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Classic Attack!
by Michael Atkinson

Classic Attack (Part 1)

Moving into my thirties I have come to a crossroads where I am vainly attempting to recapture my misspent youth. That said, having been a gaming enthusiast as long as I can remember, this is no surprise that I have started my voyage of discovery with one of my beloved memories. The Atari 2600 VCS.

Having sat on the fence for the past year and a half, I decided to dive off into the turbulent unknown of online auctions and newsgroups trying to obtain a piece of my past. There are so many outlets that sell video games online these days. Enter the dreaded Ebay. A sanctuary of sorts for the electronic garage sailors, I stumbled upon my beloved and bid until successful. Having arranged to meet the seller - who was conveniently close to my location -- I picked up my prize and headed home filled with anxious expectation and some decidedly child-like glee.

No stranger to audio visual components I immediately connected the machine to my television and was awash with anticipation.

Alas, there was nothing to smile about here.

My screen failed to display a thing. I attempted vainly to recreate all of the troubleshooting scenarios from my youth. The stack of carts behind the power adapter pin, the compressed air into the cartridge slot ad neaseum. Unfortunately none of my former trick proved to be useful.

At this point I raced to Radio Shack for another TV/Game switch with built in Coaxial connectors. This too proved to be unnecessary. Aghast and extremely disappointed I absorbed myself with diagnostics and technical specs from the endless expanse of the internet. By all indications I had all the necessary equipment to play the recently obtained classics and even attempted some of the non-intrusive modification methods and troubleshooting tips from the various 2600 FAQ's available. Still halfway to nowhere, I gave up, in frustration I emailed the seller to confirm a few minor details. The bottom line is that I whetted my gaming appetite grilled that steak of retro goodness yet was unable to dine.

I lament my unnecessary build-up and my over enthusiastic anticipation. I regret, my inflamed email to the seller. I recant the ugly words spouted to my housemates when they inquired why I couldn't get it to work. Alas I was left saddened, dejected and most importantly without a working console. Unable to console myself I blamed eBay.

Joy of joys, the telephone rang with the seller on the other end. Concerned by the unfortunate fracas, he immediately tracked down another console and agreed to drive to my home to replace the defective unit. Having already resigned myself to ownership of this DOAtari, I was overjoyed. We have yet to meet, and there is a chance that I may be led down the garden path, however I am rejuvenated. My drive to revisit has already encountered and overcome its' first hurdle. I await this future/past with infantile glee. You see, I managed to get the unit work for thirty minutes and played the most satisfying game of Asteroids ever experienced making the whole sordid affair worthwhile. The tactile response of the black stick and single red button brought back that o-so-familiar cramp to my now adult hands. If for the briefest of moments I was ten again!

Classic Attack (Part 2)

Over a year has passed since I have re-entered the classic console-collecting craze and I must sadly pronounce that my collection is woefully inadequate. A self-proclaimed gaming geek, admittedly I had high expectations and passion for, what I had hoped would be my new hobby. Unfortunately, life conspired to alter my plans and I was forced to put the collection on the back burner.

Alas some of you may be shaking your heads, wondering where this diatribe is headed and what it has to do with the acquisition and maintenance of the classics. Not much. However there has been an unexpected side effect of my efforts, one that I had not anticipated nor would have ever thought possible. Recently married, my wife and I share some common interests in music, movies and interactive entertainment, but little did I know she had a secret, a previously undisclosed passion; a passion that would have ever-lasting repercussions on our relationship and our future together.

She was an Atari 2600 addict!

When I had issues with my first acquisition, as outlined in Classic Attack part one, she was involved. Now I thought that this was just a garden-variety concern she portrayed for her troubled fiancée (at the time). Nope. She was genuinely distraught that the system did not work. When the seller, with the added bonus of about thirty extra cartridges, eventually replaced it, she was overjoyed. She was literally beaming. You see she went digging through the box and uncovered a half dozen of games that she was zealously attacked in her misspent youth.

We, as I now consider the burgeoning collection ours, have over sixty games for the system, four joysticks, two extension cables, one old paddle joystick combination controller and about ten sealed original games all contained in a sturdy storage unit. Now more hers than mine, she has her own special television that has her Genesis, Playstation and an Atari 2600 Jr. attached to it and more often than not she can be found plunked in front of it playing Mousetrap, her favorite.

For me the joy was finding, cleaning and cataloging the gems and I admit that my collection is far from complete. It is a much more hands on experience for her and to me it makes the money and effort all the more worthwhile.

As it stands I desire a mint Vectrex unit in its' original display case with all the games in overlays in their boxes. To me this is the mother load, the Mecca and it is obtainable, but I must bide my time until I can finance it. In the meantime I will continue to watch my wife enjoy the fruits of my labors while I scour eBay for the next acquisition.

For our one-year wedding anniversary the wife is buying me another, currently undisclosed, classic console and I am working to obtain a mint Ms. Pac-man cocktail arcade unit.

Long live the classics! And long live women who love them!


       ... and be sure to visit Mr. Atkinson's homepage!


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