Tag Archives: Atari 2600

Throwback Thursday: “Pitfall!” for the Atari 2600!

“Pitfall!” was quite the hit when Activision released it in 1982.  (I’m a little unclear on what I’m reading about the relationship between Activision and Atari … it looks like the former was a group of defected employees who were then sued by latter, but who then inadvertently pioneered the third-party-developer arrangement for video games.)

“Pitfall!” hit the shelves the same year that the priceless “Raiders of the Lost Ark” galloped through theaters, which I’ll bet helped with the popularity of the jungle adventure game.  But the game became a bestseller because of its own merits.  Wikipedia informs me that its took a lot of innovation by its creator, David Crane, to get his newer, more advanced graphics stored and operable on a 4-kilobyte game.

And I could kinda see that, as a kid.  “Pitfall!” was far sleeker and seemingly more complex than other Atari games my family had, like “Combat,” “Missile Command,” “Frogger” and “Donkey Kong.”  And it was a lot of fun.  See for yourself; you can play the original game for free right here at the Virtual Atari website.  (Seriously, the people who set up that site did something really cool for the rest of us.)

When I sat down to write this, I actually got my memories of “Pitfall!” confused with a later, more advanced side-scrolling PC game called “Impossible Mission.”  I played that in high school, and I loved it even more than “Pitfall!”  The two games look pretty similar; I wonder if anyone else gets them confused.

By the way, does that kid in the pith helmet in the ad below look familiar to you?  That’s because he’s none other than Jack Black, age 13.


Throwback Thursday: the Atari 2600’s “Berzerk!”

“Berzerk” for the Atari 2600 was one of my favorite games in the 1980’s.  It wasn’t exactly high-concept … you shot at robots who shot at you, in a series of redundant maze configurations.  To mix things up a little, both the robots and the walls were electrified, so you had to make sure your little monochromatic avatar didn’t touch either.

The more difficult levels added another threat — a giant happy face (like the famous 1970’s t-shirt design) named “Evil Otto.”  It … sort of bounced through the maze, and was also electrified.

“Berzerk” was an unusual game, too, because you could take a break from it.  The game didn’t have a “pause” function; the Atari 2600 was far too rudimentary for that.  But if you killed every robot in a room, you could just allow your little guy to stand there before walking him into the next maze.  You could get up, go outside and play, call your mother from the landline, or make a peanut butter sandwich on toast (considered a delicacy at the time.)

If you want to play the original “Berzerk,” you can play it for free right here over at Virtual Atari.



550 Atari 2600 Games! Online! For Free!

Now here is a gem, courtesy of my boy Frank — Virtual Atari, where you can play (most of) your 80’s favorites right online, using your keyboard!


The games available number at 550, and that’s pretty damned impressive, if you ask me.  There are so many that the list includes even the most questionably inspired games.  We’ve got “cartridges” for games like “Crazy Valet,” “Save the Whales” and the truly befuddling unauthorized German game, “Snail Against Squirrel.”  (Do such melees occur in real life?  I can only imagine that they would play out rather quickly.)

It’s Sunday!!  Have fun!!


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