Revisiting Atari Asteroids

by Dave

Christmas 2017, I am not surprised when I unwrap an Atari Flashback 8 this year. I am not clairvoyant but I am well aware that I am not constantly providing gift ideas so this year my wife and I were quicker to provide purchase ideas to those requesting them. The kids are getting older and looking to have a few options as they go out shopping for the holidays and the "you don't have to get anything for me" is a frustrating answer to them. Among my list of retro related items to consider getting me was this Atari game system. I knew it wouldn't break the bank so it would likely end up under the tree. I had seen them in previous years and liked the concept of having one but they all were missing the pivotal game that made my young life awesome and that was Pitfall. When visiting a store a few weeks back I see that the great people at Atari corrected that major shortcoming and advertised that title right on the front of the box. 

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Fast forward, to this morning, I plug it into my wall mounted flat screen TV. I ignore the fact that the cables don't afford me the luxury of playing from my favorite chair. I sit on the floor much like I did back in the 80s and start getting reacquainted with some old friends. I quickly visited Centipede, River Raid, Frogger, and even took a turn at my beloved Pitfall to see where my skill set was left with those titles. I didn't get any scores that would warrant taking a picture of my screen and sending out for patches back to Activision but it was fun to give them a go again after all these years.

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I start up Asteroids and get into a bit of a groove and soon have my son (13 years old) watching and commenting that he could beat me. In my head Vince McMahon's WWF summer slam announcer voice saying "Are you ready to RUMBLE?!?!" I end up getting a score of just over 30,000, my son growing tired of the dings every 5,000 points when I gain an extra man. He is overjoyed every time when I drift right into the asteroid field as I lose control of my ship. He provides some commentary on my gunning ability as I miss shot after shot on several occasions. I finally lose my last ship and its his turn to represent after the trash talk. He picks up the controller and he is allowed a first pass to get use to the controls as they are way different than what he is used to. On his 3rd man, he exclaims "Ok, I got it now". His 2nd game starts and has a little more confidence as he understands the mechanics and just gets his score just above 1,000 before his game ends. Now, he feels the need to beat me at something. He is far more skilled at anything sports related than I am, so he wants to play me in Atari football. I have never played this title (never have been a sports fan even virtual) but I give it a try to appease his need to win against his old man. After I beat him 42 to 21, he is done with my Atari for now. Go back to your Xbox son, this is your Daddy's Atari and you just got schooled.

Merry Retro Christmas!