1. Puppy Pong/Doctor Pong – Here’s an interesting effort. In Pong’s heyday, Atari pushed to get the game into doctors offices – both pediatricians and adults. They modified the cabinets from Pong’s arcade presence accordingly and removed the coin slots, as the doctors would buy them outright. Behold, Puppy Pong:
Apparently Snoopy was the original idea for this cabinet but the licensing was too costly. Still adorable. Here’s an illustration from the sales pamphlet feature Puppy Pong and the more grown up Doctor Pong, for adults.
Not gonna lie, Doctor Pong looks pretty slick. Here’s more:
2. GUTS – The timing was pretty much perfect for Nickelodeon’s game show, GUTS. IN 1992 America had American Gladiators fever, so it only made sense that Nick develop a kid’s game show that featured extreme sport-ing, high energy, and lots of flashing lights and smoke machines. Even if you weren’t much of a sportster of a kid, there was a good chance GUTS was something you’d be into – you really didn’t get to see kids doing this sort of thing anywhere else.
A typical episode of GUTS pitted three kids against each other, usually in an extreme form of a popular sport like baseball, soccer, etc… There’d be four of these events and then the big finale would happen – the Aggro Crag:
Each kid had their own path up the mountain, with a series of buttons to activate on their way up. They got points for each stage and a big point bonus for being the first to the top. The Aggro Crag was the big equalizer of the game – you could be in third place going in and it was possible for you to still come out on top. The winner got a piece of the Crag to take home with them – at least that’s what we were told. In reality, they got a trophy that looked like a rock.
Still, a pretty awesome game show when all is said and done. Here’s a kid getting a perfect run on the Super Aggro Crag from Global GUTS, a later evolution of the show – this beats that American Gladiators final event any day.
3. Atari Touch Tablet – Move over, Mario Paint! Atari had you beat in 1984 with this super-stylish touch tablet, a device that let folks create art on their television sets and then save it to disk (provided you had 48k of RAM…but you could save to TAPE with only 16k).
And Alan Alda selling the whole thing, in a very mellow way:
4. Official Nintendo Player’s Guide – It’s hard to imagine a time where there were so few Nintendo titles that they could mostly all be covered in one mega-guide. I mentioned this briefly last week, but here’s a little more detail.
This might have been my first bathroom book. It is what it says it is, a comprehensive guide to the games that mattered for the NES in 1987: Mario, Castlevania, Metroid, Punch Out!, Rygar, they’re all there. What’s so great about this guide, looking back, is the uniformity of it -in this day and age where we’ve got a unique, in-depth guide for every game under the sun, each with its own design and layout style, it’s neat to see all of the different licenses here represented by one unifying scheme:
Of note from the above: Apparently Metroid takes place in 2005? Must’ve missed all of that!
Nintendo released subsequent editions, including more and more games as their library grew but this black book was the one I remember EVERY video-game-playing friend of mine owning.
5. Full House Toys – Whatcha gonna do between TGIF’s? Play with Full House dolls, of course! Here’s a commercial in which children create a complicated storyline for the Tanners.