Adam Sandler’s “Pixels” was a heavy-handed attempt to invoke nostalgia for the video arcade games of the early 1980’s. For me, it actually recalled the second wave of the video game invasion — the home video game consoles.
Not every kid in the 1980’s had easy access to arcades. When I tell people I grew up in New York, I think they often assume I mean the city — where virtually any adolescent could catch a bus or a train. But Suffolk County was a ruralish suburbia — home game systems were really how the kids in my neighborhood got swept into the craze.
Which brings us to the Atari 2600. Just look at that relic. To a kid today, that probably looks like a gigantic Underwood typewriter or a crank telephone.
Yes … those are indeed metal levers that were used to activate game functions. And that is indeed faux-wood plastic siding. They … actually designed a video game console to look as though it were made of wood. They did the same thing with televisions back then. It was a questionable stylistic choice even for the time, I think. Did we really want technological products plied by a carpenter?
And check out the screenshots for “Combat,” which came standard with a console purchase. It actually was a really fun two-player game. (I can’t remember if players could play against the computer.)
Everyone’s favorite game, of course, was “Pac-Man.” “Space Invaders” was the other Big Thing. My family never got its hands on those, however, so I grew to love “Frogger.” (Lord knows I still went nuts amassing the collectible “Pac-Man” stickers to trade with the kid next door.) “Berzerk” was a close second favorite of mine; I was into killing robots before 1984’s “Terminator” made it cool.
Honestly, I think it would be a real kick to get a hold of an old 2600, and set it up and play it, just for old time’s sake. It would be a pretty kitsch excuse to throw a party.