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Catalog Goodness #5: Imagic Video Game Cartridges for Mattel & Atari (1982)

From the first golden age of video gaming we have this 1982 catalog for the Imagic video game cartridge collection, available for Atari and Intellivision.

Catalog Goodness #5: Imagic Video Game Cartridges for Mattel & Atari (1982)

The catalog itself contains mostly descriptions of Imagic’s games along with cover art photos and game shots. Here are a few from games I played on the trusty old Atari 2600 back in the day:

Catalog Goodness #5: Imagic Video Game Cartridges for Mattel & Atari (1982)

Demon Attack

Catalog Goodness #5: Imagic Video Game Cartridges for Mattel & Atari (1982)

Cosmic Ark

Towards the back is a beautiful storage center, complete with faux wood grain.

Catalog Goodness #5: Imagic Video Game Cartridges for Mattel & Atari (1982)

And as many other video companies had in the ’80s, Imagic offered their own brand-specific club membership. Theirs was cleverly named the Imagic Numb Thumb Club. On the plus side, they offered a sweet game poster. On the down side, no awesome patches like Activision.

Catalog Goodness #5: Imagic Video Game Cartridges for Mattel & Atari (1982) Catalog Goodness #5: Imagic Video Game Cartridges for Mattel & Atari (1982)

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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)

Missile Command album cover (1982)

If There’s Ever a Missile Command Movie, Don’t Act All Surprised

I loved my Atari 2600, and I sure enjoyed Missile Command. Not enough to sit through the entire Missile Command album, mind you. What’s that? You didn’t know there was a Missile Command album?

There sure was. It came out on the Kid Stuff label in 1982 (KSS-5031), and was one of three Atari cash-ins for the label. The other two were Asteroids and Yars’ Revenge. According to the back cover, the story goes like this:

The planet Zardon is under attack! Only the brave men and women of the Missile Command can destroy endless waves of Krytolian missiles. Join the Command Team and help defend the universe as you fight back in Atari’s Missile Command!

Gripping, ain’t it?! Here’s a clip from the record — featuring some of the finest acting I’ve ever heard on a video game album — and the cover art, if you still doubt me.

Missile Command album cover (1982)

Missile Command album cover (1982) - Kid Stuff Records

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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The Super Mario Bros. theme song showcase

Super Mario Bros.In addition to being one of the most popular video games of all time (in fact, it was the best-selling game ever for 20 years) and launching an iconic and endlessly marketable title character, Super Mario Bros. also contributed one of the catchiest and most enduring video game theme songs ever.

Officially known as “Ground Theme”, it was composed by Koji Kondo, who used Latin rhythms as the song’s foundation.  It’s the song players hear when the game starts and has been featured in one variation or another throughout the Mario Bros. series.  It’s also inspired countless remakes and remixes over the years, from world famous bands to anonymous fans.

I present to you but a sampling of some of my favorite takes on “Ground Theme”, but begin with the one that started it all:

Up first is one of the more popular versions (more than 18 million views on YouTube), a flute and beatbox performance by Greg Pattillo.

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Product warning labels we really need

Because the government refuses to just come out and ban cigarettes outright, we get brilliant programs like the recently announced FDA campaign to place more graphic warning labels on packs of smokes.  Here’s an example of what they’re planning to do:

Effective and scary!  I guess.  I know I don’t ever want to smoke Brand cigarettes, that much is certain.  Anyway, I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the gubmint steps in and tries to scare us from buying all manner of products that can cause real harm, so I’ve whipped up a few labels to save the taxpayers a little money.

Fast Food

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