THE ATARI 10 in 1 TV GAME
Keith Lowell Jensen
There in the toy section of
Target, next to the Magic Eight Ball and the Retro re-issues of Coleco’s classic
hand held football sat a sight I’d not seen in many years. I was suddenly face
to face with a young, recklessly abandoned but never forgotten love. That black
rubber joystick, bright red button, and Atari logo looking up at me as if to
say, “remember?” Oh yes, I remember. I remember!
I thought this was great, brilliant and I knew my dollar would be had by the
wonderful committee of marketing men and women who had banked on the emotional
attachment I’d formed as I wasted my youth with a joystick just like this one
gripped in my hand. I figured the joystick would be plugged into my computer and
come in handy as I utilized my favorite emulators. Picking it up I realized this
wonderful creation had more in store for me than improving my online experience.
Much more. They had fit the entire Atari 2600 into this one joystick, including
TEN GAMES! Two RCA cords begged to be taken home and plugged into my TV Set.
I dreamt of little else for the
days between this discovery and my birthday party where I would find a present
about the right size and weight sitting in the pile, my girlfriend’s name
“Bryna” written in the “from” field.
After the unwrapping and the being
polite to guests who I wished would get the hell out of my way so I could get to
my TV I landed at last on my living room floor, sugar high and ready to blast
some Asteroids, Kill some Centipedes and Pong some…well play Pong.
You know that magic feeling, when a song from your child hood takes you to a
specific moment in your life? When you can smell, feel, and be twelve again?
Well it pales compared to the blast of sappy nostalgia when you are facing the
exact sites and sounds that had once kept you captivated for hours. This IS the
Atari 2600. It’s exact. The weird shadow that follows your paddle in Pong, the
simple sound effects, the delightful efficiency that allowed such limited
technology to be so much fun.
Asteroids, Adventure, Missile Command, Sports VolleyBall, Circus Atari,
Breakout, Pong, Yar’s Revenge, Gravitar and Centipede are included. I dove right
into Asteroids followed by Missile Command and Centipede. These were the hip
games when I was a kid. But within an hour of playing I was sucked into the
hypnotic gameplay of break out. I’d almost completely forgotten Breakout, but as
I moved that paddle left and right bounding that ball against the rainbow which
crumbled with each impact I began to remember my four older brothers and I
playing this game endlessly. I remember the excitement the first time one of us
“broke out”, and the tensions as we edged closer and closer to knocking out
every brick. WHAT WOULD HAPPEN WHEN WE GOT THERE! The neighbors were all playing
as well and we were comparing high scores at school. It was too easy to lie
about your score so we employed our parents Polaroid cameras to secure evidence.
Stories spread that sending a Polaroid witnessing a high enough score to the
fine folks at Atari world enterprises would earn you a free Atari T-shirt. I
don’t know if there was any truth to this. I doubt there was, though I did see
some cool Atari shirts around the playground, on kids who hid from the sun
waiting till they could go home and get back to life’s important business. And I
lusted after that T-shirt like it was the back pages of my mother’s Cosmopolitan
Back to 2003, I broke rainbow bricks late into the night while blasting Cheap
Trick on the Hi-Fi. I got all excited at my first break out. I’m still dreaming
of breaking ALL THE BRICKS!
And I took the joystick to a late night eighties party where we plugged it into
a friend’s projector. A WHOLE WALL OF BREAK OUT while Grand Master Flash was
pumping on the stereo! I had at last become the adult I’d sworn I was destined
to be back when I was a 12-year-old who didn’t want to lose touch with the
beautiful things in life.'
I don’t own an X-Box or any other
gaming system, save for my little new friend from the past and I will not. I
didn’t want to be one of those old men who swore the only good music was
produced during his youth. I am not. I love music from way back, and there are
many bands playing today (though not on the radio) who I love dearly. I have
however become that old man who will swear that they only made good video games
in his youth. Graphics, bah, who needs graphics?'
Rumor has it Jakks Pacific is developing more Ten in One systems, with Space
Invaders, Frogger and Pac Man possibly in the works, and I see they’ve already
designed a similar set for Activision games like pitfall, though it comes with
more modern style controls. At twenty bucks a pop I will own at least one more
set and every now and then I will turn off the news and ignore the organic
vegetables as I chomp down bowl after bowl of sugar coated goodness and blast
rainbow bricks, centipedes and aliens until my frontal lobe is screaming for
Now if only the box didn’t read “A blast from Mom and Dad’s past!” Bastards!
Amazon currently has the Atari 10
In One Joystick for $19.99.
CLICK HERE TO BUY ONE OF THESE BAD BOYS!