Posted on May 26, 2007
Atari History Through Commercials (Part 4)
1982 February: Atari Announces 5200 Super System “Club Centipede” Sizzle
1982 February (approx): Atari announced the ‘Super System’ Atari 5200. It also renamed the VCS the 2600. The 5200 was to be released in late 1982 for $349. The graphics and sound were to rival the Atari Home computers, mostly because it WAS one. There were new 8-directional joysticks, and there would be 10 games for the system at launch. The Super System was geared towards having much better looking and playing games than the VCS. This sizzle film for the home version of Centipede shows off the 5200 and just how close it’s graphics could get to the arcade original.
Continuing with the creative streak shown in the “2600 Virtual Reality” sizzle from earlier in 1982, this “cinematic”, music video inspired piece was quite stunning. By the way, this must be a sizzle film and not a commercial. The lingerie girl at the beginning and the “music video” style point towards this being an industry sizzle film for for Centipede. I mean, this is the same era that had “Electronic Games Magazine” put a “censored” bar over the lower-half of Pheobe Cates in an advertisement for the movie “Private School For Girls”. There is NO WAY I can believe that this was for public consumption. As always, I’m probably wrong.
By the way, did you know that the Atari Centipede coin-op was the first “UL Approved” coin-op game? I bet you didn’t!
1982 April: Sizzle film For Atari Dig Dug Coin-Op (licensed from Namco)
These coin-op sizzle films are cool because, where else could you see them? I mean the coin-op industry did not ever do much TV advertising, so the only place to see stuff like this is in archives like YouTube.com. According to the YouTube.com entry linked here, this film was designed by Y&R and shown in Movie Theaters. It won a Clio award in 1983.
1982: Atari 400 /Promotional Clip
As Atari continued to push its Home Computer line, it started to translate most of it’s arcade ports to the computers as well. In this clip for the Atari 400, Atari tried to push it’s cheapest home computer by showing that it was as easy to set-up as a “video game”, and had a lot of software including the games Space Invaders, Star Raiders, Missile command, and the recently released Pac-Man. The appears to be a promotional video shown that would be shown in a kiosk or video player in-store to get consumers interested in the computer, and not an actual commercial.
Here is a similar video created to describe the features of the Atari 810 disk drive.
…and a similar one for the 820 Printer
and a still similar one for the 825 Printer.
The Atari Home Computer line included a full range of peripherals that were easy to use and set-up using a system of of “plug and play” interface cables. This was unlike most other computers at the time (like the Apple II and IBM PC) that were “open” and daunting to consumers as they seemed to require an advanced degree in engineering to configure.
1982 May: Yar’s Revenge Commercial
“Yar’s Revenge” was one of the great Atari 2600 games. It took what was basically a limitation of the 2600 (the limited number of on-screen objects) , and turned it around to make a compelling game. “Yar” refers to Atari President “Ray Kassar”, as it is “Ray” spelled backwards. Yar’s Revenge was released in May of 1982
1982 First Half: Defender 2600 Coming Soon
Defender was another licensed game for the VCS (now 2600) that really disappointed fans. It played OK, but the fact that the ship “disappeared” every time you fired your laser was inexcusable. This would not have been a great a problem if Activision had not released “Chopper Command” for the 2600 at just about the same time, which was essentially “Defender”, it looked and played as good as any coin-op arcade game of the day.
This commercial also contains clips of Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Missile Command, and Breakout. Defender was released in June of 1982, so this commercial was probably aired before that time.
Here is the commercial for Chopper Command by Activision. Notice how much better they executed a “Defender-like” gane when they did not have to deal with the demands of Atari management.
1982 Summer: Atari/McDonald’s Game Commercials
In the late summer if 1982 McDonald’s ran an Atari “scratch and win” game promotion. All manner of Atari products (video games, computers, etc) were available to win. Below are a couple commercials from that promotion:
Personal Anecdote: My brother Jeff and I haunted the local McDonald’s that summer, looking for game cards in the trash, on trays that people forgot, on the ground in the parking lot, etc. We must have found/scratched nearly 500 cards, and we won…absolutely nothing!
1982 August: Atari 2600 Berzerk Commercial
Atari 2600 “Berzerk” was an awesome translation of a rather boring game, especially without the digitized sound from the arcade.
Personal Anecdote: It still bought it though, and gladly paid $39.99 for the privilege. At this time, I recall a mounting sense of “buyer’s remorse” for nearly every for Atari 2600 game I purchased, and this one ranks high in that category.