUST does feel better to use a real Atari or real C64 or real Amiga than emulator (or even Dreamcast).

People in this world are very nostalgic, but they're not comfortable in explaining this nostalgy in any other way than 'because it was my first machine' or 'because it can do so much with so little'. Some of these reasons are almost completely cold, pragmatic, intellectual and sound good on paper.

But we all know there's a deep, unexplainable FEELING attached to this whole phenomenon. Someone here even mentioned that "it's almost emotional", sort of admitting that it's really a feeling, that's the core reason for all this nostalgy and admiration of the older computers.

Mere memories could not create this kind of enthusiasm, there's just something very 'feelable' about these older systems, while the newer systems lack it completely.

Multiple things happened simultaneously, so it's easy to just pick one of the surface reasons and be happy with the explanation. Oh, modern games are just corporate cash-cows, when older games had better playability, etc.

While this is of course true, the thing is, back in the day of Atari 2600, an individual programmer could envision a game, design and write it all by himself, while creating also exactly the kind of graphics that the vision requires, and the end result was something wonderful, colorful and exciting. He could pour all his finest self into a game, and the player would -feel- the game creator's excitement.

These old games have great playability (maybe out of necessity), but they also have a lot of 'feel' to them. They look nice and colorful, and they are still the epitome of what makes video games so interesting and mesmerizing - great sounds, great color effects, simple but charming sprites, especially on a bright CRT television, mesmerized kids back then, and they still mesmerize me even now.

Make a modern computer put out zillions of polygons with shaders and effects and enormously high resolution, and even HDR, on a huge monitor, and my soul will yawn out of boredom and wonder when it can see an Atari 2600 game again.

I am sure that all that 'it was my first console' and other explanations do play a part in some people's fascination for the machine. But it can never explain it all.

For example, I never had an Atari back in the day, I only saw Commodore computers as a kid, and Amigas as a teenager - it took a long time for me to start seeing the wonderful worlds that the other systems express, and I intuitively always compared everything to the Commodore experiences. If something sounded even a bit like SID, it was exciting to me (so I got excited about old synths, OPL2 and OPL3 chips, and Atari 2600 sound as well), and so on.

I didn't think a console as old as Atari 2600 could be of much interest to me, but then I accidentally found an Atari 2600 emulator for my Dreamcast. So I started going through some games on a whim and out of curiosity, and - whoah! Atari's games started to mesmerize me even through Dreamcast (of course it was connected to a bright CRT television).

So I found a new appreciation for the Atari 2600, and started wanting to get a bit more authentic about it, and wondered how close those emulators get. So I got some joysticks that had 'inbuilt Atari 2600', but they were done so badly, I got angry about it, and now I wanted REAL Atari 2600!

One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had Atari 2600 jr., Harmony Cart (although it had some problems in the beginning), and I was LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOVING it!

It certainly had that 1970s and early 1980s 'magic' to it, that's so hard to explain - it completely and totally seduced me, and I am very grateful for being able to own a functional Atari 2600 jr. that runs those great Atari 2600 games so nicely on my CRT television (that's shared with C16 and VIC-20, though).

I am telling this story just to give an example of someone that never had Atari 2600 back in the day, and _STILL_ fell madly in love with those wonderful games, the great sound (Nothing can sound better to my ears than Atari 2600 'Enduro'), the amazingly high amount of beautiful colors (makes me wonder why C64 only had 16, I almost feel duped!), and of course the perfectly honed playability that so many Atari 2600 games had.

I began finding versions of games that are actually better than the C64 counterparts, which used to be the only versions I even knew about. For example, 'River Raid' has a bit tighter gameplay and more exciting soundworld, although it's very similar, and I do like the C64 version as well.

I am sure there are still plenty of gems that I haven't even found yet, that I hope to stumble upon soon. But my 'favorites' list is long and growing, and I feel more complete having been able to experience this wonderful console and its glorious games. It's a terrible thought to never have played these masterpieces.

So in my opinion, there's AT LEAST something deeper than the usual explanations, there's something 'esoterically magical' about Atari 2600, there's something 'unexplainable' or at least 'lacking in vocabulary to explain' about why people love Atari 2600 so much. It's not just those 'cold reasons', there are very, very warm reasons indeed, and it's just undeniable, that it just feels GOOD to play those games on real Atari system.

But hey, that's just MY opinion..


--

Someone mentioned, how Atari 2600 games demand or require imagination, and this got me to thinking.

Old Japanese painters and artists knew that if you put too much detail in your work, viewer's imagination doesn't get engaged. I think this is how impressionism was eventually born, at least possibly.

I dont remember the word for it, but if you can provoke the imagination by leaving just enough detail out, the experience for the viewer will be deeper, and closer the 'Zen-type' reality.

I often use the game 'Bruce Lee' as a good example - the graphics are blocky, but in my opinion, not TOO blocky. The blockiness of the graphics have been used in a very wise, ingenious way, in that they make you think and wonder and imagine. They provoke and engage your imagination, they invite you to finish what the game's creators started.

When you walk over the 'bombs' in the more orange-ish rooms (at least in C64 version), I think the manual says they're actually trees that grow very fast and then diminish. But it can also look like clouds of smoke (especially with the explosive sound).

So you can basically experience them in multiple ways simultaneously. This wouldn't be possible, if they were CLEARLY rendered as trees OR smoke. You could only see them as smoke or trees, and your imagination wouldn't get engaged. It's a richer experience, when more of your faculties are involved while playing.

Modern games or artists don't realize or remember this anymore. They try to make everything as 'realistic' as possible, or create a 'style' (that's usually weird and quirky, although it can look nice sometimes - but too often it's just twisting and exaggerating and uglifying things or putting funny animals or weird creatures in and call it 'creativity').

Atari 2600 games, perhaps partially by necessity, do a -= WONDERFUL =- job in this imagination provoking and engaging, and as the end result, you are actually playing in an 'elevated' state of mind/spirit, you are actually in a better mode than when playing some ugly-realistic modern war game, just shooting and killing all over the place in a gruesomely realistic way.

In Atari 2600 gameplaying, you can actually fly some Cosmic Ark in space inbetween very unrealistic, but also very amazingly exciting-looking star sceneries, and then save unbelievably cute sprite animals and creatures, or you can think of a backstory of each passenger you pick up while driving a Cosmic Commuter ship.

Atari 2600 really makes you think, and its games really engage you in a deeper level than modern games.

They only know how to add polygons and shaders, graphics and mechanics, tweak this or that power, make different lightning bolt visuals, or whatnot - but they don't know how to -fully- engage a player, including the player's imagination.

It's almost funny, how decades earlier, they accomplished that so well, and afterwards, never again.

This is one of the reasons, why Atari 2600 offers a more full experience than modern games usually do. And why players can get deeper 'into the games', or let the games become a deeper part of themselves.

Btw, what ARE all those Bruce Lee (the game) background graphics? I don't know, and I like to keep it that way, because only then, they can be ANYTHING, and different things each time I play - and they can exist only in a dreamy netherworld of imagination and dreaming, where they're something that just can't be put to words.

In a way, it was a blessing that the graphics were in some ways 'limited', because they at least engage the player in a deeper way.

Even when drawing art, it's often better to 'imply' than 'fully draw'. This way, your mind, your imagination or your soul will 'finish' the artwork. Bill Watterson was very good at this - if you look at Calvin & Hobbes, he draws JUST enough to get the implication there, but doesn't always finish every line, and the end result is engaging and marvellous.

I am sure he loves playing Atari games..



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Posted (edited)

As with the NES, there's a generational thing going on. The thing was most commonly referred to as "The Atari" the same way my parents/grand-parents later called everything a Nintendo, so you know that was a huge mainstream culture impact right there. It became folkloric.

It's also from a sex, drugs and rock n'roll era for videogames, giving it that little extra stylish edge. And I cannot overstate that the hardware limitations lead to a lot of experimentation and creativity, which serves to deliver truckloads of shine and charm to games of that pre-corporate period.

Epicness and realism have long taken over but surely now that we are past the point of blindly tunneling forward technologically, most people realize that modern high tech games CAN co-exist with experiences developped with more modest means. Thus pixel art has made a triumphant return, indie games are popping everywhere and homebrew devs keep working on pushing out games for systems they love such as The Atari and the NES, to name these 2.

Edited by Montrealer

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Well, sure, that is a very logical, reasonable and good explanation. But remember, there's the 'good reason' and then there's the 'real reason'.

 

If your first computer or moped was a piece of crap, it doesn't mean you still automatically somehow treasure and cherish it necessarily. There's more to this story than that immediate explanation.

 

This might become a bit 'esoteric', so people that can't handle that sort of stuff, are advised to avert their eyes. You've been warned.

 

Now, while there are most certainly various reasons to love or like, appreciate or treasure, drool over or get excited about Atari 2600 (and other older systems), it's never quite the same with the modern systems, no matter how 'powerful' they are in realtime 3D-projection rendering (Yes, all '3D' graphics are just two-dimensional projections, even those that use '3D-glasses' or 'virtual reality helmets' or whatnot).

 

Why people get very tingly, excited, nostalgic and almost teary-eyed, when they talk about Atari 2600, but can talk about their latest PC technology without any emotion?

 

The real reason is that every time something is manufactured, there's a quality to it. If some genius, for example, lovingly creates and designs a work of art, pouring his finest self into it and makes it into some beautiful utility or machine, it can serve people faithfully for generations without causing problems or breaking down.

 

If some factory employee is tasked to design a new, 'fashionable and trendy' product for maximum profit, and it's built by robots (either the 'human NPCs' or actual, metallic monstrosities), it can cause many problems and in the end, even turn against its user.

 

When some visionary group comes together to create something they have always wanted to create, the result will have this 'finest self' radiation in it that makes it a pleasure to use and excites the user. All older computer systems have this, because seventies and eighties were not yet as corporatic hell as today's world, and there was room for creativity and individuality, and a little bit craziness - free-flowing fluidum and energy was the norm in these small companies, so creativity flourished and people were able to make their visions come true, as they gave birth to their work of love.

 

This is how the Amiga, for example, was born - a group of wacky, weird visionaries with mutual goal poured their ideas and energy into the machine, so it became a really good creative computer for creative people, Heck, I still use my Amiga to create pretty much all my pixel graphics, from sprites to backgrounds to just 'fun pictures' and animations, and whatever I may require or want to do.

 

Atari 2600 was born in a similar way, and it also radiates that 'atmosphere', 'feel', 'excitement' or 'energy' - it's difficult to put to words, because this physical world lacks much of 'esoteric vocabulary' to describe these very real things.

 

Everyone knows that it just FEELS better to use a real machine than emulation. Why is that? There's a deep reason, even if you don't agree with me what that reason is, but it's very, very real difference that even the most lunkheaded deniers usually agree - it JUST does feel better to use a real Atari or real C64 or real Amiga than emulator (or even Dreamcast).

 

People in this world are very nostalgic, but they're not comfortable in explaining this nostalgy in any other way than 'because it was my first machine' or 'because it can do so much with so little'. Some of these reasons are almost completely cold, pragmatic, intellectual and sound good on paper.

 

But we all know there's a deep, unexplainable FEELING attached to this whole phenomenon. Someone here even mentioned that "it's almost emotional", sort of admitting that it's really a feeling, that's the core reason for all this nostalgy and admiration of the older computers.

 

Mere memories could not create this kind of enthusiasm, there's just something very 'feelable' about these older systems, while the newer systems lack it completely.

 

Multiple things happened simultaneously, so it's easy to just pick one of the surface reasons and be happy with the explanation. Oh, modern games are just corporate cash-cows, when older games had better playability, etc.

 

While this is of course true, the thing is, back in the day of Atari 2600, an individual programmer could envision a game, design and write it all by himself, while creating also exactly the kind of graphics that the vision requires, and the end result was something wonderful, colorful and exciting. He could pour all his finest self into a game, and the player would -feel- the game creator's excitement.

 

These old games have great playability (maybe out of necessity), but they also have a lot of 'feel' to them. They look nice and colorful, and they are still the epitome of what makes video games so interesting and mesmerizing - great sounds, great color effects, simple but charming sprites, especially on a bright CRT television, mesmerized kids back then, and they still mesmerize me even now.

 

Make a modern computer put out zillions of polygons with shaders and effects and enormously high resolution, and even HDR, on a huge monitor, and my soul will yawn out of boredom and wonder when it can see an Atari 2600 game again.

 

I am sure that all that 'it was my first console' and other explanations do play a part in some people's fascination for the machine. But it can never explain it all.

 

For example, I never had an Atari back in the day, I only saw Commodore computers as a kid, and Amigas as a teenager - it took a long time for me to start seeing the wonderful worlds that the other systems express, and I intuitively always compared everything to the Commodore experiences. If something sounded even a bit like SID, it was exciting to me (so I got excited about old synths, OPL2 and OPL3 chips, and Atari 2600 sound as well), and so on.

 

I didn't think a console as old as Atari 2600 could be of much interest to me, but then I accidentally found an Atari 2600 emulator for my Dreamcast. So I started going through some games on a whim and out of curiosity, and - whoah! Atari's games started to mesmerize me even through Dreamcast (of course it was connected to a bright CRT television).

 

So I found a new appreciation for the Atari 2600, and started wanting to get a bit more authentic about it, and wondered how close those emulators get. So I got some joysticks that had 'inbuilt Atari 2600', but they were done so badly, I got angry about it, and now I wanted REAL Atari 2600!

 

One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had Atari 2600 jr., Harmony Cart (although it had some problems in the beginning), and I was LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOVING it!

 

It certainly had that 1970s and early 1980s 'magic' to it, that's so hard to explain - it completely and totally seduced me, and I am very grateful for being able to own a functional Atari 2600 jr. that runs those great Atari 2600 games so nicely on my CRT television (that's shared with C16 and VIC-20, though).

 

I am telling this story just to give an example of someone that never had Atari 2600 back in the day, and _STILL_ fell madly in love with those wonderful games, the great sound (Nothing can sound better to my ears than Atari 2600 'Enduro'), the amazingly high amount of beautiful colors (makes me wonder why C64 only had 16, I almost feel duped!), and of course the perfectly honed playability that so many Atari 2600 games had.

 

I began finding versions of games that are actually better than the C64 counterparts, which used to be the only versions I even knew about. For example, 'River Raid' has a bit tighter gameplay and more exciting soundworld, although it's very similar, and I do like the C64 version as well.

 

I am sure there are still plenty of gems that I haven't even found yet, that I hope to stumble upon soon. But my 'favorites' list is long and growing, and I feel more complete having been able to experience this wonderful console and its glorious games. It's a terrible thought to never have played these masterpieces.

 

So in my opinion, there's AT LEAST something deeper than the usual explanations, there's something 'esoterically magical' about Atari 2600, there's something 'unexplainable' or at least 'lacking in vocabulary to explain' about why people love Atari 2600 so much. It's not just those 'cold reasons', there are very, very warm reasons indeed, and it's just undeniable, that it just feels GOOD to play those games on real Atari system.

 

But hey, that's just MY opinion..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, sure, that is a very logical, reasonable and good explanation. But remember, there's the 'good reason' and then there's the 'real reason'.

 

If your first computer or moped was a piece of crap, it doesn't mean you still automatically somehow treasure and cherish it necessarily. There's more to this story than that immediate explanation.

 

This might become a bit 'esoteric', so people that can't handle that sort of stuff, are advised to avert their eyes. You've been warned.

 

Now, while there are most certainly various reasons to love or like, appreciate or treasure, drool over or get excited about Atari 2600 (and other older systems), it's never quite the same with the modern systems, no matter how 'powerful' they are in realtime 3D-projection rendering (Yes, all '3D' graphics are just two-dimensional projections, even those that use '3D-glasses' or 'virtual reality helmets' or whatnot).

 

Why people get very tingly, excited, nostalgic and almost teary-eyed, when they talk about Atari 2600, but can talk about their latest PC technology without any emotion?

 

The real reason is that every time something is manufactured, there's a quality to it. If some genius, for example, lovingly creates and designs a work of art, pouring his finest self into it and makes it into some beautiful utility or machine, it can serve people faithfully for generations without causing problems or breaking down.

 

If some factory employee is tasked to design a new, 'fashionable and trendy' product for maximum profit, and it's built by robots (either the 'human NPCs' or actual, metallic monstrosities), it can cause many problems and in the end, even turn against its user.

 

When some visionary group comes together to create something they have always wanted to create, the result will have this 'finest self' radiation in it that makes it a pleasure to use and excites the user. All older computer systems have this, because seventies and eighties were not yet as corporatic hell as today's world, and there was room for creativity and individuality, and a little bit craziness - free-flowing fluidum and energy was the norm in these small companies, so creativity flourished and people were able to make their visions come true, as they gave birth to their work of love.

 

This is how the Amiga, for example, was born - a group of wacky, weird visionaries with mutual goal poured their ideas and energy into the machine, so it became a really good creative computer for creative people, Heck, I still use my Amiga to create pretty much all my pixel graphics, from sprites to backgrounds to just 'fun pictures' and animations, and whatever I may require or want to do.

 

Atari 2600 was born in a similar way, and it also radiates that 'atmosphere', 'feel', 'excitement' or 'energy' - it's difficult to put to words, because this physical world lacks much of 'esoteric vocabulary' to describe these very real things.

 

Everyone knows that it just FEELS better to use a real machine than emulation. Why is that? There's a deep reason, even if you don't agree with me what that reason is, but it's very, very real difference that even the most lunkheaded deniers usually agree - it JUST does feel better to use a real Atari or real C64 or real Amiga than emulator (or even Dreamcast).

 

People in this world are very nostalgic, but they're not comfortable in explaining this nostalgy in any other way than 'because it was my first machine' or 'because it can do so much with so little'. Some of these reasons are almost completely cold, pragmatic, intellectual and sound good on paper.

 

But we all know there's a deep, unexplainable FEELING attached to this whole phenomenon. Someone here even mentioned that "it's almost emotional", sort of admitting that it's really a feeling, that's the core reason for all this nostalgy and admiration of the older computers.

 

Mere memories could not create this kind of enthusiasm, there's just something very 'feelable' about these older systems, while the newer systems lack it completely.

 

Multiple things happened simultaneously, so it's easy to just pick one of the surface reasons and be happy with the explanation. Oh, modern games are just corporate cash-cows, when older games had better playability, etc.

 

While this is of course true, the thing is, back in the day of Atari 2600, an individual programmer could envision a game, design and write it all by himself, while creating also exactly the kind of graphics that the vision requires, and the end result was something wonderful, colorful and exciting. He could pour all his finest self into a game, and the player would -feel- the game creator's excitement.

 

These old games have great playability (maybe out of necessity), but they also have a lot of 'feel' to them. They look nice and colorful, and they are still the epitome of what makes video games so interesting and mesmerizing - great sounds, great color effects, simple but charming sprites, especially on a bright CRT television, mesmerized kids back then, and they still mesmerize me even now.

 

Make a modern computer put out zillions of polygons with shaders and effects and enormously high resolution, and even HDR, on a huge monitor, and my soul will yawn out of boredom and wonder when it can see an Atari 2600 game again.

 

I am sure that all that 'it was my first console' and other explanations do play a part in some people's fascination for the machine. But it can never explain it all.

 

For example, I never had an Atari back in the day, I only saw Commodore computers as a kid, and Amigas as a teenager - it took a long time for me to start seeing the wonderful worlds that the other systems express, and I intuitively always compared everything to the Commodore experiences. If something sounded even a bit like SID, it was exciting to me (so I got excited about old synths, OPL2 and OPL3 chips, and Atari 2600 sound as well), and so on.

 

I didn't think a console as old as Atari 2600 could be of much interest to me, but then I accidentally found an Atari 2600 emulator for my Dreamcast. So I started going through some games on a whim and out of curiosity, and - whoah! Atari's games started to mesmerize me even through Dreamcast (of course it was connected to a bright CRT television).

 

So I found a new appreciation for the Atari 2600, and started wanting to get a bit more authentic about it, and wondered how close those emulators get. So I got some joysticks that had 'inbuilt Atari 2600', but they were done so badly, I got angry about it, and now I wanted REAL Atari 2600!

 

One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had Atari 2600 jr., Harmony Cart (although it had some problems in the beginning), and I was LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOVING it!

 

It certainly had that 1970s and early 1980s 'magic' to it, that's so hard to explain - it completely and totally seduced me, and I am very grateful for being able to own a functional Atari 2600 jr. that runs those great Atari 2600 games so nicely on my CRT television (that's shared with C16 and VIC-20, though).

 

I am telling this story just to give an example of someone that never had Atari 2600 back in the day, and _STILL_ fell madly in love with those wonderful games, the great sound (Nothing can sound better to my ears than Atari 2600 'Enduro'), the amazingly high amount of beautiful colors (makes me wonder why C64 only had 16, I almost feel duped!), and of course the perfectly honed playability that so many Atari 2600 games had.

 

I began finding versions of games that are actually better than the C64 counterparts, which used to be the only versions I even knew about. For example, 'River Raid' has a bit tighter gameplay and more exciting soundworld, although it's very similar, and I do like the C64 version as well.

 

I am sure there are still plenty of gems that I haven't even found yet, that I hope to stumble upon soon. But my 'favorites' list is long and growing, and I feel more complete having been able to experience this wonderful console and its glorious games. It's a terrible thought to never have played these masterpieces.

 

So in my opinion, there's AT LEAST something deeper than the usual explanations, there's something 'esoterically magical' about Atari 2600, there's something 'unexplainable' or at least 'lacking in vocabulary to explain' about why people love Atari 2600 so much. It's not just those 'cold reasons', there are very, very warm reasons indeed, and it's just undeniable, that it just feels GOOD to play those games on real Atari system.

 

But hey, that's just MY opinion..

 

 

--

 

Someone mentioned, how Atari 2600 games demand or require imagination, and this got me to thinking.

 

Old Japanese painters and artists knew that if you put too much detail in your work, viewer's imagination doesn't get engaged. I think this is how impressionism was eventually born, at least possibly.

 

I dont remember the word for it, but if you can provoke the imagination by leaving just enough detail out, the experience for the viewer will be deeper, and closer the 'Zen-type' reality.

 

I often use the game 'Bruce Lee' as a good example - the graphics are blocky, but in my opinion, not TOO blocky. The blockiness of the graphics have been used in a very wise, ingenious way, in that they make you think and wonder and imagine. They provoke and engage your imagination, they invite you to finish what the game's creators started.

 

When you walk over the 'bombs' in the more orange-ish rooms (at least in C64 version), I think the manual says they're actually trees that grow very fast and then diminish. But it can also look like clouds of smoke (especially with the explosive sound).

 

So you can basically experience them in multiple ways simultaneously. This wouldn't be possible, if they were CLEARLY rendered as trees OR smoke. You could only see them as smoke or trees, and your imagination wouldn't get engaged. It's a richer experience, when more of your faculties are involved while playing.

 

Modern games or artists don't realize or remember this anymore. They try to make everything as 'realistic' as possible, or create a 'style' (that's usually weird and quirky, although it can look nice sometimes - but too often it's just twisting and exaggerating and uglifying things or putting funny animals or weird creatures in and call it 'creativity').

 

Atari 2600 games, perhaps partially by necessity, do a -= WONDERFUL =- job in this imagination provoking and engaging, and as the end result, you are actually playing in an 'elevated' state of mind/spirit, you are actually in a better mode than when playing some ugly-realistic modern war game, just shooting and killing all over the place in a gruesomely realistic way.

 

In Atari 2600 gameplaying, you can actually fly some Cosmic Ark in space inbetween very unrealistic, but also very amazingly exciting-looking star sceneries, and then save unbelievably cute sprite animals and creatures, or you can think of a backstory of each passenger you pick up while driving a Cosmic Commuter ship.

 

Atari 2600 really makes you think, and its games really engage you in a deeper level than modern games.

 

They only know how to add polygons and shaders, graphics and mechanics, tweak this or that power, make different lightning bolt visuals, or whatnot - but they don't know how to -fully- engage a player, including the player's imagination.

 

It's almost funny, how decades earlier, they accomplished that so well, and afterwards, never again.

 

This is one of the reasons, why Atari 2600 offers a more full experience than modern games usually do. And why players can get deeper 'into the games', or let the games become a deeper part of themselves.

 

Btw, what ARE all those Bruce Lee (the game) background graphics? I don't know, and I like to keep it that way, because only then, they can be ANYTHING, and different things each time I play - and they can exist only in a dreamy netherworld of imagination and dreaming, where they're something that just can't be put to words.

 

In a way, it was a blessing that the graphics were in some ways 'limited', because they at least engage the player in a deeper way.

 

Even when drawing art, it's often better to 'imply' than 'fully draw'. This way, your mind, your imagination or your soul will 'finish' the artwork. Bill Watterson was very good at this - if you look at Calvin & Hobbes, he draws JUST enough to get the implication there, but doesn't always finish every line, and the end result is engaging and marvellous.

 

I am sure he loves playing Atari games..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Didn't read

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But wasted time copying and pasting..

 

---

 

@Mr. Monk

Nicely don. I will argue, however, that the sentiment can and does extend into the PC ecosphere. I completely enjoy my PCs today as much as I did the VCS when I was a kid. And even in the same way.

How is that possible? Well for me it's simple, I either built my rigs from the ground-up or have added to them significantly enough they're considerably different than what the factory spit out.

Assembling a PC, part-by-part allows you to negate or even totally eliminate the corporate drone feel of a machine. It offers many opportunities to infuse your magic touch. Oh sure the parts might be stamped out thousands at a time, but then so were the VCS's parts. The PC may follow a standard format, processor, memory, power supply, mobo, case, videoboard, and so on.. But much of those can be your own picking and therefore the machine vibrates with style and personality.

My recent PC build is one all my own. Naturally. Spent over two weeks on it. Invested lots of TLC. And I don't mean TLC NAND. I also am not filling it with garbage either. And it has SSD cartridge slots in the finest tradition of vintage gaming. Hot plug in a standard SSD and a second desktop opens with lists of emulators and fav games. At the moment I have an Astronomy cart, X-Plane cart, Emulator cart, Doom Experience cart, and several others.

I find a certain quality of art in some of the components of a PC. Their essence is not fully guided by human direction, but by the laws of nature or physics too. This applies to dense IC etchings like V-NAND and the main processor. Or having a 7-billion transistor graphics engine - that's mind blowing! We're at the point where human design motives clash hard with what physics allows - 2.5 nm geometries where ion guns are needed to draw parts and push molecules around. Where reflectors are etched into the chip, temporarily, to get access to certain sections not normally accessible. Then removed. Not unlike lowering equipment into a mine. Parts that are exposed to regular air to allow for corrosion etching on 100+ layers.. Crazy stuff!

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Having been there to see the first VCSs roll off the store shelves and enjoy Star Wars and the whole late-70's consumer electronics revolution get underway was really cool.

 

A lot of the stuff was simple, microprocessors had only a few thousand transistors compared to today's SoCs with billions upon billions. These simple electronics left a metric ton of room for a child's imagination to be fully engaged in wondering how it all worked and all the possibilities the future could bring - especially if you read that futurism stuff like OMNI.

 

These days vintage 486 rigs can and do have the charm of the first VCS and Intellivision consoles - if you pick the right games. There's really only a handful of games that defined that era. So pick and choose wisely.

 

---

 

As far as emulation goes. It's a natural evolution of the early hardware. Its what comes next. And it will far outlast any of the physical consoles. I get nearly the same (if not all) satisfaction of playing Miniature Golf or Video Pinball on an i9 as I did back in the day. The only differences are the locales, which relatives are living or dead, and the lack of the sense of discovery of playing for the first time. Also missing is the sense of awe and wonder and surprise of your parents or grandparents bringing home new cartridges on a cold winter day. But those are more a sign of placement in time rather than a shortcoming of emulation.

 

The gameplay is identical, the video output looks like that special high-quality "imaginary" CRT we all dreamed about as kids, the reliability factor is beyond the moon, and the game selection is solar-system-sized!

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