The Art of Activision Atari Covers

I can’t even begin to calculate the hours I spent playing Activision games for my Atari 2600. I think they probably had the most fun games on average out of any gaming company back then.

One of the crucial parts of Activision’s appeal was their artwork. I’m referring specifically to the great use of simple drawings with those bold, rainbow motion patterns. There was a real sense of thematic unity behind a lot of Activision’s games, which really helped them so stand out from the pack. Not all of their titles shared that unity, but many did.

So in tribute to the great (and not-so-great) Activision games with the brilliant packaging, here is my Atari 2600 Activision cover slideshow gallery. Here’s what we have here — Boxing, Enduro, Fishing Derby, Freeway, Grand Prix, Ice Hockey, Kaboom!, Laser Blast, Megamania, Oink, Pitfall, River Raid, Skiing, Stampede, and Tennis.

(post image courtesy Atari Age)

The art of gaming

Gamers today pretty much take it for granted that any new release they get their hands on will be a veritable orgy of graphics and sounds.  When you look at promotional materials for a game like Call of Duty: Black Ops or Rock Band 3, you know that what you see in a commercial, a trailer, or a poster will pretty be much be what you get when you play the game.

This was not always so.  See, there was a time when the surest way to draw the attention of a gamer was not by showing real game play (although that was part of any ad campaign), but through attractive packaging.  And up until, say the mid-’80s, there was usually a fairly substantial disconnect between what you saw on the box and what you saw on the TV or PC.  People more cynical than I have called this bait and switch of a kind, but I take a more realistic outlook.  The artwork on a piece of packaging was a company’s best shot to get you interested in their product, so in many cases they pulled out all the stops.  Consider a game like Combat for the Atari 2600 – would you be more likely to buy it with this image:

or this?

Yeah, I thought so.  So join me now as I take a look at some of the coolest examples of early video game art!

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Retrotisement: Atari ’82

Vintage Ad #127 - Why Atari Is #1

The failures and successes of Atari in the ’70s and ’80s are well-documented, but if you were of gaming age back then there was no doubt that for a brief time, they were the kings of gaming.  Oh sure, we all knew kids who had Intellivision or ColecoVision – and truth be told they were superior systems – but they were desperately out of step and knew it.

Atari, like many of its contemporaries, was hit hard when the North American video game market imploded in 1983.  They were never able to build on the success of the Atari 2600 console, as the subsequent 5200 console was discontinued after just 18 months on the market and the 7800 was halted for a few years.  But none of that really mattered, as within a few years the Nintendo Entertainment System would begin its ascent into gaming legend, and Atari was toast.

Still, I had a blast playing my Atari.  I had or played all of the games in this ad except for Star Raiders.  I’ll go with Defender and Berzerk as the best of the lot.

Are you addicted to the Internet?

There is no shortage of press and academic research covering the topic of so-called Internet Addiction. Of course, the first reaction of any true addict is “not me!” This denial is usually followed by surprise, realization, and then descent into an all-too familiar shame spiral. In the interest of science and self-improvement I’ve spent the last few weeks keeping a meticulous log of my daily activities, in order to better understand just how the Internet fits into my life.

The results, needless to say, confirm that I totally have this thing under control. Just take a look at last Thursday’s log (time spent is total throughout the day, not consecutive):

  • 45 minutes spent updating my Wikipedia watchlist to make sure some snot-nosed high school punk hasn’t vandalized one of my favorite articles.
  • 1 hour 20 minutes spent participating in and refreshing various message board threads to see if anyone was able to recover from any of my scathingly sarcastic rejoinders. (I totally blew away that one jerk with the picture of the Comic Book Guy saying “Worst post ever!”)
  • 15 minutes spent checking to see if my charts on have been updated.
  • 25 minutes spent reviewing my blog traffic figures, and thinking of ways to increase said traffic. (Note to self: More posts about either Harry Potter or porn. Or Harry Potter porn.)
  • 50 minutes spent scouring the far reaches of the Internet for anything related to David Hasselhoff, William Shatner, and the Burger King.
  • 1 hour spent checking my Yahoo! email account, only to find it full of nothing more than dozens of seemingly legitimate ads for dirt-cheap copies of Photoshop CS3.
  • 2 hours spent reliving my childhood by searching for and reviewing material even tangentially related to it (G.I. Joe, Transformers, Garbage Pail Kids, Atari 2600 games, old issues or Thor and The Avengers, Wacky Packages, V, The Karate Kid, etc.).
  • 35 minutes spent racking my brain for material for this stupid blog.

So how do you stack up? Of course, I don’t expect anyone to display the incredible level of self-restraint I obviously do, but now at least you have something to shoot for. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go see if there are any new lolcats out there.

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