The video games boom continued, with a raft of ground-breaking new titles hitting the arcades, the release of a revolutionary home computer that would take the world by storm and the arrival of Atari’s movie tie-in of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Uh-oh…
The home computer revolution was primed, and the machine that made it explode – thankfully not literally – was the Commodore 64. Looking like a more tanned take on sibling the VIC-20, the C-64 packed some serious power: 64K of memory (which was huge at the time), 16 colours, a sound chip that’s still in demand today and sprite graphics that made it the perfect machine for doing your accounts… yeah, us neither, it was ALL about the games!
1981 gave us some seriously impressive arcade games, but 1982 said, “Hold my beer…” Just some of the now classics to launch were car racing game Pole Position, Dig Dug, Nintendo sequel Donkey Kong Jr., Moon Patrol, Mr. Do! (a personal fave, despite the clown), Midway’s unauthorised sequel Ms. Pacman, potty-mouthed Q*Bert, Eugene Jarvis’s mega Robotron 2084, Time Pilot and Zaxxon.
Thrown together for the Atari 2600 by one guy in five-and-a-bit weeks to meet marketing deadlines, this early example of the movie tie-in game was a virtually unplayable, confusing mess. It also triggered a massive crash in the home video game market, and prompted the death of Atari as we knew it. Despite this, it sold a whopping 2.6 million units by Christmas – however, four million were made, with an estimated 3.5 million returned, some of which famously ended up in landfill.